Thursday, September 28, 2017

The Joys of a Prayer Journal

My prayer journal has become so dear to me.  As I sit with it each morning, I am aware of Jesus' presence and our ongoing relationship.  There is no better way to start my day!  As I write, my mind becomes centered on Him and my heart lines up with His ways, His love, and His will for me.  Another benefit is that my mind stays focused on my prayers rather than being distracted by incoming thoughts.  Prior to writing in my prayer journal, my mind was notorious for going in all different directions during my morning prayer time.

Before I sit with my journal, I make a delicious, piping hot matcha latte.  Once it's made, I snuggle into a quiet area and open my journal.  If the weather is nice, I like to sit on our back patio.  This is actually my favorite spot because I get to witness the rising sun and listen to the birds sing their good morning songs. 

I created my own prayer journal.  I have tried various others and they each possessed great things.  However, I was never in love with one so I decided to pick and choose what I liked about each and make my own.  



My journal is divided into 8 sections -
  • Memory verse
  • Praise
  • Thanksgiving
  • Confession
  • Personal prayers
  • Prayers for Others
  • Answered prayers
  • Dreams



To create my prayer journal, I gathered...
  • a 3 ring binder
  • dividers
  • notebook paper
  • washi tape for decorating the dividers


In the front pocket of the binder, I wrote:

Psalm 143:8

Let me experience your faithful love in the morning,
for I trust in You.
Reveal to me the way I should go
because I long for you.


Each section is based on a specific Scripture.  In doing this, it helps me focus on the why of each section and reminds me that Jesus cares deeply about every aspect of my life.  There is nothing that He doesn't want to hear about.  He wants us to openly pour our hearts out without any shame.  We might as well bear our souls - He knows anyway!  And - when we do, we always feel so much better.  Talking heals the soul - especially with Jesus!

1.  Memory verse

Psalm 119:11
I have treasured Your word in my heart
so that I may not sin against You.

In this section, I write a verse that I feel I need to focus on for the day.  I don't write in this section on a daily basis, but I always read through each verse.  As I do, I am able to see God's over the top love for me and often remember what a specific verse did for my day.


2.  Praise

Psalm 100:4
Enter His courts with thanksgiving
and His courts with praise.
Give thanks to Him and praise His name.

I give God praise in this section and it is based on His word.  For example, I may write you lead me along the right paths and this is based on Psalm 23.  I write at least 5 praises, although, there are many days when I write a ton more than 5.  I love beginning this way because my heart always thrills when I see how God's words impact my life.  

3.  Thanksgiving

Psalm 107:8-9
Let them give thanks to the Lord
for His faithful love and His wonderful
works for all of humanity.
For He has satisfied the thirsty 
and filled the hungry with good things.

This is the section where I get to thank Jesus for all He does for me, my family, and beyond.  Often times, I forget ALL that He did the previous day. However, when I start writing I am thankful for so much and my soul pours out my pen on the paper.  

4.  Confession

1 John 1:9
If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to 
forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

This is a tricky section.  There are some confessions that are between me and God only and I wouldn't want wandering eyes to see them.  If that is the case, I write in very general terms or not at all.  I still confess, but it might not be put on paper.  For example, if I was disappointed in one of my children unnecessarily I wouldn't want that in ink.  I would hate for one of my loves to read it and feel badly.  On the other hand, I often have to confess my lack of trust in the Lord.  I don't have any qualms about pouring my heart out on paper with this confession.

5.  Personal prayers

Matthew 7:7
Keep asking and it will be given to you.
Keep searching, and you will find.  
Keep knocking and the door will be opened to you.

I pour my heart out to Jesus in this section.  I ask Him for all of the things that are on my heart. He already knows our hearts and what our needs and desires are, so to hold back would be plain silly.  We show our trust by asking Him for all things and then truly believing Him for them.  

6.  Prayers for others

1 Timothy 2:1-2
I urge that petitions, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings
be made for everyone, for kings and all those
who are in authority so that we may lead a tranquil and 
quiet life in all godliness and dignity.

I am so grateful that God calls us to pray for others!  In this section, I pray for anyone and everyone on my heart.  I always pray for safety and protection for our family, as well as discernment for our children.  There are times that prayers for others are confidential.  When this is the case, I simply write their names.  

7.  Answered prayers

Isaiah 65:24
Even before they call, I will answer;  while they
are still speaking, I will hear.

This section is lovely because it allows me to see how God works in my life and answers my prayers.  I love writing this section because it shows my ever wondering heart that He hears me and loves me.  Looking back at answered prayers is so reassuring and calming!

8.  Dreams

Ephesians 3:20
Now to Him who is able to do ABOVE and BEYOND
all that we ask or think according to the power
that works in us.

God wants to give us the desires of our hearts.  The amazing thing is that He goes above and beyond in blessing us with our desires.  No dream is too big for God.  Don't you think He thrills to show us His love and majesty through blessing us?  I sure do!  In this section, I list the dreams of my heart.  I get excited as I list them because I am giddy waiting to see how He will make it work out.  

I encourage you to create your own prayer journal.  It will bless you and cause you to look forward to your time with Jesus.  Make it your own.  Personalize it in any way you'd like.  I'd love for you to use my method.  It has blessed me so much that my cup overflows and my relationship with Jesus is so much stronger.  

Sending love to all of you beauties-

Marci




Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Weekly Scripture Study {WSS} The Joy of Rest



I love this week's Scripture study.  We are busy people who often overextend ourselves.  We don't do it on purpose, but we do it.  There are many causes for our over active days and calendars.
  • We have a lot going on. 
  • We can't say no. 
  • We feel lazy if we aren't booked solid.
  • We believe the societal lie that if we are resting, we are missing out.
  • We feel guilty for taking care of ourselves with rest time.
Notice the first portion of Psalm 23:2.  God LETS us lie down in green pastures.  He wants us to rest our sweet souls.  God calls us to the pastures - a place of solitude and quiet - and allows us to plop down, slow down, and relax.  I don't know about you, but that blesses my heart!  God does not expect what society expects.  He does not see us as lazy and unfruitful because we curl up in our peaceful pastures and recharge.  In fact, if we live by societal measures we will never find our pasture and we will be stuck in congested freeway traffic full of exhaust.  When in exhaust mode, our hearts and minds are not clear to receive the love and words of Christ.  Seek your pasture, loves of Christ, and bask in the beautiful brightness of His light.

Once we have reached our pastures and given ourselves to rest, God then leads us beside quiet waters.  He cannot lead us if we are not willing.  (Actually, He can do anything He wants.  But why would He lead us beside quiet waters if we aren't even aware of His presence and the peace and stillness?) 

Imagine all God has in store for you when you in rest mode.  He longs to bless you with peace and His presence.  Without rest, we won't fully grasp His presence and blessings.  Oh but with it, our hearts will overflow with joy and love.  He waits for you, won't you take His hand and walk beside Him and enjoy His wonderful presence and love?


I am so excited for you to tuck this verse deep within your soul.  As you study it this week and work to memorize it, recognize the busy areas of your life that you can eliminate and replace with heaven ordained rest.  May you walk beside quiet waters with your beautiful Jesus.

Love,
Marci

Thursday, September 21, 2017

The Joy of Happily Ever After



Watch any princess movie and you will see a common theme play out - the idea of happily ever after.  It is ingrained in our sweet heads and we tend to measure our lives by the idea.  We dream of the white horse with the handsome prince sweeping us off of our feet and riding away to the beautiful castle filled with fabulous clothes and gorgeous d├ęcor.

Then life...

We become adults with responsibilities and the dream of happily ever after seems far off.  Life is busy, messy, and tiring.  Don't mistake my point - life is also wonderful, funny, and full of blessings. There are times in our lives when we feel on top of the world.  We peak out of our windows and swear we actually do live in the castle of happily ever after.

But let's be honest, reality isn't the ball gown, fairy godmother, and the to die for carriage.  Some days we want to shout in celebration, while other days we want to shout in crazy frustration.  There are some people who have been so broken by life they can't even remember dreaming of happily ever after.

But Jesus...

Life can be hard, but Jesus promises us a happily ever after.  He offers us eternal life when we pledge our belief and hearts to Him.  He is the Prince on the white horse who swoops in and saves us from a life of rags.  With Him, our rags turn to riches and we have a crown of beauty.  We are the princesses to our Prince.

John 3:16 assures us of our heavenly home.  It states:

For God so loved the world in this way:  He gave His
One and Only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will 
not perish but have eternal life.


Breathe that in and take it to heart.  God promises eternal life to everyone who believes in His Son - that means you.  There is nothing you can do - or have done - to keep you from your eternal joy in heaven.  Phew...that refreshes my heart and lets me know I am crazy loved.  Jesus sees my sins and loves me right through them and back to Him.

Oh, but read this next portion of Scripture and let it sink deep into your marrow.  Let it wrap around you and your hurts, shames, and not so happily ever after.

Revelation 3:5-9
(5) In the same way, the victor will be dressed in white clothes, and I 
will never erase his name from the book of life but will 
acknowledge his name before My Father and before His angels.
(6)  Anyone who has an ear should listen to what the 
Spirit says to the churches.
(7) Write to the angel of the church in Philadelphia:  The Holy One,
the True One, and the One who has the key of David,
who opens and no one will close, and closes and no one opens says:
(8) I know your works.  Because you have limited strength, have kept My word, 
and have not denied My name, look, I have placed before you an open
door that no one is able to close.  
(9) Take note!  I will make those from the synagogue of satan, who claim
to be Jews and are not, but are lying -note this- I will make 
them come and bow down at your feet, and they will know that I have loved you.

And she lived happily ever after.

But wait, you say.  I want the happily ever after now.  I need the happily ever after now.  I hear you and so do I.  We need to know that our Prince has already arrived and desires to sweep us off our feet.  We need some fairy tale glitter sprinkled on top of our tired heads!

I have good news.  The best of the good news for our life here on this beautiful planet God has placed us on. 

I believe Scripture is God speaking directly to us.  In fact, 2 Timothy 3:16-17 solidifies my belief and refreshes my soul.  Scripture truly is God's love letter to His beauties and handsomes.  Imagine how lovingly He thought of YOU as He penned His precious words.

{ 2 Timothy 3:16-17  All Scripture is inspired by God and is profitable for teaching, for rebuking, for correcting, for training in righteousness so that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.}

So here are 3 beautiful pieces of God's love letter that allows you to have a happily ever after here on earth.  Life may get sticky and prickly, but Jesus...

Isaiah 61:1-3
The Spirit of the Lord God is on Me, because the Lord has anointed Me to bring 
good news to the poor.  He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty
to the captives and freedom to the prisoners; to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor, 
and the day of our God's vengeance; to comfort all who mourn, to provide for 
those who mourn in Zion; to give them a crown of beauty instead of ashes,
festive oil instead of mourning, and splendid clothes instead of despair.  And they
will be called righteous trees, planted by the Lord to glorify Him.

This - this burrows itself deep in my soul and causes me to rejoice in His mercy, goodness, and love.  There is so much love packed into these three verses.  Jesus came to set us free from the things that bind us to pain - to the things that we think will break us and shame us.  He came to wipe our tears and give us a crown of beauty - His beauty.  As we look into His face through prayer and Scripture reading, His glorious face radiates onto and into us.  He takes away our broken hearts (if we allow Him to) and clothes us in splendor.  And, if that is not enough, He allows His transformation of us to glorify our Father.  He takes our ugly, our brokenness, and our shame and uses it to point to the grace and mercy of the One who sent Him.  

Psalm 21:6
You give him blessings forever; You cheer him with joy in Your presence.

Joy in His presence.  What a reassuring promise.  When we spend time with Jesus on a daily basis - throughout the day, really - He assures us of joy.  Our days may be bleak but our joy is not dependent on our day, it is dependent on Jesus.  Ever heard the hymn "It is well with my soul"?  No matter what happens, we can have the confidence to honestly say it is well with our souls when we spend time with Jesus.  Spending time with Him allows us and leads us to look to Him for comfort, joy, and value.  When we look to Jesus for validation and leading, we are free from the demands of society.  And guess what that leads to - yep, happiness.

John 15: 5, 7-8
I am the vine; you are the branches.  The one who remains in Me and I in 
him produces much fruit, because you can do nothing without Me.
If you remain in Me and My words remain in you, ask whatever you want and 
it will be done for you.  My Father is glorified by this:  that you produce much fruit
and prove to be My disciples.

Remain.  How can we remain in Christ?  We remain in Him by nurturing our relationship with Him, by reading His word and talking to Him (prayer).  We remain in Him by opening our hearts and quieting our busy selves so we can hear His still, small - yet powerful - voice speak to us.  Oh friend, when we remain, He allows us - causes us - to produce much fruit.  This means we get to shine for Him.  We get to bask in our blessings.  Our cups overflow for the world to witness and drink from.  We get to make an impact on His Kingdom.  We get to hear, "Well done, good and faithful servant."


Happily ever after here on earth with our sweet Savior Jesus.

Yes, life can be hard.  But oh my gracious, it can also be gloriously beautiful when we walk with Jesus - when we allow Him to move in our lives and show off His glory.  We are His princesses and He is our Prince.  He's patiently waiting to grab your hand, pull you up on the splendid white horse, and take you for the ride of your life as you let His glory seep deeply into your heart and let Him move you towards happily ever after.

May your happily ever after start right now-
Marci







Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Weekly Scripture Study {WSS} The Joys of a Forgivng Heart



I think it is so important to study and memorize Scripture.  It helps us grow in our relationship with Christ.  Also, as we experience life, various Scriptures that we've attached to our hearts will come to mind.  They help us celebrate joys, encourage others, and walk through valleys. Scriptures have become so precious to me.


I want to share my love of Scriptures and provide a worksheet each Tuesday to help in the memorization and study of God's Word.  The worksheet will provide a Scripture and a series of questions so you can dig deeper into your heart and application of the verse.  I would suggest that you create a notebook so you can easily refer to the worksheets. You can write the Scripture on a notecard and practice reciting the Scripture throughout the day until it has attached itself to memory.  I like to keep my notecards connected with a binder ring.  This makes it easy to find Scriptures that you have worked on in previous weeks.


The more we dig into God's Word and crave to know Him deeper, the more blessed our hearts will be.  I am excited to begin this journey and I pray that our hearts move towards Him every week.

This week we will be studying and memorizing

Ephesians 4:32
Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving one another, just as
God also forgave you in Christ.

To download the Scripture Study click here.

Love to all of you beauties-
Marci

Thursday, September 14, 2017

The Joys of Not Being a Savior




Being a Savior is a BIG job. 

Thankfully, God did not create us to ever host the title.  At no time in our lives is it ever ok to try and wear the hat or expect someone else to do so.  God sent His Son to be a Savior to all of us and He certainly doesn't need us to help Him out and give Him breaks. 

Trying to be someone's savior or demanding a person to be one for us will never pan out - ever.

Unfortunately, I have been on both ends as I'm certain many of you have too.

When my husband and I were first married {and well beyond that first year}, I expected him to save me from all of my insecurities.  I wanted him to ride in on his white horse and save my damaged heart.  I believed the fairy tales and the chick flics...a man would make everything perfect.  I banked on the lie that my man was supposed to create in me a new heart.  I thought he should take my yucky feelings and replace them with securities of beauty and adoration.

As you can imagine {or know from experience}, expecting someone to save you never works out.  God did not create us to clean out people's hearts and make them new.  Yes, we are suppose to carry one another's burdens but we cannot save someone from their insecurities.  No amount of reassurance from a human will provide us with the peace and joy God intends for us to have.

The flip side of the coin is that expecting someone to be a savior puts a lot of pressure on the person.  No one will ever be able to live up to that job description.  It creates tension and unrealistic expectations.

The truth is, my heart {and yours} can only be made whole and clean by our one true Savior.  He doesn't feel pressured or backed into a corner when we call on Him to assure us of His love.  In fact, He thrills when we do ask. 

Once I realized I was expecting the wrong man to save me, my heart began to mend.  Jesus took my nasty, wilted heart and mended and puffed it back up to it's intended size.  He whispered His love to me as I prayed to Him.  He sang to me as I read Scripture and listened to praise music.

 I learned that my husband had many roles, but savior was not one of them.  As I let go of my expectations for my husband, I began to feel so beautiful to him.  I set him free from my unrealistic ideas and we were able to truly be married and love each other as God intends.  Honestly, I have never felt more loved, cherished and desired. 

Not only did I expect my husband to be my savior, but I expected to be our son's savior.  When our oldest was a baby, he was diagnosed with a genetic heart problem.  At six months old he was in congestive heart failure and had to have surgery.  I was terrified to leave him.  I was certain that if I did, he would die.  I would have panic attacks whenever I was away from him.  Let me say...it was pure torture.

When he was four, he required another surgery.  The pain of not being able to protect him was heart wrenching.  I felt as though I had let him down.  As a mama, I was supposed to protect my precious child.  What had I done wrong? 

Honestly, it took me years to realize that I was not in control.  I had to open my grasp on the love for my child and hand him over to God.  On my knees with tears streaming down my face, I confessed that my sweet child was God's.  God allows me to raise him up to honor Him, but he is ultimately God's.

That was a difficult, yet extremely freeing process.  Trusting God with His child has opened my heart to love even more.  I was trying to be my son's savior and it was painful.  As I realized that only Jesus can save Him and truly protect him, my heart became free of the weights I had placed on them.

Friends, there is only one Savior and His beautiful name is Jesus.  Truly trusting Him and relying on Him brings more peace than words can describe.

Are you relying on someone to save you from pain?

Are being asked to be someone's savior?

Are you trying with all of your might to wear the hat of savior?

Release the expectations and demands to God.  Allow Him to do what He is so good at - allow Him to save you and those around you.  Give Him the opportunity to heal hearts and restore rightness with Him.  There is only one way to do this and it is by developing a relationship with Him.  Daily prayer time allows you to bear your heart to Jesus and it opens your heart to hear His love, guidance, and assurance.  I can promise you that nothing has impacted my life more than daily prayer. Being alone with your Savior buffs off wounds and turns ashes into beauty.

I am always here to encourage you along and offer support on your journey.  If I can pray for you or you just need a listening ear, don't hesitate to email me.  God puts us in each other's paths for reasons of love, encouragement, and fellowship.


My heart is full for you-
Marci




Tuesday, September 12, 2017

The Gifts of the Father




Every single one of us has been given gifts by God.  Every.single.one.of.us!

My gifts are great empathy, compassion, the ability to feel very deeply, and the ability to run our home smoothly. 

I used to be embarrassed by my gifts.  This was before I actually knew they were gifts from God.  I thought I was just overly sensitive and some crazy girl who couldn't get a handle on her emotions.  I actually used to get made fun of for them.  Looking back on that, it kind of irks me.  That's a whole other blog post for another day! :) 

As humans, we tend to compare ourselves to others and think that the grass is always greener in someone else's pasture.  We do this with our gifts.  We look at those who are beyond crafty, those who are talented with singing, those who are organized to the wazoo, those who are math nerds (umm, I mean geniuses!), those who are gifted teachers, those who are great caregivers, etc. and wish we had what they have.  Sadly, we beat ourselves up over it.

I think that is the nasty devil trying to get us to focus on what we aren't instead of who we are.  If he can get us to want what other's have, then we won't use our gifts to honor God and His Kingdom.  That makes him happy.  Remember friends, we NEVER want him to be happy.

Our gifts are those things that come naturally to us.  They are the things that bring us joy and give us a full heart. 

It took me a LONG time to realize what my gifts are.  I was involved in a Bible study and would email various ladies letting them know I was praying for them.  I opened my heart and showed great empathy for those hurting and desired to help in some way.  A beautiful young lady (she was 80) who has a great heart for Jesus pulled me aside and told me these were great gifts from Jesus.  She encouraged me and counseled me on using them for God's Kingdom.  She assured me that they were great blessings and not to let anyone squash them.  I am forever grateful to her for loving me enough to talk with me about my gifts.

Since then, I have embraced my gifts and am no longer ashamed of them or embarrassed to share them.  I get great joy out of the gifts that my sweet Jesus covered me in.

Do you know what your gifts are?  If not, take time to recognize what brings your heart joy and fulfillment.  Journal about what brings you great peace and satisfaction.  What stirs your heart so greatly that you can barely contain it?  Pray for clarity and encouragement in sharing them with those around you.  Your gifts are unique to you.  May you embrace them and share them with great love for Jesus and those around you.  

James 1:17 - Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father -

Love to all of you and may your gifts shine like the beauties you all are!

Marci



Saturday, September 9, 2017

Calming your Mind

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Our minds are crazy powerful.  We can talk ourselves in to and out of most anything just by thinking - and overthinking.  We can cause aches and pains within our bodies just by believing they are there.  We can become the best conspiracy theorists that the FBI seeks us out for classified information!  Not really, but we aren't far off when we allow our minds to stay stuck on a destructive thought and tear into it layer by layer.
I am the worst - or the best - at working myself up over a destructive thought.  If I am not careful, I can turn a thought, a fear really, into the truest reality.  Sometimes before I realize it, I am working out a solution or finding an area to run to in order to fix or escape my faux reality.
I struggled with this for a great while and still, at times, find myself allowing my mind to take charge.  I'm betting you can relate.  If we are honest people, we can admit that we all struggle from time to time with worry, doubt, fears, and plain ol' negative thinking.
I used to be ashamed and embarrassed that my mind traveled down long, dark paths that led nowhere but despair.  I did not discuss it with anyone because I was certain I was the only one who succumbed to such crazy making.
As I became older, I began to talk about my dark journeys and research ways to combat the annoying and destructive thoughts.  I soon realized I was not alone and, in fact, many people are plagued with crazy making thinking.
I am far from perfect and still, from time to time, struggle.  However, I have come a long way and have discovered ways to help myself and others.
  • Be mindful of what you are focused on.  Recognize what you are thinking about.  YOU are in control of what you allow your mind to linger on.
  • When a negative, fearful, or worried thought has taken up residency in your sweet head, tell yourself no.  A dear friend of mine told me she doesn't worry until it is time to worry.  Meaning, she doesn't allow herself to conjure up thoughts and focus on them when they aren't even realities.
  • Replace the destructive thought with a truth.  Turn your focus towards something you know to be true.  This takes effort and will require you to be proactive.  Don't allow yourself to become discouraged when you feel like this is all you do.  Anything and everything worthwhile takes time and effort.  One step forward is just that - one step forward.  Just because we aren't Olympic sprinters doesn't mean we aren't seeing success.  [tweetthis]Success comes in the little daily actions, not the big over the top achievements. Stay encouraged and keep on keeping on.[/tweetthis]
  • Find things that bring you joy and allow yourself to engage in them on a daily basis.  Do you thrill at the thought of reading a book?  Going on a run?  Relaxing with a glass of wine?  Laughing at internet jokes? Do what thrills your heart often.
  • Exercise is wonderful for pushing out the ugly and escorting in the beautiful.  When we exercise, our brains release chemicals that make us feel good.  Even if you don't feel like it, do it anyway.  Once you have completed your allotted exercise time, you will feel better and you will have a success under your belt.  Do what exercises you enjoy doing.  Remember, it is not a compare and keep up event.  Just because Sally Jo enjoys something, doesn't mean you have to.
  • Meditate.  There are many forms and ways to meditate.  Again, do what works best for you.  I find that my favorite way to meditate is to listen to quiet classical music and take slow, deep breaths.  I focus on my breathing only.  When a thought comes into my mind, I push it aside and return my thoughts to my breaths.
  • Find something or someone that makes you laugh.  Laughter relaxes our bodies and releases chemicals that make us feel good.
  • Find breathing exercises that work for you.  This is different than meditation.  For meditation, you want to be alone in a very quiet place.  You can do breathing exercises anywhere.  If I am feeling stressed or overwhelmed, I will take 7 long and deep breaths.  Another great breathing exercise is the 4-7-8 by Dr. Weil.  It will relax you instantly!  You can find it by clicking here.
  • Talk to someone you trust and will understand and offer support.  Many times, talking helps our minds release our fears and we feel better.
Overcoming our thoughts takes time and effort, but the results are definitely worth it.  This is not something that you combat and then never have to battle again.  In truth, we all will fight off hindering thoughts from time to time.  Recognizing destructive thoughts and having the tools to overpower them is the key to winning against them.  We have all heard the saying, "Practice makes perfect".  We will never be perfect, but practicing mind control and taking charge of your thoughts will make for a more perfect life.
If you would like to set up a FREE session, reply in the comments or send me an email.  I would love to help you overcome your thoughts and empower you towards a healthier you.
With love-
Marci