dana angelo white

Tray Tables Full Of Dreams

laptop"We've reached our cruising altitude. At this time you may use all approved electronic devices..." Flying back from The 700 Club taping last week, I sat staring at the tray table in front of me. It all happened so fast, I thought. Instead a sit-down interview plus cooking demo, they decided to make it a kitchen segment. I did my best to try and convey the message of grace while showing a day's worth of food. The team (Eric) busted my chops for closing my eyes so much. Passion, I laughed back in a text. Just pure passion. Oh friends, what a blessing of an opportunity.

Where was I? Ah, yes. The plane ride home. Well, across the aisle, a gentleman was thundering away on his laptop. A tall fellow, his knees were near his chest but that didn't stop him from furiously typing with purpose. For nearly five hours his eyes never left the screen. Meanwhile, I was exhausted and I could feel my glands getting swollen and a tickle in my throat. The days of little sleep and all the emotion were catching up to me. I was ready to get home.

Long flight story short, "Ladies and gentlemen, the Captain has turned on the fasten seat belt sign as we've begun our initial descent into LAX." Music to my clogged ears. And for the first time since we took off, my neighbor stopped typing and made a mad dash to the lavatory. Placing the computer on his seat with the screen open, I couldn't help but read the heading of his document. In big, bold letters it read, "PASSION PROJECTS." No wonder. I wish you could have seen me grin and nod at him as he returned to his seat. I was this close to encouraging him. After all - because of grace - I'm living mine.

As we begin a week's worth of devotions surrounding the holiest of weeks, passion will be a common theme. Of heart, of health, of hope. Please join us each day. Let's dive into Scripture together. Let's look at training, running, activity and balanced eating. If there's ever been a week to celebrate abundant life for the right reasons, this is it. Welcome to Monday.

--Jimmy Peña

RECIPE OF THE WEEK: Tilapia with Mango Salsa

Our recipe of the week comes directly from the pages of The PrayFit Diet. Like every other recipe in the book, it is a tasty concoction from the mind (and kitchen) of Food Network contributor Dana Angelo White, MS, RD, ATC.

Ingredients: 1 mango, peeled and diced ½ cup chopped red bell pepper ½ cup chopped cucumber Juice of ½ lime 1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro Salt Hot sauce 8 ounces tilapia 1 tablespoon canola oil

For the salsa, combine mango, pepper, cucumber, lime juice, and cilantro. Season with salt and a few dashes of hot sauce, if desired; set aside.

Season tilapia with canola oil, salt, and hot sauce. Cook fish in a nonstick skillet or grill for 3 to 4 minutes per side or until completely cooked through. Serve topped with salsa.

THE 33 DIFFERENCE: Tilapia is a healthy, protein-loaded mainstay on the PrayFit Diet, and there are a number of ways you can prepare it. But after you try this recipe, you may be more of the “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” persuasion. By combining mango, bell pepper, cucumber, lime, and cilantro, you get a flavor explosion that jazzes up an already amazing source of protein and healthy dietary fat.

For another recipe and an excerpt from the The PrayFit Diet on BeliefNet, click here!

Be Born In Us

"When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceedingly great joy."— Matthew 2:10

Read: Matthew 2

If you missed Christmas Presence yesterday, we talked about the shepherds and their efforts to see the newborn King. We agreed that their best was all they had to offer Him -- our pacesetters if you will, and they made it. Can't you just see their cold breath and chests rising as they arrive? But today, let's focus on the one who didn't run. Though she trembled when she was told of the miracle, Mary waited for the promise.

As I write this, a song by Francesca Battistelli called Born In Me is ringing in my ears. The chorus:

I'll hold you in the beginning, you will hold me in the end. Every moment in the middle, make my heart your Bethlehem, be born in me.

Isn't that what we want? For our hearts to be His Bethlehem? Born in us? When you and I walk into work or school, when we make dinner for the kids or visit a neighbor, we hold Him. We're His home on earth. Mary offered to God what she was denied at the inn: a vacancy. The shepherds offered to God the only thing they could: an audience.

As Christmas nears, let the ones who ran to Him, and the one who didn't run from Him, give us courage to do both.

–Jimmy Peña

REFUELING LESSON PrayFit contributing dietitian Dana Angelo White gives great advice for refueling with energy-rich foods

"Everyone needs carbohydrates, the body’s preferred energy source," she says. "If you get regular cardiovascular exercise or train for an endurance sport, you need more daily carbs to fuel your workouts and replenish your energy stores. But remember: all carbs are not created equal. Grains, fruit, vegetables (nutrient-rich choices) as well as candy and sweets (empty calories) are all sources of carbohydrate. Some foods, like dairy and legumes, combine carbohydrate and protein, which helps restore muscles. The best carbs to choose are ones that contribute plenty of other nutrients such as protein, vitamins, fiber, and antioxidants."

Source: Cookinglight.com

Serious Courage

Jesus takes our fears seriously. In fact, he takes our fears more seriously than we do. Imagine that for a second. Before He left earth, He left no doubt about it. More than any other command, Jesus urged us to not fear. Of everything we know the Lord said to us while dwelling among us, "fear not" topped the list. If you think about it, what stops us from sharing our faith with strangers? What hinders us from loving the unlovable, forgiving the unforgivable or attempting the impossible? Fear, fear and more fear. It's no wonder He encouraged courage.

Fear paralyzes us. Bringing up the rear of the group on Saturday night, I was able to see things as they happened. And the one constant that fear forced the group to do was stop. Stop walking. Stop moving. Stopped cold and frozen. Predictably, at the stop sign of fear, we slam on the breaks.

Fear fools us. In one of the mazes, we were asked to wear 3-D glasses. Things appeared to be coming straight for us and fast. Better duck or get gobbled! But halfway through that maze, I took my glasses off. Turns out that things were actually much further away than they appeared. What a difference it was to see the source of fear with clear eyes.

Dear friends, Jesus takes our fears more seriously than we do. At a stop sign of fear? Run it. Blinded and confused? Try it with clear eyes. In the face of today's fear, let's take Him seriously, allowing courage to be our default reaction.

--Jimmy Peña

For Discussion: What has fear stopped you in pursuing today? Will courage be your default reaction? Friends, prayer is the key. What do you need courage for today? Whether for health-related issues or otherwise, list them below or simply say, "Unspoken...serious courage needed."

5-STEP FRIDGE MAKEOVER Use these strategies to clean up your diet for healthier eating and faster weight loss

If you're looking to get your nutritional house in order, you need to first make some simple swaps. Our contributing nutritionist, Dana Angelo White, offers up five of her favorite -- and least painful -- ways to make your fridge a waistline-friendly environment.

>> Tip No. 1 - Click here

MORE NUTRITION NEWS & NOTES

>> NEED A TREAT?: You can indulge without going overboard. Try this fall recipe for orange-chocolate cookies!

>> COMPLETE THE CLEAN-UP: After your fridge makeover, try these eight tips to start eating better, forever!

>> WHEY PROTEIN TUTORIAL: Learn how this supplement can help aid recovery, build strength and burn fat.

Walking Joshua To Class

"So Joshua ordered the officers of the people." --Joshua 1:10

Read: Joshua 1 I used to dread 5th period math. Oh, I was fine with the subject matter, but it was the getting to my math class that had me shaking in my little boots. Each day that semester, a small group of bullies would hang out by my locker, calculating ways to torment me until one day, I got smart and asked my Bubba to walk me to class. Little did they know that the skinniest kid in school was the younger brother of the toughest. They did the math.

In our passage today, Moses has just died and the responsibility fell on Joshua. In preparing Joshua to address the people, you notice God say things like, "Nobody will be able to stand against you" (v. 5), "Be strong and courageous" (v. 6) "Be strong and very courageous" (v. 7) and then again God finishes his holy encouragement with, "Have I not commanded you, be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid, do not be discouraged for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go." (v. 9)

God walked Joshua to class.

You know, I don't remember ever being scared again on the way to math. Not because of who I was, but because of who walked with me that day. If you notice, God didn't tell Joshua, "Chin up, you have the power, trust your instincts, believe in yourself." No, God knew Joshua could stand tall because he wouldn't be alone. And what was Joshua's response? After nine verses of God's assurance, we learn Joshua didn't hesitate. That's right. He ordered. He commanded. He pushed forward in faith and trust. (Because that's how winning is done.)

Folks, faith says that there aren't enough problems waiting around today's corner that can add up or stand up to the One you bring with you. Like we said yesterday, life hits hard. Life can bully. And if we rely on our "selves," we do have reason to fear. But like Joshua and that skinny fifth grader, you and I don't walk to class alone.

--Jimmy Peña

For Discussion: What are you facing that needs your absolute faith and trust that God is with you? Health, financial, relationships, hardships? What can we be praying with you about?

EXTREME MAKEOVER: FRIDGE EDITION Body makeovers start in the kitchen. So for 2013, it’s out with the old and in with the new for your fridge and freezer. We’ve got five things to scratch off your shopping list and five fresher, healthier, and more affordable things to put in their place.

>> Click here for tips on how to retrofit your fridge for year-round clean eating. Prayfit Stainless Steel Water BottleSHOP FIT: Looking for some new fitness swag to sweat up in your pursuit of a leaner, healthier body? We've got just the thing(s).

Click here to explore the newly updated PrayFit store!

I Am One Of Them

In the third century, St. Cyprian wrote to a friend named Donatus: "This seems a cheerful world, Donatus, when I view it from this fair garden under the shadow of these vines. But if I climbed some great mountain and looked out over the wide lands, you know very well what I would see; brigands on the high road, pirates on the seas, in the amphitheaters men murdered to please the applauding crowds, under all roofs misery and selfishness. It really is a bad world, Donatus, an incredibly bad world.

Yet, in the midst of it, I have found a quiet and holy people. They have discovered a joy which is a thousand times better than any pleasure of this sinful life. They are despised and persecuted, but they care not. They have overcome the world. These people, Donatus, are the Christians...and I am one of them."

(Max Lucado study bible; Gordon Macdonald, Forging a Realworld Faith)

I paste that quote because the subject of being quiet and holy has been on my mind lately; quiet as it pertains to humility of health as well as service. In reading the books of Thessalonians and James, I've noticed some common themes, a few of which we're going to dive into next week. But make no mistake, our health can have an eternal impact. Not in the way it looks so much, but in how we use it to serve others. Paul urges us to "lead a quiet life, and to work with your own hands," while James says, "For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also."

Folks, we are in this place right now to put this body to use for God's kingdom. If we make too much of its reflection, we're vain. If we sit idle and don't put it to work, we waste it. But in a time where health is disregarded as a means of praise, there is a quiet and holy people. They have overcome the world. These people are the Christians, and I am one of them. So are you. Can you think of any higher compliment?

--Jimmy Peña

RECIPE OF THE WEEK: Green Herb Hummus

Ten minutes to tasty with this fresh, fiber- and protein-rich recipe from PrayFit contributing dietitian Dana Angelo White.

>> RECIPE - VIDEO

Dana Angelo White, MS, RD, ATC is a registered dietitian and is currently a nutrition expert for the Food Network, and has worked as a media spokesperson for Cooking Light Magazine. She has appeared on Good Day Street Talk, Food Network.com, Access Hollywood and GMA Health. Visit her at Dana White Nutrition. You can also visit her blog for more recipes at

http://www.foodnetwork.com/green-herb-hummus/video/index.html

Sown Up With Love

"He is before all things, and in him all things hold together." --Colossians 1:17

Read: Colossians 1

To imagine God carefully knitting our souls together is, well, tough to imagine. It's easier to picture Him forming mountains than it is to see him fashioning hearts. But nothing in all creation was created with more care. Compared to you, Everest is a mole hill and the Sahara is a single grain of sand. Are the heavens amazing? Absolutely. Does the earth pronounce His splendor? Without a doubt. But only you and I were sown up with one distinguishing trait and something no star above can claim: choice.

And much like an artist puts a signature on his work, God signed us. That's right. In our very cells, God made His mark. Pictured here is the actual structure of the protein molecule that binds all of our cells together: Scientists call it laminin, but let's just call it love.

--Jimmy Peña

Question: I first learned about Laminin from my Louie Giglio. Folks, isn't it amazing how we're held together? From Heaven down to earth, it's all about the Cross. What will you do today to protect what protects you?

To hear Louie Giglio talk about Laminin, watch his Indescribable series. Be blessed! (I had the blessing of listening to Louie for 4 years at Baylor University.) While I was at Muscle & Fitness, Louie was the one who first told me that we need to "embrace our smallness". A theme that I would never forget.

 

THE DAILY, DELIVERED

Nearly 10,000 people have chosen to receive the PrayFit Daily in their inboxes each morning. If you haven't signed up for this free service already, simply go to our homepage and look for the box pictured here. Click, type, submit -- it could be the most rewarding 30 seconds you spend on the computer this morning! And if you want to help us go viral with this sign-up drive, you can do so by sending friends this link:

SUBSCRIBE: http://bit.ly/cSd8tp

A Captive Audience

"They that wait upon the Lord will renew their strength. They shall mount up on wings as eagles." --Isaiah 40:31

Read: Isaiah 40

A couple of years ago, we reported that the Orange County Zoo had a special guest come to visit. Well...he's back. Every day, a wild bald eagle has been seen perched on a tree overlooking the zoo's eagle exhibit. And each time he draws near the enclosure, he can be heard vocalizing with the birds below. Imagine, a majestic bald eagle, free and able to go anywhere in the world, is most content near the captive. Why? Simple. He's in love. Experts say the wild eagle has an infatuation with a female eagle inside the enclosure and, even though the two will likely never meet, he never leaves her side.

Makes me think...In all His majesty and freedom, nothing captures God's attention like you and me. He shows up in our days, loves to talk with us, and He never leaves our sides. Why? Simple. He's in love. The object of His affection? Us. And like it says in Isaiah, although at times we feel trapped, He's with us everyday. And if we wait on Him, we'll do just like that eagle...and fly.

--Jimmy Peña

Question: In what areas are you waiting on the Lord? You're praying diligently, perhaps for the job to come through, the house to sell, the prognosis to improve? What can we help you pray for?

HEALTH, ON THE SIDE Side dishes are supposed to be an accompaniment, but many favorites can jam in more calories than you want for an entire meal. Lighten up your plate with these healthy (but still delicious) substitutions.

Instead of: French fries Choose: Oven-baked fries The Payoff: At least 30 percent less fat

Instead of: Mac and Cheese Choose: Rice Pilaf or 5-Ingredient Cheesy Rice The Payoff: A healthy reduction in fat, cholesterol and calories.

(If it’s mac and cheese or bust, try our tips for lightening up your favorite recipe.)

Instead of: Mashed potatoes Choose: A baked sweet potato or sweet potato oven fries The Payoff: Half the calories and piles of vitamin A

Instead of: Butter-drenched vegetables Choose: Roasted seasonal veggies The Payoff: Big flavor for a fraction of the fat and calories

Instead of: Creamy salad dressing Choose: Vinaigrette The Payoff: Healthier fats and 40 calories less per tablespoon

Dana Angelo White, MS, RD, ATC, is a registered dietitian, certified athletic trainer and owner of Dana White Nutrition, Inc., which specializes in culinary and sports nutrition.

SUBSCRIBE TO THE PRAYFIT DAILY

Nearly 10,000 people have chosen to receive the PrayFit Daily in their inboxes each morning. If you haven't signed up for this free service already, simply go to our homepage and look for the box pictured here. Click, type, send -- it could be the most rewarding 30 seconds you spend on the computer this morning! And if you want to help us go viral with this sign-up drive, you can do so by sending friends this link:

SUBSCRIBE: http://bit.ly/cSd8tp

He's Calling You

"Jesus stopped and said, 'Call him.' So they called to the blind man, 'Cheer up! On your feet! He's calling you!' Throwing his cloak aside, he leaped to his feet and came to Jesus." --Mark 10:49-50

Read: Mark 10

Most of us can't fathom what the blind man was going through that day outside of Jericho. What we do know is that he spent his days begging in the dark. In the verses leading up to this one, we learn he's rebuked and told to be quiet for calling out for Jesus. But nothing stirs the blind like a close encounter with a sight giver. So when Jesus called for him, he jumped.

Nobody knows what you're battling today either. Though your eyes may work just fine, things like family matters, school issues and health problems might be darkening your spirit and blinding you from all that God wants you to see. But whatever you do, don't sit there quietly. Despite what those around you might say, cry out for Him with every functioning sense, and then cheer up and jump to your feet. He's calling you!

--Jimmy Peña

RECIPE OF THE WEEK: Baked Salmon

Get a dose of heart-healthy omega-3 fats from this easy and delicious salmon dish. All you need is 15 minutes to prep this quick weeknight dinner. Leftovers are delicious over lettuce for lunch the next day.

Ingredients

Serves: 4 1 1/4 pound wild salmon, skin removed, cut into 4 pieces 2 tablespoons whole grain mustard 2 tablespoons 100% pure maple syrup 1 clove garlic, minced Juice of 1/2 a lemon

Directions

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place salmon pieces on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper. Season with salt and pepper; roast for 10 minutes. In a small bowl, combine mustard, maple syrup, garlic and lemon juice. After 10 minutes of cooking, brush salmon with mixture and return to the oven for 5 minutes or until salmon is just cooked through.

Wild Salmon

Wild caught salmon is a sustainable seafood pick, packed with protein and omega-3 fats — 4 ounces raw has 1,660 milligrams of heart healthy omega-3 fats.

Whole Grain Mustard

You can spot whole grain mustard by the tiny round mustard seeds running through it. Those yellow seeds are packed with iron and selenium; they also contain some omega-3 fats! Despite its low calorie count (only 30 calories per tablespoon), this course mustard adds tangy flavor and texture.

Maple Syrup

It’s not just for pancakes anymore! Maple syrup is an outrageously delicious way to add some natural sweetness to a dish. Make sure to pick 100% pure syrup; there are some imposters out there made from water and corn syrup.

Garlic

This sweet and tangy salmon needs some spice from fresh garlic. There’s some research to support that a compound in garlic called allicin has antibacterial properties. Some other research is looking into how garlic may help lower cholesterol — for now the jury is still out, but it’s delicious either way.

Lemon Juice

Finally, a squeeze of fresh lemon juice balances the sweetness and cuts through some of the strong salmon flavor.

Nutrition Information (per serving):

Calories: 240 Total fat: 9 grams Saturated fat: 1.5 grams Carbohydrates: 14 grams Cholesterol: 50 milligrams Sodium: 125 milligrams Protein: 25 grams

Dana Angelo White, MS, RD, ATC is a registered dietitian and is currently a nutrition expert for the Food Network, and has worked as a media spokesperson for Cooking Light Magazine. She has appeared on Good Day Street Talk, Food Network.com, Access Hollywood and GMA Health. Visit her at Dana White Nutrition. You can also visit her blog for more recipes at http://blog.foodnetwork.com/healthyeats/.

For Those Who Can't, Stand

"...Cheer up! On your feet! He's calling you." --Mark 10:49

Read: Mark 10

Yesterday on Facebook, I posted something I witnessed on Sunday:

"I sat behind a man in church on Sunday, paralyzed from the neck down. It was interesting to me that when the choir director asked the congregation to stand and sing, you could feel the reluctance and see the slow-moving crowd rise to their feet. I thought to myself, I wonder how fast this sweet man would stand if he could. The next song we sang was 'Bless the Lord, oh my soul, and all that is within me, bless His Holy name.' You know what? This man's voice was the loudest one around me. Plainly said, when we were asked to stand, he already was. Folks, life is not about the body, so if you have health and ability, use it as a means of praise. And believer, if you're called to stand and sing -- and you can stand up and sing -- stand up and sing."

The responses to our post had us in tears and awe. We wanted to share a few of them with you.

Renee Foster: "We have a young boy in our church who has been wheelchair bound his whole life and yet, when we sing he raises his one hand by just bending it at the wrist from his wheelchair armrest. It's all he can do so he does it. Imagine what an example that is for us."

Tricia Weaver Cross: "Thank you so much...I have a 13 yr old daughter that is wheelchair bound with a brain injury. I know that if she could stand and sing she would, with hands raised in praise. One day...one day!"

Isabelle Kafarela: "My father is paralyzed. What he wouldn't give to have the use of his legs! We thank GOD every day for my father's spirit as he lives with pain daily! Lord, please give my father Niko Kafarela strength in spirit to live Your Purpose daily!"

Bud Krueger: "The next time I stand, guess who will be there in front of me...Jesus, God, Holy Ghost. Amen"

No words, right? Well, I have a few for us. "Bless the Lord, oh my soul, and all that is within me, bless His Holy name." And for those who can't, stand.

--Jimmy Peña

RECIPE OF THE WEEK: Chicken Sausage & Pepper Flatbread

Looking for something that tastes way worse for you than it really is? Try this savory recipe from PrayFit contributing nutritionist Dana Angelo White, MS, RD, ATC.

>> Recipe - Click here

For more PrayFit recipes and healthy eating tips, visit our nutrition page.

A Line In the Sand

“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.” --Colossians 3:23-24

Read: Colossians 3 My recent trip to the water reminded me just how much my wife and I love turtles, especially those sea turtles. My dad used to say to me, “Jimmy, turtles are great because to get anywhere they gotta stick their necks out.” Well, in case you don’t share our enthusiasm, let me share some turtle trivia.

First, they’re born on the beach, even though they were never meant for the sand. And once they hatch, they don’t stick around to watch the grass grow. No sir! No sightseeing for these guys. In order to avoid the predators like birds and crabs, they run to the water as fast as they can. They might be young, but they know enough to know they’re neither safe nor at home.

And neither are we. We’re born on foreign soil and all we need to do is make our way to safety. The good news? Jesus has already defeated our predator, and He drew a line in the sand for us to follow. All we have to do is stick our necks out and run.

–Jimmy Peña

Question: What lines in the sand have you drawn for yourself, physically and spiritually? Are you committed to being obedient in quiet times as well as honoring the body through better choices of food and activity? If you want to share, please do so in the comment section. Let us celebrate and pray with you.

Bonus Trivia Question for Runners: What burns a greater percentage of fat calories? High-intensity intervals or low-intensity/long runs? Think you know? Give us your answer and justification and we may send you some PrayFit gear!

RECIPE OF THE WEEK: Cinnamon Roll Oatmeal Cinnamon rolls. Oatmeal. Two breakfast faves that sit on opposite ends of the healthy-living spectrum -- unless you combine the best of both worlds. This recipe gives you the rich flavor of a cinnamon roll with the craving-killing fiber of oatmeal, all in one perfect breakfast bowl.

>> Click here for the recipe!

Of Walls and Temples

"When all our enemies heard of it, and all the nations surrounding us saw it, they lost their confidence; for they recognized that this work had been accomplished with the help of our God." --Nehemiah 6:16

Read: Nehemiah 6

When Nehemiah heard the news of Jerusalem his heart broke. The walls had been toppled and the temple destroyed. Through prayer, trials, and trust, the faithful people of Israel rebuilt the wall in just 52 days, which was miraculous because the wall had been laying in ruin for 140 years. It's a wonderful, powerful story of God's accomplishment. I urge you to read Nehemiah with us.

I was reminded of that story last week when we traveled to the wonderful city of Asheboro, North Carolina. We had the pleasure of speaking to hospital staff, encouraging their continuous effort to extend the dreams of the sick. We rallied with community business leaders, reminding them that our health enables us to be better servant-leaders. And we joined the mission of a small group of believers who, like Nehemiah, have a broken heart for the temple and are building walls to protect it.

You know, the bible says that when Jerusalem's walls were rebuilt, the enemies "lost their confidence" because they knew God had accomplished it for them. Wow. Constructing walls, rebuilding temples. Keep going, Asheboro. How blessed we are to witness your work; humbled to have been given a brick.

--Jimmy Peña

Question: What walls does your church, community or business need to build to protect and honor health? Have you broken ground?

HEALTH TIP: Cold Remedies Cold and flu supplements have become a multi-billion dollar business. As the cold weather rolls in each year, consumers fork over a pretty penny for anything that promises to keep them healthy or get them better. Are these supplements all they’re cracked up to be? PrayFit contributing nutritionist Dana Angelo White, MS, RD, ATC weighs in.

>> Click here to see what really works.

>> COMMUNITY & FELLOWSHIP: Our family has grown by leaps and bounds in five years. Interact with fellow faith-and-fitness devotees by joining our forums today. Here, you can share successes and struggles, swap recipes, pray for one another or just catch up with like-minded friends. Already a member? Sign in here.

A Dad Who Shows Up

"Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go." --Joshua 1:9

Read: Joshua 1

A few years ago, I was living a fitness writer's dream -- working at Weider headquarters in Los Angeles, contributing to two of the most widely-read publications in the industry. But it came at a cost. Hopelessly long commutes and deadline-packed work weeks meant that I was arriving home in the evening with just enough time to kiss my baby girls goodnight and spend a few hours with my amazing wife before heading to bed to do it all again the next day. Though I was flourishing in my role at work, I was far from fulfilling my role as a father. My girls needed a dad who showed up.

I left Weider HQ, along with my bi-monthly paychecks and generous benefits, in hopes of remedying the situation. The overwhelming uncertainty was worth the risk. Today, I am still blessed enough to write for several fitness publications, only now it's out of a home office. With my girls now at school age, they can count on seeing dad in the seats for every school performance and on the sidelines for every sports camp. They can depend on me to be there to prepare them for the school day and to be there when class is out. They have me to guide them along when it's time to ride on two wheels and to pick them up when their balance fails them. I may no longer be at the center of the industry but I am at the center of their childhood and that's alright by me.

Like my girls with me, I draw comfort from the unfailing, divine presence of our Father (Joshua 1:9). He is there when we struggle and when we succeed. We can look to Him when we crave guidance and reach with certainty for His outstretched hand when we fall. We can absolutely depend on His love to find us, each day, and always when we need it most. We never need to ponder whether He'll be absentee in our life story.

He could have stayed in heaven but the distance and disconnect were simply too much for Him to bear. He needed to be closer to His children and was willing to bear the consequences to come. He didn't want to miss a thing. Architect of the heavens, Author of our DNA -- there's no disputing His resume. But by a grace we can scarcely understand, He is most at home in a much simpler role: as a Dad who shows up.

--Eric Velazquez

NUTRITION: Stir-Fry Basics Stir-fry is a quick and easy weeknight dinner. They make a well-balanced meal with a bit of protein, tons of veggies and healthy carbs from rice. We’ll run you through the basic steps to get you started, then share a few ideas to liven things up.

>> "Wok" this way for better stir-fry! (Click here)

>> SOCIAL NETWORKS: Now you can "like," "join," "tweet" and "watch" PrayFit. Click the links below to get plugged in with the rest of the PrayFit community. Facebook HeavenUp Twitter YouTube

Upside Down

"For by grace you have been saved, through faith, and that not of yourselves, it is a gift of God. Not of works, lest any man should boast." --Ephesians 2:8-9

Read: Ephesians 2

Sometimes God allows things to be turned upside down for our own good, amen? I thought of that yesterday while hanging completely upside down on a call to my agent. I wish it were because I was cool, trendy or a serious Batman fan. Well, maybe one of those? But alas, no. See, I have accelerated degenerative disk disease, so an inversion table is a fixture in my home. Of course, Loretta makes me hang around downstairs in my cave. And each day I do everything in my power to help relieve the symptoms of an otherwise irreversible trend. My disks are failing rapidly, and they're unforgiving.

In a recent article with InTouch Magazine, Max Lucado was asked, "Why do you think we miss out on this aspect of grace and try to live for God on our own strength? Max answered by saying, "Grace goes so contrary to everything else in life. Everything else in life is a barter system. We work, so we get paid. We love others; we hope they will love us back. Then we come into a relationship with God with the same idea — that it’s going to be some type of exchange with a merit system. Religion says that if you do good, God will notice you. The Bible says God has already noticed you. He’s loved you and adopted you, and given you a new heart. Now go out and do good. It just really kind of flips everything upside down."

Yeah, grace does that. When everyone and everything is unforgiving, God's grace turns it upside down. I can no sooner turn back the clock on my disks than I can take back yesterday's sin. But Jesus gives grace. Grace great enough to secure my soul forever. And that's why I hang upside down; just in case He gives me another day to share that news.

--Jimmy Peña

Question: Has your life been turned upside down? Financially, emotionally, physically? Let us be an encouragement that no matter what happens, sweet grace never lets go. Share with us how we can be praying for you today.

5 FLU-FIGHTING FOODS This flu season will go down as one of the worst on record, and it's not over yet. Parts of the country are still reeling from the epidemic and thousands more are still likely to get it. The flu can knock you down for days or even weeks, making it that much harder to focus on proper nutrition. But there are certain foods that you can take down that can ease your symptoms and get you back into the game sooner. Read this authoritative list of five flu-fighting foods from PrayFit contributing nutritionist Dana Angelo White, MS, RD, ATC.

>> Click here for the list!

DID YOU KNOW? The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported 22,048 flu cases from September 30 through the end of 2012. By the same time last year, only 849 flu cases had been reported nationwide.

Of Gifts and Gratitude

"If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it." --John 15:6

Read: 1 Corinthians 12

Anyone who is blessed enough to be around children for any length of time knows that you often end up with the strangest collection of gifts. My girls are no different. Much to the dismay of our community groundskeeper, Mya and Ella are intent upon picking every flower that they see, always with a single plan in mind -- to brighten someone else's day with a makeshift, yet heartfelt bouquet.

This gesture, which holds great meaning to the girls, is quickly lost on us grown-ups. We accept the flowers with a showy smile and a nod, only to set them down in the moments to follow. We carry on with our business, leaving petals to wilt and whither from neglect. It is only when Mya and Ella return to inquire about the condition of their floral good tidings that we are suddenly forced to ponder the true value of their gift. Put plainly, the flowers matter to them because they probably carefully selected each one with me and Wendy in mind, and no explanation can soothe the heartbreak of our apparent ingratitude.

Our bodies are exquisite and unparalleled works of art. Formed from the dirt in His own garden, each for a unique purpose. And like flowers handed to you by a child, they were given to us with an expectation of continued care. How we express gratitude for our bodies doesn't just matter to us. It matters, perhaps more than we'll ever know, to the One who gifted them in the first place.

--Eric Velazquez

NUTRITION TIPS: 5 Easy Fridge Makeovers Body makeovers start in the kitchen. So for 2013, it’s out with the old and in with the new for your fridge and freezer. We’ve got five things to scratch off your shopping list and five fresher, healthier, and more affordable things to put in their place.

>> Click here for the list!

>> If you're not already getting the PrayFit Daily delivered to your inbox each morning, click here. Then, get in on the act with us on Facebook, Twitter, HeavenUp and YouTube. And for a final look at how your health can be used as a means of praise, click 'play' to hear from founder Jimmy Peña.

Happy Birthday, PrayFit.com

"And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns." --Philippians 1:6

Read: Philippians 1

For those who may not know the story, after graduate school I held some wonderful positions of leadership as well as some remarkable writing roles. Those opportunities eventually landed me down the hall from Joe Weider of Muscle & Fitness magazine -- pretty neat privilege. Over the course of those years I was honored to contribute to some well-known celebrity books, with one of my co-author titles earning me a New York Times Bestseller credit. But as a Christian in the fitness industry, I knew then what I know now -- that life was not about the body.

And I knew that no matter how smart or how polished a fitness expert I was becoming, God was calling me to teach health as a means of praise; to help people seek fitness with modesty and obedience. And so naturally I felt a strange hollowness and emptiness about my career. I think it was likely an appropriate response for someone doing one thing when he was clearly meant to be doing something else. Over the years, I'd pray for the Lord to show me the right doors, and well, He answered my prayer when He included me in a massive layoff at the magazines. He closed that door five years ago yesterday.

Five years ago today, we started PrayFit.com and we have never looked back. I say "we" because the best thing about all those years -- the magazines, the celebrity books, the awards --  the best part of all that was meeting a guy by the name of Eric Velazquez, hands down the best writer in the business, co-founder of PrayFit and one of the closest friends I've ever had. The first day Eric heard my idea of PrayFit.com - and years before God showed us the door - Eric was all-in. And as you can see, I held him to it. (Eric, can you believe it's been five years?)

But to you, the faithful reader, this one's for you. You're the reason we're here. It's your health and love for the Lord that drives us each and every day. It's our genuine hope that you're drawn closer to God and to better health by the devotions you read. All we ask is that you keep praying for us.

So with that...Happy Birthday, PrayFit. Thank you for the meaning that you have brought to my life and for becoming my life's work.

--Jimmy Peña

P.S. Eric and I and our spouses --Loretta and Wendy, the real brains of this operation -- would also love to thank our extended PrayFit family; amazing friends and contributing writers, specialists and nutritionists whose expertise has filled our pages and helped us deliver our message to you. Dana Angelo White, Allison Earnst, Catrina Vargas, Karla Dial, Christie Menna, Emily Ann Miller...thank you for helping us deliver this important message to the masses. We are blessed by you!

THE NEXT FIVE YEARS The groundswell of support we've received from churches and communities has been the backbone of our success. Still, we know that we can do more. We know that we can deliver more Sunday messages, develop more small groups and change more lives through our unfailing belief in taking care of the bodies that the Lord has given us. Talk to your church leaders and pastors and arrange for PrayFit to visit your congregation in 2013. Check out the video below and write us here for more info! Here's to five more years of fortifying faith and improving health, in Jesus' name.

>> SOCIAL NETWORKS: Now you can "like," "join," "tweet" and "watch" PrayFit. Click the links below to get plugged in with the rest of the PrayFit community. Facebook HeavenUp Twitter YouTube

I Am One Of Them

In the third century, St. Cyprian wrote to a friend named Donatus: "This seems a cheerful world, Donatus, when I view it from this fair garden under the shadow of these vines. But if I climbed some great mountain and looked out over the wide lands, you know very well what I would see; brigands on the high road, pirates on the seas, in the amphitheaters men murdered to please the applauding crowds, under all roofs misery and selfishness. It really is a bad world, Donatus, an incredibly bad world. Yet, in the midst of it, I have found a quiet and holy people. They have discovered a joy which is a thousand times better than any pleasure of this sinful life. They are despised and persecuted, but they care not. They have overcome the world. These people, Donatus, are the Christians...and I am one of them."

I paste that quote because the subject of being quiet and holy has been on my mind lately; quiet as it pertains to humility of health as well as service. In reading the books of Thessalonians and James this week, I've noticed some common themes, a few of which we're going to dive into next week. But make no mistake, our health can have an eternal impact. Not in the way it looks, but in how we use it to serve others. Paul urges us to "lead a quiet life, and to work with your own hands," while James says, "For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also."

Folks, we are in this place right now to put this body to use for God's kingdom. If we make too much of its reflection, we're vain. If we sit idle and don't put it to work, we waste it. But in a time where health is disregarded as a means of praise, there is a quiet and holy people. They have overcome the world. These people are the Christians, and I am one of them.

--Jimmy Peña

RECIPE OF THE WEEK: Green Herb Hummus

Ten minutes to tasty with this fresh, fiber- and protein-rich recipe from PrayFit contributing dietitian Dana Angelo White.

>> RECIPE - VIDEO

Dana Angelo White, MS, RD, ATC is a registered dietitian and is currently a nutrition expert for the Food Network, and has worked as a media spokesperson for Cooking Light Magazine. She has appeared on Good Day Street Talk, Food Network.com, Access Hollywood and GMA Health. Visit her at Dana White Nutrition. You can also visit her blog for more recipes at

http://www.foodnetwork.com/green-herb-hummus/video/index.html

Time to Board

"What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes." --James 4:14

Read: James 4

With flights being cancelled due to Hurricane Sandy, I can relate to those in airports. A few months ago, I found myself stranded. No flights coming or going, I settled into my corner of the gate area and watched others do the same. Turns out, airports are to a writer what open car windows are to my chocolate Lab Josey; an overload on the senses.

As I sat there, I watched my fellow travelers as they took ownership of their waiting space. One lady turned a few open seats into a makeshift office. Another man used the floor for a picnic. I thought I'd seen it all until a young couple installed a mailbox and rolled-out a welcome home mat. Their address: 2 Stayforeverlane

Okay, so maybe the young couple didn't exactly make the waiting area their front porch, but you and I sure do. We claim what's ours, deadbolt our belongings, and even though we're not, we make ourselves at home.

Truth is, we're not here to stay and our wait isn't all that long. But instead of seeing the brevity of life as encouragement to stay strong and healthy, we rationalize since it's not gonna last, why bother? But we have to remind ourselves that we don't do good things in order to be loved, we do them because we are. (If only we saw our health that way.)

So, after a five-hour delay, it was finally time to board. I began packing up my things when a little girl holding her father's hand walked by and asked, "Daddy, will there be someone waiting for us?" And while I didn't hear the father's reply, I do know the answer. And because of that, I think the best we can do is wait and live abundantly like God intended...and be ready when it's finally time to board.

--Jimmy Peña

P.S. All of us at Prayfit are thinking about and praying for everyone affected by Sandy. And while most of you within its terrible path won't see this, we're praying for your safety, comfort and the same for your loved ones.

RECIPE OF THE WEEK: ORANGE-CHOCOLATE COOKIES

That's right, it's time for some dessert. Being healthier, after all, isn't about painful deprivation as much as it is about better choices. So if you are moving your body regularly, you shouldn't feel guilty about occasionally giving in to your sweet tooth. But if you are being calorie-conscious, this can be a bit more agonizing unless you know how to indulge without going overboard. That's where PrayFit contributing nutritionist Dana Angelo White, MS, RD, comes in.

"My mother-in-law discovered this recipe last year in a magazine, and these cookies became an instant family favorite," she says. "The combination of orange and chocolate makes for a light but decadent cookie. At 90 calories each, you can have one (or two) and not feel guilty about dessert."

Orange-Chocolate Cookies

Makes 4 dozen

1 cup butter, softened 1 cup granulated sugar 1 egg yolk 2 teaspoons finely shredded orange peel 2 cups all-purpose flour 1/4 cup orange marmalade 6 ounces bittersweet chocolate 1 tablespoon shortening

In a large mixing bowl, beat butter with electric mixer on medium to high speed for 30 seconds. Add sugar. Beat until combined, scraping sides of the bowl occasionally. Beat in egg yolk and orange peel. Beat in as much flour as you can with the mixer. Stir in any remaining flour.

On a lightly floured surface, roll dough to 1/2 inch thickness. Using a 1 1/2-inch round cookie cutter, cut into rounds. Press your thumb into center and fill with 1/4 teaspoon orange marmalade.

Bake on parchment-lined baking sheets in a 375-degree oven for about 12 minutes or until edges are lightly browned. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool. In a small saucepan, melt chocolate and shortening over low heat. Dip half of each cookie in chocolate mixture. Place cookies on rack to set.

Calories: 89 Fat: 5.5 grams Saturated Fat: 2.5 grams Protein: 1 gram Carbohydrate: 11 grams Sodium: 2 milligrams Cholesterol: 15 milligrams Fiber: 0 grams

Dana Angelo White, MS, RD, ATC is a registered dietitian and is currently a nutrition expert for the Food Network, and has worked as a media spokesperson for Cooking Light Magazine. She has appeared on Good Day Street Talk, Food Network.com, Access Hollywood and GMA Health. Visit her at Dana White Nutrition. You can also visit her blog for more recipes at http://blog.foodnetwork.com/healthyeats/.

>> PLUS! 3 ways to start losing bodyfat...today

Pause. Rewind.

"Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ." --1 Corinthians 11:1

Read: 1 Corinthians 11

It's no secret that we at PrayFit are baseball fans. Well, last week, the manager of the Yankees - Joe Girardi - in the middle of a press conference said something that made me step out of the box, if you will.

An already emotional man, Joe was talking about the passing of his dad, and Joe's soul was on his sleeve. He fielded questions about what it was like trying to manage the team with such a heavy heart. They asked him what his dad would want him to do, or what his dad would have said to him during this time. It was a tough few minutes. But in response to one of the questions Joe replied, "I had a tremendous relationship with my father. Wherever he I went, I went. When he stopped I ran into him."

Pause. Rewind. That was me last week. As I replayed it, my first thought was of me as little boy, holding my dad's back pocket as we walked through Disneyland. I'll never forget it. I'm sure I ran into him a few times, right Pop? But in one brief phrase, Joe summed up our entire purpose -- to be so close to the Father that if He stopped we'd run into Him. You know, I think we've referenced the old adage that to be a follower of Christ is to be "covered in His dust." Yeah, well, thanks for the reminder Coach. May our lives, our choices, and our health help us get closer and closer to Him each day as we wait for the moment that He stops.

--Jimmy Peña

Question: Can our attention to better health be an example to others? How can honoring the body help us be better followers? Can we be so concerned about our bodies that it actually hurts our witness? We'd love to know your thoughts in the comments section below.

5 HEALTHY SIDE DISHES

Side dishes are supposed to be an accompaniment, but many favorites can jam in more calories than you want for an entire meal. Lighten up your plate with these healthy (but still delicious) substitutions.

>> Click here for recipes!

Think or Swim

"Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding." --Proverbs 3:5

Read: Proverbs 3

Armed with new floaties, towels and toys, we made our way to the condo pool for the second time this summer. My preschoolers clamored for the water, wiggling with impatience as I slathered them with sunscreen. Excited to join the pool-step floaty gang, they splashed and played with toys while their feet remained planted on the ground. My four-year-old rejected my requests for her to swim in my arms afraid that, despite massive bundles of air around her arms, chest and back and my ability to carry her, she would sink.

When she finally worked up the courage to trust me, or was just sick of being confined to the steps, she jumped from the deck into my arms. I was so happy to have her with me that I poured kisses on her face and exclaimed, "I love you so much!" She grinned with pride and I slowly toured her around the pool. Gradually, I released my grip on her until she was floating in the pool on her own, something she hadn't thought possible. She spent the next joyful hour in the pool exploring the depths, the sides and the ladder, and never stopped smiling.

What is it that keeps you and me on the "steps?" The Lord wants to gather us up in his arms, rain love on us and show us the amazing feats we're capable of –- if only we would trust him.

--Kristi Valentini

When not kissing boo-boos or playing dolls with her two little beauties, Kristi Valentini can be found writing parenting and lifestyle articles for the Huffington Post, Milkshake Kids and Momtastic, and sharing her mothering shortcuts at her own site, MommyCribNotes.com. RECIPE OF THE WEEK: Angelo Family French Toast

French toast -- we'll say it -- is a breakfast delicacy. There may be a special place in heaven where thick, egg-battered slices of perfectly prepared French toast are served at every meal. Unfortunately, here on Earth, it is an indulgence best had occasionally...until now. This recipe, prepared by PrayFit contributing nutritionist Dana Angelo White, is a healthier alternative to this breakfast favorite.

Serves 4

Ingredients: 3 large eggs ¾ cup lowfat (1%) milk 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon, plus more to taste 8 slices multi-grain bread 4 teaspoon unsalted butter Canola oil cooking spray 100% maple syrup 2 cups fresh seasonal fruit

Directions: In a large bowl, whisk together eggs, milk, vanilla and cinnamon; set aside. Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium heat, spray with nonstick spray. Melt 1 tsp butter in skillet. Dip 2 slices of bread into milk mixture, making sure both sides are well coated. Place bread in skillet and cook for 2-3 minutes per side or until golden brown (sprinkle with additional cinnamon, if desired). Repeat with remaining slices of bread. Transfer to a warm oven until ready to serve. Top with maple syrup -- sugar-free if carbs are a concern -- and fruit.

Nutrition info per serving: Calories: 414 Total Fat: 11 grams Saturated Fat: 4 grams Total Carbohydrate: 64 grams Protein: 15 grams Sodium:  473 milligrams Cholesterol: 171 milligrams Fiber: 5 grams

Dana Angelo White, MS, RD, ATC is a registered dietitian, certified athletic trainer, and nutrition and fitness consultant for international food companies, restaurants and marketing firm. Dana is also the nutrition advisor to The Food Network.

>> NEW! Now, you can easily view past installments of the PrayFit Daily by visiting our new archives. Using this new feature, you can now categorically access years' worth of faith and fitness information and inspiration.

Here I Am To Worship

"I will praise you, O Lord, with all my heart." --Psalm 138:1

Read: Psalm 138

Here I am to worship. If it's been a while since you've been to the gym, whisper it to the Lord as you open that door. If you're starting to walk after work with your spouse, pray it together as you take that step. Maybe you're about to take a swim, go for a jog or start your at-home DVD. Whatever the case, say it: Here I am to worship.

And as you do, remember -- it's not about the mirror, or lower bodyfat, or the muscle. Those things may happen, they may not. If they do, consider them gifts of obedience and blessings of diligence. But we believe it warms God's heart when we take care of ours. So go ahead. Lift, run, walk, swim, stretch. Have church. After all, you are a temple.

--Jimmy Peña

MENU MAKEOVER: Bread Pudding By Dana Angelo White, MS, RD, ATC

With the kiddos being back in school, those after school snacks are back in business. And soaked in sugar, eggs and half-and-half, bread pudding is decadent to say the least. Good news: it’s possible to cozy up with a tasty version of this comfort food for less calories.

Nutrition Facts Classic bread pudding recipes can have over 600 calories and 30 grams of fat per serving. If you’re using doughnuts and buttery croissants instead of bread, you’d be lucky to keep things under 1000 calories.

The basic recipe is simple, combine bread with custard and bake. To lighten things up, you can use smarter ingredients at each stage of the recipe and keep portions to about ½ cup per person.

Bread Dense or sweetened breads will undoubtedly have more calories and monster portions just aren’t necessary. Consider using whole-grain bread for tummy-filling fiber and figure on 4 to 5 cups of cubed bread for 8 servings.

Custard Replacing half-and-half with low fat milk saves 200 calories and 25 grams of fat per cup. Don’t worry about the thinner consistency of the milk -- eggs help thicken the mixture and allow it to bake without separating. For every 2 cups of liquid, add 2 eggs and ½ to ¾ cup of sugar.

Extras Boost flavor (sensibly) with any of these embellishments: • Add 2 cups of fresh fruit or ½ cup of dried fruit • Sprinkle the top with cinnamon and sugar before baking • Mix in ¼ cup dark chocolate chips • Add 2 tablespoons of rum or orange liqueur to the custard

Dana Angelo White, MS, RD, ATC, is a registered dietitian, certified athletic trainer and owner of Dana White Nutrition, Inc., which specializes in culinary and sports nutrition.