When “good” isn’t always “God”: Why there will be no January challenge

And this is where I am supposed to be writing you all about the January challenge. It’s where I’m supposed to be giving you new exercises, calendars, recipes, and check-in spots.

It’s where I should be encouraging, motivating, and challenging you to be your best physically because it is, after all, January—the month of resolution…the month of HEALTHY resolution.

And I am…a fitness blogger. That’s what I do.

But here I am telling you that I’m reneging. I’m taking back my promise of a January challenge and telling you that there will be nothing. I’m starting January 2013 by failing you, my precious readers.

Have you ever been in a place in your life where everywhere you turn, it’s like you are hitting a wall? Your intentions are great. Your energy is high. Your motivation is loaded.

But the practical doesn’t work?

You pray. You seek counsel. You read God’s Word. You go for a run (ahem). And no matter your attempts, it’s like fitting a round peg into a square hole?

Well, my friends, that is what happened with this challenge. I had every intention to do one and had a good plan of what I was going to do, too. (I even told you all that we were doing one and got you all excited! :() But as I sat down to get through the material, things weren’t working. I couldn’t move past a few things with the challenge. Ideas weren’t flowing. Things weren’t fitting. And I tried. Believe me–I tried. But that round peg wasn’t budging!

But perhaps what weighed on my heart more than the practical roadblocks, was the lack of peace I had.

Sure, there were a few other things that came up that made it easier to drop but ultimately, it was the peace that God gave me when I said, “Ok, God. I’m listening. I’m walking away.”

But that was hard.

I have to admit. I wanted this challenge for you, but I also wanted it for me. Challenges are big for my site. My blog grows substantially each time I do one, so this is prime time for a fitness blogger, right? The one time of the year many people will actually listen to advice about fitness, I am passing to the wayside. Ouch.

But I’ve lived enough life to know that even if I have growing numbers from a blog, or pats on my back,  if I’m not where God wants me to be, I will have no joy. I will have no peace. Obedience to God is of utmost importance and how could I start off the new year in direct disobedience….even though my heart’s desire was a “good” thing?

I trust that God knows better than me. The honest truth is, I’ve been going hard, full, and fast for nearly 3 years with this site and it’s taken it’s toll. My life is really frazzled coming off the holidays and that means I’m leaving too many areas that I deem sacred, vulnerable. I want to blog with integrity! God knows that I need a break and that I need re-energized so that I can better serve my family, and you!   I love the quote below from Elton Trueblood…

So my first post of the year is not to challenge you physically, ironically. (Aren’t ya glad? Ha!) I think God is trying to prove a greater message right now. Are you being obedient to God in all areas of your life? Are there “good” things that you are involved in that you may be holding to tightly, but that God may not be wanting you involved in now?

Nothing will zap your energy, take down your mental clarity, or make you ineffective in life, than being in disobedience to our Almighty, Sovereign God. That may be the best piece of physical advice I can give you right now….live in direct obedience to Him!


I will be keeping the blog up, and will be posting a little (along with my social media) so make sure you hang around. I’ve got a a few other ideas brewing in my mind…..:) Hang in there this month! You can do it!

(I’ll be sharing some resources/blogs to help you through January in my next post!)




  1. says

    Thank you!

    I was enthusiastic about your challenge- and was ready to go! However, as I sat down and looked at all the other things going on in my life right now, I felt overwhelmed before you even listed the first step. This, right here, is exactly what I need. I need to focus on clarity, and getting things simplified and putting God first. Thank you for the reminder. I will work on being healthy, but keep my life in order by not putting my workout goals ahead of my spiritual goals (which, I humbly admit, sometimes takes over in January).

  2. Melissa says

    This is true leadership….to be transparent, real and OBEDIENT!
    Way to go, sister. I truly KNOW that when we Matthew 6:33, life just works better. Brave post, may it resonate in every heart! Be blessed and refreshed! :)

  3. Janet says

    What an amazing post and in reality it is a challenge to all of us….a challenge to open our spirit and listen to the still small voice of the Lord. You have challenged us to put our relationship with Christ first, our families next and to let go of unnecessary things in our lives which will make us all healthier. Thank you for a confirmation of what the Lord has been speaking to me. It is so hard to let go, to say no and take some much needed down time, to leave the details to God and trust that He will provide for all of our needs. You have shown us by your faith that peace comes with following the Lord. Thank you for your honesty and for your faith. May the Lord bless you.

  4. Leslie says

    I have chosen to keep my FOCUS on God more in 2013 than ever before. So I do understand and appreciate your obedients to Him on this!

  5. Beverly says

    “But I’ve lived enough life to know that even if I have growing numbers from a blog, or pats on my back, if I’m not where God wants me to be, I will have no joy. I will have no peace. Obedience to God is of utmost importance and how could I start off the new year in direct disobedience….even though my heart’s desire was a “good” thing?”

    Amen… Amen… Amen!!!… Proud of you, Sister… God bless your 2013!

  6. Shonda says

    Wow, I am so proud of you, Clare! I was excited for your challenge, but I can certainly wait and I know to listen to God. I have to put my blogging and reviewing on a back burner this year for sure. There is so much content here that we will keep while you take a break. Blessings, Shonda

  7. Liz says

    My heart for 2013 as well, if our lives aren’t in line with his word and will for our lives, what’s the point anyway?

  8. says

    I’m not a new reader to your blog. But I’m not following yet in the sense that I’m not meeting any goals or should I say desires in my fitness and health. Like someone on the facebook comments already said… I can go back and start any of your recommendations…and it will be a new challenge for me! I just wanted to encourage you in that I understand your decision and admire you for it as well as for your discipline and consistency in exercise and healthy eating. You , Courtney @ women living well ,Janelle at Comfy in the Kitchen , Darlene @ Time Warp Wife…are some of my favorites..and you are godly women I admire and appreciate. I think you are all friends too. And while I have no desire to live “up north” because of the cold weather… it would be awesone to be around you all :-) Keep doing what the Lord lays on your heart. <3

  9. says

    i LOVE that you have chosen obedience to God in a place that “seemed” so obedient already. thank you for encouraging me to do the same. i was reading Philipians 3 last night, and your post resonated with what i read in vs. 8 and 9 —

    What is more, I consider everything a loss cmopared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ–the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith.

    anyway, thanks for being an obedient “tool” for God to reach us, your readers.

  10. says

    Well done, sister. I’m so proud of you! And you didn’t let us down in the least!! You are leading by example and that is what your ministry here is all about.

  11. says

    Amen! Good for you for listening to the Lord’s leading on this. Honestly I see some bloggers who ‘do it all’ and wonder how much of thier family life suffers for it. I am still a big fan and applaud you being real with us and making good choices for His glory, not yours. =)


  12. says

    Good for you! It is tough to walk away from something you are so passionate about, but if you truly feel God calling you away, then it is most definitely for the best. And I think all of your readers will understand.

    Faith first, then family, then everything else falls in line after that. Good to know your priorities are in order! :)

    Happy New Year! Oh – by the way, the Living & Active group we started on Facebook a few months ago is still going strong and we are fully encouraging one another into the New Year. So you’re still making it happen, even without a new challenge! Thank you!

  13. says

    I’m right there with you sister!!! I have on the front page of my 2013 journal a quote I wrote in my 2012 journal of John Piper’s. He prays. “Lord, Keep me and preserve me. Keep me in the ministry and keep me married.” A fitting prayer. Lord, keep me in the ministry because it would be SO much easier to quit.

    Stay strong sis! Get your rest and refresh and then come back with a sharper edge!!!
    Love ya girl!

  14. says

    Clare, I’m so crazy proud of you! And I know that though it’s a hard decision that you are blessed with His peace in knowing you are following His plan. Don’t worry…. when things get settled and God calls you back here, we will all be ready and waiting! PS ~ I think blogging {like so many things in life} has real challenges of temptation. And it can be overwhelming. I nearly quit altogether. And spent months offline. But time away, getting my real life back on track has allowed me to put it back into the hobby that it is. I pray that this time away will be a wonderful blessing to you and your family. Hugs and Happy New Year my Friend!!!

  15. Heather says

    I love this!! I am so thankful for your courage to step away! I am doing this in my own life right now, too. I stepped down from a volunteer position that I have had for a couple years and am re-prioritizing! Have a great year!

  16. Mary Newman says

    I can’t help but notice so many are feeling God drawing them in. Courtney at WLW stopped blogging and I’ve cut back on how I use Facebook. There is clearly an unsettleness we all feel. Just an observation and kudos to you for following what not make 100% sense to all your readers. God first absolutely!!!

  17. says

    Thanks for your honesty and transparency Clare. It makes you “real” and I, for one, appreciate that. I also appreciate this post because this hit me hard:

    I think God is trying to prove a greater message right now. Are you being obedient to God in all areas of your life? Are there “good” things that you are involved in that you may be holding to tightly, but that God may not be wanting you involved in now?

    Nothing will zap your energy, take down your mental clarity, or make you ineffective in life, than being in disobedience to our Almighty, Sovereign God. That may be the best piece of physical advice I can give you right now….live in direct obedience to Him!

    My focus and motivation at work is dragging and I think I’m in God’s way. I think there is something else he is wanting me to do and I’m afraid, deathly afraid of what that might be…I don’t want to give up my security. But rather than live in fear, I’m going to lean into him…dedicating extra time to Him every week…listening to His voice…and discerning what He’s trying to tell me.

    I’m proud of you for doing the same…for taking time for YOU (and Him). Blessings!

  18. ann gardner says

    John Piper always says, “God is most glorified, when you are most satisfied in Him”……he’s not as concerned with the amount of facebook friends, members involved in a challenge, or blog followers, but how satisfied we are in HIM! The treasures of this world are promised to be destroyed by moths and rust, and to be stoled by thieves. I’m so encouraging to see you live that out! It’s so hard–especially in January for a fitness blogger–but God will bless you for your obedience in this decision more than you could imagine….it’s all part of His awesome character! :). And at the end of the day, this blog post encourages and challenges us to be MORE Christ-like. Someday when Christ returns, or calls us home, our souls will be the deciding factor (not how great that 6-pack was! Can I get an AMEN!?). And therefore that, my friend, is the greatest gift you can give us this New Year! I’m sure I speak for all of us when I say that we still anxiously look forward to what you have in store for the blog this year….. and we’re excited to see it unfold!! :)

  19. Jennifer K. says

    I, too, was excited for your January challenge but I’m already doing another challenge, so it would have been too much for me. I am sure I would have tried though!! haha. Thank you so much for being obedient and honest….this is exactly what I needed to read. It’s so easy to over do it. May God richly bless you for your obedience!!!!

  20. Leanna says

    Thank you for opening my eyes to see some of the things that I need a different perspective on. What you shared will be a challenge for some of us to do in our own lives.

  21. Carrie says

    Hi Clare!

    I have never seen your blog but I came across this post from a friend that posted a comment on FB. I just wanted to let you know that reading your blog post touched my heart and made me so happy for you even though I don’t know you :) I look forward to reading your blog in the future, whatever the topic may be. Good luck to you and God bless you for your efforts!

  22. Jessica Reno says

    Good for you! I think though that you DID challenge us all…just not physically but spiritually! And that is a good thing.
    God Bless!

  23. Emmie says

    You go, girl! I love your honesty, and I will say that is why you have one of the best fitness blogs I’ve seen. It’s easy to follow you because you’re very real.

    However, I don’t think that you’re “skipping” a challenge in January. Obedience to God is one of the biggest challenges for any of us, and it’s ultimately the most important challenge of all. By staying silent about it on your blog, you have turned all attention on God. What a great way to start the year!

    You didn’t fail us, you just stepped out of the way so God could shine. In doing so, you reminded us all that God is sovereign, and we need to keep our eyes on Him.

    That’s awesome!

    Enjoy your rest, and thank you for your honest spirit. He will bless that.

  24. Kelly Carlson says

    Proud of you for doing the tough work Clare! It would be easy to say that a new exercise or starting a new eating plan each January would fix all our woes, when we are really just masking them–putting a band-aid over what is really wrong. Glad to see that you are going to do the more difficult challenge–to seek Him, listen to Him, and (try) obey Him. It’s why I’m starting off this year with a first-fruits fast…to give to God, focus on him, these first 21 days of the year instead of focusing on me. Looking forward to your future posts on this topic. I’m usually not a betting person, but I’m thinking that this might be your toughest challenge yet! :-)

  25. says

    I have to tell you that I could have written this blog content! Wow. What a huge encouragement to me! God has used you putting yourself out there to encourage another fellow Jesus girl experiencing a similar season of life. I recently hit bottom with all of the “good” things I was doing and am currently in the processing of removing myself from a lot. And it hurts. “I can do all these things well.” But that isn’t the verse, is it? If its not through Jesus Christ, it is futile (and exhausting!). I too, have felt the peace that is beyond understanding while saying no and creating “white space” in my Planner. I have felt the peace even through possibly disapointing others and showing that I do not “have it all together.” I pray daily that God help me be a God-pleaser instead of a people-pleaser. I just wanted to thank you for putting into words this struggle and encourage you on this journey of finding His Will for you in this season. The quote is getting framed and put by my dresser for morning review!

  26. says

    Oh my gosh Claire– I just had this talk with my hubby about 20 minutes ago! I hate being SO bogged down with thinking I have to blog. I used to write passionately about everything, but now I don’t. I post so many things trying to gain new followers, but just recently God has definitely been bringing me back into balance.

    Thank you for being so open and honest. It was what I needed to hear today.

  27. Sarah G says

    Well done! This is exactly what God has been speaking to my heart as well. I have so many good things that I was trying to take on and God shut them down. For instance, I was going to do a Bible reading schedule that a friend recommended. It’s the Bible; it can’t be wrong to read the Bible! But there wasn’t peace about it. So, I’m staying with my current devotional method until God gives me peace about something else.
    Even the way we approach the Throne can be wrong if our heart isn’t in obedience.
    Brava, sister!

  28. Nancy says

    Good for you, Clare. You are still leading by example in a powerful way: having a healthy and fit spiritual self. You have given me much food for thought. Thank you.

  29. Donna says

    This is a long post, I realize that, but it’s something that has been on my heart and mind pretty heavy the past few days. I don’t know why, I’d like to share it here. I feel that it goes along with what you’re saying. I completely agree with you. I’ve been battling the weight loss thing for a long time, full of the discouragments that it likes to throw at me. I think that it’s time I truly look at where my priorities should be. This is what I came up with…

    The whole New Year’s Resolution thing never has made much sense to me. Why make a promise that’s notorious for breaking? It seems like that’s all the resolutions really do…they start out strong and by the middle of the year, most people forget or don’t care about the promises they made. And they’re always the same, sort of generic promises….lose weight, read more, be a better person, etc. Well, really, why do we do that? Why make these promises year after year? I don’t really know why, but it seems to me like it’s because we all realize that we lack something in our lives. It could be counted as self-improvement, but then really, why wait? We spend all that time thinking about a resolution, half-way knowing that we won’t keep it. So no, I’m not a big fan of the resolutions. But I’ve been on the weight loss thing for a while, fell off the wagon, now I’m trying to get back on. I thought the same thing, ‘Hey, I’ll make a resolution this year.’ Blah. I barely got the thought through my head before I cringed at it. I was falling down the path I knew would fail so I’m not making a resolution. (I know, shocker, right?). Instead, I’m going to make a true promise. Not to me, but to God.

    You see, those areas in our lives that we strive to make better, perfect, get under control, those are all areas that God can help us deal with. In fact, He wants to help us deal with them. That’s why He’s our God, that’s the thing that He does. He loves us, He is our father, He is waiting for us to ask Him to help us. Lose weight? God has a plan for that. Get finances under control? God has a plan for that. Be a better person? God has a great plan for that!
    Improve ourselves?

    God has a plan for that…tailor-made for you.

    That’s what I think the problem is. We single out these areas that we think we need to improve when really, all we need to do is strive for a better relationship with God. Then I think that those these areas still have their challenges, they won’t be near as daunting, or doomed to fail, if we have God by our side. I’m not make a resolution, I’m making a revolution in my life. One that demands I act on that leap of faith I took when I was a kid. One that doesn’t include God, but revolves around Him.

    I have plans for myself for the New Year. But like Jeremiah 29 11 says – He knows the plans that He has for me. So it’s time I throw my plans away (as hard as that is) and try to discover the plans He has for me. My plans are doomed for failure. I’m human. He is divine. His plans can’t fail, as long as we reach to discover them. His plans are to prosper and not harm us, give us a home and a future.

    Really, when you think about it, what better promise could you possibly make to yourself?

    Thanks for reading this!

  30. says

    I very much admire how you followed God’s peace (or lack of)
    in order to be obedient. I know many times in my life I have done what I feel are “good” things but looking back they were
    not ok with God. Good job!

  31. Tina says

    Claire, Amen! The challenge isn’t the challenge, the obedience is. Well done sister!! And thank you for sharing your obedience with us, we’re all constantly learning.

  32. says

    While I am bummed about there being no January challenge I completely understand. Sometimes when one is a leader/motivator/inspirer it can take a toll and then one can not do the job they enjoy doing. When the time is right it will come. I look forward to a new challenge whenever it may be :)

  33. Colleen says

    Amen!!! This is encouraging- ive actually lost a great friendship over a fitness infatuation (marathon runner) and ever since the hurt from that i have had no desire to feed that part of my flesh (not that i think being healthy is bad of course, but finding the right focus between the fitness & Christ)
    So i have been a reader on your blog but have never even utilized the (awesome) fitness challenges!! Lol
    Not sure thats helpful to hear but I just love reading your blog because its refreshing to hear someone keep Christ first while staying fit!! (It can be such a fleshy side if we are not careful!)
    Hugs :) Happy New Year!

    • says

      Hi Colleen! I appreciate your thoughts…and I see the balance out of what all the time between fitness and Christ. I hope some of my fitness stuff rubs off on you, too! HA!

  34. says

    Thank you for your honesty and for keeping your priorities in order.

    I just found you, posted about you and now I am actually excited about doing one of your previous challenges. :)

    Real people – the blog world needs people like you.

  35. Sally B. says

    I appreciated your words of encouragement to keep my priorities in the right order: Obedience to God #1! When I keep Christ first in my life, even though life can still feel crushing, I have real peace, knowing I’m being obedient to God. Thanks for this good reminder at the start of new year. Like other commentors, bravo!

  36. Diane says

    Yes, Clare! My “one word” for 2013 was going to be “health.” But a week or so ago, I felt led to make “Christ” my one word, and that pretty much encompasses everything. Putting Him first, then everything else will fall into place.

    Blessings to you and your family!

  37. says

    I have a confession. I have only ever followed one challenge you’ve done and not very well. I tend to be a bit of a rebel anyways, but love your workouts.:) I am a faithful follower of your wonderful blog but please know that even without your challenges you are a service to others and the Lord. I come here to get inspired and find new challenging workouts I can use.
    Not everyone needs a “challenge” as much as they need to be challenged to change that usually happens on a more personal level.
    Thank you Clare for your honesty and hard work. Thank you for remembering who you are truly working for. (Col 3:23)


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