Real Talk: Every Body Matters Book Review (and a Giveaway!)

If you’ve seen my last few posts, you already know that I’ve been working through this Gary Thomas book. I finished it a couple of weeks ago.

I typically read very fast–I am totally guilty of rushing through a book to finish it and not taking enough time to think critically and reflect on it. I couldn’t do that with this book. It’s not incredibly long, but it is FULL. I have about 2/3 of the pages dog-eared with information/quotes that I want to go back and read.


The basic premise of this book (at least from my point of view) comes from 2 Timothy 2:20-21:

In a large house there are articles not only of gold and silver, but also of wood and clay; some are for special purposes and some for common use. 21 Those who cleanse themselves from the latter will be instruments for special purposes, made holy, useful to the Master and prepared to do any good work.

As Christians we are called to be:

  • Instruments for special purposes
  • Made holy
  • Useful to the Master
  • Prepared to do any good work. 

That’s a lot of responsibility.

As Gary puts it:

 “Desiring a silver soul means that we stop treating our bodies like ornaments-with all the misguided motivations often displayed by those who build their bodies out of pride and ambition-and start treating our bodies like instruments, vessels set apart to serve the God who fashioned them. Whether we have strong or weak bodies, healthy or sick, overnourished or undernourished, how do we begin moving from where we are now to more purposefully building bodies that function like instruments?” 

Um… treating our bodies as ornaments? Guilty. This means that we must put our vanity aside. That we stop beating ourselves up or worshiping our looks and start treating our bodies as something that God has given us…and use them accordingly!


This is heavy stuff. And that was only the first chapter!

I mentioned before that this really hit home. I’ve been a bit lax about taking care of my physical health the last few months. Not that I’ve taken up binge drinking, smoking and eating bacon cheeseburgers for dinner every night (How fun would that be?)… I just haven’t made a concerted effort to get out and move. And I was starting to feel it.

With my new-ish job, being healthy and physically fit is important. I have to be on the move at any given time…I never really know what I’m going to end up doing during the week (Seriously).

And then there is the other aspect of my job; As much as I don’t like to admit or think about it, people are watching what I do and say. Especially younger people. And their parents.  What I do directly impacts my accountability. How is that for scary responsibility/reality? Wow.

There is a chapter called The Three-Hundred Pound Pastor that hit the nail on the head in this regard. Let’s just say that my Gross But Necessary posts came back right around the time I read that chapter.

To quote the book:

“Let’s be honest: There were times when I was discredited because of the way I looked. When I talked to the kids about self-control in other areas, they could look at me and understandably ask why I wasn’t addressing my issues with food…” 

The chapter goes on to talk about how the church can actually enable people who struggle with food/physical fitness. Farmer Ben and I have definitely noticed this before-someone always brings cake/cookies to a group function, there are donuts and coffee on Sunday mornings, and so on.

As the books states;

“Please don’t misunderstand. Making delicious meals is a wonderful way to serve and love others. There’s nothing wrong with communal meals and tasty snacks. There is something wrong, however, about enabling someone who is trapped in an unhealthy pattern of living…

…Let’s create room in our churches for conversations rooted in love as we show concern not just for a person’s emotional well-being but for the physical well-being of that person too. Let’s be more concerned about someone walking in right relationship with God than with whether that person thinks we are loving accepting, and tolerant.” 

Now, I realize that I may have a slightly different view because of my employment and my personal areas of struggle…but I think this is definitely something that needs to be talked about.

And the author is not saying to go around and criticize someone’s eating choices/physical appearance. Not at all. But he is saying, that maybe we shouldn’t be so accepting, so nice about letting someone continue an unhealthy lifestyle. There’s a balance.

Moving on, the book has many stories of people who were spiritually strengthened as a result of becoming physically stronger and as I mentioned before, there were many inspiring quotes.

There was also some tough reading.

Gary Thomas doesn’t mince words. He’s very honest about what he feels is the role of the church and its members And he doesn’t excuse a total focus on spiritual health:

“All this talk about fitness, facing the pain of getting in shape, actively combating indulgence and laziness, is in many ways an appeal for the church to get tougher. We are soft. We often cave in at the slightest challenge. Men are lost to superficial sins; women are lost to superficial cares, and the work of the kingdom is neglected. If we don’t get tougher, the work will never get done.”

He has a point. Being a Christian isn’t easy. Heck, being human isn’t easy! If we can’t suffer through an hour of strength training, how will we suffer through persecution?  A crisis of faith? Or worse?

It’s pretty clear that I loved this book.There is so much more that I could go write about but we’d be here for another week! That being said, it was not an easy read. Did I take everything in this book as an absolute? Of course not. But it gave me a lot to think about.

There were many pages that made me say, “Amen! Yes…Absolutely!,” There were slightly more that gave me pause… that caused me to ask if I am really living up to the standard to which God calls us.

It’s definitely a process.

Because I loved this book so much, I’m going to give one away!***

To enter, simply comment on this post and tell me what gets you motivated to improve your physical health!

(US or Canada Only)***

For additional entries (1 entry for each item): 

  • Tweet about the giveaway and leave a comment telling me you did so.
  • Follow me on twitter and comment telling me that you did. (@noellesnotebook)
  • Follow my blog and tell me how you follow (email, WordPress, BlogLovin, etc.).
  • Follow me on Instagram and let me know in the comments! (@noellesnotebook)

I’ll pick a winner on Saturday, August 29! Good luck!

*I purchased this book (and the giveaway copy) with my own money. No affiliation, I just really loved this book and want to share with y’all!  

Gross But Necessary; And Then I Did Something Stupid

Hi Friends!

Another week has flown by and it was a good one! I had a “laser maze” evening with the kids at work and Farmer Ben and I celebrated 4 years of marriage. Thanks to all who called, texted, emailed and brought bottles of wine to celebrate!

I will admit, I didn’t get out the door as much as I would have liked, but sometimes spending an evening with your hubs and watching him make you an amazing dinner* (which will be continued this weekend) far outweighs needing to workout.

And then, on mornings like this one, we need to run. We need that time to be alone with God, to cry out to Him and to push ourselves…for Him. This morning’s run blew me away.


Anyway, here we go!

Gross But Necessary-August 16-22: 

Sunday-Rest Day? I’m still trying to figure out how to get a workout in… And then I wonder if I should just call it a rest day. I can’t seem to get a handle on Sunday workouts because I’m busy with work. Any thoughts?

(Side note: We were also recovering from a super speedy trip to Mass the day before. No big deal.)

Monday-Afternoon Walk with Farmer Ben. We didn’t have a lot of time, but it was good to get some steps in, even with the heat.


Tuesday-Rest Day. I had every intention of going for a short run…instead I spent the afternoon taking a hardcore nap and reading. You win some, you lose some.

Wednesday-4 mile run, 1.6 mile walk/jog/cool down. It was disgustingly hot and I was completely drenched by the time I finished this run. It took me almost all day to recover.

Now, this is #GBN

Now, this is #GBN

On Wednesday evening, my friend Tina and I prepped the Laser Maze (a workout in and of itself).

Sidenote: I think we made it too hard.

And then the “Something Stupid.” After the maze, I was pooped and had a ridiculous amount of stuff that I had to lug in from my car. I decided to carry as much as I possibly could inside, instead of making two trips or pausing to shove a few things into my bag. As I was carrying/juggling everything into the house, I managed to drop a mason jar on my foot. Let’s just say, it hurt and I had a few choice words that do not bear repeating. It still hurts.

Thursday-Date Night with Farmer Ben. *I ended up going into work a bit early to make sure I would be out by 5. And then I had a date night in with Farmer Ben. Dinner, wine, etc. Perfect anniversary date.  This was supposed to be our appetizer… but we were full after this.

Course 1 (But really the only part of the meal because we were incredibly full after this.)

Friday-4.5 Miles. I mentioned above, this run blew me away. I could tell it would be a struggle and I could not get my head in the game. So I gave it to God. I spent the run praying. I prayed for loved ones, personal struggles and so much more. I was absolutely empty, yet overflowing when I finished. That peace which surpasses all understanding… and it helped so much. 



Saturday-5 or 6 miles. I have a route picked out and I’m aiming for 5 miles. If I feel good, I’ll run 6.

Overall: The heat and humidity was rough this week. I have given up feeling badly about not running fast… it’s too stinking hot! I’ve been using my runs to pray, to think and to listen to terrible girly pop.  Also, I’m still not a morning person. Yes, I’ve been running in the morning, but it’s only because I force myself to. I’d much rather go for a night run any day of the week.

I’m happy to report that I’m down 3 lbs since I started running again and our food has been relatively healthy (80/20 principle).

Your Turn: How are you sweating this week? Are you better at running in the heat or in cooler weather? (I’m definitely a cold weather runner). 

4 Years Ago….

Farmer Ben and I were married. It was a disgustingly hot, but absolutely beautiful day. It wasn’t ridiculously over the top, but it was exactly what we wanted in a wedding–good food, the people we loved and wine in a beautiful place.

Our life has changed so much since that day….especially this year!

We’ve been through a lot over the last 365 days. There was a new business, followed by the decision to leave that business. There was a move, job hunting and job finding. There was a major career change, followed by a major loss of a friend and mentor. There were family milestones and weddings and runs and new friendships! We’ve been tried, tested and pushed to the limit, but we’ve been through it together.

I’m grateful for all of the laughter and the tears and I am blessed that you were by my side through it all.

Thanks for being the best hubs, Farmer Ben. I love you. Each and every day.

The first of many "happiest days of my life."  (photo courtesy of Jona Favreau).

                                                             (photo courtesy of Jona Favreau).

Gross But Necessary; Making Progress…slowly

Hi Friends!

Not gonna lie… It took a whole lot of swallowing my pride to get through some of my runs this week….It probably doesn’t help that it’s “that time of the month”, so I’ve been a hot mess most of the week (sorry for the overshare! Ha!). No big deal, right?

I was texting one of my girl friends on Tuesday and we were talking about what to do for a run planned later in the week. I definitely said the following:

“Right now, a lot of my runs are finished by sheer stubbornness alone.” 

Her reply was “Those are the best kind!”

This week, I didn’t feel that way. Running 4 miles was a breeze a few months ago and now I struggle through that last mile (or more), even with a drastically slower pace. But I’m stubborn and refuse to stop…even if it means slowing down to a crawl in order to keep from quitting.

Anyway, end my pity party…let’s get started! The beginning of this week was a bust… but I finished strong. Always a process!

Gross But Necessary-August 9-15. 

Sunday: No workout. I had work from 8 am to about 6:30 and then Ben and I had a friend’s family party to attend, followed by dog duty at my mom’s house. Whomp whomp.

Monday: Unless you count a marathon house-cleaning session, more dog duty, work and belly laughs at small group as a workout, I’ve got nothing.

Tuesday: Rest Day? Farmer Ben and I both worked (we normally have Tuesday off together) since we are going out of town this weekend, and my mom came over to do laundry and have dinner… so we spent the evening in.

Wednesday: 4 miles. In the morning(!). I rode into work with Ben this morning, wearing running clothes and lugging a bag with shower stuff and a change of clothes. This forced me to go out and run as I had about 2 hours before I needed to be at work. First steps to making time to work out.

To be honest, I was very unenthusiastic about this run. I stopped and walked twice and it just was NOT fun. I don’t know if I was dehydrated, tired or what… but this wasn’t pretty. And then, I took a freezing cold shower (full disclosure: I didn’t bother washing my hair–too cold!).


Thursday-A: 2 mile walk. My friend Tina and I went for a walk at lunch to catch up. We kept a brisk pace and it wasn’t disgustingly hot out. We spent most of the time looking at some beautiful houses on the quiet streets behind my workplace. No photo.

Thursday-B: 3 mile trail run. My friend Ashley, Farmer Ben and I hit up the trails at SUNY Plattsburgh. We were only mildly successful at actually staying on the trails but it was good to change things up. I was really pooped after this run (Ashley and Ben are a wee bit faster than me!)


Friday: 3.11 miles. I did an old favorite for my route and listened to obnoxious girly pop this morning. It was awesome! My legs were tired but I was happy to be running. I’m still not a morning person.


Saturday: 2-4 Mile Walk/Run? Farmer Ben and I are taking a mini-road trip this weekend so I’m not sure what we’ll do, but we have our running clothes/sneakers with us!

Bonus photo: Look at my sweet ‘do. Gotta love the awkward growing out phase!


How was your week? Any big plans this weekend? 

The Return of “Gross But Necessary (GBN)”

Hello Friends!

It’s Friday! I don’t know about you, but I am super excited for the weekend. I’m going hiking with a few teenagers tomorrow in a new-to-me spot and am looking forward to exploring!

My nephew is in town visiting and Farmer Ben and I have had such a blast hanging out with him. He’s basically the coolest (and most polite!) 12 year old I have ever met!

If you’re not familiar with my “Gross But Necessary” posts, I started this series while training for my first marathon in order to document my training and hold myself accountable. Not gonna lie, I haven’t done one of these in a long time… I’d like to say it’s because I’ve had so many other fascinating things to talk about, but in all honesty, it’s mostly because my fitness has been a bit all over the place and our life was turned upside down and inside out over the last year.

That being said, I mentioned in my last post that I started reading this book. And I’ll reiterate that I am loving it. From Gary Thomas’ website:

The goal in this pursuit is not sculpting thinner or more athletic-looking bodies. The goal is to cultivate stronger, well-nourished bodies that are primed to become, in the words of the apostle Paul, “instruments for special purposes, made holy, useful to the Master and prepared to do any good work (2 Timothy 2:20-21). ”


I feel so convicted. See… I pride myself on being active, but over the last few months, I’ve noticed a definite decrease in my activity level and an increase in the number I’m used to seeing on the scale. I’ve had every intention of getting out before the sun and seizing the workout of the day…but it just hasn’t happened. I think it’s a combination of fatigue, lack of motivation and lack of confidence.

Anyway, as a result of my reading and thinking about the goals I set for myself, I’ve decided that there is no time like the present to get moving! And, for the sake of keeping myself accountable, I decided it was time to bring back GBN! Once again, credit for the name goes to my fabulous (and brilliant!) friend, Pato. 

So, let’s get started, shall we?!

Gross But Necessary: August 2-8

Monday-Fail. Farmer Ben and I drove back from the city on Sunday. I was busy at work all day (and by busy, I mean that I got stuck on 1 tiny thing that shouldn’t have taken long but did) and then we went to small group that evening.

Tuesday-Active Rest Day. We ended up going to Vermont for the day and spent some time trying to track down some geocaches (we found 1), wandering around the Ben and Jerry’s factory and sprinting up and down Church St before heading home.


Wednesday-Work Day. I started my day with a Healthy Skoop smoothie (B-Strong and A-game) and spent the day doing work at the church. This included scraping and painting a garage; moving various sized items, cleaning and reorganizing a storage room and a few other little things. My whole body ached when I got home that night.

IMG_20150806_145106Thursday-Evening Walk. Farmer Ben and I went for a walk around our neighborhood. It was just a hair under 2 miles. Nothing crazy strenuous, but it was nice to get out for some fresh air and have some time to talk.

Friday-4 Morning Miles. I forced myself to ride into work with Farmer Ben and set out for a run before work. I will gladly mention that I am NOT a morning person so this was really tough for me. I’m also not in the best (or even mediocre) running shape at the moment, so this wasn’t pretty. My average pace was about 10:50 (definitely NOT my fastest) but I didn’t stop, so I’ll take it. I used this time to talk to God and to let go of some frustrations I’ve been dealing with. It felt great to push myself and I’m looking forward to doing this more often.


Saturday-Morning Hike. As I mentioned above, I am going to a new-to-me spot with some teens tomorrow morning and we’ll do an easy hike. I can’t wait!

What did your workouts look like this week? Favorite way to exercise? Let me know if there is anything else you’d like to see in the Return of GBN! 

Friday Five

Good Morning Friends!

It’s the weekend…almost! Tomorrow morning, Farmer Ben and I drive down to White Plains and celebrate my friend Christina’s wedding day! I still have no idea what I’m wearing…but that’s a minor detail, right?

Anyway… I haven’t done a Friday Five in a while, so here is what is all over my brain as of late!

Here we go….

1. Yesterday was an epic mail day; a Healthy Skoop delivery and my Christian Books order! AND Farmer Ben’s anniversary present is out for delivery today… I think I’m more excited than he is!


Speaking of *Skoop, I am super excited to try Ignite-It’s their new (pre-workout) performance supplement comprised of beets and other superfoods. I got the berry beet variety. It smells like bazooka bubblegum! Check out the ingredient list!

Screen Shot 2015-06-12 at 2.42.59 PM

2. Geo-caching. Have you ever done it? Ben and I went with one of the boys in our youth group and we had SO MUCH FUN! I crack up thinking about how silly we must have looked running around parks, parking lots and random fields trying to find the next cache. I think we’ve found a new hobby. If you’ve never been, you should definitely try it!


3. This book. (Every Body Matters) 

I’m a huge fan of Gary Thomas. He wrote my favorite marriage book (Sacred Marriage), so when I found out he had written a book on the connection between physical fitness/health and spiritual growth, I knew I wanted to read it. This connection is something that’s been on my mind because it is something that I struggle with. I think I’ve mentioned this, but the stress of the last year, combined with my not being as diligent as I should be, caused me to gain 10+ lbs. So… this hits home.

Our physical health and the responsibility to take care of the bodies we are given is not talked about in most churches. Pastors have a tendency to skim over the importance of physical health–of glorifying our bodies–because it’s uncomfortable to talk about. I’m lucky that the two pastors I work with have a desire to live a healthy lifestyle.

Anyway, I got this yesterday and am already a few chapters in. So far, it’s a great, thought-provoking read… I will do a full review once I finish!

4. Night Running. I had forgotten how much I love running in the dark! It’s been pretty hot and sticky during the day and…well… I’m NOT a morning person, no matter how hard I try. So I’ve been going at out night. It’s still hot and sticky, but there is something exhilarating about running in the dark… it makes me feel so alive! It’s also good practice because it looks like I’ll be doing another Ragnar Relay in the fall!


5. Summer grilling smoking with Farmer Ben. A brother of a friend owns a farm. We were able to buy six free-range, hormone-free chickens to stick in the freezer. We cooked the first one earlier this week and it was absolutely delicious. Ben did a dry rub and put it in the smoker, along with some corn on the cob, some onions and a panzanella salad. This is probably my favorite time of year food wise…between grilling and produce, you can’t go wrong!


That’s all for today, Friends! Enjoy your weekend and this beautiful weather!

Let’s chat, what are you loving lately? 

*Full disclosure: I am a Skoop reseller. If you purchase product through my Skoop site, I receive a little bit of money.*

Currently (and a Throwback Photo)…

Not gonna lie…as I’m writing this, my brain isn’t functioning, so I’m taking the easy way out today. Enjoy!


Drinking: Iced coffee, with cream. Unsweetened. There is not enough coffee in the world today.

Listening to: I’m alternating between silence and Unspoken’s unplugged album. Still obsessed.

Eating: I literally ate a giant bowl of raw veggies for lunch. Sugarsnap peas, broccoli, cauliflower and tomatoes with lemon dill hummus. It was exactly what I wanted-nothing complicated, just crisp veggies.

Thinking about: Work. And crawling into bed this evening. And debating if I want to squeeze in a run before my pillow date. And a tentative race schedule.

Excited for (A): Christina’s wedding this weekend! I’m so excited to watch this beautiful friend of mine tie the knot!

Excited for (B): Our anniversary. We celebrate 4(!) years of marriage on August 20. Time flies! I ordered Farmer Ben’s present yesterday and I don’t think I’m going to have enough restraint to keep it from him for the next three weeks! I am so so so excited for his reaction!

Excited for (C): Starting classes. I haven’t been a student in a long time, and while I’m nervous about hitting the books again, I’m also just ready to start my ministry classes! The wait is killing me!

Weirded out by: How long my hair has gotten… Looking at the throwback picture below, it’s so much longer now (but… still short).

Thankful for: My hubs. He’s the best.

2013-10-12 12.13.00

Thankful for (B): Coffee.

Thankful for (C): My job. I really love it.

Reading: Paper Towns. I may have stayed up reading til almost 3 am (see my above note about coffee)…mostly because I’m trying to convince Farmer Ben that he wants to see the movie! I definitely laughed out loud at a few parts…and almost cried at others.

Reading (B): I’ve read a LOT in the last few weeks. Books I’ve finished in that time include Cold Tangerines, An Abundance of Katherines (apparently I like John Green novels and I LOVED this one), Insurgent and Allegiant (I know I’m super late on this, but… I cried)… in addition to a couple of books for work. Phew! I’ve also picked up In The Time of Butterflies… I need to get back to it.

Reading (C): The Screwtape Letters. I picked this book for my book club this month and am super excited to read and discuss it. It’s completely different than our normal books so it will be a nice change of pace for all of us!

Let’s catch up! Pick one of the “Currently” doings and fill in the blank! 


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