A Week of Lean and Green #1

I am a meal planner and have been for about 12 years now. I typically do a two-week plan and then create my grocery list accordingly. It saves us money, I almost always have what I need when I need it, and we eat much healthier. Seriously, what do you do when you’re hungry after work and you have no plan? If you’re like us, you choose unhealthy things … fast food, processed food, junk. 

Many of my clients say they are tired of making the same things and I want to help! Optimal health is a lifestyle we want to achieve, so when my clients are “on the plan” I still want them eating in a manner that they could eat for the rest of their lives. That said, here is a one-week Lean and Green plan. Try it out. Give me feedback. If this helps you, then I’ll create at least 3 more of these, so you’ll have a month’s worth of menus to choose from.

Bon Appetit! 

Creamy Roasted Red Pepper Zucchini Noodles ~ 1.5 cups6 oz. grilled chicken breast(make extra for the chow mein)   





Thai Basil Ground Beef Bowl ~ 1 cupCauliflower Rice ~ 1 cup(I put broccoli in mine rather than asparagus, because it’s what I had on hand)FREEZE what you don’t eat!!   


Chicken Taco meat ~ 6 oz. (crockpot meal)Either wrap it in romaine lettuce leaves or on top of a salad loaded with veggies     


Spaghetti Squash Chow Mein ~ 1.5 cups with…6 oz. grilled chicken from Zucchini Noodle night     



Grilled turkey burger (Costco)
wrapped in Romaine Radish chips ~ 1.5 cup See pic below   







Grilled Mahi-Mahi ~ 7 oz.1 cup raw spinach salad with 1/2 cup mushrooms and 1/2 cup celery
+2 dressing servings See pic    




Octoberfest Casserole    













FullSizeRender_1*Special thanks to those who created these recipes! If you click a link and love their recipe, I encourage you to bookmark their page and/follow them on Pinterest!

Dear Susie,

YSYThis summer, I had the privilege of leading a group of women through your new book, Your Sacred Yes: Trading Life-Draining Obligation for Freedom, Passion, and JoyWhen I was given the opportunity to review your book, I knew immediately that this was a book that I wanted to give more attention to than a quick read-through. Five of us met consistently for six weeks. Each week we’d read two chapters and complete the related workbook pages before connecting to watch the DVD and discuss how we were being stretched and refined. 

I could fill this letter with platitudes about each component (the book, the DVD, the free workbook) and how much we loved them (because we truly did, and if pressed, I couldn’t tell you which of the three I liked more), but I need to share something else here.

I think you and I first met back in about 2007 at a little CAN (Christian Authors Network) retreat at a hotel in the Cities. Just a few of us were there … Cyndy Salzmann, Mary Connealy, Susan May Warren, Sharon Hinck, you, and me. (My apologies if I’m forgetting anyone.) Though I may have blanked on some names, there are things I will always remember about that weekend. I remember that you welcomed this newbie who didn’t have a single book title to her name. I remember waking up early and finding you curled up on the couch in our suite with a big mug of coffee in your hands, your Bible open on your lap, and your heart deeply engaged in prayer. (I remember feeling like I was walking in a holy space and ought not interrupt.) I remember you jumping up to wash the dishes anytime someone put a cup or spoon near the sink (and I laughed when you mentioned that old tendency to be “that good” in this book). I remember you reading from There Were Two Trees In The Garden and quoting Francis Frangipane. (I came right home and bought the book and got acquainted with Mr. Frangipane’s vast work.)

There was one moment that stands out more significantly than all the others because you said something that changed the trajectory of tmy ministry. (You know the breakfast date you describe in chapter 1? Yep, this was you passing that counsel on to me – for all I know – maybe before you’d had your own eye-opening breakfast date.) I shared with you that I had spoken 67 times to MOPS groups in the last year. (I was a new speaker and felt like I was “doing my time,” gaining experience for not even enough money to cover my babysitters and gas, but was oh-so-hungry to share God’s Word straight out, which I couldn’t usually do in this setting.) That’s when you pulled me close and, though you didn’t claim what you shared to be a Word from God, I believe it was. You said, “Vicki, God has something more for you, but as long as you are giving so much of yourself away, you won’t have the capacity to go deeper when He calls you to do that. Speak less often. Go deeper.”

You didn’t use the words “sacred yes”, but you may as well have. 

My schedule the next year looked vastly different, but sadly I didn’t apply the wisdom in all areas of my life. My closest friends will tell you that, for years now, I nearly always responded to, “How are you?” with “Busy!” I was still giving away my yeses.

I pretty much cried my way through “Your Sacred Yes.” Yep, big ol’ mascara-running-drop-to-my-knees-ugly crying. 

You see, for the last few years, I had given away so much of myself, that I had nothing left. I said good yeses, but not necessarily sacred yeses, and I certainly didn’t understand the necessity of my sacred nos. I often told my husband Mike that if people really knew everything that was on my proverbial plate, they would have me committed. (He’s a psychologist at Mayo and he agreed, which wasn’t comforting.) The hardest thing to share is that this “Christian author, speaker, Bible teacher” (not to mention Christ-follower) and God weren’t speaking and I couldn’t focus on His Word, so my Bible stayed closed. You see, I was busy keeping all of my precious plates spinning while deeply grieving through a long season of watching my best friend die by degrees as a result of cancer. I was soul weary. I was in a spiritual desert. I was going through the motions … and “Your Sacred Yes” led me Home. (Honestly, there aren’t enough Amazon stars to give a book that does that, so 5 will have to do. Also, I’m really glad you know your worth isn’t measured by Amazon stars or in (wo)man written reviews.)

I want to share some of the things that you said that resonated so deeply, causing me (and Mike) to prayerfully reprioritize and make some hard, but necessary changes in my life.

“We’re not called to a busyness that drains us; we’re called to an abundance that trains us” (p.25).

“When we miss the greater promise written over our lives, others miss out on something God intended to give them through us” (p.34).

“So how do we discern the difference between un-appointed busyness and God-ordained fruitfulness” (p.35)? [This resulted in me evaluating and categorizing all of my commitments into two lists: Busy vs. Abundantly Full and Fruitful. Not an easy task – just saying.]

“… we stepped up beyond what God had asked us to. … The need does not always dictate the call” (p. 45) [Wait. What? Stop the press! Reading this was a game changer for me.]

“More rests on God’s shoulders than on mine” (p. 62).

“When we’re sloppy with our yes, we miss out on God’s best” (p. 63). [Ouch.]

“What would need to change in your life—how do you need to rearrange your day—so you can experience regular deep contentment, joy, and confidence with God” (p.63)? [Note: because I’d been meeting Jesus every morning on the deck to read this book and pour through my Bible using your workbook, I was hearing His voice again for the first time in a very long time, and I KNEW the answer to this immediately. It was from Him – no doubt about it. Sa-weet!]

“If we’re serious about following His (God’s) direction in our lives, then He gets to say—from day to day—how we live, how we give, how we serve, how we pray, what we say, and what we do with our day” (p. 118).

“Our no matters because our yes matters more. And anytime we say yes, we say no. If we say yes to working too many hours (beyond what God has asked of us), we say no to family and friends and the sacred life rhythm God offers us” (p. 134).

“Walking in God’s yes for us calls for diligence with  the things that matter—if we truly want to abound in every good thing God has for us” (p. 151).

“Our enemy, the devil, camps on the assumption that if he baits us into busyness, we’ll forget about our adoption as daughters and sons. And sadly, he gets away with this scheme far too often” (p. 170). [Man your stations, friends! Be ready to fight and DON’T be baited into busyness!]

Finally …

“We have nothing to prove and all of eternity to live for. Oh, the love of Jesus. May we stand courageously, pray tenaciously, and love audaciously. May we give our whole lives as an offering to Him” (180)! [Yes, and Amen!]

So, Susie, thank you for allowing God to use you to write this book to me. That may not have been your intent and countless others will no doubt feel the same way, but I truly felt like this was a gentle, but firm love letter that redirected my steps. (You seem to have a way of doing that in my life without even knowing it.) We have made some hard, but necessary changes in the Tiede house, and more will undoubtedly come, but it’s good and we’re following His lead. My book is marked from page one to the very end. My workbook is filled to capacity. These are treasures and I’ll be revisiting them again and again and pointing people to this beautiful book and its message – starting here. 

With holy enthusiasm, much gratitude, and an abundantly full life and heart,


Read more about Susie Larson and Your Sacred Yes HERE.



What a few others from our Summer Study had to say about this study …

In the recently released movie “Mr. Holmes” the plot deals with living selfishly, doing only what meets your needs and ambitions. Susie’s study, “Your Sacred Yes” helps put the godly perspective on living and doing what He deems holy, His best not just for me, but for all. “Our goal is to find such freedom and wholeness in Christ alone that we truly enjoy the way He loves us, which freely enables us to spill out His love to others” (p. 93). I appreciated finding venues to assess my lifestyle, and in my daily connections with Him find joy and confidence in my ‘no’ and in my ‘yes’ as I do the next thing.

This study is one I want to go over again and fine tune in my schedule and mindset.

~Deb B.

“Your Sacred Yes” by Susie Larson provides insight as to how to prioritize God’s Word in establishing life-long goals. I especially felt the workbook pages provided in-depth questions that are thought provoking and meaningful. Chapters in the book along with the video lessons are real-life applicable, and I feel a great deal of affirmation in knowing Susie has a lot of life learning experiences she shares with her reading audience. Reflecting upon these experiences, she is honest with her reader about how life is messy at times, and as we faithfully rely on the Lord, we grow. “We embrace the God-given vision for our lives–and we see this as our sacred duty: to guard our hearts and lives as ones who are set apart for Him” (p. 167).
I truly appreciated at the end of each chapter she allows time for authentic personal reflection and prayer and she included a Faith Declaration. “Life is a gift, and my time is a gift” (p. 183). I would highly recommend this resource study for all women.

~Christine J

“Your Sacred Yes” was a gentle, affirming, upward-tugging lift to my spiritual life. I am in a season, and profession, where I am the caregiver to many. The needs are never-ending. God used “Your Sacred Yes” to reaffirm that I also need to be one that I provide regular care to – both physically and spiritually. Susie has a beautiful way of encouraging, exhorting and challenging all in the same sentence. This is a book I have recommended to another Bible Study that I have been part of for 25 years. What a gift it has been to me to learn that part of saying “yes” to God includes saying “no” to others, that the only approval I need is His, and that I am free to be a work in progress. I will read this book again and again – in order to obtain, and maintain, a clear vision of the specific “yeses” to which God has called me.

~Jodie H.

IMG_2061I’ve carried around a lot of weighty baggage … until now.

My first memory related to my weight happened when I was about 9 years old. I remember that I was wearing tan corduroy pants that were snug. I was hanging over the back of our loveseat when a friend of our family walked by. He smacked me in the rear and made a comment about the fact that my butt was getting too big for my britches. That became a defining moment in my life; one that said, “You’re fat.” I equated that to … “You’re not beautiful. You’re not desirable. How could anyone love you?”

In junior high, we had to endure a particular kind of hell at least once a year. We had to step on the scale during gym class. I will never, in this lifetime, understand why that was necessary, nor will I ever forget the horror of having a boy named Paul announce to my entire 7th grade math class that I weighed … wait for it … 121 lbs.! He followed up with, “What a cow!” Honestly, it was the last time I weighed 121 pounds, but I was led to believe that I was – again – fat, ugly, undesirable, and unlovable.

The next year when it was obviously weigh-in day, I stayed in the locker room and sent a message to the teacher that I was “sick.” The phy-ed teacher (who is now a Facebook friend – I wonder if she’ll remember this) came down to check on me. I was too mortified to tell her that the trauma of stepping on the scale in front of my peers was killing me. Instead, I told her the most ludicrous excuse, but the only thing that came to mind on the spot. I said that I drank both orange juice and milk for breakfast and it must have curdled because my stomach was upset and I thought I might throw up. (I’m dying a little right now just telling you all this.) Friends, I was indeed sick, but only because of the fear I had of the scale and being bullied by my peers.

I prayed that God would make me anorexic. (That was dumb, I know that now.)

I spent countless hours reading about stupid fad diets in teen magazines.

I went on my first “paid for” diet as a junior in high school. I remember that I got down to 113 pounds, which was honestly too low for my height. I learned nothing about keeping it off, so … my college 15 was more like my college (30 or so).

IMG_2655 (1)I’ve spent more money than I care to admit on diet books, most of which I never read past the “Jump Start” introductory chapter. I’ve only somewhat jokingly told audiences that I used to think I could rub those books on my thighs and they’d disappear—the thighs, not the books.

I’ve been a Weight Watchers lifetime member for years. I learned that I could lose weight and eat as many Skinny Cows as my points would allow. I didn’t learn how to change a single habit, so … you know how this story ends.

Once I turned 40, even the old tricks that often worked to get 10-15 pounds off, didn’t work. My metabolism began changing dramatically. I eventually came to the conclusion that maybe God intended for me to be fat and fluffy my whole life. Some days I could almost convince myself that I was okay with that. I knew which mirrors in my house were the “skinny” mirrors. I knew which angles to take pictures from to hide my extra chins. I swapped my wardrobe out for elastic waists and untucked shirts.

While I’m on the subject of my wardrobe … for 2 years I survived summer with one pair of capris that fit and winter with 1 pair of jeans that I could still squeeze into. “Fit” can be defined as completely miserable to wear if freshly washed, but able to tolerate if they were “broken in” (aka: unwashed). I refused to buy any more clothes, because it would A) require trying ON clothes, and B) mean getting a larger size – by 1 or 2 numbers. Besides, I had a closet FULL of clothes … none of which fit.

I became the master of standing behind my children in photographs, which was becoming a problem, as they were all getting taller than me.

unnamed-1My story took a turn in the early spring of 2013. I led a group of friends (old and new) and family on a tour to Israel. I found that as I climbed the steep stairs down to the spring at Megiddo … and back up again, that I was terribly out of breath and my knees were killing me. As we walked the streets of Jerusalem, I thought I was going to collapse, I was so tired and out of breath. I knew I’d float in the Dead Sea because EVERYONE floats in the Dead Sea, but I was afraid someone would take a picture of me floating—in my swimming suit! I also knew it would be hard to stand back up when I was done floating. My heartbreak came at picture time. You see, I took my mom and my daughter on this trip and I desperately wanted to capture pictures of us together in this holy place, but I didn’t want to see pictures of myself. Nevertheless, pictures were taken (sometimes without my knowledge) and they confirmed what I already knew … though I wasn’t sick, neither was I healthy.

At this point, it was also getting hard to get on stage to speak, because the enemy of my soul used my weight, low self-esteem, and shame to keep me captive and focused on me rather than on what God wanted to do through and in me. Shoot, my overindulgence was giving the enemy the opportunity to destroy my influence.

IMG_2576The lies I’d come to believe about myself at age 9 were wrapped around my heart like an albatross and were choking the life out of me. I know that Jesus loves me, finds me beautiful, desirable, and His. My husband feels the same way—his love is unconditional—thick or thin. (See what I did there?) Nevertheless, my obsession with my weight had become an idol in my life; one that I needed to conquer and surrender.

Post-Israel, I began doing research to find a solution, and that’s when I found Take Shape for Life. I can honestly say, I believe this healthy lifestyle program has changed my life forever.

I was connected to a FREE health coach (God bless Gary!) whose support was instrumental to my success. Gary believed in me when I didn’t yet believe in myself. It’s a good thing he was free because there’s no adequate price that could be put on that gift. I learned that the support of a coach is vital to the success of getting healthy for life. It’s a non-negotiable on this journey.

I started on an eating plan that focused on low-glycemic carbohydrates, healthy fats, and proteins. I ate every 3 hours and low and behold, I began losing weight! In fact, I lost 50 pounds in 4 ½ months*.

183845-2948200798-O - Version 2 – Version 3Best of all, I learned habits of health that are crucial to me as I make behavioral changes for life.

Yesterday, I was looking at the picture that you can see of me in the brown skirt (above) with my hands on my hips. I was wearing the same shirt and skirt … 2 years later! Joy!

I’m not going to lie … my journey hasn’t been a straight shot. I hit my goal and then walked through an incredibly stressful journey as I walked my best friend Home during her last days with metastasized breast cancer. During that season, I engaged in some old habits and began believing some old lies, and a little bit of the weight came back on. However, my support team, the program, and the healthy habits I learned through the program didn’t go anywhere. I can tell you that I’m back at my goal weight and have decided to lose a little more this time, so the journey continues.

I also have to tell you how stinkin’ much fun it was to get rid of all of the clothes that didn’t fit … like the entire closet … not because they were all too small, but because they were too big. I recently heard Dave Blanchard tell a story of his wife trying on clothes after losing weight. He described a “spontaneous giggle” that escaped her lips when she came out to model for him. His story resonated because I’d had the same experience! Never in my life had I taken clothes to the dressing room and not felt terrible about myself coming out. Mike, too, heard me release years’ worth of pain in my own spontaneous giggles.

I’ve been in ministry for 13 years now —speaking, writing, and teaching. I love telling people about Jesus, His love for them, and the gift of salvation that He offers. That hasn’t changed and never will.

unnamedA year and a half ago, I also became a Take Shape for Life Certified Health Coach, and I consider it every bit as lifesaving a ministry as I do my speaking, writing, and teaching. I’ve helped more than 60 people lose over 3000 pounds cumulatively. I’m on a mission to help my friends and family … and their friends and family … and their friends and family become physically, emotionally, and financially healthy. My health is no longer a hindrance to serving God and enjoying the time He’s given me to live.

I intend to spend my life loving beautifully and recklessly. And that weighty baggage I carried for nearly 40 years … well, let’s just say, I’m traveling much lighter these days.


Friends, you know lots of people I don’t know. If you know anyone who would be encouraged by reading my story or who would like a certified health coach, please share this with them. You could be a real life saver!


*Results vary. Typical results are 2-5 lbs. per week for the first two weeks and 1-2 lbs. per week thereafter.

Take this 5 minute health assessment 

Ready for a FREE 15 minute consult?


American Sniper 3D Box ArtOn May 25th, most Americans will enjoy a day off of work. Kids will have wrapped up or will be about to wrap up another school year, and the promise of summer fun will be in the air. What’s too often forgotten is that this bonus day off came at great cost. You see, on May 25th—Memorial Day—we are meant to pause and remember, so that the sacrifices of America’s fallen war heroes are never forgotten.

My Grandpa, James Marion Lester, served in the Bastard Battalion in World War II. My dad served in the Army Reserves. Neither of them paid with their lives, but they served our country well. Mike and I can name many family members, friends, and church family who have also served our country. 

Thank you.

This past winter Clint Eastwood produced and directed “American Sniper” starring Bradley Cooper. It was a powerful reminder that there are men and women serving our country all over the world. Some pay the ultimate price. The rest pay a price in their own right. 

In honor of our veterans, I have the privilege of giving away two Blu-Ray + DVD + Digital HD copies of “American Sniper.” This is a $44.95 value! One is going to a veteran of our choosing and one is going to a civilian (that could be you).

The movie doesn’t come come out until May 19th, but I have two copies sitting beside me right now. (I know people. ;)) [Okay, the truth is I’m helping out my friends at Grace Hill Media who is handling the PR on this movie. It’s a sweet gig.]

AMERICAN SNIPERHere’s the gist of the movie …

From director Clint Eastwood comes “American Sniper,” starring Bradley Cooper as Chris Kyle, whose skills as a sniper made him a hero on the battlefield. But there was much more to him than his skill as a sharpshooter. 

Navy SEAL Chris Kyle is sent to Iraq with only one mission: to protect his brothers-in-arms. His pinpoint accuracy saves countless lives on the battlefield, and as stories of his courageous exploits spread, he earns the nickname “Legend.” However, his reputation is also growing behind enemy lines, putting a price on his head and making him a prime target of insurgents. He is also facing a different kind of battle on the home front: striving to be a good husband and father from halfway around the world.

N07A8475.dngDespite the danger, as well as the toll on his family at home, Chris serves through four harrowing tours of duty in Iraq, personifying the spirit of the SEAL creed to “leave no one behind.” But upon returning to his wife, Taya (Sienna Miller), and kids, Chris finds that it is the war he can’t leave behind. 

TO ENTER … a Rafflecopter giveaway


Now that you’ve entered to win, I encourage you and your family to pause wherever you are at 3 p.m. local time on Memorial Day for a minute of silence to remember and honor those who have died in service to the nation. As Moment of Remembrance founder Carmella LaSpada states: “It’s a way we can all help put the memorial back in Memorial Day.”

** This is a win/win. Even if you aren’t the lucky winner, you can buy your own copy here on the same day that this contest ends (May 19). $1 of your purchase will be donated to Wounded Warrior Project up to $1,000,000!



If you’d like to read a few more details about the movie, here they are … 

Burbank, CA, April 15, 2015 – From director Clint Eastwood comes “American Sniper,” arriving onto Blu-ray Combo Pack, DVD and Digital HD on May 19 from Warner Bros. Home Entertainment in association with Village Roadshow Pictures, A Mad Chance Production, A 22nd & Indiana Production. “American Sniper” stars Bradley Cooper as Chris Kyle, whose skills as a sniper made him a hero on the battlefield. But there was much more to him than his skill as a sharpshooter.

A two-time Oscar® nominee for his work in “Silver Linings Playbook” and “American Hustle,” Cooper stars alongside Sienna Miller, Luke Grimes, Jake McDorman, Cory Hardrict, Kevin Lacz, Navid Negahban and Keir O’Donnell.

Oscar®-winning filmmaker Clint Eastwood (“Million Dollar Baby,” “Unforgiven”) directed “American Sniper” from a screenplay written by Jason Hall, based on the book by Chris Kyle, with Scott McEwen and Jim DeFelice. The autobiography was a runaway bestseller, spending 18 weeks on the New York Times bestseller list, 13 of those at number one.

The film is produced by Eastwood, Robert Lorenz, Andrew Lazar, Bradley Cooper and Peter Morgan. Tim Moore, Jason Hall, Sheroum Kim, Steven Mnuchin and Bruce Berman served as executive producers.

About Warner Bros. Home Entertainment Inc.

Warner Bros. Home Entertainment (WBHE) brings together Warner Bros. Entertainment’s home video, digital distribution and interactive entertainment businesses in order to maximize current and next-generation distribution scenarios. An industry leader since its inception, WBHE oversees the global distribution of content through packaged goods (Blu-ray Disc™ and DVD) and digital media in the form of electronic sell-through and video-on-demand via cable, satellite, online and mobile channels, and is a significant developer and publisher for console and online video game titles worldwide. WBHE distributes its product through third party retail partners and licensees.



Tiny Hands is on the ground delivering desperately needeimmediate reliefd aid to those who are homeless, without food, and–in many cases–without hope.

We received an exciting update this morning:

The people in a small village in Gorkha District all lost their homes in the earthquake and were in great need. As it became dark on Friday, rain started pouring down on them. They all huddled together in what was left of the church to pray and try to stay dry as much as possible. They had no tarps or food.

Just ten minutes after they prayed, our Tiny Hands staff arrived with supplies including tarps and food they prayed for! The people were so thrilled and thankful. We received a call in Kathmandu a few minutes later thanking Tiny Hands for our help that the Lord used to directly bless them in their immediate time of need. God is good and so faithful!
healing handsYou can be a part of Helping Hands for Nepal. 

GIVE TO IMMEDIATE RELIEF: funds for tents, blankets, and food. Follow this link.

GIVE TO LONG TERM NEEDS: Donate to long term needs: extra resources to combat increased trafficking and orphaned/abandoned children in the aftermath of the earthquake. Follow this link.

Please make your most generous donation today. 

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