Tag Archives: encouragement

10 Reasons to Study your Bible During Finals Week (Psalms 119)

10 Reasons to Study your Bible During Finals Week (Psalms 119)The end of the semester is approaching fast, and with it, final’s week. So we’ve provided a list of quick tips for studying… your Bible! Don’t forget to engage in some much needed time with God in the next few weeks. Here are a few good reasons why, according to Psalm 119:

1. To finish strong, you will try to study well, avoid opportunities to cheat, and make the most of your last weeks as a student: 

“How can a young person stay pure? By obeying your word.” Verse 9

2. Unfortunately, there will still be moments you might feel like a complete failure:

“I lie in the dust; revive me by your word.” V. 25

3. Because finals week can lead to some crazy emotions:

“I weep with sorrow; encourage me by your word.” V. 28

4. And there are far too many negative activities to tempt you during a study break, which will only tear you down and distract you further:

“Turn my eyes from worthless things, and give me life through your word.” V. 37

5. Snacking on unhealthy foods while studying can lead to an unhelpful sugar crash.:

“How sweet your words taste to me; they are sweeter than honey.” V. 103

6. When you can’t memorize the standard deviation formula for your Statistic’s final, remember:

“The teaching of your word gives light, so even the simple can understand.” V. 130

7. More than likely, you’re going to pull an all-nighter. Lucky for you:

“Your word is a lamp to guide my feet and a light for my path.” V. 105

8. Or, you inherited masochists for group project partners, and they all decided to meet at 6AM to finish the project:

“I rise early, before the sun is up; I cry out for help and put my hope in your words.” V 147

9. In the end, you may have to question an unfair grade, or a professor that overlooked your effort. Do not be discouraged. Remember that sometimes….

“…Powerful people harass me without cause, but my heart trembles only at your word.” V. 161

10. When it is all over, you’ll want to party like it’s 2000 and Y2K fell through. Remember to give credit to God who helped you through it all:

“I rejoice in your word like one who discovers a great treasure.” V. 162

Keep your Bible handy these next few weeks. Try reading a section of Psalm 119 every few hours during your study time (there are 22 stanzas, one for each letter in the Hebrew alphabet). You may find the insight and encouragement to be just the right perspective for all the stress and deadlines of finals week.

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A Hobbit’s Take on Studying the Bible

Hi ladies! Check out my post from BCMofSC.wordpress.com, our ministry website. I hope it encourages you greatly as you also pursue deeper knowledge in the Word of God.

Congratulations! Like Bilbo, you are stepping out your door into a great adventure to pursue a deeper knowledge of God. Though you wont encounter a fierce dragon, you may feel like you are fighting a fierce dragon to keep going. That dragon has many scales, including lack of motivation, exhaustion, boredom, confusion, frustration, discouragement, busyness, conviction, and ignorance. You will be tempted to turn back, find your comfort zone again, with doilies and your mother’s dishes.

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Be like Biblo. Sign the contract. Go on an adventure. Discover God’s word for yourself! Grab a few smelly, irritating dwarves (we call them other Christians), and pursue a greater practice of studying the Bible together.

Know that we are praying for you:

“For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name, that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; and that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God.

“Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations [n]forever and ever. Amen.”

Ephesians 3:14-21

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10 Reasons to Study your Bible during Finals Week

For all my friends from Penn State to University of Wyoming: I know you are enduring the few weeks left of study and exams; here is a little post from our ministry website: BCMofSC.wordpress.com. I hope it encourages you! Hang in there.study bible 1

The end of the semester is approaching fast, and with it, final’s week. So we’ve provided a list of quick tips for studying… your Bible! Don’t forget to engage in some much needed time with God in the next few weeks. Here are a few good reasons why, according to Psalm 119:

1. To finish strong, you will try to study well, avoid opportunities to cheat, and make the most of your last weeks as a student: 

“How can a young person stay pure? By obeying your word.” Verse 9

2. Unfortunately, there will still be moments you might feel like a complete failure:

“I lie in the dust; revive me by your word.” V. 25

3. Because finals week can lead to some crazy emotions:

“I weep with sorrow; encourage me by your word.” V. 28

4. And there are far too many negative activities to tempt you during a study break, which will only tear you down and distract you further:

“Turn my eyes from worthless things, and give me life through your word.” V. 37

5. Snacking on unhealthy foods while studying can lead to an unhelpful sugar crash.:

“How sweet your words taste to me; they are sweeter than honey.” V. 103

standard-deviation-formula6. When you can’t memorize the standard deviation formula for your Statistic’s final, remember:

“The teaching of your word gives light, so even the simple can understand.” V. 130

7. More than likely, you’re going to pull an all-nighter. Lucky for you:

“Your word is a lamp to guide my feet and a light for my path.” V. 105

8. Or, you inherited masochists for group-project partners, and they all decided to meet at 6AM to finish the project:

“I rise early, before the sun is up; I cry out for help and put my hope in your words.” V 147

9. In the end, you may have to question an unfair grade, or a professor that overlooked your effort. Do not be discouraged. Remember that sometimes….

“…Powerful people harass me without cause, but my heart trembles only at your word.” V. 161

10. When it is all over, you’ll want to party like it’s 2000 and Y2K fell through. Remember to give credit to God who helped you through it all:

“I rejoice in your word like one who discovers a great treasure.” V. 162

Keep your Bible handy these next few weeks. Try reading a section of Psalm 119 every few hours during your study time (there are 22 stanzas, one for each letter in the Hebrew alphabet). You may find the insight and encouragement to be just the right perspective for all the stress and deadlines of finals week.

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The Phil4-8 Initiative

There is so much going wrong with the world. Scroll through Facebook. Watch the news. Talk to a friend. If the world isn’t caving in all around us, it is caving in inside us!

I had a very difficult time staying positive last week. For silly reasons, I let bitterness get the best of me in every area of my life: ministry, weather, my body, traffic, family, even my quiet time with God (also known as my Breakfast with Jesus).

Now it is Monday, of a brand new week. I can’t let bitterness and ungratefulness cloud my mind again. I know my Sustainer* has a greater plan for my mind. When it comes to negativity, my mom has always said, “don’t let it rent space in your head.”

Now, I cannot put a big neon “No VACANCY” sign on my forehead. But I can welcome the right guests into my brain.

Luckily, God didn’t leave me without a playbook in this area. So I will put to practice the Phil4-8 Initiative: to focus on whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, and anything of excellence or worthy of praise. My mission: dwell on these things. (Philippians 4, verse 8).

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Anybody else struggling to find a silver lining? Make yourself a “Phil4-8” list (pronounced: “fill”-four-eight)

Here is mine for today:

Becky’s Phil4-8; April 22, 2013

  • True: I have been giving the resume of Jesus Christ.
  • Honorable: our amazing set of students who helped clean up after last night’s dinner.
  • Just/right: God’s perfect holiness and intimacy displayed at creation (I am currently reading a Bible study titled, Creation Unraveled.)
  • Pure: the affection and trust a baby has for her mama, even while sitting in a shopping cart. I was blessed to catch this scene in passing while at the grocery store.
  • Lovely: The sparkly snow (it may be April, but it’s still pretty)
  • Commendable: the exceptional attitude of the checker at Walmart. Good job!
  • Excellent: A young friend of mine longing to be faithful for her future husband.
  • Praise-worthy: My husband willingness to go the extra-mile at work.

Need more ideas? Read this post I wrote last year, about my trip to South Africa and how God taught me to see the positive in a very discouraging situation. That’s where the Phil4-8 initiative all started for me.

Please know, I am praying for you. I hope to hear how God is working in your MIND today. Comment below or share a link to your own blog.

In His praise-worthy grace,

Becky

*I am trying to use relevant and intimate words for God, specific to the characteristic He is revealing of Himself. Today, I am reminded that HE is my Sustainer.

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4 Reasons you should go “all out” for your wedding

all out 2When it comes to a wedding, some people tend to disagree on the amount of celebration necessary. After conversations about having a Christ-Centered wedding, many brides assume they must slice their budget in half to give more money to missions. This is not at all what I suggest, nor is it necessarily what God is asking.

Now, if the Holy Spirit is leading you to worship God through an extravagant financial gift to His kingdom, gather the courage to do so joyfully. (Find creative ideas here.)

Otherwise, remember that your marriage is marvelously important and deserving to be commemorated!  Here are 4 reasons why a Christ-Centered wedding should be celebrated well:

1. Jesus celebrated! He attended a wedding, and when given the opportunity to provide the items for celebration (namely, wine), He went all out! Jesus provided the best wine. Of course, Jesus was not restricted by a budget; but the point is that “going all out” to honor an important event is not a sin.

J.D. Greear pointed this out well in his book, Gospel:

“The point is that Jesus provided good stuff for people at the party because He loved His Father’s creation and knew that by enjoying it we glorify God.” (2011, p. 135)

2. Your marriage is the picture of Christ. God chose marriage as the visual to humanity of His loving sacrifice for His bride (Ephesians 5). All the ups and downs of marriage is a perfect example of the closeness and distance we experience in our devotion to God. But through the cross, Christ made a covenant with us to never leave or forsake us, no matter what our mood is. I can think of no better way to capture that beauty than through marriage-covenant. Our relationship with Christ should be honored. Use your wedding to place value on God’s idea of a self-portrait.

3. By going all out, you are saying to your guests “this matters.” God’s plan for marriage is important. His gift to us is valuable. Our commitment should be commemorated in the best way possible.

Remember, its not all about you (the bride). So you are not communicating your own importance, rather the gravity of the commitment. Go big or go home. Let your wedding leave an impression for your guests on what marriage really is about: covenant between 2 people as the picture of Christ and an example to others. And that calls for a significant celebration.

4. This is God’s incredible gift to you! I remember when my dad purchased a car for my graduation present. Overwhelmed, I felt undeserving of it. I tried to keep very calm and humble about the situation, not wanting to act like a spoiled brat. Later that day, my dad approached me, “what’s wrong with the car, do you not like it? Did I do something to bother you?”

By avoiding “excessive celebration” I gave my dad the impression that I didn’t appreciate his gift. I think we often assume God expects us to be humble and reserved about the blessings He gives us. But like my dad, our Heavenly Father loves to give good gifts! (Luke 11:13)

The prodigal son (Luke 15:11-32) didn’t deserve the outpouring of love, the feast, the ring, the acceptance, or the party he received upon returning to his Father. But his Father “killed the fatted calf” and made a HUGE deal out of their relationship. It is good to make a HUGE deal out of something so beautiful and worthy of celebration.

Of course we don’t deserve an amazing husband (or wife). It is God’s lavish gift for us to share a lifetime of love,  children, ministry, joy, hardship, and amazing memories with each other. Not to mention the privilege it is to be one physically with your husband! God knows how to give good gifts, and we should receive and celebrate them happily.

Realize these are not excuses to go into debt for your party. This is simply an encouragement to see your wedding as an important and worthy moment. Be unique and innovative in your plans to celebrate; find ways to make a fantastic party that doesn’t break the bank (subscribe for more ideas to come).

Brides, make it matter. Throw an extra-special shin-dig in commemoration of marriage. Invite your friends and family to don their best party dress and rock-out with you all night long. As you plan your wedding, keep in mind how to glorify God and celebrate His goodness in your life, to the best of your ability.

*Married? I’d love to hear how you celebrated your wedding. Comment below (its easy, I promise) or visit me on Facebook.

*Want more ideas on planning a Christ-Centered Wedding? Follow me on Pinterest.

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Overcoming fear and “Going on an Adventure”

I am feeling a tad apprehensive about this journey of becoming a writer. For the last few months I’ve been feeling a bit intimidated to say the least. I finished writing a book, but now I have to edit it…. And I should probably let other people review it also.

Also, God brought an amazing connection to a college ministry magazine… all I have to do is send in a few articles and see where God takes it.

I could start writing published material. Or I could be royally rejected and have to try again. Both possibilities intimidate the dickens out of me.

I’ve spent the day cleaning and writing silly little blog posts like this one to help get over my fear and anxiety, and the consequential writer’s block. In the quiet and mundane, the Holy Spirit encourages me:

“You have nothing to prove, and nothing to lose. You are found in Me, secure in My approval of you, and equipped by all my power to take this leap of faith. My lovingkindness is new every morning, as will be the horizon when you face rejection. Trust me and move forward. Be strong, and let your heart take courage, …you who wait for the Lord!

So what if I taste defeat? I’ll brush my teeth and jump back into the day (thanks to Reliant K for these lyrics).

Every time  pray about this, God brings the picture from “The Hobbit” of Bilbo becoming completely undignified for the journey ahead.

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So there you have it, friends…. “I’m going on an adventure!!!”

How about you? What journey is God leading you on? Have any tips on overcoming your fears and taking that leap of faith? Share by commenting below!

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The Freckles have Arrived!!!

This weekend, I took a swift escape with my gorgeous husband and some close friends. Lucky for us, the sun decided to join us all weekend!

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The hot mineral springs of Thermopolis, WY did wonders for the last few months of crazy running about. Relaxed and refreshed, I woke up this morning to see my freckles have finally caught up with me.

If we are comparing tans, mine would win…. in spots 🙂

But as I’ve mentioned before, I love my freckles! (I am still hunting for a reason to adore my dimples, but that’s a different story). The only time I despised them was after a horrifying tanning-bed experience which magically concentrated my freckles on my upper lip area…. I came out with an epic freckle-stache right before my wedding! (note: tanning beds are evil!)

Still, my speckled skin is a constant reminder how the little things can make a big difference. I’m a girl who is always trying to make a big splash in life, be interesting, and impact the lives around me for the better. God uniquely reminds me to chill out, scale back, and be faithful in the little things.

My prayer is that the Apostle John could write these same things about me:

I have no greater joy than this, to hear of my children walking in the truth. Beloved, you are acting faithfully in whatever you accomplish for the brethren, and especially when they are strangers; and they have testified to your love before the church. You will do well to send them on their way in a manner worthy of God.” 3 John 1:4-6

Like freckles, small acts of faithfulness can add up over time.

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The Art of Falling Gracefully

falling gracefullyI failed again. Life does not have a rewind button, and words spoken do not return to my mouth. I gossiped. I spoke a word that shouldn’t have been said. And it happened so fast, so naturally, so… like… me.

Ugh, will I ever gain control over my tongue?! I have been praying for help in this specific area for months now! But I keep messing up, failing, and falling to my shame and the humiliation of others.

Won’t God just please give me the self-control to shut UP!?

Maybe. But I have a feeling I encounter failure in this area for the rest of my life.

More importantly, I think God wants to teach me a different lesson first:

I used to be a figure skating instructor. Toddlers, young girls, even women in their 60’s learned the skills and technique to turn, jump, spiral, and spin; and I had the joy of teaching them.

The very first skill a skater must learn, though, is to fall. As much fun it is to glide through a beautiful routine and train for the big jumps and spins, the potential to hurt one’s body by falling incorrectly is too great to ignore.

To fall correctly while ice-skating, a person must aim to fall on his or her “heineken,” on the soft part of the butt-cheek. This spot will cushion the rest of the body from the impact, and will not easily break (though it may bruise). I had little kids who loved to fall on their knees, big kids who aimed for their tail-bones, and adults who  threw their hands back to catch themselves before they would fall on their bums. Each of these puts more weight and strain than the respective body-part can handle.

My Students and I in 2008
My Students and me in 2008

My students never appreciated me for it, but I forced them to practice falling correctly…. especially if they developed a habit of falling on the wrong area. My adult students were afraid to practice falling; but falling by accident is inevitable, and training your body to fall correctly is the best way to ensure a safe landing every time.

I can relate to those women so well now. I am afraid to fall. I don’t want to be forced to fall. I definitely don’t want to practice. But God has a great plan to train me in this life to be a faithful and graceful Daughter of God. Failing is inevitable, but I have developed a “bad-falling habit,” and my coach is going to retrain me to fall gracefully.

Every time I fall in this Christian-walk, I do so without any measure of gracefulness. I get down on myself, doubt God’s work in me, and flirt with the desire to quit. I want to hide in my room, under the covers, and ignore the spiritual battle upon my flesh. I feel like giving-up on ministry and even trying to make a difference in other’s lives. I want to duct-tape my mouth with a “it’s not worth hearing” label.

All of my thoughts spiral inward on me, myself, and I– and it’s not pretty. Like a figure-skater spazzing out of a triple-lutz, twisting her ankle, impacting her elbow, and landing flat on her side sprawled out all over the icy surface–I fail very ungracefully.

Over the past month, I have encountered my failures more times than I can count. Maybe I’m just suddenly aware of it, now that I am writing a blog labeled “Failures, Faith, and Freckles.” Maybe the Holy Spirit has a specific plan to “prune” me into a new level of sanctification and Christ-likeness, so He is re-training me to fall gracefully. Whatever the case, IT IS EXHAUSTING.

But He is the coach; I am the student. He knows the bigger picture for my safety, success, and overall beauty in this sport… er… life. So He teaches me to fail with grace: grace for myself, grace for the people around me, grace for the process. He trains me to swiftly rise up like it’s nothing… there is a song I am skating to and the crescendo approaches. I have an audience watching… not to see me sprawled out like a dead pigeon, though that may entertain them for a moment. No, I am in this life, like a skater gliding across the ice, to display a sense of beauty, grace, and artistic talent: not mine though… Christ’s!

To fall correctly in this Christian walk, I must glorify God from the ground. With humility and trust, I will set my mind on Christ. and the beautiful life-routine He has choreographed for me.

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Kayaks and Colorful music…Encouraging Work out playlist Day 9: Movements by Rend Collective Experiment

Welcome to 10 Days to an Encouraging Work-Out Playlist: Day 9

2zp7azqHave you heard of Rend Collective Experiment? These guys are super imaginative in their music-making and praise of Jesus. Remaking instruments, hymns, and what it means to be an inspiring and adorable group of adults playing in the forest, this North Ireland worship band makes a wonderful addiction (addition) to the worship music scene.

After hearing the colorful “Movements,” my first thought was not “ooh, new running song.” Yet somehow quite organically it ended up in my work-out playlist. Check out the lyrics and you will see why.

 I wanna soar with You
Upon wings like eagles
But I’ll crawl with You too
When the dark and lonely questions come

I wanna stand true
No matter what’s new or comes through
I can’t stand still
Whatever hits I’ll keep making movements to You

I’m running fast and free to You
‘Causes You are the movement and fight in me
I’m running fast and free to You
‘Causes You are my home where I wanna be
Come move in me
Where I wanna be, come move in me

I wanna float with you
The currents driving me
But I’ll paddle hard too 
When the waves and rapids overcome 

I wanna stand firm
When my mind’s weak and my emotions squirm
I must stand true
Whatever hits I’ll keep making movements to You

I won’t walk away, won’t walk away

The lyrics I love best are the second verse: “I’ll paddle hard too, when the waves and rapids overcome…” Shane’s parents gave us Kayaks! for Christmas and I couldn’t be more ready for a few nearby mountain lakes to melt down so I can enjoy something like this:161918549072380886_14DzKpNW_c

Until then, I use the rowing machine at the gym to strengthen my arms (and my resolve to look hot on the lake) for summertime. I fake row, listening to “Movements”,and enjoying deep communion as I restate my vow of commitment to God, to keep moving with Him, toward Him. No matter what gets in the way, like my pride, the comments of other people, the distractions of the world, I will keep making movements to God, and to work-out and be fit.

Dorky Confession of the day: after I pull off a hard rowing work-out, I pop on nature sounds and water white-noise. Rowing casually with my eyes closed, I imagine a pristine lake and cool breeze. I like to think everyone in the gym gets a kick out of my dreamy moment to cool down. You’re welcome.)

Catch up on 10 Days to an Encouraging Work-Out Playlist:

Day 1: Undignified by Warr Acres

Day 2: Stronger by Kelly Clarkson

Day 3: Lay Me Down featuring Matt Redman and Chris Tomlin

Day 4: No Chains on Me by Chris Tomlin

Day 5: Free by Mandisa

Day 6: Core of My Addiction by Fireflight

Day 7: Oh Praise Him, David Crowder*Band

Day 8: Stronger by Hillsong

Day 9: Movements by Rend Collective Experiment

Tomorrow Day 10: Oldies but Goodies from the past! 

… Day 11: Your Choice! I’ll be featuring the songs YOU appreciate most in your work out. Don’t miss out, tell me your most motivating tune in a comment below!

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Sports-Bras and Scripture…Work out playlist Day 8: Stronger by Hillsong

stay-strongWelcome to 10 Days to an Encouraging Work-Out Playlist: Day 8

Yes, I know, I have already featured 1 song titled “Stronger,” by Kelly Clarkson.  In fact, I almost used another song called Stronger, by Mandisa, which you should definitely look up here. Moral of the story? Songs titled “Stronger” are motivating and encouraging songs for the gym.

This song in particular, Stronger by Hillsong, is more of a cool-down song, but such a good reminder of deep truth. The lyrics popped into my head while I was getting dressed for the gym. I was hooking on my sports-bra and started singing to it: You are stronger, you are stronger….

See, I believe there is not greater force than an effective sports-bra. It takes 3 at best to keep my “girls” contained during my routine jog (this is a girls-only post by the way). Sometimes I just want to encouraging my straps to keep being strong.

Lucky for me, the song got stuck in my head. Since it is a slower song, I play it during the deep breaths and stretches post work-out. Breathing in deep, I am reminded that God is stronger, sin is broken, and Christ has saved us. Even if my workout wasn’t all I had hoped (or my sports-bra just didn’t make the cut), I find myself full of the joy of the Lord after meditating on truth.

Stronger

There is love that came for us
Humbled to a sinner’s cross you broke my shame and sinfuless you rose again victorious

Faithfulness none can deny through the storm and through the fire there is truth that sets me free Jesus Christ who lives in me

Chorus
You are stronger you are stronger
Sin is broken you have saved me it is written Christ is risen Jesus you are Lord of all

No beginning and no end You’re my hope and my defence you came to seek and save the lost you paid it all upon the cross

So let your name be lifted higher
Be lifted higher be lifted higher

2 Chronicles 16:9 says:

“For the eyes of the Lord move to and fro throughout the earth that He may strongly support those whose heart is completely His.”

I want to be that heart! Completely His. I know He will uphold me through all things…. He is strong enough. Friends may fail, family may be far away, my husband may not understand how to comfort, I will eat a cupcake and a milkshake all in one disappointment of a day…. my sports bra may wear out! But the Lord is stronger than all of it! In Him I put my trust.

Don’t forget, Day 11 is our BONUS day: your song picks… comment below with your favorite work out songs; I will share them in the post.

Catch up on 10 Days to an Encouraging Work-Out Playlist:

Day 1: Undignified by Warr Acres

Day 2: Stronger by Kelly Clarkson

Day 3: Lay Me Down featuring Matt Redman and Chris Tomlin

Day 4: No Chains on Me by Chris Tomlin

Day 5: Free by Mandisa

Day 6: Core of My Addiction by Fireflight

Day 7: Oh Praise Him, David Crowder*Band

Day 8: Stronger by Hillsong

Tomorrow Day 9! 

… Day 11: Your Choice! I’ll be featuring the songs YOU appreciate most in your work out. Don’t miss out, tell me your most motivating tune in a comment below!

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