Archive | November 2015

Intentionally Great! Mary Graziano’s Scro’s New Book

As a Christian counselor, whenever I feel discouraged, my first reaction is to delve into the Scriptures for serenity and direction. My next step is to reach out to another “Wise Woman of God” for counsel.  There is so much comfort in knowing that another woman truly understands.  When you purchase Intentional WarfareWinning the Daily Spiritual Battles, you will find you always have that Wise Woman of God by your side when challenges or discouragement arises. Just flip to any chapter and put on another protective piece of the Amour of God.  Intentional Warfare

Mary Graziano Scro, author of another of my favorite books, Intentional Fitness, has once again written an empowering book!  Based on pertinent, authoritative Scripture  such as Ephesians 6,  her book is filled with godly insight and common sense applications for living in today’s world. (How do we react to those who might disrespect us?  How do we live in the world and not lose our Christian testimony? How does one patiently rest in the Lord?)

Using the acronym: W.A.R.F.A.R.E, each chapter addresses the challenges we mentally, physically and spiritually encounter in our typical walk with the Lord.  Her action packed “Daily Training Exercises” at the end of each chapter will empower you to confront and acknowledge that “yes you can overcome the slings and arrows”  Christians face daily.

Here’s one of my favorite passages from Intentional Warfare to emphasize that point:

“When we do get hurt, we have the opportunity to choose one of the greatest activators of God’s love: forgiveness. We can forgive those who hurt, persecute, lash out at, and betray us. We don’t have to feel like forgiving. We don’t have to tell the one we’re forgiving that we’ve done so unless God directs us to do so. Often we will still feel hurt or angry. Fully experiencing forgiveness—no more hurt or anger—is a process that takes time. It starts with our choice to forgive and continues to completion with ongoing choices to keep forgiving (Matthew 18:21-22).

This is the type of book you’ll want to read book multiple times. The first to motivate, the second time to empower and the third time to savor as you tackle the challenges and eventually enrich and energize your Christian testimony.

A1tH-+XJslL._SX80_[1]Today only!!!   Don’t miss out on Mary’s generous offer to pick up a copy of her ebook for only 99 cents on Amazon.com.

After reading you’ll not only be able to face and overcome normal day-to-day life struggles; you’ll also emerge victorious.

“Their god is Their Stomach” a Practical Guide to Thanksgiving Eating

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Sorry, but what better verse for the holiday season than this?

“whose end is destruction, whose god is their appetite, and whose glory is in their shame, who set their minds on earthly things”  (Philippians 3:19)

Last week I discussed the challenging Spiritual and mental aspects of facing Thanksgiving. Now it’s time to overcome that physical gluttony that comes along with it.

It is common knowledge that between Halloween and New Year’s most people gain ten pounds. Now string that out to the Super Bowl and Valentine’s Day, not to mention the play-off games and we pile on additional poundage! Thinking back in spring, when one’s clothes don’t fit anymore, it’s one of those “well, it seemed like a good idea at the time” moments.

When is enough, enough? Why do our good intentions go by the wayside as we lose control at Thanksgiving, gorging ourselves on sweet potato casserole and pecan pie? Thanksgiving leftovers are great!

But realize this day you’ll automatically consume more than usual. Today is special. What can someone eat and not feel deprived?  It’s all about choices.

First consume nutrients.

Turkey is a lean protein with approximately 340 calories for 6 ounces. Formed with B vitamins and an enormous amount of minerals including selenium. Turkey makes us happier. Cut a serving into small pieces, eat slowly and enjoy!

Want stuffing or mashed potatoes and gravy? Enjoy smaller portions: 1/4 cup of stuffing is 90 calories, 1/4 cup mashed potatoes is 75, a  drizzle of gravy over both is about 65. A 1/8 cup of sweet potatoes (without tons of brown sugar and marshmallows) are 40.

Your plate is already getting full!

Now you need veggies. Select broccoli or green beans (not the 225 calorie casserole!) at 25 calories per 1/2 cup or an entire 1 1/2 cup of garden salad at 50 calories and a drizzle of  1 1/2 teaspoons of olive oil and apple cider or balsamic vinegar with herbs at 60 calories.

Cranberry sauce is surprisingly high in calories. A sliver,  1/4 inch thick has 100 calories. Your choice: Is it worth it or would you rather have dessert? You’re in control of your decisions. Feel empowered yet?

A dinner roll has 110 calories, but sop up the gravy instead of buttering it, and you’ll save 60 calories towards dessert. Again consciously make the choice, “this or that.”

Without dessert, the caloric count above could total 1,000 calories, depending on your choices and drink selections.  Don’t be discouraged. Normally one would consume 1200 to 2,000 calories daily depending on their weight or whether they are cutting down purposely for health reasons.  It’s a special day. What God doesn’t want to see is you losing control!

Now there are several incorporating factors that can instill discipline on Thanksgiving.

  1.  “Smoosh” out your selections so mentally it seems as if there’s more on your plate than you really have and no one will ask, “Is that all you’re eating?”
  2. Previously find a measuring cup and visualize sizes before spooning out selections.
  3. Make this holiday a social occasion and not an eating occasion. Enjoy fellowship and stretch out the meal. It takes twenty minutes for one’s brain to recognize it’s full.
  4. Sit with your back to the food if your family serves buffet style or when done, remove your plate (or yourself) so you aren’t tempted.
  5. Drink only water with lemon with your meal and save even more calories! A 5 ounce glass of red wine is 120 calories.
  6. Take a walk after dinner. The fresh air will invigorate you and burn calories.

Wait to eat dessert.  Choose pumpkin pie over apple today. A 1/8 serving of apple pie is about 410 calories, pumpkin is 180 and with a dab or whipped cream increases 65 calories.

Enjoy family, don’t stress and please count your blessings!  Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

 

Dealing With Thanksgiving/Holiday Diet Saboteurs

What happens when the very people who are supposed to bring us joy, cause undo stress which you can’t express?  Those feelings get stuffed deep inside and covered with a smile because after all, we’re supposed to be “gracious” Christians. You think: There goes my resolve, so why bother?!! If they don’t support me, who will? and discouragement sets in.

saboteur photoHow one avoids the holiday saboteurs is a real-life obstacle course! Depending on your personality, this festive season is challenging. How does one gracefully avoid hurt feelings, be true to yourself and not cave to peer pressure?  “Of course you should eat – you’re so thin now, you look gaunt!”

Recognize peer pressure  It’s not only for high schoolers. Do these examples sound familiar?

Scenario #1:  Your spouse brought home donuts or cooked something fattening because, “Well, you’re doing so well, I wanted to do something nice, okay???”

“Why’d they do that?” you ask.

  1. Could be scared. The thinner you get, ‘spouse‘ might think they’re not measuring up and you’ll find someone else.  They don’t like the seductive looks others give you.  So now what? Communicate. Reassure them that you made a lifetime commitment for a long, healthier life with them. Ask if they’ll support you.  Freeze the goodies for “one at a time, once a week.” Continue on.
  2. They’re competitive and you’re demonstrating more disciple than them.  Confirm that you’re a team. Create goals and exercise together as support partners. Celebrate victories with non-food items.
  3. They’re a jerk who wants you to stay frumpy and unhealthy because it makes them look better by comparison. In that case, stand your ground! No one lives inside your body but you and your first responsibility is to God.
  4. Kiss, Say, “. . . next time just bring home jewelry instead.”    🙂

Scenario # 2: Your co-worker brings in her favorite Christmas goodie for lunch.

  1. Stay away from the break room until January 2nd.  This is one season it’s okay to eat at your desk or walk outside during lunch.
  2. Bring something sweet, like fruit tipped with bittersweet chocolate for dessert. Have something to look forward to.  Eating isn’t wrong, it’s being controlled by food that is.

Scenario #3:  Your new neighbor stopped by, bringing Christmas gift cookies to share with you over coffee.

  1. Sit down and socialize. Thank her for her kindness and let her know you were hoping to get to know her better.
  2. Place one/two cookies on two plates and leave the rest on the counter.
  3. Since they are a gift, she won’t ask for another. Sit with your back away from the food, eat very slowly, savoring every bite and talk, talk, talk!
  4. Later, place leftovers in a solid container.

Scenario #4:  At a family gathering, Grandma made your favorite double fudge brownies  just for you! Now what?

If you’re a people pleaser you might think it’s a no-win situation; you’ve got to eat it or hurt Grandma’s feelings. (After-all you love Grandma with her future inheritance.) There’s always a way out while sticking to your principles. 1 Corinthians 10:13.

  1. Thank her. Have a tasteful sliver. If possible, explain that since you are currently so full, ask if you can take most home with you.
  2. Generously share with guests. Cut up portions for them to take home as well.
  3. At home, cut into smaller bites and freeze for later. Call Grandma the next day and let her know how much better it tasted because you could fully enjoy it.

Most importantly, visualize other potential scenarios and create personal strategies for success and remain disciplined!

“But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.”  (1 Corinthians 9:27 )

(Yes, it’s a reblog but bears repeating.)

Food Can Never Satisfy a Hungry Heart

thKK2DOI13“For he satisfies the longing soul, and the hungry soul he fills with good things.”  (Psalm 107:9)

I love the holidays, especially now that we live in beautiful northeast Ohio, where Christmas lights are strung across real pine trees instead of around cactus.  This year will be truly joyful for we are sharing Thanksgiving with family for the first time in 25 years! I cannot express how much we are looking forward to that day.

For some however, the holidays can be a painful, not happy time. Some have lost loved ones and feel an emptiness within. Others might harbor long-held hidden resentments against family members.  A few find themselves lonely in a crowd, feeling like the black sheep of the family. When that occurs, one might find themselves consuming more food in an effort to unconsciously squelch that inner pain. If one is trying to regain a healthy lifestyle, this could be truly defeating.

Food chemically fills a vacuum. However, no food item will ever fill the void within a lonely, hurting heart. Recognize that certain nutrient cravings are acquired through the brain’s hypothalamus. Nutrients changes physiology. For example, chocolate contains phenylethylamine, a neurotransmitter that pacifies the pain, acting as an amphetamine, which numbs and makes one feel better. Comfort foods such as mashed potatoes and mac and cheese provide feelings of comfort and security. Others foods such as popcorn bring back memories of a more joyful childhood and who wouldn’t want to find shelter there?

But if you stuff personal resentments within your heart and place a smile on your face, thinking no one’s the wiser, you’re wrong. Because God knows. He sees your broken soul and the anguish within your heart. If a family get-together is tough to endure, realize that Jesus knows your pain. He knew what it was like to feel rejected. He understood family conflict for even his brothers and sisters didn’t honor or believe he was the Christ until his Resurrection.

“For even his own brothers did not believe in him.”  (John 7:5)

Ever feel like an outcast?  Do you find yourself competing in a “can you top this” moment because your cousin got an executive promotion and raise and you flip burgers at a fast food place?  Word to the wise:  “God doesn’t care!” He looks at your heart, not your wallet or position in life. He shows no favoritism.  (Romans 2:11) God wants you to strive to be the best you can be with the talents He gave you. You have worth because you ARE. God created you as a loved being and only wants the best for you.

“Even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes.”  (Ephesians 1:4)

I realize it is easy to flippantly say, “pray for others and try to view them through God’s eyes,” but if you harbor resentment in your soul you are only hurting yourself. Let others see Christ shine through you this season. If necessary, visualize Jesus sitting at the table and smiling at you for HE is your Guest of Honor at your table. Please don’t self-destruct simply because someone else is unkind. Only our LORD’S opinion is important.

God can fill the void within your empty soul.  Strive to honor Him in all you do this Christmas Season for we truly have been given the best Thanksgiving Fellowship of all, a relationship with Jesus Christ!

Next: Practical Ways to Avoid Saboteurs

Answering the Three Quote Throw-Down

Thank you Dan of  https://hurdlestohappiness.wordpress.com/ for including me in this intriguing challenge: find three quotes which have meant something in your life. It’s not exactly the challenge of choosing the best quotes but finding the time to write the blogs that is an obstacle.  I’ll need to modify this dare to meet those expectations and therefore hope you don’t mind if I combine all 3 days into one. I highly recommend Dan’s amazing and thought-provoking blog, so check it out!

th5V20CXXWMy first quote is from someone everyone admires,  Albert Einstein, who famously stated: “Everyone’s a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will grow up its whole life believing it’s stupid.”

TRUTH: We live as we perceive. What we have been told by our family, teachers, classmates, good or bad, sets the stage for what we believe about ourselves in later years. It cannot be dismissed because it made us who we are.

I believe we never truly outgrow our childhood . . . a fragrance, favorite recipe, television show or a song immediately transports us back into that nostalgic memory.  Unfortunately memories can mold and sometimes overpower our lives.

Do not make someone else’s untrue judgment a self-fulfilling prophesy. Strive to be better  Develop those beneficial talents and personality traits you own and dismiss those hurtful opinions of others.

My second is another quote in our progression toward sound mental health: we must let go of the past:

A wise man once stated,He has not escaped, who drags his chains behind him.”   I’m not sure who quoted this but it has been attributed to an old French proverb.

If we carry excess mental baggage, we will never break loose from the constraints that chain us to the past. It is important to address why we act as they do, because until we recognize the reasons why we form certain habits, we’ll never start getting better!

Begin to renew your spirit through positive actions and reinforcement! Our dear Lord has already gone through everything in life. He understands how we feel. Lay your burden at His feet and find comfort there.

My third quotation is from Ephesians 4:32  “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.”

Forgiving someone is never easy but forgiving ourselves is sometimes even harder! Learn to forgive yourself and recognize we all make mistakes.

If someone bumped into you in a theater and professed their embarrassment over the action, we would most likely say, “Oh it’s nothing, don’t worry about it.” However, when we make a mistake, it is the end of the world!! “What a stupid thing to do.” “I can’t believe I said that!”

Why are we so hard on ourselves? Are you seeking perfection? Don’t! We are not Christ. To attempt to be perfect only sets us up for discouragement, frustration and failure.

Jesus however, epitomizes the template of how we should strive to live our lives. Common sense tells us we can emulate but never actually accomplish perfection as He did, for we were all born with a sinful, flawed nature. By insinuating that we should be perfect, we are upholding a false belief that we are gods.

Strive for excellence, not perfection. Be the best you know how to be and cherish the life God gave you.

“For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Matthew 6:21)

I open this challenge up to ALL of my followers.  What memorable quotes have meant the most to you?  Answer below:

Combating the Common Cold with Common Sense Choices

thOW2HVFS5Winter is just around the corner and with it comes the cold and flu season.  Not fun, so how do we build up a resistance to the common cold, or even worse, the flu?

“Dear friend, I pray that you may prosper in every way and be in good health physically just as you are spiritually.” (3 John 1:2)

First, build a strong immune system with exercise. Get out into the fresh air and walk. Not only does this release healthy endorphins but it raises your body’s resistance to infection and gets one closer to God while strolling through His beautiful world.

Secondly, find ways to relax and reduce stress. Stress will actually make you sick. Stress releases toxins throughout your body and changes body pH into a dangerous acidic environment. Therefore find ways to reduce stress with exercise again or with tranquil music, reading, bubble baths, massage therapy or any relaxing hobby that you enjoy.

Then of course there is food.  As Hippocrates stated sometime around 400 B.C., “Let food be your medicine and medicine be your food.”  Start eating better now!

Colds and flu are viral infections. When one has a cold, the throat, lungs and lining of the nose become inflamed. Anything that will make your nose run will open up your bronchial passages. Hot, spicy foods like cayenne pepper, horseradish. salsa or spicy oriental food should be on the menu as a perfect decongestant.

Garlic is my favorite healthy food. It contains antibiotic, antifungal, antibacterial, anti-carcinogen properties among others. In fact, it has at least 25  germ-destroying properties that combat infections!  Now that’s what I call a Super Food!

Homemade chicken soup has been a staple for fighting a cold since Noah’s time.  I always make mine spicy with lots of garlic and red pepper. The hot, savory broth loosens phlegm and of course the garlic is amazing for strengthening the immune system. Chicken soup also contains cysteine, an amino acid that helps thin mucus and relieves congestion.

Any tangy tomato sauce loaded with garlic and chili pepper will clear out your sinuses, acting as natural decongestants. Perhaps Shrimp Diablo should be calling your name tonight?

Foods with zinc will combat viral infections and shorten colds if taken early enough. Good sources of zinc are shrimp, oyster and other seafood, lean red meat pork and lamb, pumpkin seeds, wheat germ and beans.  Warning:  Don’t over imbibe on zinc. Various studies have shown that too much zinc is harmful but here’s where expert findings vary. Some say as much as 40mg over a long time is detrimental, while others declare 100 mg would be too much. I say, use common sense. 60 mg. seems like a reasonable compromise.

Consume foods which are high in vitamin C.  Of course everyone knows about the orange, but red peppers actually have more vitamin C than an orange. A nice spicy pepper steak might be just what the doctor orders.  Other foods high in vitamin C include:  Cantaloupe, mango, grapefruit, broccoli and cauliflower.

Get plenty of fluids. Of course it should be obvious that fluids move dangerous toxins out of your system faster, so whenever you pass the faucet, grab a glass. If 8 glasses of purified water is tough for you, consume herbal or green tea, or consume a good quality orange, grape, cranberry or other juice with pure seltzer water. Avoid caffeinated drinks due to dehydration factors.

Avoid sugary foods. Sugar lowers the immune system and that’s certainly not what you’d like right now. The only sugar you should consider are fruits with lots of nutrients.

Remain healthy this season!