Archive | August 2017

Water, The Great Equalizer

As I watch the devastation of Hurricane Harvey and the heartbreak of those who have lost so much, my heart goes out to them. Through no fault of theirs the Houston and additional Texas areas are enduring trials I can’t imagine.

Expectedly the hurricane with its torrential rain turned north after striking Corpus Christi, hitting the beautiful area of Houston hardest with still-rising flood waters. Leaving their beloved home, memories and animals behind, residents called out for safety.

Floods demonstrate how water is the great equalizer. It didn’t matter if one owned a shack or a multi-million dollar estate; water devastated each one. It didn’t matter if someone was a field laborer or CEO, water took away their livelihood. When we come before God, keep in mind that it won’t matter if we are janitors or celebrities because no one can purchase Heaven with fame or money. Salvation by Faith is a free gift and will be the only fact that determines eternity.

I wonder how many of them thought of the Scripture in Matthew, Chapter 24. Jesus told his followers; as it was in the days of Noah, so shall it will be when Christ returns to rescue his Believers. For a hundred years Noah urged his friends to renew their lives through faith in God. But some, believing they had all the time in the world, mocked his warnings. Failing to heed God’s Saving Grace, they perished. Water became the great equalizer. Many today believe they have plenty of time to accept Christ. Until then, God is mocked and other idols replace our Lord.

Unexpected disaster can occur at any moment in our lives, even death. Some seem apathetic to death as well. “I’m young!” They say, “I have plenty of time, couldn’t happen to me!” But “Now is the time of Salvation!” (1 Corinthians 6:2)

Some will blame God for their circumstance; failing to understand that God originally created all things, “Good.” Remember it was man’s choice to mess everything up. Mankind became so evil that God sent a worldwide flood to reclaim and renew His original Creation. But in His Mercy and Love He didn’t destroy all but rescued eight faithful people and began again.

As residents evacuated, many had to leave their beloved pets behind, praying they would be saved eventually. When Christ comes to rescue his Believers, some loved ones will be left behind. Do everything you can to ensure they are saved!

Baptism by water immersion represents a rebirth and dedication to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. If one confesses sin and turns from their old ways, Baptism washes it all away. God will never forsake us and offers us a safe place of refuge. Find refuge with Him.

Accepting Christ makes one new through a newly-created attitude and mindset. Some experts say it will take years to rebuild Houston but accepting Christ and becoming a New Creation only takes a moment. God is giving you a way out of your despair, accept Him today!

“No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it.” (1 Corinthians 10:13) NASB

Advertisements

How Does One Determine Happiness?

How many times have we overheard someone say, “If I could only win that lottery, my troubles would be over!” “If only we lived in a larger home, we wouldn’t fight all the time.” or “If only I were thinner, I would be happy!”

Would incredible wealth, a great home, a CEO position, perfect body or perhaps gourmet meals with servants to wait on you every night really make us happy?

What happens when you reach that goal but there is still emptiness within your soul? What fills the void then? Food? Food can’t hug anything but your hips.

Adam was created by God Himself, with the perfect physique, placed in a perfect world but he still wanted something more. Walking with God wasn’t enough for him, and he reached for something he shouldn’t. Even living in a perfect environment didn’t bring happiness!

Don’t judge him too harshly. Today we call it “Keeping up with the Joneses.” Many desire what someone else has: an 80-inch TV, a Lamborghini, luxury vacations, an Oscar . . . a 22-inch waist.

Will having a perfect body make you happy?

“But the LORD said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The LORD does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.” (1 Samuel 16:7)

A pure and grateful heart is more pleasing to the Lord than a small waistline or celebrity status.

Perhaps relationships will make us happy? Abraham, Isaac and Jacob thought that, but quickly discovered that spouses, siblings, friends and children can break a heart. Humans have character flaws and will eventually let you down. Let our plumb line be centered not on others, but on Christ who is truly perfect.

David was “a man after God’s own heart.” He found God’s favor and yet it wasn’t enough. He lusted after something he couldn’t have – Bathsheba. He knew better, yet risked God’s wrath for momentary pleasure. Sexual addiction can’t bring joy but one cannot build a foundation of happiness on someone else’s pain. God’s Word who should anchor one’s marriage.

Maybe money will instill happiness? It is futile to believe that if we won the lottery, our worries would be over. Does great wealth provide security?

No, not even King Solomon found happiness in wealth. Solomon possessed greater monetary possessions than anyone and yet declared, “Utterly meaningless! Everything is meaningless.” (Ecclesiastes 1:1b). Power and other materialistic provisions require a heavier responsibility.

Searching to fill a void in your life without God leads to various addictions to mask pain. People fill life’s empty voids with things. Food is also a thing. The chemicals found in food indeed increase endorphins, providing comfort, happiness and energy but it is temporary. So are matrial possessions. You will ultimately search for additional fulfillment.

Find real joy from within by trusting in Christ’s sacrifice which brings Salvation, Peace and True Joy. It is a gift from the Lord!

The apostle Paul began his life with great wealth but gratefully relinquished it for God’s greater glory. He discovered what was important in life: contentment within God’s boundaries. Let Christ be the center of your influence and experience real Joy!

“I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.” (Philippians 4:12)

 

Intentional Motivation

One Sunday morning my husband and I were on our way to church when we got behind what used to be called a “Sunday driver.”  He was trudging along about 10 mph below the speed limit with seemingly not a care in the world.

Coming to stoplight on a four lane street, it became safe and convenient to pull around him which we intended to do. All of a sudden when the light turned green, this gentleman revved his engine 10 mph OVER the speed limit, intentionally not allowing us to pass.

My husband joked, “He must have realized he was late.” (Yeah right  . . more like ego.)

I, of course, immediately connected it to a motivational post. I remarked, “Man, I wish my patients had been that motivated at times!”

I thought back to when I worked with doctors. A few of my younger patients had always thought they’d improve their diet later.  After all, I have time to live it up, so don’t bug me! My system can handle junk & fast foods just fine. For now, they hadn’t a care in the world.

That is until they were diagnosed with obesity combined with diabetes or other illness. All of a sudden they had a reason to become healthier.

One, “Sherry” wanted to try out for the cheerleading team but realized she hadn’t enough energy to attempt that. Besides that challenge, all that junk food was affecting her skin and she suffered from severe acne which in turn make her self-conscious.

“Chuck” had already tried out for the basketball and later the baseball team but was winded after completing a few sprints. He never made either team. Now he was gaining weight. When his father began noticing a change in his demeanor, a doctor diagnosed Chuck with Type 2 Diabetes. His father brought him in for nutritional counseling.

These two teens faced similar challenges but achieved different outcomes.

Sherry had been bullied over her weight gain by typical mean-girls found in high schools all over this country. The more they teased her, the more junk food she ate to numb the pain. Her self-esteem was plummeting but I could still see a fire in her eyes. She desired to turn her life around and took to heart my pro-active nutrition, exercise and lifestyle changes. Gradually she learned that no food could fill the void in her heart, only the Lord could. Months later I gazed upon a confident and independent young woman who decided to run for and got elected to her student government.

On the other hand, Chuck wanted to please his dad, which is one reason he tried out for the teams. But Chuck’s athletic skills didn’t equal his father’s expectations. Since his dad thought he was smarter than God, the twig didn’t fall far from the tree. Each session Chuck sat glumly, listening. Consume a variety of better foods? “I already know that,” Chuck responded. Really? Then why wasn’t he doing so?

“You believe in God? Good – even the demons believe that and shudder.”  (James 2:19)

Head knowledge isn’t heart knowledge. The demons had no desire to submit to God’s control and neither did Chuck.

There had to be a reason Chuck was self-destructing. Questioning a possible veiled reason brought a tense, “He’s not a basket case!” from his father.  I didn’t see Chuck after that and fervently prayed he didn’t advance to drugs to numb the pain of perceived unacceptance.  We are all unique with different talents and gifts given by God.

What is your motivation? It should be to first honor our Lord. Become a New Creation!

 

 

A Tribute to Our Little Walking Buddy

I’ve been putting off this post for weeks because of my broken heart.  Our beloved Lhasa was only 10 years old when she unexpectedly developed bladder stones last month and had to be put down. Our other two Lhasa Apso’s lived 16 1/2 years and we had no reason to expect she wouldn’t live as long. It was with a heavy heart we made that decision rather than have her endure an intricate painful operation which  provided only a 50% chance of survival at best.

For many years she was my little walking buddy. She kept me on my toes literally. Our two mile walk in Arizona was one I wrote of frequently. She rode shotgun beside me on the passenger seat while I drove the 2500 mile drive from Arizona to Ohio.

I used illustrations I saw in her and our beautiful 14 year old Cocker Spaniel’s behavior many times in my blogs.  It became easy to relate canine behavior to our relationship with God and health. She inspired me to write about trust, discipline and eating habits among other topics which can be found via my search engine on my webpage.

When she was a puppy she was so sweet and affectionate! She would climb upon my chest, wrap her little paws around me and give me an actual hug.  She was a favorite at the dog park at the RV resort we lived in at the time.

Then something happened after we moved into our new home. In most Arizona communities, people went to work, drove home, entered their enclosed garage and sat out on their private patio afterwards, enclosed behind a 6 foot high fence. We failed to keep her socialized and she became over-protective and sadly mean-spirited with strangers.

This was a terrible mistake on our part but we learn from our mistakes. Dog owners aren’t perfect, neither are parents or individuals. I needed to forgive myself and instill necessary changes. So I vowed last year after our beautiful Cocker Spaniel passed, that we would absolutely socialize our transitional pup, “Mr. No-no.” Happily he has become the most loving of pets.

Five years ago when I began this blog, I had no idea what God had in store for me – that He’d ask me to become a pastor’s wife 3 years ago. (You want me to do what God?) I never expected His leading to take me down this pathway. But I began to listen to my Master’s Voice, trust HIm and grew in a closer relationship with my Lord.  Throughout the decision some tough choices had to be made. Now here I am in northeast Ohio surrounded by family and friends, being more blessed than I ever imagined.

It takes an enormous amount of faith to trust God, even through sorrow, knowing that He only has our best interests at heart. Life is messy, hurtful, unfair at times. She was my last tie to my daughter and for that I will be forever grateful for having her in my life.

Someday I’ll know why God’s pathway has lead me to where He wants me to be now, even amidst sorrow. For I’d rather have memories of my little Lhasa buddy than to never have had her in my life at all.  Until then, He has His arms around me, soothing me with comforting Words. All I need to do is trust and learn not pull on my leash. Trust – it’s a liberating word.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” (Jeremiah 29:11)

 

 

 

“You believe whaaaat . . . ???

There have been many myths regarding nutrition; many I have already written about over the years.

My Litmus test for truth has always been, “What does God say about it?” Would God instruct us to consume anything in moderation and then say,”Whoops!” I doubt it because my God doesn’t make mistakes.

My go-to for accuracy has been the Bible. Contrary to science and some intellectuals, it holds no mistakes. The Bible declared the Earth round, a fetus has a beating heart and man lived with dinosaurs long before science had to retract their theories.

Over the past 15 years some “bad” foods have come back into acceptance again. Yet some diets still declare certain ones off-limits. For example, the Paleo diet plan claims lentils, beans & potatoes are forbidden. Silly, if God made it for food, it shouldn’t be unless you’re allergic to it.

Let’s address some nutritional fallacies you might have believed in the past.

Nuts: Yes they are loaded with calories but all foods should be eaten in moderation. Walnuts especially are helpful in reducing the bad LDL cholesterol while increasing the good which protects against heart disease.

Red Meat:  Do you know that red meat is one of the few places we can find B12, a vital nutrient in fighting fatigue and neurological damage? When given to dementia patients, most saw improvement. It also contains zinc, iron, B6 and niacin among other important elements. But choose wisely: select anything labeled “round” or “loin” as the best cuts for health. A 3 ounce serving is approximately 150 calories and 4 grams of fat which is less than dark meat chicken.

Eggs: When I first began my career in 1990, eggs were considered unhealthy. I wondered how a God who made everything good could make a mistake. Well, as I researched I discovered that eggs contained, A,D,E, B6, B12, thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, zinc, iron, choline, folate, selenium, potassium, magnesium, calcium and vital amino acids among other nutrients. Does that sound like something we should avoid? Of course not, my God doesn’t make mistakes!

Chocolate: Any food becomes fattening when we lose control and overindulge but chocolate has gotten a bad wrap. It’s like giving a child a bunch of crayons and when he draws on the walls, blames the wall. Use common sense and set up boundaries. An ounce or two of dark chocolate chips or two Hershey Kisses won’t destroy your health plan. Losing control does and that’s a counseling challenge!

“But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire.”   (James 1:14)

Chocolate contains many vital nutrients such as magnesium, iron,  selenium,  and  phenylethylamine which actually affects weight management, stimulates the nervous system and assists in digestion aid. It also of course emits the same emotion as love. When God told us to consume every green plant and tree in the garden, it didn’t surprise me to discover that the cocoa bean comes from a tree.

Pizza:  A good source of calcium and iron if you make your own with limited cheese and plenty of mushrooms, peppers, black olives, etc.. Pizza can be fattening if one consumes an overabundance of sausage, pepperoni, and 80% hamburger. However if you order one with Canadian bacon and pineapple why not enjoy a couple slices?  BBQ chicken is excellent too.

Shrimp: “Too much cholesterol,” they cry! It might surprise you to discover that the cholesterol in shrimp works to increase the good HDL while lowering the bad LDL type. Over the years, similar revelations were found with butter, coconut oil and nut butters.

Anything is fine in moderation (1 Corinthians 10:23) so choose wisely and enjoy God’s Bounty!