Archives

Attempting Perfection? Ain’t Gonna Happen!

As one begins a quest for health, either through fitness or weight loss, many strive for perfection. Did you as well? How did that go? When you failed to achieve it, did you became discouraged, falter and give up?

Unfortunately, perfection is unattainable at any age. Therefore, strive for excellence, not perfection.

But why did we expect perfection from ourselves in the first place? Did we think perfection would make others like and appreciate us more? It won’t. In fact, Romans 3:10 informs us that there was only one perfect person ever born, our Lord. If you recall, most people didn’t like him much while He lived on earth and even today Jesus continues to have countless enemies.

Humans cannot be perfect no matter how hard they try. No one else is Christ. If God doesn’t expect perfection from us; only obedience, how could we possibly think we could ever become godly enough to achieve perfection?

May I remind you that God used normal, everyday imperfect human beings for his work? We tend to believe that the personalities of the Bible were superheroes, larger than life, but look again:

Abraham was old and Jeremiah was a child, Moses was timid and not a great speaker while Peter was proud and had a temper. Elijah got discouraged and Jeremiah was frequently depressed. Paul was egotistical and boastful while Jonah was a coward, David was an adulterer as well as a murderer and Solomon seemed to love women more than his LORD.

And don’t think women were any better: Sarah was a doubter, Rebekah was a schemer, Miriam was a gossip, Martha was controlling and Rahab was a prostitute!

Just as parents love their children no matter what, God loves us and desires what’s best for us. We are not perfect, but that shouldn’t give us license to be disobedient either.

Isn’t it a relief that God does not expect perfection from us to be useful to Him?! Knowing that, what does our testimony say about us? I’m quite certain you have never killed anyone but have you ever gossiped or let gluttony overcome you at a church social? Remember sin is sin in God’s eyes and His Son died for all sins; even gluttony, laziness and gossip.

Striving for excellence pleases God. How we live represents our Christian testimony. Concentrate on that aspect rather than expecting personal perfection which only frustrates and discourages. We must begin to create a strong godly example here on earth so we will hear the words, “Well done my good and faithful servant.” (Matthew 25:23)

People are watching us as an example of Christianity. Do we represent someone a non-Christian would strive to be? What strengths will we eventually bring to place at His Holy Pierced Feet?

“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things.” (Philippians 4:8)        

 

Advertisements

Peace or Power? Which Do You Pursue?

Some who seek “peace” are actually Counterfeit Christians, striving for dominance over others. Some feel if we will simply fall in line behind them, the kingdom will have peace. This is a falsehood. True Peace, Joy, Love is only found in doing what God desires of us.

“But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.”  (Matthew 6:33)

In this life we can build up or tear down another’s hopes, dreams or self-esteem. One can profess half-truths to obtain attention or destroy another through biting words. We can be a help or we can hinder another’s godly works. We can talk ourselves into success or forge on alone, foregoing Godly Counsel.

The question is: which type of person are you? To answer that, we must go back to our roots.

If your childhood was one with a dictatorial parent, a spiteful sibling, later a dominating spouse, suffered painful abuse or loss, it’s usually masked by either a false bravado or intimidating control or it made you stronger, more compassionate and more discerning. You have a heart for others because you identify with another’s pain.

As a result, the first will either bully, tear down others through words, acting as a mean girl to overcome that sense of inferiority and insecurity of never being good enough.

The second will overcome tribulations, building godly self-esteem and through strength reach out, coming alongside others to encourage them.

In essence the first attitude is projecting “I am the master of my OWN fate! No one will ever control me again!”

The falsehood here is, we will always have someone else controlling our thoughts and actions – either God or Satan, good or evil – no other! By allowing the devil to enter our mindset and puppet us, it not only hurts us, it hurts everyone around us.

By letting go and allowing God to control our life, we become stronger, content in all things, at peace with God’s Laws, provisions, pathways.

Inferiority is like having the devil whisper, you aren’t good enough!

I have news for you: no one will EVER be good enough. In this large world someone will always be and do something better, be tougher, kinder, prettier, wealthier . . .  even cook or sing better.

That’s the purpose of explaining to my patients why mental, physiological and Spiritual health is like the Westminster Dog Show. How can one judge a Golden Retriever against a Cocker Spaniel, a Pug against a Poodle, a German Shepherd against any Terrier? You can’t. Therefore each has a different standard of individuality set down by the American Kennel Club Rule Book and are judged accordingly.

Similarly, we are all uniquely designed by God and must be judged individually accordingly to His Book: The Bible.  Are we our best according to God’s Standards? I know I’m not and yet I continually strive to be excellent in all I can to please and glorify my Lord who rules over me, whispering “You are my child. I love you. You are enough.”

As a work in progress, I recognized early in my Christian life that it’s no fun being outside of God’s Favor. In fact, it’s scary!

Personalities who don’t truly believe in themselves and feel inferior, seek to find validation by tearing others down in order to build themselves up. I suspect you know people like this. One can never build themselves up by tearing others down.

Do you search for strength, peace, wisdom, but it evades you? Stand firm for Truth! Ditch Satan’s strings – seek Godly values and discover Joy.

 

 

 

 

 

Labels- Do’s and Don’ts

What a fabulous and powerfully written post by Eat, Move, Improve by Anthony DiMarino! How often do we believe the labels placed upon us? How foolish to believe the lies and whispers of the devil telling us we are junk. God made us and God never makes junk!

Enjoy reading this motivating post and take it to heart:

EAT, MOVE, IMPROVE

IMG_5849
Labels- we seen them everywhere.  We label people.  We label products.  We label foods.  Depending on the label we give something, it will change the meaning and the perspective we take.

For example, we label people.  We generalize.  We label rich people as “greedy,” “grimy,” or “despicable”.  We label overweight individuals as “lazy”, “losers”, or “undisciplined”.  These labels we use create how we interact within the world.  If you see the people I outlined above in this way, would you interact with them?  Probably not.

What if we turned this concept inward to ourselves.  If we see ourselves as “lazy”, “uncommitted”, “no good”, or “weak”, how do you think we would act?  Like losers, I’m sure.  So, why give yourself labels like that?  Consider changing the way you see things. Change the way you see others and yourself.  Choose constructive thoughts, words, and actions when viewing other people, yourself, and products.  Choose products and people that will benefit you in your mental, physical, emotional, behavioral, and…

View original post 134 more words

Observations of a Dog’s Vacation

Nothing brings a pet owner closer to a furry friend than having a 25 pound, fuzzy-haired dog sitting on one’s lap for 1253 miles in an RV!

I must admit though, it brought out several philosophical reflections while on vacation last week.

Like how trusting our pets are.

That little guy entrusted his safety to us, oblivious to traveling along winding, mountainous highways with steep cliffs as crazy drivers sped by.

I observed how secure he seemed, even when he discovered “monsters under the bus,” which turned out to be only rumble strips.

Letting go allows us to live in a state of peace, as we turn our concerns over to the LORD. God’s shoulders are strong enough to handle it all. Turning our concerns over to our Almighty Father first – not after we’ve tried all other options, results in peace.

As we travel along our personal pathways of life, highways aren’t always smooth either.  We do come across ups, downs and detours which divert us to unexpected places, (like moving from Arizona to NE Ohio.) Sometimes during diversions we acquaint ourselves with fabulous loyal friends, discover magnificent landscapes, beautiful gardens and peaceful settings as we embrace unfamiliar territory. How much we would have missed!

Sure, there are occasionally potholes and rumble strips, but those are learning experiences. Why stress out over every little challenge we face daily, when we can place our hope and confidence in Him? God longs to provide safety and blessings as we journey through unique adventures, striving to do His Will.

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
And lean not on your own understanding;
In all your ways acknowledge Him,
And He shall direct your paths”   (Proverbs 3:5,6)

Our destination was a gorgeous RV resort attached to a SC beach. Of course along the way, Mr. “What-at- you-up-to-now?” occasionally got curious.

As we were setting up, we noticed several swans gracefully gliding down onto the lake. Having never seen creatures of this kind before, I felt “Mr. No No’s” muscles tense as he began emitting a low growl. I gently reprimanded him: settle down or risk observing the landscape from inside.

Then, as the swans swam by, he straightened, looked back at me, quizzically, as if I’d answer the question of, “What in heck kind of dogs were those???!!!”

Oh, the wonder of innocence! So many visions in life we haven’t yet seen either! Makes me wonder how we will approach Heaven when the time comes. Will we stand in awe and wonder of the perfection God creates, asking questions?

“But as it is written, “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined the things that God has prepared for those who love him.” (1 Corinthians 2:9)

After setting up, we immediately took a stroll along the ocean. Our Mr. “OhNoYouDon’t!” boldly approached the awesome, seemingly never-ending water for the first time, but quickly withdrew as the waves crashed against the shore.

Curious now, he wandered closer as the tide receded, then dashed back as the waves appeared to chase him.

Pretty soon, he grew accustomed to the rhythmic cadence of the wave’s ebbs and flows, bravely walking alongside us, carelessly enjoying the wind in his fur while getting his feet wet and nose covered with sand.

Standing and observing a huge ocean with its constant, rhythmic, systematic timing, always makes any problem seem small. Life continues. Troubles too will pass when wrapped in God’s Love and Favor.

Relax, God whispered, you’re on vacation! I’ve got this.

Blessings abound when we place our Trust in Him.

 

 

 

 

Are You Running Away Like Jonah?

There are so many life lessons we can learn from the Biblical Jonah. As you recall, Jonah was commanded by God to go and preach to Nineveh but he ran away rather than face his responsibilities.

Have you ever thought, well how foolish! I wouldn’t ever run away from God when He commands me to do something!  He’s everywhere!

But we do actually act like Jonah at times! We are commanded by God to go on a journey. It is a life journey.

And as a Father, when His children rebel, God will get our attention in any way He can. Even by allowing storms (illness) to invade our body naturally when we consume too many unhealthy, chemically-laden foods.  Remember that was our choice, not His.

We live under Grace but are responsible for everything we do. Moderation is fine, but who forced us daily consume an entire bag of chips, overeat at the buffet or super-size that fast-food meal?

Like Jonah, God asks us to follow specific orders.  One of those is to keep our bodies holy and take care of this earthly temple He gave us.

1 Peter 1:16 states,  because it is written, “YOU SHALL BE HOLY, FOR I AM HOLY.”

But we run away from this responsiblity, don’t we?  Sometimes it seems like a monumental task trying to maintain a healthier lifestyle. Momentary pleasure overrides common sense.

Think of it this way: If we entered the Holy Temple of Jerusalem, we wouldn’t throw trash on that sacred floor, would we? No, but it’s exactly what we’re doing when we continually throw unhealthy food into our bodily temple.

God does not ignore disobedience, as Jonah discovered, no matter how much we feel we “got away with it.”

Look at Jonah again. When God asked him to go to Nineveh, he foolishly ran from God, trying to sail away from his obligations. But the Lord sent a storm which affected not only Jonah, but the entire crew of the ship.  That got his attention.

Truth #2: there are no victimless crimes! What we do affects others.  You might think, leave me alone! It’s my body! I’ll do what I please!

Okay, Grace again.  But when we eat unhealthily, we will eventually become ill. Heart disease, diabetes, digestive problems, strokes, cancer all trace back to what we eat.

When  we suffer, those around us suffer too! Just ask those who sit by our bedside while we’re in pain!

As parents, God asks us to exemplify higher standards to our families and yet we continue to provide an abundance of fast food, causing our family members to become ill too. Don’t you think God notices?

To correct our resistant, foolish direction, He might allow the consequences of that behavior to catch up with us. (As Jonah found out.) In our case, we might develop a simple belly ache or something worse like diabetes.

Now the question is, since He now has our attention, do we turn from our naiveté and start living and eating right, or do we shake our fist at God, defiantly demanding, Why did You allow this to happen; growing even more defiant, turning away and running away from God?

When faced with seemingly insurmountable goals, we get scared! It’s not easy but stop running! Immediately take baby steps to begin rectifying the situation. Start by consuming whole, nutritious foods. Stop trashing our earthly temple!

“Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.”  (1 Corinthians 6: 19-20)    

 

 

 

 

Updating to a Better You!

As I was revamping, improving and updating my e-book novel from 7 years ago, I thought as I went along, “yuk, that doesn’t express what I wanted to say! How could I have ever written this crazy paragraph?  Umm, there’s got to be a better way to convey that!”

I’m sure most writers have similar feelings.  As the author of 2 novels, another on the way, a short story and a nutritional counseling work based on Biblical principles, I’m always critiquing my work. GOSH, that’s not good enough! translated that means, Gosh, I’m not a good enough writer, am I? 

As humans, we should strive for excellence not perfection – because there was only one perfect person and we’re not Him!

As flawed beings we are also searching for perfection. I sometimes want a re-do. Do you look back on your life and also ask yourself, why in the world did I do that – or say or wear that?

Sure everyone wants a do-over for something and we all probably have regrets. That’s the challenge. – we can never re-do that day, EVER.  Once words are  said, an action completed, it’s over. Therefore we can live in the past with regrets and bitterness or learn to forgive, attempt to make restitution and carry on becoming a better version of ourselves for God’s Glory.

I praise God for all I’ve gone through in my life. It’s true I’ve endured unspeakable childhood traumas, loneliness, betrayals and other life lessons; but each made me into a stronger, more capable woman. It was His Will, so who am I to shake my fist at God? He molded me, brought me out and set me on solid ground while always being by my side. That’s LOVE.

I once existed in a pit but I was never meant to live there, neither are you! I retain much Joy in my life because the Lord has been there, strengthening, teaching and loving me throughout. That was sometimes difficult to understand. How does God love the unlovable and imperfect being, I was?

I don’t know but He does!

Now as a counselor, I reflect back on life lessons and use that empathy to assist others.

I know some patients who believed they were unlovable, not worth anyone’s attention or time. They tried one weight loss program after another and failed every time. Why? Because they felt they weren’t worth the effort and self-destructed. That’s a fallacy. You have worth because you ARE!  God designed and created you and God doesn’t make JUNK!

We’ve recently gone through a wonderful sermon series on the life of Joseph. He has always been one of my favorite Biblical personalities. He didn’t deserve the treatment he received either but he learned patience, to endure and even become his best self through those trials he faced.

Think of those Jesus walked with: Did our Lord love Peter any less when he denied knowing him? No. How about Mary Magdalene when she was a prostitute? No. David, Abraham, Jacob, Moses or anyone else when they fell? No.

As it states in the wonderful film, I Can Only Imagine, “If God can forgive me, why can’t you?” Choose to forgive yourself or others and lift a heavy burden off your shoulders.

The Apostle Paul professed it beautifully:

Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”  (Philippians 3:13–14)

 

 

Where Have All the Relationships Gone?

I came across a cute cartoon on Facebook which was created entirely of emoji’s and icons. (not this one, wasn’t sure if other had a copyright) It professed that after more than 3,00o years we’ve returned to speaking through modern day hieroglyphics. How true!

Real one-on-one communication today seems to be disintegrating as quickly as paper books. Twitter, Texting and Facebook have emerged as conversations without actual voices. A happy face icon is replacing actual laughter and a physical hug and in this extremely mobile modern world, even close friendships can dissolve quickly.

A study conducted by the University of North Carolina indicated that stress levels were lowered when participants hugged each other. Hugging releases chemical feel-good endorphins such as oxytocin, described as a hormone of love and the neurotransmitter, serotonin. This allows us emotionally to feel safe, secure and in trusted hands. No amount of x’s, o’s or happy face icons attached as an internet hug can replace a physical one!

God, time, communication and laughter in my opinion, is the glue that holds friendship together. Your spouse should also be your friend.

GOD is the Anchor. He instills a moral compass as well as the Golden Rule. There is no coincidence with God. He brought you together for a reason. Do you care? That which you treasure, you take care of. Protect each other’s feelings through a lifetime commitment of respect, courtesy and love.

LAUGHTER keeps a relationship young-at-heart. What seems like a crisis  in a relationship can often be a learning experience which over time is usually laughed about when relating that story to family and friends years later. Don’t sweat the small stuff, as the saying goes. In perspective, it’s all small stuff. Only what we do for our Lord matters.

TIME. In a strong, loving, balanced relationship, a couple should continually allocate more time together than apart. Never stop supporting, learning and growing together! God created us as complex creatures. It’s exciting to discover new interests that add to a couple’s extensive memory portfolio in marriage!

Communicate! Don’t let your relationships become complacent! Complacency leads to boredom. Sadly, many marriages are disposable in today’s throw-away society. How many times while counseling did I heard the phrase: “We used to talk for hours, but he doesn’t communicate with me anymore!” Wouldn’t most women prefer good communication from the heart than a gift from the store?

I can’t believe in life you can’t find something to talk about:  vacation plans, politics, sports, travel, world events, work, music, television shows, a joke you heard, a Bible study point of view . . . there’s literally a world of items to discuss!

We surround ourselves with such busyness and noise and yet more and more, as humans, we are so lonely. Then we reach for anything that temporarily satisfies, food, drugs, alcohol, shopping. We find ourselves in a void, falling further and further away from God’s love. Get back to the Word!

Surround yourself with godly people who encourage, build you up and believe you are worth speaking to. It takes commitment, patience and the Lord as the center of any relationship to ensure longevity. Reach out!

 “Whether it is pleasant or unpleasant, we will listen to the voice of the LORD our God to whom we are sending you, so that it may go well with us when we listen to the voice of the LORD our God.”  (Jeremiah 42:6)