Godly Lessons Learned From a Pup!

cj-with-chewy-bone-from-dave“Mr. No-No” turned one year old Friday. He is the cutest, fluffiest and most loving dog we have ever had. A new breed, Cavashon is a cross between a King Charles Spaniel and a Bischon. They shed little, are very affectionate and gentle. I can remove a toy from his mouth without getting my hand bitten off. Quite a change from our Lhasa or even our sweet Cocker who sadly we lost last year.

It takes a lot of energy to keep puppies occupied.  I take ours for long walks rain or shine, but since we have no sidewalks, when it’s icy or snowy as it was yesterday, walking is too dangerous. I kept him entertained at home.

I’ve learned many lessons from him and the first was that puppies are meant for younger people.

The second: self-discipline.

Puppies are similar to toddlers. Our floor looks like a bone yard: bones, chewy toys, Kongs are currently strewn all over the living room. No matter how many times I put toys away, he seems to prefer his life disorganized. Sometimes he looks like Yoda rifling through Luke’s pack, throwing items to and fro from his toy box, butt in the air.

As we mature, we should prefer order not disorder in our lives. Order keeps us disciplined and God is a God of Order. A disciplined life evokes what is right even though we don’t feel like it. Yes there are days when it is raining, snowing or 27 degrees when I don’t feel like walking. But if your child is crying and really needs you, you can’t ignore that. Our pup is counting on me too. After I have overcome “self” I feel I’ve conquered negativity while disciplining myself.

Second lesson: Realize what’s truly important. 

Observing all those toys flung over the floor, I wonder if he has a clue how fortunate he is?! “There are thousands of dogs starving in China who would appreciate all he has!”  (Sorry, flashback to being six years old and refusing to eat peas.) The point is, to our dog, those toys are primarily a means to an end. He brings me the toys so I’ll have time with him. It’s the process of playing together with the tuggie or bouncy toy that means the most to him.

Do we understand how blessed we are with the many “toys” God gives us? Or do we long for even more, never satisfied. What’s truly important in life? How much is enough? It’s all just stuff. It won’t last but next year’s new toy is calling your name; “work harder and you’ll be able to purchase it!” If you ask your child what he’d prefer, a new television or hanging out with you at the park, would he answer “I’d rather be with you?” Or have you taught him that the one with the most stuff wins?

Thirdly: Be content with what you have.

I observed Mr. No No lying on the floor watching his sister happily chomping away at a small bone. There was another larger bone and several toys right beside him but he wanted what he couldn’t have.

How like us! God created us uniquely with various body shapes and personalities. Does that make us happy? No. We want to look like Beyonce, Angelina, Brad or Clooney. Appreciate what you have. Strive to be your best for God. You’ll be much happier and content.

“And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:19)

Lastly God’s Love is unconditional and so is our dog’s. Oh, they grow up so quickly! Love unconditionally too.

The Joy of Obeying Our Master

For a while our 6-month-old Cavashon puppy must have thought his name was “No-NCJ at six monthso” because he got into so much trouble due to his curious mind. Poor little guy, he tries so hard to make us proud of him; he’s such a sweet dog. However, if we didn’t train him correctly he’d become an uncontrollable dog; (like unruly kids we who are never given boundaries.)

Our puppy wants to please us. He takes joy in hearing “Good boy!” (Or perhaps he’s thinking, “Yeah sure lady . . . just give me that treat.”)

It takes a lot of training and energy to learn something right. Just like our children, “we must train up a puppy in the way he should go and when he is old he will not depart from it” (paraphrasing Proverbs 22:6.) A well-mannered dog is a pleasure to be around, similarly to lovely children.

This got me thinking about the correlation between boundaries in a dog’s world and those within Christianity and food. What if we all did what was right in our own eyes; no boundaries? (Judges 21:25) The world is leaning greatly in that direction, isn’t it? Just look at what is acceptable behavior today which wasn’t even 50 years ago.

When I accepted the Lord as my Savior, I attended a very legalistic church. As an opinionated teenager, I constantly heard “no-no’s” too: “Don’t wear makeup.” “You can’t wear skirts that short!” “Movies are forbidden!” “Modern music is the devil’s voice” “Dancing is upright fornication!” But I heard no sermons on the Joy in the Lord. My goodness, no wonder I rebelled in college – I was finally free – no boundaries!

We live under Grace today. God gives us the right to choose how we live and would never legally restrict us or hold anything back. Regardless, He wants us to choose to obey Him out of love and gratitude. After all, Christ sacrificed ALL on the cross for us – is that asking too much?

“For sin shall not be your master, because you are not under law, but under grace. What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? By no means! Do you not know that when you offer yourselves as obedient slaves, you are slaves to the one you obey, whether you are slaves to sin leading to death, or to obedience leading to righteousness?…   (Romans 6:14-16)

As for our nutritional habits, we should strive to live healthy lives because we want to please our Lord and Savior, not because we have to. Scripture states that under grace, anything is fine in moderation. (1 Corinthians 10:23.) Is it too much of a sacrifice to eat only four Hershey Kisses (25 calories each) instead of the entire bag? Consume 6 ounces of sirloin instead of half a cow? Who is your Master, food or God?

Regarding our puppy, it’ll take time to master our commands. We don’t expect him to be perfect. And as Christians, we’ll never be perfect either, so strive for excellence and obedience. As far as our eating habits go, try to master cravings, don’t allow them to rule over you. God doesn’t restrict your culinary pleasures; you can consume bacon and French fries, but why would you eat them everyday if they destroy your personal temple of the Holy Spirit? You wouldn’t think of throwing trash on the floor of a sacred site in Jerusalem, why trash your bodily temple?

I look forward to my own “Good Girl” approval when God lovingly looks at me and says, “Well done, my good and faithful servant.”   (Matthew 25:23)   That would mean more than Chocolate!!!

Is Instant Gratification Good or Bad For Us?

I believe in a Bible of Authority. God SPOKE and there was light. He SPOKE and the world came into existence. God SPOKE and the universe was created in an instant . . .

Have you ever noticed however, that God took time to create a man?  Why? That’s a curious action to meditate upon, isn’t it? Amazingly, He didn’t simply speak and automatically God forming manman existed. Rather He lovingly and thoughtfully formed man from the dust of the earth and breathed His own life’s breath into him.

“Then the Lord God formed a man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being. Now the Lord God had planted a garden in the east, in Eden; and there he put the man he had formed.” Genesis 2: 7,8

It wasn’t long afterward however that man childishly demanded instant gratification. Paradise wasn’t enough, peacefully walking throughout Eden, communing with God wasn’t enough. Adam desired to be like God with the knowledge of good and evil. Well, we know how that turned out, don’t we? Satan rejoiced over man’s fall.

As Adam discovered, instant gratification can be a painful lesson over the long haul. And man hasn’t changed over 6,000 years!  As Ecclesiastes 1:9 declares, “What has been is what will be, and what has been done is what will be done, and there is nothing new under the sun.”(ESV)

Look at young celebrities who sign million dollar contracts and immediately fall to drugs, alcohol. gambling or other lifestyle debauchery. It’s too much, too soon. The reward came before the discipline to maintain it. The same can be said regarding many lottery winners and sports stars. Instant gratification produced a downfall.

When one gets married nowadays, many instantly purchase the huge, immaculately furnished home with the beautifully manicured lawn and two car garage for their his and her brand new automobiles. The 60 inch HD screen lies impressively on the media room’s surround-sound wall, so playing the latest video game system is pure pleasure. Instant reward! Until the bills outweigh the income and the filing of bankruptcy begins.

So it is with losing weight too quickly on pie-in-the-sky fad diets as well! “Lose 10 lbs. in 7 days!” It bankrupts the spirit and doesn’t teach anything. Sadly after someone finishes a fad diet plan, the weight piles back on when the old eating habits return. This doesn’t teach the underlying reasons why we eat as we do. Even worse, the dieter will gain back fat to replace the muscle lost. This bankrupts the soul, making a Christian feel like a failure . . . and Satan rejoices.

Since God wants us to be the healthiest we can be, it was no secret how He wanted man to eat. God told us in Genesis 1:9 and Genesis 9:3.  We don’t need a PhD to understand, just a heart willing to work for it. When one knows physiology, he recognizes how complicated our bodily machinery is. I would hope you wouldn’t place sugar and Crisco in your gas tank so why would you place junk food in your body?

God knew it was good for man to work for what he receives.  When man builds his own house with his own hands, he’ll take pride in that accomplishment and will care about the upkeep. When someone loses weight using personal discipline and God’s sensible culinary plan, he’ll have a stake in keeping the weight off. What one treasures, one takes care of!

When Opinions From Others Matter

thTCNBJAN3Some people radiate a confidence that epitomizes success. But if God isn’t glorified through it, once again, it’s off-balance.

“For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ.”   (Galatians 1:10)

If one believes they’ve accomplished each achievement by themselves, they become King Nebuchadnezzar (Daniel 4:30) who gazed over his kingdom, extolling, “Look at all I’ve done. Aren’t I Mr. Wonderful?!” Wrong, what ingratitude! God alone is the Giver of ALL. Not giving God the Glory for their successes, makes all our worldly accomplishments wither like burnt grass. Let’s try not to believe our own publicity.

On the other hand, being a counselor, most come to me epitomizing a self-conscious, worthless, defeated spirit. After all, others have taunted those faults in their face so it must be true. Must I remind you: God doesn’t make junk?! You have value because God created you. You are children of the King, therefore royalty.

Why do we allow other people’s opinions to matter so much? When someone criticizes or compliments, consider what motivates them. Are their words Scripturally sound? Flattery or Truth? Is someone concerned about our best interests or are they simply spiteful, jealous or insecure themselves? Consider the source.

Ultimately, it’s only God’s opinion that matters. God’s Word restores Power! (1 John 4:4)  It’s our choice to believe Truth or the lies of the devil who uses others to whisper in our ears that we are unloved, failures, trash.  Satan wants to drag us into his pit. God tells us we should remain confident, strong, withstanding all obstacles through Him who gives us strength. (Philippians 4:13.)  Choose wisely.

Counseling is unique. Different personalities require different approaches. We choose what we believe about ourselves. Perception becomes reality. Life has many challenges and overcoming adversity makes us stronger! Personally I emerged from the most horrific childhood imaginable but I don’t live there anymore. “But forgetting what is behind . . .” (Philippians 3: 13-14) God has restored me. I choose a joyful life and I want that for you! Don’t allow the opinions of others hold you back.

I followed many destructive paths searching for worth and love before becoming a New Creation in Christ. A “people-pleaser,” I finally understood that I could never make everyone happy. Never be good enough. It was the old story of the boy, the old man and the donkey. In short, no matter who rode the donkey, someone criticized the decision. No one was happy.

Become a New Creation for the right reasons. Healthier living pleases God. Stop self-destructing! One wouldn’t throw trash on the floor of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem, so why trash our personal temple of the Holy Spirit? What we treasure we take care of.

Have you said, “Then who cares? Forget them, I’ll do what I want!”  (Judges 21:25) Self-destruction always occurs for underlying emotional reasons: unworthiness, anger, attention, loneliness or whatever produces mental, physical and spiritual demolition. Do what God wants.

Others try and please in an attempt to appease others. If I (lose weight, quit drugs or smoking) then they’ll be happy and stop nagging. But since one isn’t doing so for the right reasons, failure results. God wants you healthy.

Some are insecure, seeking validation/acceptance/praise from others. Like “Oh you’re so beautiful” selfies. Or they’ll try some foolish activity like drugs hoping to win friends. That’s traveling down a dangerous path.

Your Christian life represents Jesus. His opinion matters. Strive for excellence, He’ll be well-pleased and THAT matters!

“Your money or your life?”

thQ1Z7QCY4Believe it or not, if I ask a patient if they want to get well, sometimes they look at me as if I’ve lost my mind. “Of course,” they say.  But do they really?

Remember this famous skit from the old Jack Benny Show?

As Jack Benny is strolling down the street, a robber approaches him and demands, “Your money or your life!!!” As his character was known for being extremely stingy, he seems to ponder this a little too long. The robber finally in frustration asks, “Well???” Whereas Jack Benny responds, “I’m thinking, I’m thinking!’

He loved money more than life itself.

Nutritionally, many are in that same mindset today. They love certain foods more than life itself.

“When Jesus saw him lying there and learned that he had been in this condition for a long time, he asked him, “Do you want to get well?”   (John 5:6)

I don’t know what type of illness the man at the pool had but he immediately listened to our Lord and obeyed Jesus’s command.  His Faith saved him. What if he hadn’t listened? He’d remain an invalid forever and waste away.

I have counseled many who were desperately ill, facing debilitating illnesses like diabetes, heart disease and cancers.  They risked surgery, amputation and even death if they didn’t change their eating habits.

“Do you want to get well?” I asked. All told me they did.  But some wouldn’t take that step of faith to believe what I told them would make them healthier. Some wouldn’t even do it for their children’s sake!

The pleasure of food was their god. How else could you explain the reason why some people facing a deathly illnesses would continue to consume the very items that were stealing their life blood? Chemically enticing food was their master, not God.

Do you love donuts more than the Lord?  Do you crave potato chips more than Christ? If I asked if you if you could trade grilled chicken garden salad w/ vinaigrette dressings for cheeseburgers and fries at lunch, would you? Or would you go on as you always have? “As it was in the days of Noah . . .” (Matthew 24:37)  A warning was not heeded because no one believes destruction will happen to him . . .  until it does.

As you look upon that overly processed selection, I want you to ponder two points:

1. “Your money or your life?” Is this huge portion of decadent, fattening food worth your health?  Worth the heartache facing your loved ones when you become incapacitated? You make the call.

One mustn’t necessarily give up everything tasty to get healthy. Anything’s fine in moderation.  1 Corinthians 10:23 attests to that fact.  But if a temptation is a stumbling block, for heaven’s sake, flee from it! (2 Timothy 2:22)

2. Think before you eat: Do I love that food item more than our Lord Himself?” Is gluttony now my god? If it is, visualize this: Jesus hanging on a cross with a slip of paper with a list of sins behind his nail-driven hands. All sins are the same in God’s Eyes, which means that gluttony is the same as murder. (And you’re destroying yourself.)

“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.'”  (Mark 12:30)

If you’re an addict, ask yourself why?! Educate, analyze and recognize triggers when loss of control occurs and begin the arduous journey back to health step by step. Everyone rejoices when someone rises out of a pit into the light. If it’s you, start climbing.

First Question Regarding Weight Loss: “Are you ready?”

Okay, as promised, I will be writing more frequently, hoping to motivate others to strive for a healthier lifestyle this year. As you know the #1 resolution last year was to lose weight.  So how has that worked for you?  Wait, don’t tell me – not great, or why else would you be reading this?

That’s not meant to be snarky because I understand your frustration! Every year the #1 resolution is the #1 failed resolution. Why? Perhaps many are conned by false diet gurus claiming quick weight loss or the “ten pounds in ten days” myth. Diets fail. They’re too complicated or the food tastes like cardboard. (Eat for nutrients!)  Now you’ve gained that back and more.

Ever think you were attempting weight loss from the wrong perspective?

Important – A healthy lifestyle begins from the inside out.  “But that diet plan worked before!” you say.  Sure it did, for awhile – but you gained it back.  I can put a new miracle cream on my face that claims to prevent wrinkles.  I can even place an expensive hair masque over my head which professes to restore thick luxurious, shining hair; but unless I eat nutritious foods, by the end of the day the wrinkles return and the hair still gets dried out in the sun and wind.

True health begins from the inside out – physically  with what nutrients we consume, mentally with what we understand about physiology and spiritually with how we react to God. th76V8R7TH

Therefore, let’s start by asking a basic question:   “Why do you want to lose weight?”

Are you losing the for right motives?  Can’t fit into that special outfit?  Want to brag how disciplined you are? To show snooty Ms. Thang that you look pretty darn good in that little black dress during the Valentine’s Day Dance? For your class reunion or daughter’s wedding?  For your family’s wishes or so hubby stops ridiculing?

Only one reason is right. Because you’re mentally ready to honor God and do what He commands! If you lose for a special occasion then what?  Afterwards do you go back to eating “normally” again? God is not asking you to eat sticks and twigs, He loves you! He’s not demanding  you sacrifice flavorful foods and suffer. He is asking you NOT to trash the Holy Spirit which lives within you.

Improve your health because it’s the thing to do. Desire vitality. You want to feel better. You want to respect your body and keep it holy (1 Peter 1:16 “Be holy – for I am Holy,”)  Yet so many times our god is our stomach. We worship the god of the Buffet or before the throne of the fast food counter.

Honor the body as the wonderfully created object it was designed to be. We were created by God in His Image.  Looking around at our world today, how do you think He views us? As apathetic, disrespectful or appreciative? I believe we are wonderfully and fearfully made (Psalm 139.)

Our Lord, Jesus Christ had enough self-discipline to go to the cross on behalf of our sinful, gluttonous nature, but we  sometimes don’t have enough discipline to reject a donut or a bag of fries.

Don’t make resolutions. Create goals instead! You’re in a battle, so prepare yourself. Victory is at hand!

“For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline.”  (2 Timothy 1:7)

Change your mindset and visualize a new you this year. If you are truly willing to lose weight, get ready to be motivated!  Mentally, Physically and Spiritually prepare to become a New Creation!  Stay tuned . . .


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.)