Tag Archive | Christian encouragement

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.

Renewing of the Body AND the Mind

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” (2 Corinthians 5:17)

A New Year means a new start. You’re determined – this year is the year you’ll be healthier. This year you instantly-thinwon’t cave before a pepperoni pizza or chocolate cake graven image. It’s kale everything from now on, you declare! God will be so pleased when He sees you are suffering to obtain perfection. Not!

But eventually, when you find yourself giving in to temptation you consider yourself a failure and announce, “Oh if only I could be instantly thin!”

Well if I had a magic wand and could make you instantly thin, I still wouldn’t do it.

“Why, that’s mean,” you protest.

Think I’m mean? Not really. For example, you could certainly lose weight by starving or on a boxed food program. But without knowing how to prepare your first meal after you reached your goal weight, I promise you the pounds will gradually reappear.

Time and experience teaches, instant gratification does not. The process is so much more important than the progress you make!

The process educates:

  1. it teaches us to slow down, savoring our food
  2. how physiology relates to cravings
  3. how we can control our emotions when challenges arise
  4. to strategize correctly during certain situations
  5. and what it’s like to feel successful because you did it without gimmicks!

Don’t you always want to feel proud that you conquered these challenges? No one else lives in your body but you. No one else can make you healthy but you.

Education teaches, instant gratification doesn’t. How many times has the latest sports rookie signed on to a team for a small fortune, only to lose that fortune to fast cars, drugs, gambling or something else. How many lottery winners go through all their money in a few years and wind up unemployed and homeless? And don’t get me started on those young actors or actresses who face jail time because they don’t realize how fortunate they are and feel they are above the law. Too much, too soon! They never learned the process of control. The reward came instantly before the self-discipline took hold and controlled their actions.

The same factor pertains to weight loss. Successful gradual goals will earn long term success, not instant gratification.

Christ didn’t rely on instant gratification although he could have.  He knew that as God, He came to earth to live as a man. It’s important to remember that He experienced  hunger, heat, discouragement, betrayal, heartache, suffering and everything we are tested with. But He endured, conquered all of those obstacles and triumphed! He understands what you are going through too. He realizes it’s challenging to discipline yourself to do the right thing. But it did it for us, return the favor.

This week start out with small goals: walk a half mile today, tomorrow an entire mile. Drink four glasses of water today, tomorrow six. Select and bring home from the store only good fruits, vegetables good fats and lean meats this week.

Everyone must start somewhere, so choose to start today!  It’s your choice – choose to begin and end  sensibly. Be proud of becoming a New Creation for Christ in 2017!

“Therefore prepare your minds for action; be self-controlled; set your hope fully on the grace to be given you when Jesus Christ is revealed.” (1 Peter 1:13)

 

Before You Begin Your Weight Loss Resolution

“But as for you, be strong and do not give up, for your work will be rewarded.” (2 Chronicles 15:7)

Most of us will endure another week of holiday eating before our weight loss resolution kicks in. Initially, January 2nd, we start out so determined, this time I’m really going to do it! But then the first football play-off party, bridal or baby shower invite arrives and bam, you lose your resolve and cave in before that chicken wing idol.challenges-are-what-makes-us-interesting

Now you’re discouraged. Why bother, I’ve failed again! No you haven’t. Life is a process, a learning experience and a journey of successes and failures. Only one person was perfect and we are not Christ. Weight loss isn’t easy but it sure is rewarding when you conquer any addiction. And you know what? Success gives you confidence.

Before you begin, understand physiology:

Weight, among other reasons, fluctuates with stress, the time of day, (or month) or the sodium you consumed. Rather than trust your scale, ask yourself: how do my clothes fit? How much energy do I have? How does my complexion look? All these are much better indicators of healthy or unhealthy living.

Weigh yourself, then put away your scale. Weight is relative, health is not! A pint equals a pound. A couple of cups of coffee and you are a pound heavier. Take a shower, your hair is wet, you’re heavier. It’s an illusion, it’s not unhealthy weight. Excess fat is unhealthy.

Besides weighing oneself daily is discouraging – if it doesn’t come quickly enough, the tendency is to give up. We are an instant gratification society but instant anything doesn’t teach us how to strategize against challenges. On the contrary, it makes us spoiled, demanding children. So weigh yourself every couple of weeks or better yet go by how energetic you feel and look.

Don’t forget to breathe, enjoy life and take time to laugh! Find ways to relax. Stress increases toxic conditions. Toxins increases insulin levels, making the body work harder which tires us. When one is tired the body nags us for food to regain that energy. The quickest energy is sugar which raises insulin levels and thus it’s a vicious circle.

Start cleaning out those toxins. All those sugary desserts, alcoholic drinks  and fattening foods contribute to an unhealthy acidic pH. This ages us while stressing out the kidneys and liver, making them work harder to detoxify our system. Our pH should to be around 7.3 which is a healthy alkaline level (that’s another post.) Simply consuming the most colorful fruits vegetables will supply many wonderful nutrients as well as fiber, to get you back on track.

Begin by flushing out toxins with lemon water, consuming lots of green leafy vegetables and fibrous fruits. Try cleansing your digestive tract with water-based foods such as vegetable soups and juices for several days. Steer away from the cream-based soups for now. Consuming tomato, vegetable beef, chicken noodle, hearty pea or bean soups instead as wonderful alternatives.

Vary caloric intake too. It’s shakes up metabolism. If you normally consume approximately 1800 calories per day, one day consume 1200, the next 1500, the next 2200 and the following day 1600. But do not starve! When one loses weight they’ll also lose muscle, which burns fat. When they gain, especially without exercising, they’ll gain fat back. One can’t outsmart a fat cell. Starving will simply slow metabolism to a crawl which begins “yo-yo” dieting.

Be determined! God wants you healthy and so do I, so stay tuned for more practical healthy tips over the next weeks.

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The Best Present Ever

the-christ-child-birth“He it is who remembered us in our lowly circumstances, for his gracious love is everlasting—” (Psalm 136:23)

When I was a child we didn’t have a lot of material items. We lived in a dilapidated old farm house with no indoor plumbing. Until our father installed a bathroom and plumbing, we had to use a pump to draw water and use the outhouse. But choosing to remember the good, it did have a charming pot belly stove in the dining room and a fireplace in the living room.

One day, just before Christmas, the fireplace caught fire and we lost most if not all our presents that year. We were grateful our home didn’t burn to the ground but what did survive smelled like smoke.

One night as we were returning home, there was a note attached to our front door. It told us to walk around to the side of our house and lift up the storm door. There, lo and behold, we found it filled with gifts of warm clothes, quilts, food, stuffed animals and other toys! I can’t remember who gave us those gifts but decades later, it was the memory of finding those precious gifts that meant the most to me.

At that time, we could have sent the presents back, but did we? No, wouldn’t we be fools to do so? So we embraced those gifts as a true love offering from someone who cared and wanted to brighten up our holiday, allowing us to forget the sorrow of our past.

I am not poor anymore and have accumulated much over my lifetime. But sometimes I wonder how many materialistic items do I need in life? In the year 2000, after deciding to become fulltime RV’ers, we sold almost everything we owned. I looked over all those items and thought, it’s just stuff. (Basically the only items we kept were memories in a 5×7 storage unit.)

How much “stuff” do you need? Most items will fade or be given away and all this eventually will turn to dust. But memories should last forever. That memory warmed my soul and turned a tragedy into a kindness I never forgot.

This Christmas Season I urge you to enjoy all the true Joy which God wants us to possess. But please don’t get so caught up in the frivolity of the gift-giving and “who got what” that we forget the True Meaning of the Season.

“”For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.”  (John 3:16)

God gave us the best present of all; one which will never fade away. He gave His Only Son that we may believe and accept God’s Gift of Eternal Life. But not all will accept and believe. Some will be foolish, rejecting a very special gift which is far greater than any we received after our chimney fire. I look forward to an eternity thanking God for the Best Gift of All! Accept God’s Precious Gift today and experience True Joy.

Maintain Victory Over Holiday Food Temptations

Caution . . . culinary temptations attack the senses from everywhere this time of year. holiday-partyYou might be wondering, “Why bother? I’ll have fun and simply begin again in January.” But why go backwards? You’re already healthier, so don’t give in to stinkin’ thinkin’! Your goal during this time of celebration is to at least maintain . . . not gain!

Hebrews 10:35 – 36 says, “So do not lose the courage you had in the past, which has great reward. You must hold on, so you can do what God wants and receive what He has promised.”

Remember these basic truths when tempted at holiday parties:

1.  Health is more important than weight loss. A 180 lb person could be perfectly healthy while someone 110 lbs. might not.  Simply because someone is thin doesn’t make them healthy. Consuming nutrients do. However, this truth shouldn’t give you license to trash God’s Temple.

Whatever you consume, it’s your choice.  I don’t care if your mother-in-law would be offended if you don’t eat her fruit cake. It’s your choice whether you do or not!  There are ways to maintain weight control without hurting someone’s feelings. Kindly announce, “You know Mom, I’ve been so proud of myself for getting healthier. With your encouragement, I’ll reach my goal. Will you be my support partner with this?” Make sure you stress ‘health’, not weight, or she’ll certainly come back with, “Honey, you’re fine the way you are!” or something similar.

2. Any food is fine in moderation. There is no such thing as a good or bad food, it is simply food, which means energy for the body. Select the best choices among those available. That way you control your circumstances, not the other way around.

3. Move to burn calories!  Develop a variety of enjoyable exercises this month. Dance at home, ask a partner to jazzercise, racquetball, walk, jump rope or use a Wii program. Develop new muscle to burn those extra calories.

4. Identify your “why” before you give in to that tempting morsel. Most of the time people eat for reasons other than hunger. Are you really hungry or just tempted by your eyes?  Are you provoked by a feeling, just need something to do with your hands? Are you self-conscious, eating so you won’t have to speak? Recognize and strategize a way out, like go to another room or turn your back to the food table.

5. Identify your “trigger” foods and don’t bring those into the house. If you were a recovering alcoholic you wouldn’t socialize at a bar right? So avoid the pastry aisles at the supermarket and don’t buy that Bailey’s just in case your “friends” pop over for a drink.

6.Understand how thoughts patterns affect eating habits. It’s not an “all or nothing” proposition. You’re not a failure if you over-indulge, but you won’t feel great about yourself either. Visualize how victorious you’ll feel the next day if you avoid pigging out at that party or family function.

7. Create a Victory Jar.  Set up a calendar, documenting each accomplishment. Reward yourself each week with a nonfood reward for reaching goals. Write down rewards on a piece of paper or place a dollar bill into a clear jar. Every time you view those successes, buy something you want more than food.

Satan wants us to self-destruct and feel like a failure. But don’t give him a foothold! You’re Victorious when you allow God to control your actions. Shouldn’t you love the LORD more than food?

“No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us.”  (Romans 8:37)

Teamwork!

As the head of our Women’s Ministry at our church, I am required to present a report during our quarterly business meeting. Thankfully our little church is growing. When we arrived two years ago, only a few did most of the work. Some were simply worn out or discouraged and I consistently heard “I just can’t do another thing, Ellie.”

Nor would I ask them to for practical reasons. God wants us to want to, not because we have to!

women-working-as-teamIf God doesn’t equip us to do certain church work, doesn’t that simply cause frustration and discouragement when we try? God doesn’t promise to bless us for activities He didn’t ask us to implement in the first place. Sure it might guilt us to seemingly do the right thing, but it’s not God’s plan. It’s actually a lack of faith to think God wouldn’t send the right person!

When I’ve been asked to run a church activity which I knew I wasn’t equipped for, I’d have no qualms about saying sweetly, “I think I’ll let someone else be blessed by doing that.” God timing is never wrong and He always sent the best person when I’ve stepped aside.

In a church setting, it’s exciting to see possibilities where individuals can reach out to others in need using our member’s diverse talents  (sewing, baking, crocheting or creating fruit/flower baskets.) And if each woman used her personal Spiritual gift of hospitality, helps, administration, Evangelism . . . it would affect the Spiritual growth of the church. Teamwork!

Since I view most things through a nutritional lens, I see a practical nutritional application here as well.

NUTRITIONALLY SPEAKING:

The body needs nutrients working in conjunction with one another to remain healthy. Every vitamin, mineral, amino acid, phytochemical and enzyme in our body has a particular “talent.” God’s gift to us is that it works in conjunction with other nutrients to spark our metabolism to proper action.

Vitamin C should combine with iron for maximum effectiveness. Potassium balances out sodium. Magnesium should combine with vitamin K and D to absorb and regulate calcium. Calcium also processes zinc and if the body doesn’t get enough zinc it can’t process vitamin A. Folic Acid interacts with vitamins B and C to synthesis amino acids and regulate blood flow.In other words: eating well produces a great team! (And some believe this all happened by chance, whew!)

Occasionally I’ll overhear the comment, “Oh, I’m cutting out carbs.” (or fat, red meat, starches, sugars.) Well wouldn’t that be foolish? What happens to a vital nutrient at that point? A metabolic player is benched!

Don’t cut out any one food group. Almost every food is a combination of carbohydrate, fat and protein. A banana begins as a complex starchier carbohydrate and transforms into a simple carbohydrate as it ripens. An avocado is a considered a veggie but is actually a fruit with its pit and is a good source of omega 3 fat. B12 is primarily found in red meat.

Keep your physical vibrancy together by consuming a well-rounded team diet. (Diet simply means what you consume each day.) Love yourself enough to think of your vital organs as separate entities, each continually working non-stop, allowing you to live an invigorated life.

“From whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.”  (Ephesians 4:16) 

If we respect our LORD as Leader of our team, we’ll always be winners in this life and the next!

 

A Choice Between Nebuchadnezzar and Jezebel – Oh Goodie

Tomorrow is Election Day. Soon this painfully long spiteful political season will be over. Can I hear an “Amen?”

It seems we only have two possibilities even if several lesser candidates would be a better choice. With 322 million residents in the United States, many are wondering, is this the best we can do? Oh how the public is fretting over this election!

Wake up America! I don’t place my trust in government, I place it in my LORD and Savior. No matter what, God is in control! In Him I will place my trust! As it states in Psalm 118:6, “The LORD is with me; I will not be afraid. What can mere mortals do to me?” and as Paul stated, “For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.” (Philippians 1:21) Although I’d unafraid of dying, I’d rather not nebuchadnezzarbecome Soylent Green. (It’s a futuristic movie where old people become food because the economy fails.)

No matter who wins, every one of our candidates is a flawed one. (Same as us, so let’s not get too judgmental.)

One candidate acts like Nebuchadnezzar and the other as King Ahab’s wife, Jezebel. Don’t know who these people are? Never heard of them? Check out Daniel 4 in the Bible and 1 Kings 16:31; 18:4-19; 19:1, 2; 21:5-25.

In Daniel 4: 28-37, we find Nebuchadnezzar, the pompous King of Assyria who conquered the Israelites. Now he had a huuuuggge ego. One day as he gazed out over his vast kingdom, he pompously proclaimed how impressed he was with this Empire which he had built. Due to Nebuchadnezzar’s incredible arrogance, God immediately drove him from his kingdom. He lived  in madness outside his beautiful Babylonian city living literally as a beast in the field for seven years, until he humbled himself and gave God the glory. God restored him when he gave honor and worship to the One True God. God is in control!

King Ahab’s wicked wife Queen Jezebel on the other hand, let nothing get in her way while winning thejezebels-death crown. Diabolical, she ruled over her weak husband and recklessly destroyed anyone who got in her way, including family members. She lusted after control and would do anything to achieve it. She was determined to destroy all God’s prophets to retain it and worship idols. Power was her idol. In 2 Kings 9: 30-37, she met a gruesome death when members of her own court threw her out of a window and her flesh was eaten by dogs. Again God is in control!

Remember the saying, anyone who doesn’t remember the past is doomed to repeat it? Well here we go again. We should always respect the office and authority but only have one God. These are dark days but I know who rules the future and it is no candidate.

Please vote with a Spiritual lens and trust the Lord.

“But if serving the LORD seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD.”  (Joshua 24:15)