Tag Archive | Christian living

Personal River of Change

Thank you to all of my followers who didn’t quit on me during my long sabbatical. It’s hard to return after being away from blogging. One reason is because it’s difficult to come up with a first post! It’s not as easy as: “Hi, I’m Back!!! Gotta love me!”

Recently I saw a poster entitled “Life is like a River.” How often have you heard that saying? Poems are written about it, Facebook posts share it and Garth Brooks beautifully sang about it. Wouldn’t a river analogy be the perfect segue after a life-changing sabbatical?

“When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you.” (Isaiah 43:2)

 

Rivers are molded by their environment.

Rivers are amazing and beautiful. They can gently bring life back to a community or can flood it with a vengeance, if influenced by outside sources. Rivers can gently round off rocks, creating their beautiful smoothness or mold them into craggy, sharp, dangerous edges.

During my teenage years, our farm bordered part of the Susquehanna River. Since we weren’t far from its source in Cooperstown, NY, it wasn’t very wide. A stone could have easily been thrown across it. That is until the rains came and the river overflowed onto our fields. This could have been a good or bad event. It could destroy crops or enrich the soil.

Events happen in our lives that we have no control over. When downpours come into our lives, do we rant and rave? Sure, but even if justified, do we allow it to destroy our happiness? Do we accept life’s challenges, make the best of it and move on or have a pity party, mope and complain? How we react to a crisis is a personal choice. Choose Joy!

River intensity changes frequently

Our personal “life river” became a white water rafting trip last year when we traveled over some rocky shoals of life. Sadly, we were betrayed by beloved trusted friends, accosted and blindsided by an angry mob of “Pharisees.” Other innocent friends were hurt simply for being our acquaintances. Yet still their and our Faith never wavered.

“So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” (Isaiah 41:10)

Yes, God is Faithful. He almost miraculously moved us out of a toxic environment and provided a way of escape. (1 Corinthians 10:13) Over the past five months, life has become incredibly rewarding and joyful once again, living in paradise. We are coasting on smooth waters and our faith not only endured but flourished.

Rivers are always moving forward, therefore no two days are ever the same: 

Several years ago, after my husband accepted his previous position, he was asked to join the staff of a wonderful Christian college. Having integrity, he declined, faithfully serving his congregation. It was evident that God’s River moves at its own pace, patiently instilling life experience. God eventually provided abundant blessings; moving us to that new teaching position and true Christian friendships.

Rivers are so diverse, no two are alike. Just like people 

I’m here to implore you to not focus on fragile, fallible Christians. God alone is perfect. Our past is a training field, learn from it. If you don’t like your circumstances, change them. If you trust in God, rely on His Will, He will never forsake you!

It’s good to be back, my friends.

 

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Are You a Godly Role Model for Your Children?

Over the years, hundreds of books were written meant to uncover why adults acted as they did.

Each touched on:

  • what motivates us;, how to be successful.
  • how we should view ourselves,
  • what’s our “sign”
  • discovering what type of personality we have: Type A, B, and so on.

Notice the common denominator? It was all about “self.” These books were written with the distinct purpose of reflecting how people should view themselves. Everyone got placed in a box, tied up with a brightly colored ribbon. Formula!

What self-centered thinking! Quite the opposite of “God First, Others Second and I Am Third.”

We are a combination of many personalities, because God created each of us uniquely. Our uniqueness makes us special. For example, my husband and I respond differently to different stimuli. I’m more impulsive, my husband’s more methodical. I need to talk it out, he needs time to think it through . . .

Therefore, it’s extremely important for each parent to discover their child’s “Love Language” also. Authors studied and targeted older generations and forgot about children.

Have you ever thought, the way we treat our children shouldn’t be the same as we treat an adult? Our children are as individual as we are. Each child has a distinctive personality and a separate need for recognition, discipline, space, acceptance and approval.

An emotional or affectionate child responds better to physical rewards such as a hug rather than a toy as a reward. He wants to know he is worth more than “things.” No amount of materialism can purchase this child’s love. He needs to be assured that he is more than simply another possession you own or he’ll turn to food or drugs for unfulfilled, comforting emotions.

One child is more analytical, another is a studious bookworm. These children desire stimulating conversation even more than hugs. Praise and respect them for their curiosity and dedication to studies (and of course hug them anyway!)

Sometimes a child only wants time with their parents, but rarely finds it. Sometimes the parents are so busy keeping up with the ‘Joneses’, working sixty-hour weeks in order to reward their child with “things” rather than what their child’s soul longs for; attention.

This creates a chasm between a child-parent relationships, perhaps one which will never fully heal. This child could even grow up to be introverted, placing a protective shell around his heart to avoid perceived abandonment issues.

Or perhaps he becomes another workaholic for his parent’s sought-after blessing. As he matures, he might want to sit and enjoy a movie, snuggling with his child, but years of training taught him that’s considered “unproductive” time. So he continues to strive for approval through hard work.

We are God’s child but do we spend time with the Lord? Think he doesn’t love us; accepts us as we are, faults and all?  Our Lord understands our Love Language! If we simply want to spend time with Him, wrapped in prayer, He’s always available to listen. If we encounter trials, we can rest in our Father’s Arms, finding comfort rather than criticism.

If we are analytical, He’ll provide knowledge and wisdom through His Word so we can understand. God’s always attuned to our needs even before we know them ourselves.

We can learn so much from our Heavenly Father. Remember that most children first identify our Heavenly Father with their earthly father. Appreciate each child as the blessing from God they truly are!

“I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth.” (3 John 1:4)

Release the Shackles Mentally Binding You

In some families if a child or spouse gave an opinion at the dinner table, there was an immediate rebuke. That subconsciously taught them that their feelings or opinions didn’t matter. Therefore, as time went by, some grew fearful of expressing themselves for fear of humiliation. To give an opinion to them meant; “keep your opinion to yourself, that’s unimportant. Just do as I say.”

These actions can can even meld into the workplace or other relationships. So we shut down, hiding our feelings.

No wonder people learn to fear authority and bury every emotion within. No one wants to be rejected and face humiliation. People turn to food or other addiction like drugs or alcohol to mask inward pain.  I specialize in food addiction. Addicts discover food comforts; de-stresses, never talks back and is like a warm hug against their inner child.

Were you allowed as a child, to voice an opinion without ridicule, or were you expected to withhold your opinion? You might believe you have no value, while God tells you, “I don’t make junk.” Your feelings matter, especially to God! He made you and you aren’t JUNK!

It’s a daunting challenge to overcome that mindset, when over time it’s embedded in our brains.

Connections to our past hover just below the surface. We never really outgrow childhood memories. After so many years of holding onto the pain, sometimes, something minuscule unlocks the floodgates. Submerged  frustration or bitter words can recklessly spew out all at once. Have you ever yelled at your spouse, child or pet and it had absolutely nothing to do with them?

Case in point: a husband playfully teased his wife about her eating habits one evening. His comments struck her the wrong way and she lashed out at him. It seems her father, a malicious, belittling man, consistently taunted and shamed her at the dinner table in front of others. A flash of memory and her husband became the recipient of that hurtful recollection.

Sometimes, even those who lash out have no idea why they act as they do toward another. In psychology that’s called transference.

Choose to break that chain:

  • You are important to those who truly care about you. If you feel comfortable enough, reveal that personal memory regarding why you reacted that way. If not, speak to a pastor, counselor or trusted friend. Leave it at the Lord’s feet and move on!
  • When under stress, don’t eat – find positive actions: exercise, go for a walk, read or search for relaxation outside because fresh air creates feel-good endorphins. Be proactive. Choose healthy ways to release frustrations.
  • Positive affirmations matter. You are special to God simply because you exist! Delve further into the Word to confirm it.
  • Put yourself in another’s shoes. Humans aren’t mind readers and if you don’t express yourself, how would they know? Burying your feelings will only prolong the problem. Release the shackles that bind you to the past.

Speak the Truth in love if someone hurts you. Memorize Scripture and don’t become provoked. Look at the intent of the one who tries your patience. Was it truly intentional or were they simply unaware? Gather the courage to divulge how a statement made you feel.

“Don’t be afraid, because I’m with you; don’t be anxious, because I am your God. I keep on strengthening you; I’m truly helping you. I’m surely upholding you with my victorious right hand.” (Isaiah 41:10) ISV

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)        

 

Is the SBC’s Tent Big Enough for ALL Marginalized Christian Women?

What a powerful post linking the correlation between sound Christian doctrine and sound nutritional teaching. Michelle Lesley is a powerful Christian writer. I respect her for she stands courageously for Truth and so do I. I praise God for her strong testimony for the Lord.

As a Christian nutritional counselor I profess physiological truth when it comes to health. Sadly there are many more in this world who will follow what their “itching ears want to hear” than will follow Spiritual and physiological Truth.

Case in point: I’m not sure if you noticed the headline advertising “hot dog water” recently on the news lately? This hot dog water was being sold for $38 a tube – hopefully as a joke, but touted for weight loss. I’m not sure how many people actually bought it but in the mid 1990s, 41 signed up for Oprah’s fake hot dog and ice cream diet in two days! “itchy ears” again.

If I sold and promoted junk food as a weight loss program, I’d be rich by now. I continually battle false diet teachers who have a celebrity name or have a doctorate who profess unhealthy , unrealistic, quick weight loss, eliminating food groups and outright untruths to sell product. But professing the truth of Genesis 1:29, Genesis 9:3 and 1 Corinthains 10:23 as a legitimate health plan, doesn’t make one wealthy. I will continue to write and stand for mental, physical and spiritual interity, truth, praying you wil never become a sheep following blindly. Seek and hunger after the Word of God always, blessings,

Michelle Lesley

It started with Paige Patterson’s gobsmackingly horrible and unbiblical advice to an abused to wife to return to her husband. Then it was the lurid remarks he made about a teenage girl, with which he regaled a congregation during a sermon. Next came the allegations of his mishandling of two separate sexual assault cases at two different seminaries.

In response to all this turmoil, Beth Moore added to the conversation some vague stories of various unnamed men in Christian circles who had, in her perception, condescended to her or otherwise not treated her as an equal, leaving the impression that there is widespread, systemic misogyny within modern evangelicalism. Jen Wilkin, from a more biblical – yet, troublingly, similarly vague – perspective, joined the chorus, and has been afforded a wider audience for the “they can’t be pastors, natch, but we need more women in church leadership” platform she…

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Counting the Cost Before “Dieting”

“Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Won’t you first sit down and estimate the cost to see if you have enough money to complete it? For if you lay the foundation and are not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule you, saying, ‘This person began to build and wasn’t able to finish.’ (Luke 14:28-30 28)

Many people jump into the dieting realm without counting the cost too

A sensible diet begins by contemplating ALL options of a health plan: how solid is the “soil” I’m building upon, how much time do I invest, what is the environment surrounding the “project” like? Which architect designed the plans and is he/she credible?

1. Do you decide which diet you’ll try because it’s currently popular? “Well that celebrity lost weight!” (Bear in mind that celeb has a personal trainer, chef, massage therapist, psychologist and a contract!!!)

Successful plans begin with solid foundations. Does it include wholesome complex carbohydrates, (fiber) lean protein, good fats? Steer away from fake diet gurus who advocate eliminating entire nutritionally-dense food groups because the brain’s hypothalamus will nag for specific nutrients until you give in. (But you’ll believe you have no willpower.)

2. Seek one that fits your lifestyle

Let’s say in the corporate world your job includes escorting clients to restaurants. Getting healthy will then only work if you know what constitutes sound selections like grilled meats or fish, veggies and a salad with a smidge of dressing. (Mediterranean, DASH, Volumetrics diet) Guard against peer pressure and concentrate on nutrients. Pre-plan accordingly.

3. Are you focused on an event rather than a lifestyle change? Do you contemplate the time of year or events coming up; vacations, holidays . . . parties?

Some people go on a “diet” to look good for a wedding, class reunion or other social occasion. When the event is over, so is their motivation. Ask yourself: how happy was I walking into that room feeling like a million bucks?  Don’t you want to feel like that every day??? You’ve worked hard to get in shape; now use visualization/mental discipline to maintain your hard work.

The only true diet is the one you stay on forever: moderation.

4. Recognize what type of personality you have and whether it will compliment the diet plan you attempt.

For example, if you absolutely love food, going on a liquid diet will drive you crazy. Besides that, the body has an innate desire to chew (because it releases enzymes to metabolize food) and you’ll be grabbing some pretzels by 2pm.

If you’re a curious person, stay away from buffets.

5. Most importantly, you must ask: are you truly, mentally ready to impart on a lifestyle change? Have you emotionally hit rock bottom, been ridiculed or lost total control in public; been diagnosed with a debilitating health issue?

All of these questions and others must be addressed before one jumps into a health plan. Otherwise you’re set for failure and all that does is discourage, shame and have you believing the lies of the devil who whispers in your ear, “See I told you, you couldn’t do it. You’ve failed yet again!”

Crazy diets never work and yet even healthy diets won’t if you aren’t ready to change your lifestyle!

When I find myself losing control at buffets or a party, I ask myself, “Which do I love more, this food or my Lord who sacrificed himself for my gluttony and idol worship of food?”

No contest – my Lord Jesus wins every time!

“Oh, taste and see that the LORD is good! Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him!”  (Psalm 34:8)

 

 

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.