Tag Archive | healthy-living

Where’s Christmas . . .???

The other day I set out to find a small manger for a Christmas craft project I was working on. It could have been anything, an ornament, a Christmas card, even a figurine.

First I went to the Dollar Store. I found nothing Christian but two sets of Christmas cards with no manger scene on them. Next I went to Walmart (good luck there.) Nada. Then I walked through Home Depot – absolutely nothing Christian at all, but I could have purchased a red and green six foot dragon . . . what that has to do with Christmas I’ve yet to figure out.

A few days later I traveled to two shopping centers in another town. I checked out Michael’s craft store. The sweet girl acknowledged they used to carry them . . . but searching together, neither of us could find them anywhere. Neither did World Bazaar, J.C. Penny or T.J. Maxx.

Undoubtedly, I thought, Christian-run Hobby Lobby would carry a small manger scene, even if it was on a postcard! Yet once again, found nothing. I’m praying they were only sold out.

Finally I found a Lifeway Christian bookstore. Aha! I thought, of course I’ll find a manger scene here! And yes I did! It was on a box of spiced apple cider. Desperate to find anything that might work, I purchased the over-priced drink mix and cut out the cardboard manger scene on the front and pasted it on my craft project. (At least we’ll enjoy the beverage sometime during these cold winter months.)

Halfway through this hectic quest I felt like Charlie Brown, frustratingly asking where was Christmas??? I could find a plethora of Santa’s, sleighs, reindeer antlers, elf hats, chipmunks, cute bears and Grinch’s, but no Christ in Christmas!

Then I thought, I can certainly find Christmas at church.  Absolutely I’ll find Peace on Earth here during this Joyous Season. Instead I found a church member fussing in public, running around fuming, complaining, blaming others because they felt unappreciated in their position. (Hey, if your position is primarily to please people and not our Lord, get your priorities straight!)

Then yesterday, as my husband and I were finalizing the Christmas gifts and food for four community families in need; getting ready to drop off our many  congregation’s generous donations, I found it. Eureka!

THIS IS WHAT CHRISTMAS IS ALL ABOUT:  Christmas is about blessing others, not ourselves. Bringing smiles and true Joy to others!

As Jesus left his heavenly home, to be born in Bethlehem, living as a man among us, he understood that completely. He beheld some petty frustrations of his friends, as well as the slings and arrows of the Pharisees. He experienced the same feelings, joys, frustrations, challenges and laughter that we do.  He gave of himself, unselfishly. He sacrificed EVERYTHING, his very life for our pettiness, grumpiness, busyness and selfish behavior. That was the best GIFT he could ever give.

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”   (John 3:16)

Christmas is all about giving unselfishly from one’s heart, as Jesus did as well.  Merry Christmas everyone – Always Remember the Reason for the Season.

 

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Through Our Brokenness, God Heals

After the 2011 Japanese Tsunami, women in Japan at first experienced only pain. They found their cherished but broken ancestral pottery destroyed, strewn across a desolate landscape. As they began the process of picking up the broken pieces of their lives, they lovingly gathered the broken pieces of pottery as well. Through their brokenness they created intricate, beautiful necklaces, selling them around the world. Through this godly  testimony, they began to recover financially, creating something to be proud of, thus reclaiming their dignity.

If you will allow Him, God will heal the pain of your past too. He touches and changes hearts. When God is with you, it’s never hopeless. There is no challenge you’ve experienced or anywhere you can hide that He isn’t there with you! He is the only one who can fill the void. Drugs, alcohol, food, activities simply mask the pain. Only God can truly heal and renovate your hurting heart, starting from the inside.

“Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there. If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast.” (Psalm 139: 7-10)

Desire to change must come from the inside.

Many of us place smiles on our faces and when asked how we are, profess the superficial, “I’m fine, how are you?” meanwhile holding our pain secretly within; believing, “People only want to be around happy personalities.” or “If they really knew me, no one would like me.”

Sometimes it’s a trust issue. Perhaps in the past a friend betrayed them, family member belittled or a boss ridiculed them in front of others. Therefore they place that shield around their heart. It’s safer that way. “If I don’t get close, no one can ever hurt me.”

But it becomes a vicious circle. Telling yourself you have no need of  relationships comes  across as unfeeling, mean-spirited or apathetic which drives others away. Something else then numbs the pain of loneliness.

Sadly, the covering surrounding our heart becomes so tough, no one except God can break through.

Others have been taught as a child that one doesn’t show their true feelings in public. They put on a false front. Sad? Place a smile on your face! Scared? Put on a swagger and bravado that shows a confident attitude. As they have grown they have mastered their feelings. But God has known us since the womb. (Jeremiah 1:5) He understands feelings; after all He created them!

Become proactive, trust our Lord and we won’t feel out of control!

  1. Memorize Scripture.  God knows you can be strong!  1 John 4:4. 
  2. Talk to a true friend; one who wouldn’t tell you only what your itchy ears want to hear ( 2 Timothy 4:3) or allow you to wallow in self-pity.
  3. Seek out wise women of God who allowed God’s Word to change their broken spirit. Learn from their example. Become precious in God’s sight.

“Timely advice is lovely, like golden apples in a silver basket.”  (Psalm 25:11)

It’s true some days we might feel like Job. Life is messy. Worlds crash through no fault of our own. At that time, the last thing we need is to sit and mope. Our first thoughts should go to the Lord. He understands heartache, betrayal, hunger . . . suffering. He was tested, tempted, overcame and endured it all. Cling to our Almighty Fortress and find Strength.

 

 

 

 

 

Water, The Great Equalizer

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sage Advice From a 100-Year-Young Friend

“Wisdom is with the aged, and understanding in length of days.”  (Job 12:12)

Everyone desires to live a productive and happy life. Few achieve it. My dear friend Judy exemplifies it!

Tomorrow marks her 100th birthday. Yes, she moves a little slower but her mind is still sharp. She resides in a lovely assisted living facility but never misses a Sunday service if she can. With so much energy, I can’t help but think she must have been somethin’ in her prime!

Now imagine all she has seen since 1917; how the world has transposed amidst industrial growth, space flights, world wars, technical advances and changes in society which have occurred over a century.

I interviewed her recently to unearth how she accomplished what so many seek but never find; peace and contentment.

Ellie: Judy, you are one of the most gracious people I know. I never hear you complain about aches, pains or grumble as so many older people do. What’s your secret to being so youthful?

Judy, without a moment’s hesitation deadpanned, “Good genes!” (A great sense of humor is also a wonderful age-resister: Proverbs 15:13.)

E: And that’s certainly part of it. You still look and act young-at-heart. But I also know you’ve gone through challenging times. What has given you such a positive outlook on life?

J:  (pausing) I guess my mother was the greatest influence in my life. When I was a teenager, she wouldn’t allow me to  complain when others had so little compared to us. She always told me to count my blessings.

E:  This was during the Great Depression?

J: Yes, we weren’t rich but we weren’t poor either. My mother was always sharing what we had with those less fortunate than us. Her generosity was a good example to follow.

“I have been young, and now am old, yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken or his children begging for bread.”   (Psalm 37:25)

E:  So what was the most important piece of advice your mother ever gave you?

J: She taught me that if you don’t give – you won’t receive. Help others as best you can. Give from the heart but be genuine about it.

E: What’s your secret to aging gracefully? You certainly don’t act 100. I know they feed you well here.

J:  In here, one eats what they put in front of you. (smiling) Well . . . there’s always an activity to occupy our time if we want and I’m happy being here near friends. My mother told me there is always someone who is better off or has less than me so I try to live my best life. Until I see Jesus, this is the life I’m given and I am content.

E: Is that another of your many secrets? So many who live in Assisted Living Facilities miss their previous home and lifestyle, but I’ve never heard you complain.

J: I think I’ve never minded change. I’ve lived a long time and have seen this world change a great deal. Look at how technology has grown. I’m able to watch TV, talk on my cell phone and have friends drive me to church.

E: With that being said, what words of wisdom would you give today’s generation?

J: I’m sorry so many seem to have lost the Godly values my generation had and I’d like to see more kindness.  Young people used to stand aside to allow older people to enter a building. Few do today.

E:  You don’t seem to live in the past as so many do.

J:  I remember my past but I don’t live in it.

Judy epitomizes what being young-at-heart is all about. To be truly content one must be grateful for God’s blessings in one’s life, remain mentally and physically active while being surrounded by loving, supportive friends. Those are the keys to a Joyous Life.

She has truly exemplified Philippians 4:11, “Not that I was ever in need, for I have learned how to be content with whatever I have.”

 

The Most Inspiring Young Lady I Know!

This post is dedicated to one of the bravest young ladies I know. She battles an illness many others would never reveal and does so with strength and courage. Can you imagine standing up and resisting any friend who pushes delicious (but harmful to her) foods like fried chicken, donuts, potato chips, soft drinks or spicy foods? That demonstrates incredible perseverance in resisting peer pressure and setting priorities! She’s truly independent and strong and I’m very proud of her!

Diagnosed last year with ulcerated colitis at age 9, she has shown remarkable determination and dedication to healthier living. UC is an inflammation of the colon causing bloating, gas, intense pain, bloody diarrhea and other embarrassing biological responses. Maintaining a strict diet is the only way to endure this debilitating illness.

One of her biggest daily challenges is consuming valuable nutrients which will remain in her system. Now vital nutrients are carried away without infiltrating the digestive system. The body  derives much of its nutrient balance through the intestines. Therefore it’s imperative to consume valuable vitamins, minerals and protein. But if one is constantly dealing with diarrhea that’s tougher. Consuming mini-meals and lots of water to avoid dehydration throughout the day will help.

ALSO IMPORTANT: Chew your food!

Chewing releases enzymes. Digestion can’t happen without enzymes.  No vitamin, mineral or hormone can work without enzymes. Without enzymes one can’t breathe, walk or complete any other function! Think of enzymes as the moving men who distribute boxes to the right room in your house; except enzymes move nutrients to the correct part of your bodily home.

Lipase is the enzyme which moves fats throughout the digestion system and is released through the intestines. If one is constantly battling diarrhea, digestion is poor and even the best eating plan won’t work, fatigue, weakness and anemia could occur. Consume good fats like avocado, coconut oil and milled flaxseed.

Probiotics

To build up the immune system eat probiotic and prebiotic foods. These foods will increase good bacteria in your gut so enzymes can work properly. Find these in garlic, onions, tomatoes (mmm, Italian food anyone?) They are also found in fermented foods like sauerkraut, kefir, sour cream, cheeses and yogurt.

Let’s talk about yogurt. Most contain too many fillers, chemicals and sweeteners and should be labeled junk food! It’s the beneficial bacteria that’s important and these contain little if any! Also avoid “light” yogurt which contain artificial sweeteners.

A good yogurt is one that states there are active cultures inside. This is the beneficial bacteria which keeps your colon healthy while fighting our body’s harmful bacteria. The label usually will have names like Lactobacillus bulgaricus and Streptococcus thermophiles along with active cultures.

I purchase Dannon Natural Vanilla but these brands are also good:  Fage, Stonyfield, Liberte’, Mountain High. Always check the label for “active cultures.” Add your own fruit, honey, milled flaxseed or cinnamon for flavor. You can also create smoothies with cultured yogurt, bananas, oranges, coconut, smooth peanut butter or other creation.

Those with UC have a harder time metabolizing insoluble fiber because it passes without breaking down, (think corn, seeds, apple skins.) Strive to consume soluble fiber which becomes a gel and won’t incite flare-ups. Applesauce, stewed pears, Guacamole, oatmeal, mashed sweet potatoes are suggestions. Baby foods, Ensure or Boost will help when you’re having an especially tough day.

Bottom line, eat for nutrients and reduce stress. Keep a food diary and recognize what works and doesn’t. Unfortunately there is “no-one-size-fits-all” diet plan. Resist discouragement and don’t allow the devil to steal your Joy! Count your blessings in all God has allowed you to do!

“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.”  (John 10:10)

 

 

 

 

 

Following an Anti-inflammatory Diet

If your physician has prescribed an ‘anti-inflammatory diet’ would you know what to eat?  Probably not. It’s one of those  “dog year” questions (relatable in practical terms.) It has to do with the pH scale’s acidic/alkaline relationship.  The more acidic one is, the more prone to illness one becomes.ph-scale

Imagine the pH scale being in a straight line from 1-14.  7 is neutral, (like pure water.) 1 is acidic, (like battery acid) and anything above is considered alkaline.  Balance is what it’s all about. Try to maintain a pH around  7.3 – 7.4.

Coffee, alcohol and soft drinks are incredibly acidic so cut down. Increase your water intake with lemon. Although you’ll notice lemon and vinegar is acidic on the pH scale, each actually metabolizes into an alkaline food. (God knew it all the time!)

The anti-inflammatory diet isn’t a “diet” as much as a lifestyle choice. One thing is certain however, not addressing your health concerns will only create larger ones down the road! Chronic inflammation is dangerous! It is not a “little” problem if you ignore will simply go away. Chronic inflammation can eventually cause intense health issues including heart disease, IBS, colitis, arthritis, dementia, kidney disease and cancers.

What causes inflammation? Stress is a major contributor and in today’s world who isn’t under stress? Find ways to relieve daily stress through exercise, relaxing bubble baths, soft music, fresh air, massages or anything that calms you besides food.

A healthy anti-inflammatory diet is on the alkaline side of the pH scale. It primarily consists of: fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, herbs and whole grains such as oats, quinoa, brown rice and buckwheat (kashi).  In truth, if you eat as God instructed Adam in the Garden of Eden, you’ll add a lot more life in your years.

Every meat is acidic, especially the processed meats with dyes and chemicals such as cold cuts, bacon or hot dogs, so consume lean protein like fish, chicken, sirloin and pork loin.

Sugar and artificial chemically treated foods are highly acidic. Unfortunately so are the nightshade plants like tomatoes, potatoes, peppers and eggplant. This doesn’t mean you must give them up entirely, but only consume occasionally. Balance is the key here.

Wheat, unfortunately, is on the acidic side of the scale. However whole wheat contains a great deal of fiber, so only avoid enriched breads and balance whole wheat products with more fruits and vegetables. Try to consume fiber-rich vegetables like sweet potatoes, corn, squash, alfalfa, beans and lentils. The fiber helps remove toxins from your system and avoids damaging inflammation. Increase water consumption also.

One characteristic of the anti-inflammatory diet is the recommended inclusion of omega-rich fatty acids, especially omega 3’s. These consists of milled flaxseed, walnuts, olive oil (best used cold), avocados, good fatty fish like salmon, tuna and sardines.

Avoid salt and choose to flavor your foods with healthy herbs. Garlic, turmeric, cinnamon and capsaicin are especially helpful with their anti-inflammatory properties!  And don’t worry about not enjoying any treats either. A good dark chocolate contains a great deal of antioxidants as does a glass of red wine.

Do you see the pattern here? You can enjoy so much more than you thought you could! Simply eat healthier and consume more whole foods to rid yourself of the artificially flavored, chemically processed boxed foods you might pick up at the supermarket for “convenience.” There is nothing convenient about pain and inflammation! Strive for a happier, healthier lifestyle.

“So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” (1 Corinthians 10:31)