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Re-energize before Christmas

19 Dec

“Three phrases that sum up Christmas are:  Peace on Earth, Goodwill to Men, and Batteries not included.” ~ author unknown

“I once bought my kids a set of batteries for Christmas with a note on it saying, ‘Toys not included.'” ~ Bernard Manning (1)

Ever feel like you need a new set of batteries to keep running?

This is about the time of the Christmas season that I (Dawn) start wearing down, so I took time to think about Fifteen Ways to Re-Energize before Christmas. Maybe this will help you, too.

  1. Connect with friends and family members spontaneously ~ no expectations ~ and chat about some fun holiday memories.
  2. Schedule some play time that doesn’t require a lot of planning. (Holiday preparations can get so intense, they feel like work; so allow yourself some down time. Think like a child.)
  3. Look at your “to do list” and determine whether what you are doing right now absolutely has to be done right now. Is there something you can put off until after Christmas? Something you can delegate? Something you might decide isn’t worth doing at all? Learn when to say “no.”
  4. Think legacy and impact to determine what is important. What will last? How do you want people to remember you? What counts for eternity? What builds people up?
  5. Use “now-time” wisely. Plan for long-term goals, but take just one step at a time. Don’t fret over tomorrow’s responsibilities.
  6. Eat healthy ~ a balance of protein and good carbs.
  7. Drink more water!
  8. Exercise. Yes, that sounds counter-productive, but daily exercise will help, especially if you can get some sunshine outside at the same time to beat winter blues. At the very least, do some slow stretches ~ get every muscle group involved. Reach high… bend low… twist gently.
  9. Breathe deeply … breathe out for as long as you can through your mouth, and then breathe in deeply through your nose. Hold your breath.  Repeat. Repeat.
  10. Simplify housekeeping. Keeping the “clutter” down and wiping down surfaces is all that’s really necessary, if you’ve been keeping your home in shape. Don’t think that your ChristmasNaphouse has to be “immaculate” for guests.
  11. Take a power nap in the middle of the day… it’s better for you than an extra half hour in the morning. (A friend reminded me that it’s not a nap if I’m still holding a cell phone or have my hands on a keyboard!)
  12. Smell good stuff ~ the aromas of your Christmas tree, tangerines, rosemary, etc.
  13. Enjoy light and warmth. Sit by a glowing fireplace, or light candles.
  14. Sing Carols out loud in your home, or listen to Christmas music as you work.
  15. Turn over all of your cares to God.

What I’m talking about here is how to get back a feeling of energy … powering up. These are things, actually, that we can do any time we feel like our batteries have run down.

One of the most “draining” things we can do during the holiday season is to fret and worry about all that we have to do. That’s why I especially like #15 on that list.

The Bible says, Casting the whole of your care [all your anxieties, all your worries, all your concerns, once and for all] on Him, for He cares for you affectionately and cares about you watchfully” (1 Peter 5:7, Amplified). God says we can cast our cares on Him, and He will sustain us (Psalm 55:22).

We “cast our cares” by handing them over to God. Envision that you have your hands full … because you do! And then hand those things over to God for safe-keeping.

We don’t need to worry about tomorrow’s “to do list” (Matthew 6:34), but only consider what God wants us to do today. Can you feel the “aaaaah” in that?

So, the way we power up to face the stresses of the holidays is really by powering down … or rather, surrendering to God’s power. We recognize that we can’t do it all, but we CAN do all that God wants us to do, by His grace, in His power, with His strength and help.

Relax. Think about what’s really important in this special season, and then ~ cast your cares on the One who has promised to sustain you, and allow Him to recharge your batteries.

(1) http://www.quotegarden.com/christmas.html

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Thriving in These Scary Days

27 Aug

I (Dawn) have received several emails lately talking about fears of a recession. My favorite ones had funny one-liners about the bad economy like these:

  • I got a pre-declined credit card in the mail.
  • CEOs are now playing miniature golf.
  • Parents in Beverly Hills fired their nannies and learned their children’s names.
  • Motel Six won’t leave the light on anymore.
  • Fed Ex is expected to join its competitor UPS to become Fed Up.
  • McDonald’s is now selling the “1/4 Ouncer.”
  • If the bank returns your check marked “Insufficient Funds,” you need to call them ans if they meant yo or them!

S.O.S.With the stock market going up and down in recent weeks, the temptation is to get really, re-e-e-ally scared for the future. Many Americans are in “SOS” mode, sending out a distress call.

I read one article that described “How to Survive a Breakdown of the Social Order” that sounded like we were all going back to the dark ages!  The article said to stay calm, but to consider storing two weeks to three months of items and build a “small community” of support (not a bad idea, actually) ~ but the point is, many people are considering ways to “survive” if society breaks down. I used to laugh at this kind of thing until I saw the rioting in London!

Add to that news that 24,000 of the Pentagon’s files were hacked, and reports that a woman tried to  smuggle a “dummy bombs onto a plane (reportedly to see how good our security really is)….

Add to that the startling statistics about the home, and especially that “women are falling away from religion” …

I start saying, “Yikes! What’s going on, Lord?”

It’s easy to get into “survival” mode instead of considering how we can thrive in these tough days.

I wanted to share some practical ideas for “thriving” ~

  • Finances: Get smart and think positively about budgeting. A smart spending plan is one way to ease stress. Whether you go with Ron Blue or Dave Ramsey or another godly financial planner, get some help and make some wise financial choices. Work on getting rid of debt, saving, giving, etc. [Also, our friend Ellie Kay has some great books: The Little Book of Big Savings, 1/2 Price Living, A Mom’s Guide to Family Finances, and others, all available at her bookstore.]
  • Food: Eat smart. Eat well. Cut grocery bills by eliminating junk and fast food, and eating and storing high quality food. Use coupons. Maybe share bulk foods with others to split the cost. Maybe plant a garden.
  • Health: As new stresses come, we need to be as healthy as possible to deal with them. This means sleep, exercise, wise food choices, nutrient supplements, etc. Dr. Carrie Carter’s book, Thrive! A woman’s Guide to a Healthy Lifestyle, has some great ideas.
  • Creativity: Some things, you can do without. Other things, you can get creative, and make homemade substitutions for expensive items. Make gifts, if possible. Give necessities in pretty packaging.
  • Downsize with Purpose: Downsizing doesn’t have to be a “downer.” Think positively ~ how can simplifying your life give you more time and energy? How can the stuff you “release” be a blessing to others, and maybe meet essential needs?

I’m sure there are many other things you can do to cope with these scary days.

My friend Judy Scharfenberg wrote a book called Secure Families in a Shaky World.  In the introduction, she wrote about the joy we can have as God helps us cope with the changes in life. “You see, the Lord is the Author of joy,” she said. “He made a way so we would not despair. He knows that even in the midst of turmoil and sorrow, we can experience great joy.

“If Jesus lives in our hearts, then He helps us cope. He helps us see life differently, and He helps us take our eyes off ourselves and focus on the important things. He gives us a plan that’s worth following. Sometimes the things that burden us are weights God has placed in our lives so we won’t miss Him.”  (1)

You see, beyond the practical things to do that are listed above, it is crucial that Continue reading

The Choice to Mess Up – Part 2

28 Jun

[Continued from 6-27-11]

Diet BuddiesKatina Fisher said her friend Kimberly announced that she had started a diet to lose some pounds she had put on recently.

“Good!” Katina exclaimed. “I’m ready to start a diet, too. We can be dieting buddies and help each other out. When I feel the urge to drive out and get a burger and fries, I’ll call you first.”

Kimberly replied, “Great! I’ll ride with you!” (1)

Not exactly the kind of accountability Katrina was looking for …

Remember that yesterday I (Dawn) confessed that I was struggling with Pam’s encouragement to join her and a few other ladies for some exercise and attitude checks on our way to healthier lifestyles? I have to admit that I stewed about that for two days! Have you ever done that?

Why do we balk at things that are good for us?

I have all sorts of reasons for why this is going to be hard for me:  My age (harder to lose weight); I’m arthritic (hard to exercise with much gusto); it’s hard to find time to exercise (I’m a type-A person in overdrive), etc. It’s just hard!

As I’ve written before, these are all good REASONS, perhaps … but not EXCUSES.

I may struggle, but the truth is, I have the Holy Spirit dwelling within me to encourage and empower right behavior; and “…the fruit of the Spirit is … self-control” (Galatians 5:22-23).

God’s ways of communicating with me often make me LOL with Him. As I struggled with this decision on Father’s Day ~ while eating a one-inch-square One-inch Browniebrownie I’d made for a Father’s Day party ~ I suddenly recalled some words I’d read in Made to Crave:

“The temporary pleasure of ONE BROWNIE  would never be worth me having to tell my accountability partner that I made the choice to mess up.” (2)

There it was … “the choice.” I’d been making lots of choices to mess up in the area of self-discipline ~ particularly concerning food and exercise. Life is all about choices, and that is the passion of my heart. (Check out my website, Heart Choices and blog, Heart Choices Today!) But here I was, intentionally making some poor choices in this area of my life ~ rationalizing all the while that I was making such wise choices in other areas.

The issue wasn’t the brownie; the issue was my heart.

I suddenly had the mental picture of Jesus walking up to me and asking, “Why are you fighting this? Remember …  your check-sheet says you were created to love and enjoy Me, to glorify Me, and to serve Me every day.  One of the ways you can glorify Me is to let Me change this area of discipline (see 1 Corinthians 10:31; Colossians 3:17). You can do this for ME, Dawn … you can do it to bring Me glory.”

Yes …  I can do for my Lord what I might not, perhaps, even be willing to do for myself.

My commitment to a self-disciplined lifestyle started with surrender on Father’s Day, when I handed Father God my stubborn heart

I wrote a note to Pam:  “OK. I’m in.” And then (before I weakened), I scheduled in specific exercise “appointments,” and made the decision to join an online group where I will record my eating for each day ~ two choices I made as a gift to my heavenly Father.

Nothing has changed in the circumstances ~ it’s still going to be hard for me ~ but it’s going to be a joy, because my heart has changed.

Good intentions do not automatically translate into good results. Desire is the first step, taking action is the second step, but having some sort of accountability will help you press on when you don’t feel like it. More than a simple check-up, an accountability partner or coach can help you be creative, try new strategies, and move to a better place.

By the way, go easy on your accountability partner … you are, after all, asking for the person’s help! Grumbling and griping isn’t pretty, and your partner really doesn’t deserve to hear it. (But a good accountability partner isn’t afraid to speak the truth in love, knowing that your heart’s desire for change may waver sometimes. A good accountability partner will keep on  encouraging you toward health, positive change, and excellence, because he or she really cares about your progress.)

How about you? What is your struggle today? Is there a spot of rebellion in your heart? Whether you use a check-sheet, an accountability partner, or a simple-but-powerful commitment to God, MAKE THE CHOICE. Allow the Lord to do the work in your life that you will never regret.

(1) http://laughs.rd.com/clean-jokes-and-laughs/10-hilarious-weight-loss-jokes/article165978-1.html#slide

(2) Lysa TerKeurst, Made To Crave: Satisfying Your Deepest Desire with God, Not Food (Zondervan, 2010), p. 45

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