Learning the Hard Way

rest @rawpixel via Unsplash.com

This post is inspired by the wise words of a good friend who prefers to remain anonymous. It’s filled with lessons she learned the hard way. I’m sharing it here in hopes that you can benefit from her wisdom and escape some of her difficulties.

 

I’ve been learning some difficult lessons about health and rest–physically and spiritually. At this time I’m recovering and determined to take better care of my body–not only by exercising, but also through eating and resting. We all have areas of health where we simply aren’t in control. But, we are responsible for certain aspects such as nourishment, sleep, and saying “no” to good things so we can have balance in our schedules. While stress doesn’t necessarily show itself outwardly, it can manifest itself physically in ways we’d all like to avoid. When we face illness, we ought to trust God for total and complete healing in His time, while still trying to do what we can to become healthier.

For a long time, I deliberately disliked the term “self-care” and considered it selfish. This is false. It finally dawned on me that I’ve been holding myself to nearly impossible standards that I wouldn’t think of imposing on others. Over and over, I’ve physically pushed myself to the limit and beyond. What for? I am not my own. How can I care for others and serve sustainably without a healthy view of who I am?

It boils down to these lessons for me:

  • Caring for my body honors God.
  • Being relatively thin (by U.S. standards) is not necessarily synonymous with being truly healthy.
  • Most of the time, pain is your body telling you that something isn’t right.
  • It’s possible, and Biblical to live missionally and sacrificially while also allowing one day of adequate rest each week.
  • We aren’t created to just survive, but to really live, and that includes doing things we enjoy like running, cooking, reading just for the joy of it, going to a coffee shop, etc.)
  • Christ is honored in our rest just as He is honored in our service.

These seem like the simplest truths, and I’ve shared them with others numerous times, but a time came when I had to learn them the hard way. Perhaps this was the only way I could truly learn for myself. If you’re reading this today, know that you are enough. Your immense value is not tied to whatever occupation you have, nor is it inextricably entwined with your abilities. You are a human being… Not a human doing. I’m reminding myself of this as well.

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Tips for a Stunning Life

 

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I can’t take any credit for today’s blog. I got it from my friend Becky, who got it from the Tips for a Stunning Life blog found here:  and used with permission. I love this simple list and hope you’ll choose a couple of these challenges for yourself. Please let me know which are your favorites!

1. Take a 10-30 minute walk every day. & while you walk, SMILE. It is the ultimate antidepressant.
2. Sit in silence for at least 10 minutes each day.
3. When you wake up in the morning, pray to ask God’s
guidance for your purpose, today.
4. Eat more foods that grow on trees and plants and eat less food
that is manufactured in plants.
5. Drink green tea and plenty of water. Eat blueberries, broccoli, and almonds.
6. Try to make at least three people smile each day.
7. Don’t waste your precious energy on gossip, energy vampires, issues of the past, negative thoughts or things you cannot control. Instead invest your energy in the positive present moment.
8. Eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince and dinner like a college kid with a maxed out charge card.
9. Life isn’t fair, but it’s still good.
10. Life is too short to waste time hating anyone. Forgive them for everything!
11. Don’t take yourself so seriously. No one else does.
12. You don’t have to win every argument. Agree to disagree.
13. Make peace with your past so it won’t spoil the present.
14. Don’t compare your life to others. You have no idea what their journey is all about.
15. No one is in charge of your happiness except you.
16. Frame every so-called disaster with these words: ‘In five years, will this matter?’
17. Help the needy, Be generous! Be a ‘Giver’ not a ‘Taker’.
18. What other people think of you is none of your business.
19. Time heals everything.
20. However good or bad a situation is, it will change.
21. Your job won’t take care of you when you are sick. Your friends will. Stay in touch.
22. Envy is a waste of time. You already have all you need.
23. Each night before you go to bed, pray and be thankful for what you accomplished today.
24. Remember that you are too blessed to be stressed

Photo by Casey Horner via Unsplash.com

These Are a Few of My Favorite Things!

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This week, I’d like to share a few favorites with you.

 

 

 

 

Recent sermon:

“Guardrails of the Heart” Ky Faciane, Bannockburn Baptist Church 2/18/18. Listen here.  (If you’re short on time, start at minute 15.)

Recent Movie:

Wonder. Read about it here.

Older Movie:

The Kid. (The Bruce Willis one, no offense to Christ Pratt, who stars in a movie with the same title.)

Recent Book:

Skirting Tradition by Kay Moser (Fun fiction available here.)

Older Book:

All things written by Hannah Whitall Smith.  Here are a few of her wonderful words:

  • The presence of God is the fortress of his people.
  • What is within us makes or unmakes our joy.
  • Pay no attention to your feelings as a test of your relationship with God, but simply attend to the state of your will and of your faith
  • Never, under any circumstances, give way for one single moment to doubt or discouragement.

New Habit: At least 20 minutes of sunshine every day possible.

Old Recipe: Don’t Knock It ‘Til You’ve Tried It Breakfast Smoothie (For the first time in my life, I don’t get hungry until lunch.)

Into a blender add:

  • 1 ½ cups almond or soy milk
  • 3-4 cups of loosely packed baby spinach
  • 1 banana (unfrozen)
  • 2 T baking cocoa
  • 1-2 T ground flaxseed or chia
  • 2 pitted dates or 1 T honey
  • 1 T vanilla
  • 1 ½ –2 cups frozen blueberries

Blend thoroughly. Serves 2.

Tip: Blend together everything except the berries in the evening and refrigerate. Add the berries the next morning and blend again.

Okay, your turn! What are some of your favorites?

 

More Time to Be Happy

abraham-abe-lincoln-295315_1280 pixabay 12 14 17Time Magazine’s[1] list of “Healthy Habits for Happiness” are right in line with many of the things I believe God would have us do. That list includes:

  • Sleep—an average of 8 hours. Consider this verse from Psalm 127, “In vain you rise early and stay up late, toiling for food to eat—for he grants sleep to those he loves.
  • Exercise—increasingly considered a standard part of treatment for depression. Remember, life in Bible times was, by its very nature, filled with exercise. Think no cars, plenty of farming and shepherding and chopping wood.
  • Sunshine—which boosts synthesis of mood regulating serotonin, and was certainly a natural part of life long ago.
  • Diet. (A few more ideas about that here.)
  • Standing up straight and smiling—yep, even on down days, smiling seems to help. Perhaps that’s a physical part of the choice to rejoice, as in “Let us rejoice today and be glad!”[2]

Abraham Lincoln said, “Most folks are usually about as happy as they make up their minds to be.” We can’t orchestrate our lives to be free of unhappy circumstances. The Apostle Paul said, though, “I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.”[3] He also said, in that same letter, “Rejoice in the LORD always. I will say it again: Rejoice!”[4]

According to Dennis Charney, dean of the ICAHN School of Medicine, we can train our brains to think a particular way. (So we can teach ourselves to think like Paul!) If we worry all the time, for example, we create a sort of worry rut. The PhD term is a neuronal pathway. Worry, or fear, or plain old grumpiness can become our default. If we choose more positive modes of thinking, of responding to difficulty, we can create new and better brain ruts, so to speak. But we have to work at making those changes. Something called “mindfulness” is a good place to start, and that’s exactly where we’ll start next week.

 

 

 

[1] The Science of Happiness: New Discoveries for a More Joyful Life, A Time Special Edition, September 9, 2017.

[2] Psalm 118: 24b

[3] Philippians 4:12

[4] Philippians 4:4

Time to Be Happy

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When you say “Happy New Year!” do you mean it? I do. I believe in being happy.

  • My favorite book is “The Christian’s Secret of a Happy Life.”
  • My favorite verse is “May the righteous be glad and rejoice before God; may they be happy and joyful” (Psalm 68:3).
  • And my favorite slogan? “Don’t worry. Be happy.” (More about that here.)

I’m not talking about “pie in the sky, life’s a bowl of cherries” happiness, of course. I love these lines from a hymn by John Sammis: “Trust and obey, for there’s no other way to be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey.” If we could truly trust God and obey his instructions all the time, I think we would be happy.

Late last year Time Magazine published a special volume called “The Science of Happiness: New Discoveries for a More Joyful Life.”[1] As I read it, I was struck by how many times their reports on the science of happiness lined up with Biblical instruction. And so, over the next few weeks, pulling from Time and God’s Word, I hope to get us started on a happy year.

January is the time when many of us resolve to take better care of ourselves. We start diets, join gyms, and put Post-its on our mirrors to remind us of newly made promises. This verse has me convinced that self-care is ordained by God: “Your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and was given to you by God…  So you must honor God with your body” (1 Corinthians 6: 19-20).

Time suggests there’s a relationship between happiness and health, due most likely to the tendency of happier people to make healthier choices. This raises a “chicken or the egg” question. Does health lead to happiness, or does happiness promote health? Time asserts that, while our propensity for happiness is 50% inherited and 10% circumstantial, the other 40% is based on choices we make. Why not make the happiest choices whenever possible? Their list of “Healthy Habits for Happiness” include… Wait. Before I get into that, I’d like to ask you to tell me what tops your list of Healthy Habits for Happiness. I’ll tell you what the scientists had to say next week.

[1] The Science of Happiness: New Discoveries for a More Joyful Life, A Time Special Edition, September 9, 2017.

Easy Eating

food choice

Last month friend of mine asked me what ends up on our kitchen table. She was looking for ways to make the whole shopping/cooking/eating experience easier and more nutritious, an important (but sometimes overwhelming) endeavor indeed. Responsible eating is a part of taking care of our bodies, which is in turn a part of being good stewards of all God gives us. I thought you might be interested in the answer I gave my friend.

About three years ago, our daughter read Eat to Live by Dr. Joel Fuhrman, and then passed it on to us. In it we found an eating plan we could actually understand, one that we are able to follow most of the time. We feel better, are free of a couple of odd symptoms that had begun to bug our just-barely-aging bodies, and (a delightful surprise) I spend less time in the kitchen than ever before.

Steve wrote a three-page summary of the book, which briefly covers what Dr. Furhman suggest we eat and why. Here are the highlights:

  • Go for nutritional “density.” Eat predominantly those foods that have a high proportion of nutritional benefit per calorie.
  • We should measure protein (and all other nutrients) by the amount a particular food delivers per calorie, not per ounce. When measured in this appropriate way, vegetables have far more protein (per calorie) than meat. For example, a 100-calorie portion of steak has 6 g of protein, while a 100-calorie portion of broccoli has 11 g protein. (This was news to me!)
  • We still need to be aware of the calories per pound of the food we are eating. For example, here are the average number of calories packed into a pound of certain common foods: oils-3900; chips or fries-2600; red meat-2000; cheese-1600; white bread-1300; chicken and turkey-900; fish-800; eggs-700; whole grains-600; starchy veggies (potatoes and corn)-350; beans-350; most fruits-250; green veggies-100.

Where did all that information take us? To this most-of-the-time eating plan:

Eat daily:

  • A pound of raw vegetables (so a very big salad, and no, we don’t usually manage a whole pound of anything in one day).
  • A pound of cooked vegetables (so lots of soup, steamed greens and stir-fry).
  • 2-4 servings of fruit.
  • 1 cup of beans.
  • An ounce or two of nuts.
  • 1 cup of grains or starchy vegetables (like acorn squash or sweet potatoes)

Go easy on:

  • Processed foods
  • Meat

Stay away from:

  • White bread and pasta
  • Sweets
  • Oils

Very few of us will follow all of Dr. Fuhrman’s suggestions all of the time. Still, most of us could use an eating plan tune-up now and then. If you are looking to improve your household menu and would like to more information, just ask. And next week, back to the “normal” sort of blog you’ve come to expect.

Happy New Year!