Finding Balance in 2011

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

There’s something exciting about a new year and a new start. Each year during the final week of December, I take stock of what I accomplished that year. I begin to think about all the possibilities for the coming year, the new opportunities to grow. I imagine the wonderful adventures ahead: new friends, new books to read, new roads to travel, new things to learn, and a new grandbaby!

For the last few years I’ve chosen a theme for the year. One year I focused on happiness; last year I focused on positive thinking. I read books and articles, taught classes about the themes, and tried to incorporate new theme-based practices into my everyday living. This year I’ve chosen to be intentional about balance – balance of mind, body, and spirit.

Let your moderation be known unto all men. Philippians 4:5a

This definition of balance helps explain my goal: “an imagined device for assessing events, actions, and motives in relation to each other” (Word Dictionary). This year I’ll be assessing the “events, actions, and motives” of my mind and body in relation to my spiritual life.

Mind, body, and spirit are so interconnected that if any one of the three is out of balance, the other two suffer. When we are balanced in all three areas, we find wholeness and wellness that Christ desires for us. In the center of balance is peace.

It is through our body that we function in the world. "The human body is the best picture of the human soul" (Ludwig Wittgenstein Philosophical Investigations). Our bodies need rest, movement, and nutrition in order to function properly.
Am I taking care of my body with good nutrition, daily exercise, and adequate rest?
What changes do I need to make in order to live at an optimal level?
Balance: Rest Movement Nutrition

It is our soul (mind) that gives us our personality and helps us to live in relationship with God, other people, and ourselves. Our soul likely has three components: our mind, our will, and our emotions. Since the mind and body communicate constantly, it’s important to keep them both healthy. Our minds are always busy and ready to learn new things.
Am I keeping my mind battery charged with positive thoughts? Am I overcoming stress, beating boredom, and achieving creativity?
In the coming year what can I do to make my thoughts, attitudes, and actions more Christ-like?
Balance: Mind Will Emotions

It is in our spirit that we find meaning and purpose. Our spirit enables us to love ourselves, one another, and God. By incorporating spiritual practices such as prayer, Bible study, worship, discipleship, and fellowship, into our lives, we can develop a healthy spirit.
Am I devoting significant time each day to spiritual practices?
Is there balance in my worship (hands up) and ministry (hands out)?
Do I dwell in love and harmony with God, others, and self?
What changes do I need to make in order to allow the Holy Spirit to guide my spirit?
Balance: Spiritual Practices Ministry Relationships

A balanced mind, body, and spirit is essential to healthy living. Some people are in good physical shape but are malnourished in their soul because their minds are filled with negativity or hate. Some people have healthy minds but are depraved in their spirit for lack of prayer, Bible study, or worship. We need to stay balanced in all areas in order to experience wholeness and peace that Christ desires for us.
Now may the God of peace make you holy in every way, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless until our Lord Jesus Christ comes again. I Thessalonians 5:23

Let’s make a commitment to live a balanced life in 2011 so that we can be sanctified by the God of peace!

2011 Mission Statement: To glorify God and edify others through intentional and balanced living.

Wholly Holiday Eating

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Practice Wholly Holiday Eating and Have a Merry Fitness!

'Tis the season for over-indulgence! Fa-la-la-la folly! You can still enjoy your favorite guilty pleasures but follow these healthy tips to bring some balance to the season!

Boost your metabolism
A healthy breakfast and lots of water will give you more energy throughout the day and prevent you from bingeing on the party buffet in the evening.
Green tea is great for the body as it flushes out toxins and keeps the kidneys working properly. I use a dropper full of Herbasway “The Original” HerbaGreen Tea with 15 times the antioxidants of regular brewed tea.

Cinnamon balances blood sugar and reduces ill effects of sweet foods. Stir a little into tea or coffee. I add it to my oatmeal.

Take the stairs. Park away from the entrance and walk instead of driving around trying to find a closer parking space.

Work out
At this time of year it is difficult to fit in a two hour gym session as well as work and fulfill social obligations. Find ways to raise your heart rate with short workouts several times a week.

Fill up
Don't arrive at a party hungry. Eat a small meal of complex carbs so you don't over indulge on the buffet. A sandwich with cheese or tuna on whole wheat bread, a bowl of cereal, brown pasta, of even just a banana will ensure you don't overindulge.

Use the Plate Model
Fill half of your plate with non-starchy vegetables and fruit. In the remaining half fill the plate with a healthy protein, quality carbs and a healthy fat-rich food.

Plan of Attack for the Christmas Buffet
A festive buffet might look wonderful, but it is full of hidden fats. Try this plan of attack.
1. Fly-by without a plate to survey the options.
2. Reconnaissance Mission 1: Load up on raw vegetables and fruit.
3. Reconnaissance Mission 2: Fill the plate with salads, meat, and small helpings of sides.
4. Reconnaissance Mission 3: Try samples of a few desserts.
5. Don't stand at the buffet table - you'll end up constantly picking and nibbling. Get what you want and move away.

Say no to seconds
Practice discipline!

Drink at least a glass of water before a Christmas party and alternate water with other beverages during it.
5 olives (any kind) (45 calories); 1/4 cup hummus and 3 carrot sticks (80 calories)
1 Laughing Cow Light Swiss Original wedge, 3 pieces Kavli Crispy Thin (85 calories)
2 cups popcorn (air-popped, 62 calories; oil-popped, 110 calories)
Celery keeps blood pressure low, and helps lower cholesterol too.
Brazil nuts are rich in selenium, which improves mood and reduces anxiety. Eat just 3 a day.

Vitamin C
Colds are common during this season so don’t forget to boost your immune system with some Vitamin C.

Watch portion sizes like a hawk. Enjoy everything, say no to nothing – but do it all in moderation.

Spiritual Christmas Gift List

Monday, December 13, 2010

Gift giving is a Christmas tradition ever since the Wise Men went bearing gifts to the baby Jesus. While we’ll all continue to give these earthly presents, there’s an even more important blessing to give those in our world.

We also need to make a Spiritual Christmas Gift List. Who are the people that you need to show the love of Jesus to during this season? To help us get an idea of the kinds of people to put on our list, let’s look at the biblical account of Jesus’ birth. The Bible records God’s Christmas list.

These accounts show the various people who witnessed Jesus’ birth. We’ll see how God used ordinary and extraordinary people to share in the good news.

Mary and Joseph
Joseph was a carpenter and an upright man. When he learned of Mary’s pregnancy, maybe he thought of putting her away instead of dealing with public humiliation, but he listened to the angel and took Mary as his wife. He was a devout Jew who showed integrity and obedience to God’s direction.
Mary was a young teenager, an ordinary Jewish girl probably looking forward to marriage, when the angel Gabriel came to her. Mary was fearful and troubled in the presence of the angel and could not imagine that she would have a child, the Messiah. However, she responded to God with belief and obedience and kept a humble and quiet spirit.
Joseph and Mary were obedient followers of God and provided Jesus an earthly home. They were his earthly family. Who are the family members on your Christmas list? How can you show the love of Jesus to them?

Shepherds were busy in their fields tending their flock when a host of angels appeared to them. Eager to see the miracle the angels described, they left their fields and headed for Bethlehem. They searched everywhere in the village until they found Mary and Joseph. These laborers were obedient to their call. They represent the everyday workers, the people in our lives who work to make our lives easier. They may also reflect the people we work alongside every day.
Who are the everyday workers or co-workers you can “show” Jesus to?

Following the Jewish tradition, Joseph and Mary took Jesus to the temple when he was 40 days old. A man of great holiness, Simeon, had been seeking the Messiah. God had revealed to him that he would not die before seeing the Savior. Simeon blessed the child and spoke of those who would someday speak out against Jesus and reject them. Then he forewarned Mary that a “sword would pierce her soul” one day. Simeon’s prophecy represents those who are seeking the truth.
Do you know someone who is seeking the truth but has not accepted the gift of Jesus? Has your soul been pierced with hurt for someone else’s salvation?

The prophetess Anna was a faithful elderly widow who never left the temple. She worshiped night and day, fasting and praying. At the temple the day Simeon blessed Jesus, Anna was full of thanksgiving and became the first witness to tell others about the child. She might be among the “invisible people” or the “forgotten ones” as she quietly worked in the temple.
Who are the people around you who would be considered “forgotten?” Do you need to be the hands and feet of Jesus to widow or orphans or the poor this year?

The Magi were men of power and influence in Jesus’ day and were instrumental in selecting Parthian Kings. They knew the Messiah was expected and connected the appearance of an unknown star with his birth. They followed the star to Bethlehem where they bowed down and worshiped the baby Jesus and gave him treasures of gold, incense, and myrrh.
Who are the key people of influence in your life? Are there leaders who need to feel the love of Jesus in a special way this year?

These witnesses remind us that God chose all kinds of people to be a part of the birth story. He chose family members, laborers, seekers, a widow of the forgotten class, and men of power to share the good news. Today he wants all of us to be a part of continuing to spread the gospel.

Let us pray that God will show us the individuals in our world who still need the gift of Jesus. Let’s add them to our spiritual Christmas List.

Every good and perfect gift is from above. James 1:17

Family Blessings

Monday, December 6, 2010

My favorite memories of Christmas center around family. We’re a very close clan and very traditional as well. We’ve had the same Christmas Day schedule for as long as I can remember. We all arrive at my parent’s house early Christmas morning and enjoy a citrus punch called LeConte Sunrise while we wait for everyone to arrive. Then we gather in the den and Dad reads the Christmas story from Luke 2. After a time of sharing our blessings of the year and prayer we enjoy a scrumptious breakfast: egg strata, ham, sausage balls, muffins, fruit, and an assortment of jellies and jams.

Next it’s time to process, in order of age, to the basement for the giving of gifts. We attempt some semblance of order as we open our gifts and some years it works better than others. We always stop to watch my parents open their gifts. We all “ooh” and “aah” over the sentimental treasures that unfold.

Then we all go to our homes or to other relatives for the afternoon and re-gather at my home in the evening for our traditional Christmas Dinner of turkey and dressing with all the trimmings. It’s usually my responsibility to have a game, word puzzle, or trivia for us all to play around the table. It seems we end up closing every family meal, whether it’s a holiday dinner or Sunday lunch, the same way. We share humorous stories of days gone by. Believe me, when you’ve shared as many family vacations, worship services, meals, movie nights, school experiences, and holidays as we have, there are endless stories to tell. Our family has lived through many tragedies and triumphs together. We have a deep and abiding love for our Savior and for each other. This Christmas we’ll enjoy another season of shared blessings and probably create a few more stories to tell.

I would love to hear about your family traditions. Please click on the title of this blog, “Family Blessings.” Then if you scroll to the bottom of the page, you’ll see a place to make your comment.
Enjoy these ideas for celebrating with your friends and family this Christmas.

Christmas Blessings Mix
This year count your blessings with Christmas Blessings Mix. Small bags are filled with a snack mix. Each ingredient reminds us of a holiday blessing.
Bugles: Bring us the joyful message of the Heavenly Host, announcing peace on earth, good will to men.
Pretzels: Symbol of a mother's loving arms; as Mary wrapped her Son in swaddling clothes and laid him in the manger.
Red Hots: Red berries that decorate the holly plant, a reminder of eternal life and Christ's redemption.
Nuts or seeds: Promise of a a future harvest, one we will reap only if seeds are planted and tended with diligence.
Dried fruits: Remind us of the rich gifts brought by the Wise Men.
M&Ms: Memories of those who came before us to guide us to a blessed future.
Hershey's Kiss: The love of family and friends that sweetens our lives.

Christmas Blessing Mix Recipe
2 cups Bugles brand corn snacks
2 cups small pretzels
1 cup cinnamon imperials candy ("red hots")
1 cup dried fruit bits or raisins
1 cup peanuts or sunflower seeds
1 cup M&Ms-brand chocolate candy
16 Hershey's-brand chocolate kisses
4 copies free printable bag toppers

In a large bowl, gently mix all ingredients except Hershey's Kisses.
Place 1/3 to 1/2 cup Christmas Blessing Mix in small cellophane treat bags or zipper food storage bags. Add one Hershey's Kiss to each bag. Seal bag or fold down top to seal.
Print 4 copies of the Christmas Blessing Mix bag toppers

Cut out tags, and attach one to each bag.
Makes 16 Christmas Blessing Mix gift bags.

Sharing Jar

The holidays are always great times to share special memories with friends and family. In order to stimulate ideas, consider using a “Sharing Jar.” Write questions on slips and paper, fold them, and place them in a jar. Pass the jar around the table and ask each person to select one to answer. Consider using these questions.

When you were a child, what games did you play in your house or neighborhood?
What is your full name? Who were you named for? How do you feel about your name?
What activities do you enjoy doing today that you also enjoyed as a child? Describe them.
What special skills did you learn as a child? Who taught you?
What were you best and worst subjects in elementary school? In middle school? In high school?
Do you have special childhood memories of playing with cousins? Talk about them.
How did you first meet your in-laws?
What is your favorite thing to do at home?
What is the one invention you could not live without and why?
What is your favorite animal? Tell why.
Who was a special teacher when you were in school?
How did you first meet your in-laws?
Who are some of your favorite people? Why?
What were the favorite places to go with your family when you were young?

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