Finding Beauty in Brokeness

There is a great online site at “Discover the Word”.  It includes a daily devotional, a daily journal, a weekday small group online bible study, and many other links.   Earlier this year, they did a series on a book written by Elisa Morgan, one of the commentators.   “The Beauty of Broken”.   It mostly relates to family relations, but it is applicable to all of our lives, and it shows with certainty the grace of God.

The basic premise is that all of us have suffered some brokenness in our life, and we need to get better.  We may not always know that we are broken, but at some point we realize that we need to be fixed. Whether it is drug addiction, an eating disorder, smoking, drinking, abusing our family, we come to a point where we say NO MORE!

When we reach this point, and we want to fix ourselves, we cannot do it alone.  We need to reach our and grab the hand of God.  If you have faith in God, you can make it through anything, good or bad, that comes your way.  If you are faithful, He is faithful. He will provide what you need and deliver you from evil.  He will lead you into blessings.  Sometimes we need to open our eyes and ears to be aware of the blessings he has offered us.

We do not have to stay broken. Take a listen to the words of Elisa Morgan in the 15 part series online – I am sure that some parts will ring true for you.  It is an uplifting message that no matter how broken we are, we can be made beautiful again, through the grace of God.  Blessings to all for a fabulous weekend!

Ready on for today’s Healthy Living recipe!

Never Fear – You Can Have a “Do-Over”

Today’s Verse:  Isaiah 41: 10  “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.” 

Change is difficult.  Change is scary.  And change is hard – very hard.   We all have habits that we would like to break – overeating is my downfall, along with the occasionally foray into smoking.  I just can’t seem to stop these habits.  I go for a long while and behave, and then my cravings take over and I can’t seem to stop the backslide.

When we are tempted to fall back into our bad habits, or continue with our bad habits, we need to have courage and face the future.  We must never fear.  If something is bad for us, how scary can the future be, if we know we will be healthier?    Never fear the future.  We cannot know what God has in store for us, but we know that he will not lead us astray.  We know that he will help us and guide us.  We know that he has a plan for us, and his plan does not include destroying our health.

I often promise God things that I cannot really do alone – I promise to stay on my diet, I promise to never drink or smoke again.  And for some time, it works.  If I think about straying, I remember my promise to God and I don’t do it.  But slowly,  I fall back.  I think, “Well just once won’t hurt”.  And before you know it, I have forgotten my promise and fallen again.  But the great news is that God forgives me and lets me have another chance.   I get a “do-over”.   No matter how many times I fall, God will pick me up and save me.   His love is unending.

So don’t be afraid of change.  Don’t think that God will not lift you up, again and again. The great news of Jesus Christ is that He bore our sins, and we are free.  God will always be there, our strength and our rock.    A blessing to all (from Rod Stewart’s “Forever Young”):

May the good Lord be with you
Down every road you roam
And may sunshine and happiness
surround you when you’re far from home
And may you grow to be proud
Dignified and true
And do unto others
As you’d have done to you

Read on for Today’s Healthy Living Recipe

The 6 Stages of Change

Today’s verse:  Romans 12:12  Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.”

I have recently decided, at my advanced age, that I want to become certified as a group fitness instructor. big armsI have noticed that many women my age go to the gym, but are unable to participate in many of the classes because our bodies just can’t keep up the way the used to.  So  I want to develop and teach a class for seniors, that allows us to stay fit and have fun.

In order to get certified, I must pass a course.  I have been reading the required text and came across an interesting chapter on changing behavior.  I thought it fit very well into the idea of this blog, as it addresses changing habits such as smoking, drinking, overeating, lack of exercise, etc.   So I am paraphrasing it below.  It is from “Fitness Theory and Practice, 5TH edition”.   The model is the Transtheoretical Model, developed by James Prochaska, John Norcross, and Carlo DiClementi in 1994.

There are basically six stages of readiness for change.  We all need to find our stage and try to move forward.  Read on and see where you fall in this model and maybe you can move up a stage to make a positive change in your life.

Stage 1:  Precontemplation:  People in this stage have no current intentions to change.  They may have tried in the past and it didn’t work, so they are demoralized and have given up.   This can be addressed by raising the consciousness of the person by reading literature on the subject (example – seeing pictures of diseased lungs) , attending lectures, or even if they have a health crisis (a wake-up call).  This can also be addressed by environmental control, such as staying in  no-smoking areas.

Stage 2:  Contemplation:  In this stage, people acknowledge that they have a problem and are willing to think about the need to change.  They are  usually unable to generate enough energy to change, and can stay in this stage for years.   In order to address this and move forward, you can look forward to the future by imagining your life after you have changed the problematic behavior.  Imagine how much more you could do as a non-smoker or non-drinker, or how much you could buy with the money you saved.  Or imagine yourself thin after a diet, or healthy after an eating disorder.  This is a very hard stage to get past.

Stage 3:  Preparation: People here are on the verge of action.  Maybe they have already made small changes.  They are more focused on possibilities of action rather than on the cause of their behavior.  In this stage you need to find some interpersonal support- someone that will listen to you and support you  without judgement or advice, but with concern and empathy.  You need to be your own judge and find the strength to change.  You have to really want it!

Stage 4 – Action:  People in this stage will be following the plan they made in step 3 for changing their behavior.  The more developed the plan, the more successful they will be.  People who have spent a long time in stage 2 and stage 3 are most successful.  In this stage, the plan is solidified and refined, so that it can become a routine.   In this stage, it is often helpful to make a commitment and publicly announce it.  It helps when others know your plan.

Stage 5:  Maintenance:  This stage is arrived at when people have been continuously engaged in the changed behavior for at least 6 months.  They are still subject to relapse so they need to find someone to give them positive feedback and rewards.  You need to be strong when life stresses you out, so you don’t reach for that cigarette to comfort you.  You can get through this stage, and then it becomes a new way of life.  A strategy to help (also helps in Stage 4) is to find a substitute behavior to counter the urge when it hits.  For example, if you feel the urge to snack at night, counter this by going for a short walk, or doing some stretching.  You must control the internal reaction, and be aware when the urge arises and find a substitute behavior.  Here is a good place to pray or practice meditation.

Stage 6:  Termination:  In the stage, the new behavior has become an integral part of daily life, so much so that the likelihood or relapse in non-existent.  There are very few individuals that actually reach this stage, but we can do it!

Throughout all of the stages, pray hard and believe that God is with you.  He will help you in your times of trouble, and you will be stronger for  your efforts.  Never give up and never cease to pray for help.   Blessings to all as you go through the stages of change!

Keep reading for today’s Healthy Living Recipe

The Privilege of Blessings

Today’s verse:   Psalm 103:2  “Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits”

I was raised in a middle class family, born in a free country. I was born one of the “white privileged” people, who has never really known any discrimination against me. I was blessed with good genes, which allow me to be tall and fairly thin.  I have been blessed with good health and with a good life. I have a wonderful marriage, I retired from a great job which allowed me to travel all over the world, I have two wonderful, successful, healthy sons.  I count my blessings every day.

But often I wonder why I am so blessed. I abuse my health. I don’t always take care of myself. So why do I continue to have so many blessings? Why was I born into this privileged life? Why have I been given so many advantages, by way of my race and my country?  Why wasn’t I born into a war-torn nation, or a country where children are starving?  Why wasn’t I born to an abusive parent, or with a condition that disables me?  Why am I so lucky to be me?   Why are some people born into poverty and suffer hunger all of their lives? Why are some people born into a race that is discriminated against, for hundreds of years?  Why are some people born with birth defects, or get cancer, or die?

Who can answer these questions?  I wish I knew why.  But I do know that God has a plan. Every single one of us is valuable in His eyes.  He gave me my blessings for whatever his reason. I am so thankful and I will share them with others. I continually try to show God my appreciation for all the blessings he has bestowed upon me. I try to never take for granted what I have.

I was working the other night at a dinner to feed the homeless in our area, and one of the gentleman asked me why I would want to “help a bunch of dirty, homeless people who came in, ate our food, didn’t clean up after themselves, clogged up the toilets, were generally unappreciative and then left, leaving us to clean up.” “Why do you care about us?” he asked.  I told him I felt called to help others.  I told him that I had been incredibly blessed in life and wanted to share the blessings.  I told him I wasn’t doing it to earn brownie points, or get a pat on the back for being a good person, but because I honestly believe that God wants us to “share the wealth”.

God has blessed us with so much that I can’t help but give back. We need to remember this as we abuse our bodies with unhealthy acts. We need to count our blessings and take care of ourselves and our blessings so we can be blessings to others. No matter what your station or circumstance in life, never forget to praise God and count your blessings!  Continue reading for today’s Healthy Living Recipe

All in Good Time

Today’s verse:  Ecclesiastes 3: 11   Everything is made beautiful in His time.

Sometimes when we are hurting, or when we engage in activities that hurt us, we wonder if we will ever be free from this hurt.  We wonder how we can go on, and we just want to throw in the towel and give up.  But that doesn’t solve the problem.

I once had a friend who began to gain weight, serious weight. He tried dieting some, but continued to eat and to gain weight. At some point, he realized that he was fat, really fat.  And rather than try to correct it, he just ate whatever he wanted, because, as he said, “What the hell, I’m already fat, so I might as well just eat anything I want”. This is a defeatist attitude.  It’s the same attitude that I’ve heard from smokers, saying “Well I’m going to die from something, so it might as well be lung cancer”.

We cannot take these defeatist attitudes towards our health. We must realize that we need to take care of our bodies and ourselves. We need to give up unhealthy habits and we can do it. It might take a month, a  year, or even years to reach our point of success, but if we stick to it,  we will get there. It will not be an easy road. It will require strength and discipline. There are thousands of programs to help, but what it really requires is a total lifestyle change, and an iron will to stick to the change.  We will get where we need to be, all in good time.

I sometimes listen to Joel Osteen on TV.  He is very uplifting, always smiling, and always has a positive message.  He is one of the most successful preachers on TV. But if I really listen to him, his message says that if you do good works and pray hard and believe, God will give you good things and make good things happen to you. Is this really the message that God sends?  In the Bible, lots of people did good things and still suffered (think Job and Paul). God works in His own time and in his own way.  He has a plan for all of us.  We must not give up in times of trouble.  We must not lose faith.  We must not believe that if only we did better, or tried harder that God would love us more or help us more. The fact is that God loves us in spite of ourselves. All he asks if for us to believe.  He will take care of the rest, all in his time.  Blessings to all! Continue reading for a Healthy Living Recipe

Living on the Dark Side

Today’s verse:  Psalm 71: 5-6    ” For You are my hope, O Lord GOD; You are my trust from my youth. By You I have been upheld from birth; You are He who took me out of my mother’s womb.  My praise shall be continually of You.”

Where did I  go wrong?   Do you ever ask yourself this question?   How did I end up the way I am?  Is there some force directing our lives, sending us down the wrong road?  Why do we chose to take actions that we know are bad for us, and bad for our health?

I was brought up in a very conservative, fairly religious family.  I went to Sunday school every week, never missed a Sunday service, said grace before every supper.  I was taught to respect my elders, be kind to animals, never to say naughty words. Smoking and drugs were forbidden in our home. So why did all of my brothers and sister and I all start smoking and doing drugs in high school?   Why do we all drink more than we should?  It is not the way we were raised.  Maybe it was teenage rebellion, going against our strict parents. Maybe it was just being cool in school, so we could be popular.   Who really knows what turns us to the dark side of health?    The problem is, the “dark” side is seductive and sucks you in, and never wants to let go.  So how do we get out?

There are thousands of addiction centers and doctors which offer help for every imaginable addiction.  But before any of those work, the addicted one has to want to be helped.   And then they have to keep wanting it, and they have to do it for themselves. Until that decision is made, it is impossible to leave the dark side.   Others cannot do it for us, we must want to make the change.

Thankfully, I have turned my life around from those days. As a young adult, I moved around quite a bit, and the one constant in my life was the church.  When I went to a new city, I always looked first for a church home for me and my boys. I felt that if we had that solid foundation, there was nothing that life could throw at us that we couldn’t handle. As the verse above says, God has been my trust since my youth.  I am so thankful that my parents raised us in a religious home.  Whenever I am tempted or when I struggle, I ask God for strength, and he props me up and helps me along. God is such a friend and is always there.  Never be afraid to turn all of your problems over to God and he will see you through.  Praise to God!   Blessings to all for a fabulous weekend. – Read on for Healthy Living Recipe for a delicious salad meal to end the week with!>

Motivation to Exercise

Today’s verse:  3 John 1:2  “Beloved, I pray that all may go well with you and that you may be in good health, as it goes well with your soul.”

We all know that in order to lose weight, we need to cut the calories that go into our bodies. The other half of the equation is to expend more calories than we take in. This is achieved by exercising. For some people, like my sister, just the word “exercise” makes them break out in hives. exerciseMany people think of exercise as pumping iron, or Crossfit style workouts, which will make you puke. But it doesn’t have to be so hard.   The trick is to find something that you enjoy and make it work for you.

In a world where we are living so unhealthily, exercising can help us to focus on ourselves and our health. It can be a powerful incentive to quit smoking, or not to start again.  It can help us to focus our minds so that we are not thinking about our next high, or our next low.  We can see results so we don’t want to ruin it by stuffing our face full of unhealthy, fattening foods.

In 1996, the U.S. Surgeon General’s report of Physical Activity and Health stated that by becoming more active, we can lower the risk of death, and slow development of chronic illnesses such as heart disease, high blood pressure, and diabetes. This report is old, but the principles remain the same. The best part is that you don’t have to join a gym and work out so hard. Even moderate activity for 30 minutes a day is a bonus. And the 30 minutes can be broken up into smaller amounts of 10-15 minutes at a time.  Who can’t handle 10 minutes, 3 times a day of something that is fun?

So what activities are beneficial? Anything that makes you move: walking is best, but it can be dancing, gardening, raking leaves, going up and down stairs, swimming or water aerobics. Obviously the more you do, the better the benefits. But everyone has to start somewhere.  And I guarantee you that once you start seeing the benefits, you will be motivated to keep going and maybe even do more.

Another benefit to exercise is that it gives us time to pray, to commune with God. How can we not appreciate God when we are out for a walk and see His creation in all its glory?  How can we not thank Him for the magnificent way our bodies work?   We can spend 10 or 15 minutes praying for others that need His comfort and strength, His healing hand.  Sometimes we get so busy in our day that we have trouble finding time to set aside for God.  But during exercise, you can do it.  So reap the benefits of exercise and start living a healthy, prayerful life!   Blessings to all as you huff and puff your way to health! Read on for today’s Healthy Living Recipe