Wednesday, September 29, 2010
Only Hope by Caedmon’s Call
Depth of mercy can there be
Mercy still reserved for me
Can my God, your wrath forbear
Me the chief of sinners, spare
Chorus: It's my only hope
You're my only hope
It's my only hope of Heaven
At the cross forgiven
I have long withstood your grace
Long provoked you to your face
Would not harken to your calls
Grieved you by a thousand falls
There for me the Savior stands
Shows his wounds and spreads His hands
Face to face before the Son
And like Isaiah I'm undone
Depth of mercy, vast and free
So much deeper than the sea
God of love, you heard my cry
Now into your open arms I fly
Monday, September 27, 2010
Ideal Weight or Happy Weight? How much weight do you really need to lose?*By Kathleen M. Zelman
Maybe you've been struggling -- without success -- to get down to the size you were in high school or on your wedding day. But do you really need to go that low? The truth, experts say, is that you can weigh more than your ideal weight and still be healthy (not to mention happy).
If you're overweight, losing just 10% of your body weight is associated with a myriad of health benefits, including lowering blood pressure, blood cholesterol, and blood sugar, and reducing your risk for heart disease. Not only that, experts say, but this kind of weight loss is easier to attain and maintain, setting you up for success in the long run.
Your Weight "Set Point"
Just as your body temperature is programmed to stay around 98.6 degrees, your body weight is naturally regulated to stay within a range of 10%-20%, says Thomas Wadden, PhD, director of the Center for Weight and Eating Disorders at University of Pennsylvania Medical School. This weight range is known as the "set point."
A complex set of hormones, chemicals, and hunger signals help your body naturally maintain your weight within this range, says American Dietetic Association spokeswoman Dawn Jackson Blatner, RD.
It is not just a matter of genetics, though. Your eating and exercise habits can also help to determine your set point.
"Overeating swamps the internal regulatory system, and, as a result, the set point increases -- which is much easier to do than it is to lower it," says Wadden. The body adjusts to the higher weight and "resets" the set point to defend the new weight.
It is difficult, but not impossible, to set your range lower. "With changes in healthy eating and exercise behavior, you can lower your set point," says Blatner.
The 10% Solution to Weight Loss
A recent book, Break Through Your Set Point: How to Finally Lose the Weight You Want and Keep It Off, by George Blackburn, MD, suggests that maintaining a 10% loss for six months to a year helps your body adjust to the lower weight and thus reset the set point.
Wadden explains that when you lose large amounts of weight at once, you set up an internal struggle and hormones like ghrelin spike to make you hungrier as your body tries to defend its comfortable range.
Instead, experts recommend that you try losing 10% the old-fashioned way -- by slowly changing eating and exercise behaviors -- then maintain this new weight for a few months before trying to lose more. Not only will your body get the signal to lower its "set point," but you'll give yourself a chance to get used to new food choices, smaller portions, and regular exercise.
“When patients lose 10% it may not be the pant size they want, but they start to realize how a little weight loss impacts their health in very positive ways," says Blatner. "They feel better, sleep better, have more energy or less joint pain, and some people are able to reduce medications."
How Much Should I Weigh?
Most people overestimate how much weight they can realistically lose, which leads to frustration, says Blatner. To find your happy or healthy weight, Blatner suggests looking back on your weight history as an adult and identify a weight you were able to maintain naturally and fairly easily.
And if you've gained more than a few pounds since your wedding day, forget trying to fit into that bridal gown. "As you gain weight, you experience an increase in fat cell size and number, which will probably prevent you from getting back to your married weight," says Wadden.
Instead of focusing on the numbers on the scale, Blatner suggests setting behavioral goals: "Eat breakfast every day, go for daily walks, eat more fruits and vegetables -- when you set behavior goals, they are easier to accomplish and they make you feel good." Stick with these behaviors for 3-6 months and they will become part of your life.
Based on your current weight, eat about 10 calories per pound of nutritious food (low in fat, rich in lean protein, high in fiber), get regular exercise, and assess your weight after a month or so.
"Your weight will settle out and typically you will lose 10%, then hit a plateau, which is a good time to maintain the weight loss," says Wadden.
As you get to a healthy weight, you can go up to 12 calories per pound.
Tips for Weight Loss Success
Here are some tips from Blatner for weight loss success:
1. Eat regular meals. People who eat regular meals consume fewer calories than those who eat irregular meals.
2. Use a plate, sit down, and enjoy your meals. Folks who do this eat 43% smaller portions than those who eat out of containers or on the run, according to Blatner.
3. Get at least 30 minutes of moderate activity each day.
4. How much and what you eat makes a big difference. Enjoy normal portions of foods that are high in fiber (fruits, veggies, whole grains) and rich in lean or low fat protein is the secret to feeling full.
5. Think positive: Focus on the benefits of a healthier lifestyle rather than the scale
Change Your Weight "Set Point"* By Kathleen Goodwin, RD
As if it’s not hard enough to lose weight and keep it off, now we know that many of us must contend with battling our "set point" too. The set point theory was introduced by a group of researchers in 1982. The basic premise of the theory is that the body has a built in weight regulating mechanism, largely genetically determined, that will tend to keep your weight in a physiologically established comfortable range. Many dieters contend with trying to drop weight beyond their bodies’ set point after following a healthy diet and exercise regimen for a time. Initially, for most, body weight will come off steadily and easily when following a reduced calorie diet and exercise program. However, for those of us with genetically determined set points beyond our desired weight goal, losing beyond this weight plateau can be quite challenging.
How the weight set point works
One premise of set point theory is that after the onset of adulthood the body will maintain a constant level of body fat. This involves a complex set of interactions between the brain, nervous system and the fat cells. This communication can cause a reduction in metabolism when the fat cells signal that too much fat has been lost during a period of dieting and/or exercising. On the converse side, the brain can also be signaled to minimize hunger and eating when the fat cell build up extends beyond the comfortable set point level.
Following a weight loss diet for a period of time can also trigger the body to cling to its set point. After dieting, the body’s metabolism—or daily rate of calorie burning—can decrease, particularly when a dieter chooses the “no exercise” route. Once the body reaches this point, the same amount of calories that initially led to weight loss, can now lead to weight maintenance and/or gain. Much of this has to do with the fact that the now smaller body size (due to weight loss) requires less calories per day to maintain.
With these two factors working together, it can be difficult to reach a goal weight that is lower than what our genetically inherited set point would like.
3 ways to defeat your weight set point
While it’s true that many inherit some genetic predispositions that can make it more difficult to either lose weight or attain a goal weight than others, your set point is not in control of your destiny. Rather, there are many things you can do to combat and defeat your set point.
1. Keep a food record before cutting more calories
First of all, do not cut more calories from your diet than the level you used to lose weight initially. Cutting back on calories too drastically can put your body in “starvation mode” and significantly reduce your metabolism even further. Try keeping a food record instead. Evaluate the nutritional value of your current diet. Even though it may be reduced in calories, you may not be eating healthily. Perhaps you need to cut back on the refined, processed foods you have in your diet. Perhaps you need to limit your fat intake or drink more water or add more fruits and vegetables. Another good idea to give your body a metabolic boost is to try 6 light meals or snacks daily instead of 3 large meals. Every time you eat your body increases its metabolic rate.
2. Continue to exercise regularly
Secondly, you absolutely cannot omit exercise and expect to lower your set point. Exercise is the only mechanism proven to help lower set point. You must get into the habit of exercising for at least an hour several days a week in order to lower your set point. Use your large muscles as much as possible—that is, the thighs and buttocks. Try walking, jogging, swimming, and biking. Weight training using the large muscles in the legs and buttocks is a must too. The more muscle you add to your body, the higher your metabolism and calorie burning potential will become.
3. Vary and intensify your exercise routine - your body gets "used" to your workout
If you are already working out regularly, you must begin to vary your routine. Perhaps your body has gotten “used” to your workout and the benefits of exercise to your metabolism have slackened. A great way to boost your metabolism is to begin to include increases in intensity to your workout. For example, if you have been running 3 miles at a steady 30 minute pace, try adding a few periods of one minute sprints in transit. If your workout has become too “easy,” it is imperative that you find ways to make it moderately difficult again if you want to drop your set point.
Your weight set point can be overcome
In conclusion, there is a strong body of evidence that suggests that each individual has a predetermined weight set point. Your individual set point may be difficult to overcome. However, the majority of people who continue to eat healthily, increase exercise intensity and not give up, eventually press past their set point closer to their desired weight. The actions you take and the level of persistence you demonstrate will determine whether you can conquer your set point.
How to Reset a Body Weight Set Point* By Trudy Beerman
The set point theory for body weight is similar to the set point theory for body temperature. If you are cold, your brain sends signals that influence you to sit by a fire or put on a jacket. Similarly, if you are hot, your brain sends signals for you to cool your body by turning on a fan or getting a cold drink.
The body weight set point theory suggests that your body has a preferred weight it tries to maintain. Should you do something crazy like going on a diet, the brain sends signals of urges to binge. Should you do something crazy like trying to add muscle mass, the body spikes your metabolism via increased temperatures to bring that weight down.
Those who try to change their bodies without acknowledging their body weight set points set themselves up for ultimate failure.
Identify a weight you have easily maintained for six months or longer. This is probably your body weight set point. The set point theory does not apply to your weight during a weight loss or weight gain effort. Your body weight set point is an effortless weight maintenance level. Knowing what this set point level is, and the lifestyle that goes along with that effortless management, is the first step to resetting your body weight set point.
Identify a weight loss/weight gain strategy you can adopt as a new lifestyle. If the program you embark on to gain or lose weight is only a temporary one that takes maximum effort on your part to maintain, then after a momentary enjoyment of your success, you will find that your body quickly returns to its previous weight, with a bonus: The problem you set out to fix gets even bigger. The set point theory for body weight explains the yo-yo dieting problem: When your body creates the triggers that get you back to your body weight set point, it is as if it also creates a savings bank to ensure that the next time you try that crazy weight loss/weight gain again, it has that extra gain or loss built in to balance that out.
Set the start date for your new lifestyle and start living it. If your new life includes regular exercise, then exercise regularly. If it includes meals with higher protein content to build and maintain muscle, then make sure you find ways to get that protein in regularly. Whatever your strategy for achieving your new preferred weight, it must be something you can easily maintain if you are to reset your body weight set point.
Create accountability systems until the new lifestyle becomes effortless. If you are on Weight Watchers or a similarly structured program, the accountability is already professionally provided. The Weight Watchers model is particularly well organized because once you successfully achieve your new, healthier weight, their lifetime membership offers free access to that accountability to help you maintain your new weight. At that point, if you keep up with the accountability of the program, it is very likely that you will have successfully reset your body weight set point.
Resetting your body weight set point is an accomplishment that only a small percentage of people successfully achieve. Pat yourself on the back for proving that personal will can overcome the body's natural tendencies.
Chicken Rice Soup with Spinach (Wegmans.com)
SERVES 6 ACTIVE TIME: 20 min TOTAL TIME: 35 min
1 Tbsp Wegmans Pure Olive Oil
4 (about 8 oz each) boneless, skinless chicken breasts, thinly sliced crosswise
1 cup (half an 8-oz bag) Food You Feel Good About Cleaned & Cut Chopped Onions
2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
1 pkg (10 oz) Food You Feel Good About Fresh Spinach, stems removed, torn in bite-size pieces
1 carton (32 oz) + 1 1/2 cups Food You Feel Good About Chicken Culinary Stock
1-1/2 cups Italian Classics Kitchen Cut Roma Tomatoes with Basil
3/4 cup Food You Feel Good About Instant Rice Salt and pepper to taste
1. Heat oil in medium stockpot on MEDIUM-HIGH. Add chicken; brown slightly, stirring occasionally, about 2 min. Add onion and garlic; cook, stirring frequently, until soft and lightly browned, about 2 min.
2. Add spinach; cook, stirring until completely wilted, 1-2 min, stirring occasionally.
3. Add broth and tomatoes; cover. Bring to boil; reduce heat to MEDIUM-LOW, simmer 10 min.
4. Stir in rice; remove from heat; let rest 5 min. (allowing rice to steep). Season to taste with salt and pepper.
• Substitute 12 cups (about 1 large head) escarole, trimmed and chopped, for spinach.
• Substitute 2 cups thinly sliced precooked sausage for chicken.
• Sprinkle individual servings with grated Parmesan or Romano cheese.
Calories: 300 Nutrition Info: Each serving (1-3/4 cups) contains 300 calories, 20 g carbohydrate, (4 g fiber), 42 g protein, 4.5 g fat, (1 g saturated fat), 100 mg cholesterol, and 600 mg sodium.
Photos: Ehow.co.uk, Wegmans.com
Wednesday, September 22, 2010
Make the Most of Your Metabolism* By Colette Bouchez
"It's my metabolism!"
Sound familiar? If you're carrying some extra pounds (and having a hard time losing them), it's tempting to put the blame on a sluggish metabolism.
But is your metabolism really the reason it's often so hard to lose weight? And, more important, is there anything you can do about it?
WebMD asked experts to explore facts and myths about metabolism -- and the good news is, there are things you can do to help boost your body's calorie-burning power.
See How You Can Boost Your Metabolism
What Is Metabolism?
Your metabolism, experts say, involves a complex network of hormones and enzymes that not only convert food into fuel but also affect how efficiently you burn that fuel.
"The process of metabolism establishes the rate at which we burn our calories and, ultimately, how quickly we gain weight or how easily we lose it," says Robert Yanagisawa, MD, director of the Medically Supervised Weight Management Program at Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York.
Of course, not everyone burns calories at the same rate.
Your metabolism is influenced by your age (metabolism naturally slows about 5% per decade after age 40); your sex (men generally burn more calories at rest than women); and proportion of lean body mass (the more muscle you have, the higher your metabolic rate tends to be).
And yes, heredity makes a difference.
"Some people just burn calories at a slower rate than others," says Barrie Wolfe-Radbill, RD, a nutritionist specializing in weight loss at New York University Medical Center.
Occasionally, Yanagisawa says, a defect in the thyroid gland can slow metabolism, though this problem is relatively rare.
And here's a fact that may surprise you: the more weight you carry, the faster your metabolism is likely running.
"The simple fact is that the extra weight causes your body to work harder just to sustain itself at rest, so in most instances, the metabolism is always running a bit faster," says Molly Kimball, RD, sports and lifestyle nutritionist at the Oscher's Clinic's Elmwood Fitness Center.
That's one reason it's almost always easiest to lose weight at the start of a diet, and harder later on, Kimball says: "When you are very overweight your metabolism is already running so high that any small cut in calories will result in an immediate loss."
Then, when you lose significant amounts of body fat and muscle, your body needs fewer calories to sustain itself, she says. That helps explain why it's so easy to regain weight after you've worked to lose it.
"If two people both weigh 250 pounds, and one got there by dieting down from 350 and the other one was always at 250, the one who got there by cutting calories is going to have a slower metabolism," says Yanagisawa. "That means they will require fewer calories to maintain their weight than the person who never went beyond 250 pounds
Revving Your Engine
Though some of the factors affecting metabolic rate can't be changed, happily, there are ways to maximize the metabolism you're born with -- even when you're dieting.
Among the best ways is exercise. This includes aerobic workouts to burn more calories in the short term, and weight training to build the muscles that will boost your metabolism in the long run.
"Since muscle burns more calories than fat -- even while at rest -- the more muscles you have, the higher your resting metabolic rate, which means the more calories your body will be burning just to sustain you," says Kimball.
Personal fitness trainer Kelli Calabrese MS, CSCS, ACE, notes that every pound of muscle in our bodies burns 35 calories a day, while each pound of fat burns just 2 calories per day.
While 30 minutes of aerobic exercise may burn more calories than 30 minutes of weight training, Calabrese says, "in the hours following the cessation of exercise, the weight training has a longer-lasting effect on boosting metabolism."
Having extra muscle also means you can eat more and gain less.
Adds Yanagisawa: "We don't tell people to exercise while dieting only to burn calories -- we also know that exercise builds muscle and that is what will help you burn more calories and maintain the weight loss you work so hard to achieve."
Some women fear they'll "bulk up" with weight training. But Calabrese, author of Feminine, Fit and Firm, says not to worry.
"Women don't have the hormones necessary to develop those huge muscles, so you can feel good about doing weight training," she says.
Eat More, Burn Better
Of course, the diet advice we'd all love to hear is "Eat more and lose more weight!" But what really works is "Eat more often, and you'll lose more weight." Small, but frequent, meals help keep your metabolism in high gear, and that means you'll burn more calories overall.
"When you put too many hours between meals, your metabolism actually slows down to compensate," says Kimball.
If you then eat a huge meal -- at the same time your metabolism is functioning as if you're starving -- your body wants to hold on to every calorie.
While this won't make much difference on an occasional basis, Kimball says, make it a way of life and it can get harder to lose or maintain weight.
Kimball's advice is borne out by the findings of a study that was presented at the 2005 annual meeting of the American College of Sports Medicine. Researchers from Georgia State University reported that when athletes ate snacks totaling about 250 calories each, three times a day, they had greater energy output then when they didn't snack.
The study also found that snacking helped the athletes eat less at each of their three regular meals. The final result was a higher metabolic rate, a lower caloric intake, and reduction in body fat.
From supermodels who douse their food with red pepper, to movie stars who swear by green tea, there's no shortage of claims for foods that are said to increase metabolism. But do any of them work?
"Actually, any food will increase your metabolism, mostly in the first hour after you eat -- that's when your system is most revved," says Kimball.
Further, she says, protein generally requires about 25% more energy to digest. So -- at least theoretically - a high-protein snack might rev metabolism a little more than a carb-heavy food with the same number of calories. That said, it's not clear that any food has special powers to boost metabolism significantly.
"Some studies have shown hot pepper and very spicy foods can increase metabolism by about 20% for about 30 minutes, but no one really knows if the extra burn lasts any longer than that, " says Kimball.
In a small study on Japanese women published in the British Journal of Nutrition, researchers found red pepper caused the body to heat up and revved the metabolism following a meal. But the most effects were seen primarily when the red pepper was eaten with high-fat foods (which are also higher in calories).
Another small study, published in the journal Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, reported that male athletes who added red pepper to high-carbohydrate meals boosted both their resting and active metabolic rates 30 minutes after the meal. But there was no evidence this burn power was lasting.
The same appears true for green tea, which contains a substance called EGCG (epigallocatechin gallate), a powerful antioxidant that some believe can bring about the same kind of calorie-burning effect as hot pepper.
In a study of 10 men published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, researchers found that 90 milligrams of EGCG and 50 milligrams of caffeine taken with meals boosted 24-hour energy expenditure by 4% (caffeine alone did not show a similar effect).
But it's not clear whether this effect would be enough to boost weight loss. And that, says Radbill, is precisely the point.
"Essentially, you would have to drink so much of it in order to see even a small effect, that I don't think it's really worth it," says Radbill. "Drink green tea for other health-giving properties, but not to lose weight."
The bottom line, she says, is this: "All these foods may have a slight impact on metabolism, but the increase is still insignificant compared to what you need in order to lose weight."
Your best bet for keeping metabolism revved: Build muscles, snack on low-calorie, high-protein foods, and keep moving!
Monday, September 20, 2010
Ways to Calm an Anxious Spirit* By Phylameana Lila Desy
Everyone feels anxious, nervous, or uncomfortably edgy sometimes. Here are a few suggestions of things you can do to help ease emotional upsets. Having a calming spirit can be achieved by noticing the imbalances in your body and mind and bringing them back into balance through changing your thoughts and actions.
1. Quiet Your Breathing
Observe Changes In Your Breathing - Whenever you are feeling the least bit anxious or nervous try to take notice of any changes in your breathing. Stress can cause hyperventilation (over-breathing). Quiet any rapid paced breaths by replacing them with steady and slow breaths. A daily meditation practice is helpful for maintaining healthy breathing and is also a good preventative measure for repressing anxieties.
2. Give Your Mind a Time Out
Clear Your Mind from Troubling Thoughts - Any time you are feeling anxious or suffering mentally it is helpful to temporarily clear your mind of all thoughts that are upsetting you. It is simply not healthy to focus on your problems 24/7. Guided visualizations are excellent mental escapes that can help you to switch your focus away from anything that is troubling you. Picture yourself in a special dream sequence where you can relax and recoup your coping skills. Choose an ocean view, desert oasis, or garden path.
3. Pamper Yourself
Pamper Your Mind, Body and Spirit - Remove yourself from the chaos and give yourself some quality alone time. Lock yourself in the bathroom and take that much needed soak in the tub. A bubble bath is your ticket to serenity. Enjoying a rejuvenating soak is just one of several ways you can pamper yourself. Try taking a solitary walk in the park, or curling up on the sofa and reading an entertaining novel.
4. Slow Down Your Responses
Get Your Ducks in a Row Before Reacting - Everyone has made the mistake of being over-the top reactive at one time or another. We compound our conflicts by responding without getting all the facts first. When it seems that the whole world is out to get you and you feel like lashing out right away... Wait! The situation at hand probably does call for a response of some kind, but please slow down your response. You'll handle a trying situation in a calmer state, and come to a resolution sooner if you take time to fully assess the situation. Get all your ducks in a row before you decide on a response.
5. Create Boundaries
Keep Your Distance from Others - You may need to step back and create some distance between yourself and anyone who is making you feel anxious. It is important to pull back from others when you are feeling overwhelmed so that you are able to reserve your energies. Having protective boundaries in place can also give you a different perspective in order to help you more fully understand and better cope with difficult situations.
6. Nurture Your Inner Child
Be a Loving Parent to Your Inner Child - Oftentimes when we, as adults, are experiencing situations that make us feel anxious or powerless our thoughts will turn to memories from our childhoods when we experienced fear or loneliness. When children feel small and helpless they look to their parents or guardian for protection. Take a moment to be a caring and loving parent to your inner child. Let her (or him) know that you will get the two of you through this rough period. Give yourself a hug. Don't feel silly. You know you want to, go ahead, just do it.
7. Hush That Critical Voice
Hush That Critical Voice Inside Your Head - Sadly, we can be our own worst enemies. Don't berate yourself for not being able to meet your goals or falling short in some way. You're doing the best you can. Just relax. Refuse to listen to that critical voice inside your head that says you're not good enough. Resolve to transform any nagging words into praise for those things that you have accomplished. You're doing just fine. Affirm yourself daily. You are PERFECT!
Cultivate the Postive!
8. Lean on Somebody
It is OK to Ask for Help - Trying to take care of everything all alone can make anyone feel anxious, not to mention exhausted. It can be more of a struggle never asking for a hand than you might have realized. Seek out that soft shoulder to lean on and give yourself a rest.
9. Take a Spiritual Retreat
Treat Your Spirit to a Spiritual Retreat - Taking a few minutes out of your hectic day for a mental reprieve or taking a half-hour bubble bath each evening are good stress relievers. But they are probably simply not going to be sufficient for easing those larger anxieties that are slowly eating you up inside. Everyone needs a change of pace to help bring balance to their lives. You may need to take an extended vacation from work, or feel you need go off by yourself away from family members for a few days to find solace. Whereas an ordinary vacation can bring about its own stresses, a spiritual retreat feeds the spirit. You'll come home refreshed and more readily able to face your day-do-day stresses.
Letting Go Affirmations . Release Yourself from Whatever is Holding Your Happiness Hostage
Let's face it, letting go can be hard to do. We try to hold onto people or stuff to feel important, to be loved, to ease our fears, or to hold tight to the illusion of being in control.
Are you are having difficulty letting of something, emotionally or otherwise? Are your possessions holding your happiness hostage? Are you trying to move past a hurtful relationship or situation? Perhaps you realize that hoarding "stuff" is no longer making you feel good yet you cannot quite get out of the habit of collecting more and more things.
Here are a few affirmations you can use to help shift your vision and set you onto a path toward a happier life and personal empowerment. Choose an affirmation that fits you, write it down on a sticky, plaster it onto your bathroom mirror or computer. Recite it at least once daily! Good luck "letting go" and freeing your inner being.
Letting Go Affirmation Statements
• I am worry free.
• I release all fears of not being perfect. I am good enough. I am perfect in my own way.
• I let go of all expectations. I am free to live the life I've dreamed.
• I let go of the need to control others. I allow others to make their own way.
• Possessions do not feed my spirit. I am liberated from the desire to hoard things.
• I give things away freely.
• I say goodbye to things in my life that are blocking my spiritual growth.
• I leave go of past relationships with love and clear my spirit of chains to the past to make way for new love to enter my life.
• I hold on to the positive memories from past relationships and leave go of the dark memories with love.
• I release! I let go! I coast along with my hands off the controls.
• I breathe freely without constraints. My energy flows without care alongside the wayward winds.
• The past is gone, the future uncertain. Today is now and I face it head on.
• I let go of my regrets. I am grateful for lessons my past missteps taught me.
• I release my chaotic monkey mind. My mind is clear of distractions. I am focused.
Spoken For by MercyMe
Take this world from me
I don't need it anymore
I am finally free
My heart is spoken for
Oh and I praise you
Oh and I worship you...
Covered by your love divine
Child of the risen Lord
To hear you say "This one's mine"
My heart is spoken for
And now I have a peace
That I've never known before
I find myself complete
My heart is spoken for
Oh and I praise you
Oh and I worship you...
By the power of the cross
You've taken what was lost
And made it fully yours
And I have been redeemed
By you that spoke to me
Now I am spoken for
Take this world from me
Don't need it anymore...
Sunday, September 19, 2010
Living in the Past by Larry Barber
God is the maker of all created reality, including the reality of our personal lives. God is a God of truth, who knows, understands, and can make statements that correspond to the reality of our personal lives. Since God is the God of all truth, an authentic follower of Jesus Christ will love not only God but also all truth that God knows and understands. Thus an authentic believer of Jesus will welcome all truth relevant to his personal life—be it regarding his mind and heart, his emotions, his thoughts, or his choices—that will help him live more obediently and more wisely before God.
Some Christians, however, are reluctant to look closely at their past. Frequently they interpret references to "being a new creature in Christ" and "forgetting what lies behind" as meaning that their personal past is in no way relevant to their new lives as believers. Consequently, they conclude that to explore their personal past would demonstrate a lack of faith in God.
However, a closer look at the context of the passages in which these references occur reveals that the apostle Paul is not excluding the relevance and importance of understanding both our individual histories and our internal beliefs. In the "new creature" passage (II Corinthians 5:11-19), Paul is making the case for the ongoing transformation of his motives, mindset, and actions that began at his conversion. He is not saying that his pre-conversion experiences are irrelevant. In the "forgetting what lies behind" passage of Philippians 3:1-21, Paul is discounting his past religious and moral achievements as well as his physical lineage as means of making himself worthy of God’s approval and justification, but he is not suggesting there is nothing helpful about learning from his past. In fact, in Philippians 3:6-9 and Galatians 1:13-14 Paul describes his past in not-so-glowing terms in order to explain more clearly the miraculous and radical effect the gospel and the work of God has had on him. The truth of his past helps him better understand his present, and the truth of his present helps him better understand his past.
If, in these passages, Paul, the divinely inspired author, is not discouraging his readers from looking at or learning from their past, why have some people interpreted them this way? One possible explanation is because exploring one’s past can be a very uncomfortable process, so much so that sincere Christians have used a misinterpretation of the Bible to substantiate the belief that their personal past is irrelevant.
As uncomfortable as the process of looking at our past might be, however, exploring and understanding the truth regarding our past may help us accurately interpret the present and live wisely in the future. All truth is God’s truth and worth knowing and understanding in an appropriate manner, especially as it relates to our personal lives and destinies.
The metaphor of a lens can help us think through the value of this process. We all perceive our personal lives through an internal lens, which is the set of beliefs we use to interpret reality. We construct this lens as we proceed through our lives, gathering data about ourselves and about the world around us. As Christians, we use two main sources of data to construct our lenses: (1) our life experiences with people (going back to childhood) and (2) the Bible. Both play significant roles in determining what we have come to believe about ourselves and the world around us. Through this set of beliefs, this lens, we interpret our current experiences and make choices that develop into our future.
The biggest problem with our personal lens is sin. Sin inextricably distorts our lens such that our perception of ourselves and the world around us can be severely blurred. Consequently, we can make very self-destructive choices that lead not only to considerable frustration and pain but, if unchecked by God’s grace, to divine condemnation in the next life. For example, in Luke 18:9-14 Jesus tells a parable "to certain ones who trusted in themselves that they were justified" before God. The parable describes a Pharisee whose sin has distorted his lens. Looking at himself through his corrupted lens wrongly informs him that he can make himself worthy of God’s blessing by his religious and moral pursuits. As a result, the Pharisee thanks God because he believes he is not sinful like other people. However, Jesus declares him arrogant and condemned before God. The Pharisee’s internal lens has distorted his perception such that he has viewed himself and his relationship to God inaccurately.
Sin can also blind us to the fact that our lens is distorted. Our natural rebelliousness against truth and reality often prevents us from closely examining our lens and challenging our beliefs. Even after becoming a Christian, when God has begun to reshape our lens by "opening our eyes" to the fact that we are sinners who desperately need His grace, we will still struggle with sin; sometimes we will still hide from the truth, especially the painful truth of seeing ourselves accurately. To know all relevant truth, we must not only study the Bible and examine the world around us, but we must also simultaneously examine our personal lives. Exploring the lens we use to interpret our experiences may involve an appropriate examination of our past in order to discover the specific nature and details of our beliefs. The more honestly and clearly we do so, the better able we will be to conform our lens to God’s truth from the Bible and to live more obediently and wisely before God.
In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus describes a hypocrite who is eager to remove the speck of dust from his brother’s eye but fails to notice the log that is in his own eye (Matthew 7:1-5). Because sin distorts the lens through which we interpret our life experiences, our sin can prevent us from viewing ourselves accurately while we think we see other people’s sin very accurately. The man with the log in his eye is self-deceived; the log of self-righteousness has distorted his perception of himself. Dealing with the log in our eyes can be very uncomfortable, and thus we naturally tend to avoid the internal conflict of seeing ourselves impartially. Fortunately though, God is gracious and committed not only to our noticing the log in our own eye, but also to our dealing with it in an honest and thorough manner; He is at work in our lives to give us "eyes to see" the truth about Him, about ourselves, and about others.
Because the work (and indeed it can be arduous labor) of exploring and challenging the lens that affects our decisions can be painfully overwhelming, some Christians choose to continue living with an inaccurate lens. But as believers in the gospel committed to all relevant truth, our personal comfort must be secondary to truth, even the truth of our past and our uncomfortable emotions. Jesus confronted this kind of resistance to truth when He said to the Pharisees in Luke 5:33-39, "No one after drinking old wine wishes for new, for he says, ‘The old is good enough.’" Jesus could just as easily have said, "No one after looking through a misshapen lens wishes to reshape it, for he says, ‘The existing shape is good enough.’"
Let me give an example of how one’s misshapen lens can affect one’s life. My Christian friend John believes from his childhood experiences that he is wholly unlovable and not valuable. His study of the Bible seems to confirm that he is unlovable because he is fundamentally a sinful rebel against God. But John also believes from his study of the Bible that God loves him according to His grace and considers him valuable enough that Jesus Christ died for him as an instrument of His mercy. Of course, John’s belief that God loves him should overwhelm his belief that he is unlovable, thus appropriately reshaping his internal lens. Unconsciously, however, John continues to respond to his beliefs from his childhood by overachieving in his job, in his marriage, and in his relationships with others. He does this because he believes that if he works hard enough in all these areas and performs well enough, God will consider him lovable and valuable on the basis of his performance.
In addition, he believes that if he performs well enough before God, God will reward him by (1) taking away his seemingly insatiable need for love and (2) relieving his depression and loneliness. But none of this has happened yet, and so John constantly redoubles his efforts and wonders why God has not fully rewarded him and why he still feels a lack of acceptance and approval from others and from himself.
John’s lens is distorted. He is unable to integrate his continued sinfulness with God’s constant love and grace towards him. His experientially-derived beliefs from childhood are colliding with his biblically-derived beliefs. In spite of his biblical belief in God’s gracious love, his internal belief that he is wholly unlovable and not valuable blurs his vision. He naturally responds to this belief by trying to prove himself valuable by working extra hard at being a good person. When he fails in any way to meet God’s standard of righteousness, he views himself as unlovable and not valuable and he descends into the depths of depression repeating the cycle over and over again.
John needs to seek the truth about himself. He may find it helpful to explore his past experiences and his present emotions as a means of discovering the genesis of his current blurred lens. Through this process, he may be able to challenge his false beliefs and compare them with what the Bible declares as true. Even though John may again act out of his false beliefs, this process may give him a better framework within which to understand himself and thereby take responsibility for his behavior as well as his motivations.
If, like John, we are unaware of our experientially-derived internal beliefs, then we may have difficulty knowing how these beliefs are interacting with our biblically-derived beliefs to shape our lens. For example, if I believe God is a loving and forgiving heavenly Father, but my childhood experience tells me fathers are hard and abusive, I might tend to relate to others and to myself on the basis of the latter and not the former. My experientially-derived beliefs may overwhelm my biblically-derived beliefs, especially when I relate to people in authority over me.
The past is relevant to the present and plays an important role in my building the lens through which I perceive and interpret life. Understanding the past and its effect on my lens can be a great help to me, not only in reshaping my lens, but also in living more obediently and wisely before God. Regrettably, some Christians believe that to explore in depth any painful past experiences is "living in the past" and an indicates a lack of faith in God. On the contrary, we live in the past when we resist understanding our experientially-derived beliefs and how they play themselves out in our lives. We can become stuck in destructive behaviors; for example, overachieving to gain God’s approval, which (1) leads to increased frustration and pain and (2) reinforces our erroneous belief that we are wholly unlovable and not valuable. With or without intention, we can fail to believe and trust God for what He is doing in our lives—namely, leading us away from being legalistic overachievers and towards being loving, biblical achievers.
Being open to the truth, including truth about our personal lives (past and present, inside and outside, experiential and biblical), is vital for our spiritual, mental, emotional, and psychological health now and our eternal well-being in the future. If our sin is preventing us from pursuing any aspect of this truth, we must repent, embrace God’s mercy, and forge ahead by His grace. No matter how difficult or painful any part of this truth-seeking process might be, whether with respect to our personal lives or to the Bible, seeking the truth is more important than our personal comfort and holding on to our preconceived notions.
Constantly pursuing truth in order to reshape our lens ultimately leads to authentic love for God and others and to eternal life.
Just pull up a chair and-exercise! Chair exercises are a gentle way to build muscle strength and stay flexible. These simple slow-moving exercises can also improve balance, increase metabolism, relieve pain and improve mental alertness. You can do as many or as few each day as your schedule allows. They're easy to learn, don't require any special equipment and can be done alone or in a group.
Things You'll Need:
• Sturdy chair on non-slip carpet
• Loose-fitting clothes
Exercise Your Hands, Arms and Shoulders
Begin your chair exercise routine by extending both arms in front of you, even with your shoulders, and wiggling your fingers. Do this for 20 seconds and return arms to your sides.
Close fists as if in a boxing position, and "box" the air, swinging arms in front of you. Do this for 20 seconds and return arms to your sides.
Lift your left hand over your head slowly and hold it there for 10 seconds. Return it to your side. Repeat the same movement with your right hand.
Do arm circles by extending arms straight out to your sides. Slowly rotate your arms forward 5 times, then rotate them backwards 5 times. Return arms to your sides.
Relax your shoulders, raise your arms and place your fingers on top of your shoulders. Gently rotate your arms forward 5 times, and then backward 5 times. Return arms to your sides.
Exercise Your Legs and Feet
Extend your legs straight out in front and wiggle your toes. Do this for 10 seconds and return to your normal position.
Sit up straight with legs in front and feet flat on the floor. Lift the heels of both feet and gently bounce them up and down 15 times.
Sit up straight and lift and extend your legs in front. Slowly cross one leg over the other while holding them in the air, and hold this position for 5 seconds. Reverse position and cross the other leg over. Hold for 5 seconds and return feet to the floor. Repeat the entire exercise 5 times.
Sit up straight and place feet flat on the floor at a slight angle. Slowly lift your toes up without lifting your heels from the floor. Repeat 10 times.
Sit up straight with legs in front and feet flat on the floor. Slowly raise and bend one leg and clasp knee in your hands. Hold for 5 seconds and return foot to the floor. Repeat with the other leg. Do this 5 times with each leg.
Exercise Your Lower Body
Sit up straight in the chair and extend both legs and both arms directly in front of you. Hold that position for 5 seconds and return to your normal position. Repeat 2 to 3 more times.
Stand straight and hold on to the back of your chair for balance. Slowly squat down, hold that position for 5 seconds, and return to your standing position. Repeat 3 to 5 times.
Sit up straight in your chair with feet resting on the floor at a slight angle. Place both hands on your thighs and slowly move forward and then backward while keeping your back as straight as possible. Repeat this 5 times.
Tips & Warnings
• If you have trouble standing for long periods or have difficulty balancing, then chair exercises are perfect for you.
• Do these exercises for the suggested time periods until you build up strength and stamina. Then you can increase the duration of each movement.
• Wear comfortable clothes that allow a full range of movement.
• Be sure to use a study chair (without arms) on a non-slip surface.
Weight Watchers 0 Point Tortilla Soup
• 1 cup onion, chopped
• 2 garlic cloves, chopped
• 3 green onions, chopped
• 2 (12 ounce) cans diced tomatoes
• 4 cups low-fat chicken broth
• 1/3 cup salsa
• 1/2 red pepper, chopped
• 1/2 green pepper, chopped
• 3 -4 celery ribs, chopped
• 1/3 cup fresh cilantro
• 1/2 teaspoon cumin
• 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
• 1/2 teaspoon basil
• 4 tablespoons fat free sour cream (to put on top when you serve it)
• 4 tablespoons flour, to thicken (I only use 1 because I don't like thick soup)
Directions: Prep Time: 5 mins Total Time: 35 mins
1. 1 Simmer onions, garlic & green onions in a pan until tender. Put all ingredients in a pot, simmer until all veggies are tender.
Serving Size: 1 (146 g) Servings Per Recipe: 9 Amount Per Serving % Daily Value Calories 57.3 Calories from Fat 3 27% Amount Per Serving % Daily Value Total Fat 0.4g 0% Saturated Fat 0.1g 0% Cholesterol 0.6mg 0% Sodium 241.1mg 10% Total Carbohydrate 12.7g 4% Dietary Fiber 2.2g 8% Protein 2.0% 4%
Photos: photos.net, newmarskehealthyeaters.co.uk, http://www.food.com/recipe/weight-watchers-0-point-tortilla-soup-152207
Tuesday, September 14, 2010
Letting Go and Living Well* By Sue Potter
As a child growing up I loved every aspect of the circus except the elephants. They were huge, ugly, smelly animals and I was afraid of them. When I was eleven years old I entered an interschool table tennis competition. My father, who was a champ at this game, spent many hours coaching and training me with his special skills and "moves" as he liked to call them. I aced each of my games and won the championship. That thrill and excitement over my victory turned to utter dismay when my Dad exclaimed: "My child, you have the brain of an elephant, you remembered everything I taught you and you used it to win!" In my mind, my Dad was comparing me to an elephant - a huge, ugly, smelly elephant. I was angry and I was hurt at his remark but never said a word until the next time he made that very analogy. I was seventeen and I emerged as one of the top three students in the national exams of my country. My father again remarked on my amazing memory and then I confronted him.
After I voiced my anger and hurt over his remark, my father explained that what he meant was elephants have an amazing brain and the capacity to retain things and I was like that - I remembered facts I had learnt, skills that were taught to me and I used them to excel at whatever I did. When I thought about it, I realized that my father was absolutely right but I also realized something else. While I retained educational knowledge exceptionally well, I also never readily forgot things that were said or done to me therefore I held on to unnecessary, painful memories. All those years I had held on to that anger and hurt not realizing that my father was actually praising me.
Over the years I've come to realize that while we feel we need to hold on to things and certain memories, good or bad, letting go - the ability to let something (or someone) be, the willingness to die, if we must, on behalf of life - is a healing skill. If we hold on to things and people, if we require guarantees, if we cling to life or aspects of life, then we do not live.
People have a hard time letting go of their suffering. Out of a fear of the unknown, they prefer suffering that is familiar. People stay in dead end jobs, abusive or loveless marriages and relationships never leaving the boundaries of their familiar surroundings. Why is it so hard to let go of things that no longer work? The devil you know is better than the one you don't know. People are willing to live a mediocre life for the safety it provides, but, what if we were guaranteed a positive outcome how would we choose to live our lives differently?
When we cling to life, we live half-heartedly, we become overly cautious, uncommitted, we waver at each fork in the road. By comparison, when we fully embrace life, we live all out - as if life mattered, as if we were prepared to die at any moment. We can become responsible choosers and know that we must pay the consequences of our choices.
If we are unwilling to accept the consequences of our actions and choices, we never really live. The one who stays in a dead-end job, an abusive or a loveless relationship because he or she fears change, lives only half a life. People who are vigorously engaged in life are less likely to experience the nameless fears or free-floating anxieties of those who live marginally, on the threshold but never completely in life. Only independent self-sufficient persons, realizing that there are risks to everything, choose freely to let go of fears, anxieties and insecurities, and then stand by their choices.
A few years ago my younger sister was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. She and her husband have one child from their marriage and he wanted more. For the sake of her health and perhaps her life, my sister made the choice to have a complete hysterectomy and to undergo chemotherapy. A few months after her operation and treatment she returned to her job as a bank manager. Everyone was concerned for her health that she would be taxing herself unnecessarily, they feared for her life. Then she chose to visit me and again everyone feared that the long journey would certainly finish her off. Only her husband was supportive. He knew that her work comprised a great deal of her life, that it meant independence, involvement and dignity for her. He knew also how close my sister and I were before I moved away and that we had not seen each other for over ten years. He supported her choice. They both knew she was taking a risk but as my sister said to me, "I love my life enough to live it meaningfully and I had to let go of my fears to be able to live and enjoy the simple things that mattered to me."
This is a true irony - to truly be, we must let go. The person who trusts, the one who has faith, lets go. People who meditate and pray understand this irony from experience. Before meditating, we must first calm our body and mind enough so that letting go is possible. Only then do we release all tension and strain but we cannot achieve this level of consciousness if we "try" to, or if we refuse to let go. To let go in this fashion, whether in meditation or in life, we must surrender to something beyond ourselves. Surrender, therefore, is our point of power.
Letting go is making certain choices. Choosing means letting go of the other possibility and what it could bring. We wish to lose weight, so we let go of all the comfort foods we indulge in and we choose to eat healthy so that we may live longer, healthier lives.
When we commit ourselves to something beyond ourselves - life itself, a particular work, idea or truth, a sacred value - we act out of the highest level of personal responsibility. Here we are somehow set free. The box we had become encased in, limiting us as persons, opens up and we experience our true humanity, our true life. Although no one has ever been able to say why this is so, miracles happen when we relinquish control and let go. That point of relinquishment is where we release our faith. Fear disappears and a higher quality of love takes over in our bodies and minds.
I believe that the concentration of a committed heart releases energy with curing, healing powers. Healing choices are committed, not forced choices, choosing to accept ourselves, choosing to live according to the highest standards of virtue or self-treatment, choosing to do battle with those who would undermine our life, choosing to abandon people and circumstances toxic to our well-being, choosing to live life on a higher level, means being in control of our lives and making healing choices with commitment. Commitment grounds us in love and is therefore capable of making us well.
By letting go we make choices that allow us to commit ourselves to all that is good in life.
Sunday, September 12, 2010
Are You Addicted to the Past? By Tom Ferry
Have you ever spoken to someone and thought, "Do they even know it's 2010?" because they're so stuck in the past.
We all know someone (maybe even YOU) who's not living in 2010. Maybe they're stuck in the old market, old economy, their old decisions, their old career, an old relationship. Maybe it's the person who's stuck in their good ol' school days, and don't even get me started on people with old technology!
As a business and life coach I deal with this "Addiction to one's Past" all the time. I recently took on a new client and asked her to "Tell me about your business, today." Her answer: "In 2005 my business generated x revenue... it was incredible... one of the best years of my life."
On and on she shared with me the story of that year. Including, how it was all taken away from her in '06, '07 and '08 as the market made adjustments and economy faltered. When I asked her "what significant changes and adjustments had you made in your business?" Her answers would shock you. She resisted change and made decisions often too late for the impact to be significant. It became more about "survival" and the constant battle in her head at night about "How did this happen to me?" and "How do I get my business back to 2005?"
Her story is all too familiar.
Do You Know Someone Who's STUCK in the Past?
Here's 6 Signs You Suffer from an Addiction to the Past
1. You Constantly Talk About the Past and the Way Things Used to Be
2. You Resist Change
3. You Continually Fail to Plan for a Better Future
4. You Argue for the Past that Things Used to Be Better
5. You've Allowed Relationships to Become Stale, Uninteresting and Without Passion
6. You have Physically or Mentally Peaked
Understanding--and letting go of--your past is the key to unlocking your future and greatest potential. Many of us live our lives stuck somewhere "back when," fixated on days--or people, or circumstances--gone by. For some it's a love lost, a regrettable choice made; for others, perhaps it's being unable to shake free from a sense of obligation to parents or friends who are holding them back. Maybe it's the lingering shame or guilt of something that happened in the past. Whatever it is, if you're living with the addiction to the past, it is absolutely holding you back from living your very best life.
The past is nothing more than a story we tell ourselves. Continuing to tell that story, verbally or non-verbally, eventually turns it into a reality. What you speak, you breathe life into things.
To some degree, we all suffer from the addiction to the past. Of course, some people are worse than others. If you've been to your high school reunion, you definitely recognized it there, right? You saw the star of your football team, the cool guy everyone wanted to be like that clearly peaked in high school 10, 20 or more years later. He's still walking around like he's the big man on campus.
When you look back on your life, what events do you recall having a tremendous impact on how your future was shaped?
Where in your life do you still feel a negative emotional tug?
Perhaps you long for an ex-lover, have unresolved issues with your family or live with some type of regret for past actions. Whatever it is, my advice is to get it cleaned up.
Cleaning up the past is the simple action of facing it. If you don't, you cannot find joy, won't find peace and won't have true happiness if you are firmly planted in old resentment, challenges, stories about your health, your vitality, your income and past relationships that have gone awry.
Getting over it isn't about forgetting. It is about accepting things for what they are. It's about coming to an understanding that what already happened doesn't need to be a part of your present or future. The only way I know to reconcile the past is to confront all of those areas of resistance in life. Have conversations with loved ones that start out by saying "you need to resolve something" and then have the courage to honestly speak what's on your mind.
You can write a letter or email to that person or can even address a particular situation. Some people choose to send their letters, while others write it just to express their feeling and get their emotions out in the open. If you don't want to send the letter, burn it. Light it on fire and let your negative attachment to the past turn to ash with the paper.
If you are still holding onto the day you were fired, rejected by a lover, did something wrong, had something wrong done to you, were hurt by someone or made a terrible mistake, you're haunted by those memories and are addicted to the past. If you think you're unhappy now, think about your life 10 years from now if you choose to do nothing and remain the same. Now amplify those feelings times 20 years. Knowing what you know about your past, are you willing to let it go and work toward planning a better future?
If your happiness isn't the reason to let go of your past, think about your family, your spouse, partner, boyfriend, girlfriend, children and friends. How have the events from your past impacted them? How you behave and act is what your kids will grow up emulating. By continuing to hold onto the past, not only are you destroying your own life, you are crushing the lives of all of those around you. If you choose to go down a path that is stuck in how your life used to be, the people around you will go down that path too.
Here's an exercise to help you zero in on how the past is impacting your life.
Write down a list of every person you feel you've wronged.
Write down a list of every person you own an apology to.
Make a list of everyone you feel has wronged you.
Write down a list of every person you feel you deserve an apology from.
If you want to be free from you past, let all of the people you named in the above exercise know how you feel. More times than not, you may be surprised that they have no idea what you're talking about. What made an indelible impression on you, turned out to be meaningless or of little concern to that other person. They simply had no clue you've been holding on to all of that negative emotion which ultimately weighed you down with self-created images of something that may or may not have happened.
The people who are really suffering and held up by their addiction to the past are those who cannot or choose not to see things for what they are. They only see their breakdowns, mediocrity and failures and relate them to those in the past. The benefit of freeing yourself from the past is that you will finally see things as they really are and not the perception of how you thought it was.
Letting go of your past empowers you to make new and better decisions for your future. There's a great advantage in knowing that.
So what old stories are you holding onto as true that are stopping you from living your best life -- By Design? How are these stories impacting your life? In what ways are they holding you back? And now that you are aware of them, what will you do to let go of those stories so that you can free yourself of those self-imposed traps?
I know, I know, I know... the past is SAFE! That's why people stay there. But really, in today's world and our current economy... we need to shake of the cobwebs from our past and get clear on the future's we want to create. And remember, Do It By design!
Saturday, September 11, 2010
Sometimes at night
When I am afraid
I cover my eyes,
I cover my shame
So here in the dark
Come with your light
And fill up my heart
CHORUS: Oh great light of the world
Fill up my soul
I'm half a man here
So come make me whole
Oh great light of the world
Come to impart
The light of your grace
To fill up my heart
The wind of this world
Can push us around
Folding us up
Backing us down
But here in the dark
I'm not alone
So come with your strength
And carry me home
The light of your grace
To fill up my heart
Faith and Worry* by Jack Crabtree
Being a parent, I have had my share of panic-stricken minutes as I waited anxiously to hear if my child was okay. Fear is natural. But fear is distressing. We would prefer never to experience fear. But fear is an inevitable part of human experience.
When confronting our fears, the most important truth we can acknowledge is that God is God, that is to say, that God is "the god." A "god" is a force within objective reality that shapes it by influencing the outcome of events. The Bible contends that, in the final analysis, there is only one god: Yahweh, the God of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Moses. Accordingly, we just call him "God." Nothing else in all of reality shapes the outcome of events independently of the will, purpose, and direction of God. There are many gods; many different things control the shape of our reality. Economics, politics, government, weather, terrorists, motorists—all of these things impact our lives. But none of them can determine the outcome of events in any way that God does not will. There are secondary gods, but there is only one primary God. All that happens to us is ultimately planned, purposed, and executed by Him. Accordingly, the basis for quelling our fears lies in our confidence that God will care for us, provide for us, and protect us. If God intends to protect us, nothing can harm us, for nothing can match His determinative control. He is God—the final authority on anything that can happen to us.
But is there any basis for such confidence? Can we believe that God intends our well-being rather than our harm? I think we can; but the basis upon which we can have such confidence is not as straightforward as some Christians might like to suggest.
Some Christians want to believe that God will allow no real harm to come to His children. If we love and obey Him, God will reward us with goodness and protection. God feeds the birds of the air, Jesus tells us. How much more will He feed us? God wants only good to come to us; goodness we can expect. We need not be afraid.
But this is not realistic biblical faith; this is wishful thinking. The God who feeds the birds also appoints cats to eat them. The God who clothes the wheat in the field also appoints the reaper to mow it down. Likewise, the God who protects our lives from harm also takes our lives from us when they have reached their predetermined ends. We cannot lengthen our lives when God has established their limits. And God has not promised to protect us from grief and sorrow in this life. Indeed, He has promised us that suffering and tribulation will be our lot: "If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you" (John 15:20); "For those whom the Lord loves He disciplines, and He scourges every son whom He receives" (Hebrews 12:6). No man loved and obeyed God more than Jesus, but his authentic piety did not induce God to protect him from the horribly unjust death he died. And if not Jesus, certainly not us. Nothing we know from the Bible can reasonably lead us to expect that we who are God's children are immune from harm and suffering. That simply is not the case.
So where does that leave us? Must we fear the God-ness of God, since God is not committed to our protection? No. And this is where Jesus' argument in Matthew 6:24-34 ("do not be anxious for tomorrow") is so important. Jesus is not suggesting there that God will never let anything bad happen to us. But he is suggesting something important about God. If we simply observe the pattern of God's control over His creation, we learn something crucial. Providential care and provision are the norm; harm and destruction are the exception. The reason natural disasters strike us as "evil" is because they so jarringly break the pattern of nature's provision and benevolence. If everyday we had a fifty-percent chance of some natural disaster harming us, would we be as shocked and horrified at natural disaster as we are? I don't think so; it would simply be a normal, accepted part of our existence: we might live today; we might die today; either is equally possible. But that is not what we experience nor expect. We plan for the future as if we will live and thrive because, most likely, we will.
Jesus' argument pertains to human cruelty as surely as it does to natural disaster. Horrible, senseless, unspeakable acts of human cruelty occur—in a reality God created. To explore how God's goodness can coexist consistently with such horrendous evil and perversion is outside the scope of this short article, but I believe it does. Suffice it to say that victimization at the hands of human evil is just as exceptional as victimization through natural disaster. We cannot rationally expect to be killed, tortured, or raped. It may happen, but it is not the norm; it is the exception.
So, experience teaches us that God's typical stance toward us is to protect, to provide, to nurture, and to care for us. God deviates from this pattern only when He has some other purpose in mind. We suffer when God, in His wisdom, wants to accomplish something constructive in our lives through that suffering. Then and only then does God break the pattern of His generally benevolent providence. This, then, is the basis for our confidence: the God who is God (who totally controls all that happens to us) is typically committed to caring for us and protecting us; and if He acts toward us atypically (to visit us with tribulation), then He does so to do some other and more necessary good for us.
Misplaced priorities can prevent this confidence from quelling our fears. Luke (12:4-5) records that Jesus said to his disciples, "I say to you, my friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body and after that have no more that they can do. But I will warn you whom to fear: fear the One who, after He has killed, has authority to cast into hell; yes, I tell you, fear Him!" Jesus is seriously proposing this as a reason not to fear other men. The worst thing they can possibly do is KILL us; so why fear them?! But we will fail to comprehend the force of Jesus' argument if our priorities are not in order. Indeed, if we think that losing our lives is the ultimate tragedy, we will fear other men because they have the power to rob us of life. But we should not have such a perspective, not if we understand the biblical worldview. Ultimately, there is only one real tragedy in human existence: that our existences should end in destruction rather than eternal Life. But if we love God, God is unexceptionally committed to preserving our souls to eternal life. God may not protect us from physical and material harm, but He is unfailingly committed to protecting us from spiritual harm. If our priorities are God's priorities and our values are His values, then this truth is of the utmost value in confronting our fears. We need not fear because no possible harm of any consequence can come to us. God is for us!
All this is fine and good. We can grasp these perspectives with our intellect. But for many of us, doing so does not stop the worrying. How do we stop worrying when our anxiety seems to be out of our control?
I do believe that the ultimate antidote to worry is a conviction that the things outlined above are true. It is not enough, however, to acknowledge that the theology of what I outlined is coherent and intellectually compelling. To believe something with one's intellect is one thing; it is another to believe it from the core of one's being, that is, to define one's very existence by its truth. But that is what we must do if we are to find respite from our fears. From the core of our beings, we must take it as given that God will keep us from all ultimate harm whatsoever and from all temporal harm except that which He ordains for a greater good. If we can truly accept this, there will be no room for fear.
How do we believe this truth from the core of our beings? How do we allow it to define our very existences? Ah, there's the rub. I know of no easy way. It is the difficult, life-changing choice that every person must face. No one can make the choice for us. No one can remove the need to choose. No one can supply a technique that will turn my stubborn refusal to believe into belief. Each of us, alone, must face this choice and make it. Either we will accept the reality of God's goodness and care, finding respite from our fears, or we will refuse to do so, insisting on our fears.
But even if we accept the reality of God's care, an obstacle to rest remains: our imaginations. Most of the fears that truly haunt us are phantoms, specters conjured out of nowhere by our creative imaginations. The imagination is one of God's most magnificent—but dangerous—gifts to us. If we take our imaginations more seriously than we ought, then they can do us great harm. Our fears are a case in point. Our creative imaginations serve up all kinds of horrific scenarios, encouraging us to respond irrationally, as if these scenarios represented reality. When we do so, fear paralyzes us.
How do we quiet our imaginations? We may not be able to quiet them altogether, but we need not heed them. Christian faith bids us to acknowledge reality and to shun fantasy in all its forms. The unbeliever escapes into his fantasies; the believer tenaciously clings to reality because to credit fantasy is sin. While fantasy can be innocent enough as entertainment, it should never, in any form, serve as the basis for our choices—not for our physical actions nor for our emotional reactions. It is simply wrong to respond in fear to something our imaginations have served up; to grant a degree of substance to our imaginations that they do not rightly possess is sin. Therefore, to fear what it is not rational to fear is sin.
Fear is natural. We are limited, relatively powerless, finite creatures. We are also sinners who tend to credit the flights of our imaginations with more substance than is due them. So fear is perfectly understandable. But, for those of us who are striving to know God and to live our lives in the light of His truth, it is incumbent upon us to confront our fears with the truth about God: God is always working in our lives to bring about what is good, and usually that means He will provide, protect, and care for us. If we believe this is true about God, then although we will still experience fear, it will neither paralyze nor rule us.
15 Quick Tips For People Who Don’t Like To Exercise
by Susie Cortright
We've all had days when we don't have the energy to tie our athletic shoes, let alone bounce around in them. But exercise can give a daily blast to your mind, body, and soul.
Here are fifteen quick tips to get you moving:
1. Don't get intimidated by the prospect of a daily exercise regimen. You don't have to run a marathon. You need only get your body moving each day. Once you tone your muscles, you'll naturally find yourself wanting to do more challenging workouts.
2. Reframe the way you think about exercise. Begin to think of each workout as a gift you give to yourself instead of just another "should," "ought," or "must."
3. Make sure you enjoy your exercise program. Some people like classes. Some people don't. Choose what's right for you so it becomes something you actually look forward to.
4. Make sure your workout is convenient. Schedule it for a time of day when you typically feel the most energetic. Have your gym bag packed and ready to go by the door or in the car.
5. Make your workout weather-proof. If you run or walk outside, get the right workout gear so weather conditions are never an excuse.
6. Make sure you're doing it right. One reason for wanting to quit exercising is injury or pain. Check with your doctor before you start an exercise program so you know you're safe in the workout you choose. And check in with trainers, too, if you're working on equipment at the gym or trying a new sport.
7. If you're having a low-energy day, tell yourself you have to exercise for only ten minutes. That will get you moving, and once you're in the exercise groove, you'll usually want to finish your workout.
8. Go with friends. Start a group for walking, running, or training. The camaraderie (and peer pressure) can do wonders for your daily motivation.
9. After a really good workout, write a few notes in your journal about how good you feel. Use it as a reference the next time you don't want to begin.
10. Start with small goals. If you want to run for 30 minutes, for example, start by walking fast. When you can do that, make a goal to spend those 30 minutes running for one minute, walking for one minute. When you build on these smaller goals, you'll be running in no time. And you'll give your confidence a boost, too.
11. Recognize that some days it will be easier to exercise, and some days you'll have to struggle through the workout. This has to do with a lot of factors, including mood, hormones, the glass of wine you had last night... Take the pressure off by understanding the fluctations. And exercise anyway.
12. Try behavior modification tapes. Mike Brescia has a good one for exercising here: http://www.momscape.com/thinkrightnow/exercising.htm. This audiotape is not self-hypnotizing or subliminal. You'll hear every message, but these messages are subtle and, for many people, effective.
13. Use a visible reward system. The effects of exercise are cumulative and long-term, so sometimes it helps to see your results on a daily basis. After each workout, put a big red star on the calendar as a symbol that you completed the day's workout. Take photos of yourself every month in your workout gear so you have a visual record of your results, too.
14. Get to the bottom of your exercise aversion. For women, if it's the run-of-the-mill gym you can't stand, try a women-oriented fitness center, such as Curves. This is a fast-growing fitness phenomenon, and many women feel like their workout becomes a 30-minute vacation--like a girls' night out at the exercise machines.
15. Be gentle with yourself. Take a day off at least once a week. And if you do skip a few workouts, don't beat yourself up, but do get right back in the routine. The fewer consecutive days you skip, the more likely you'll be to make your workout a lasting gift you give to yourself.
Great Greens for Health, Heart, and Head
by author Vincent Ziccarelli, RDN
Eating an abundance of fruit and vegetables may reduce cancer incidence by up to 50 percent. In fact, consuming more unprocessed plant food prevents the onset of many diseases, including cardiovascular disease, diabetes and its complications, obesity, and arthritis.
Even conventional health authorities recognize the invaluable benefits of eating our fruits and veggies. They recommend we eat up to 10 or more servings daily of these important foods. Nevertheless, most people consume only two to three servings daily, far from the amount needed for health protection.
Loads of Health Protection
Plant foods, including fruit, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes, are rich in vitamins, minerals, essential fats, and dietary fibre, all important nutritional components essential to our nutrition. The rich levels of dietary antioxidants in these foods appear to play a particularly important role in warding off degenerative diseases.
Antioxidants are Age Inhibitors
A free radical is a highly reactive molecule with an unpaired electron at its orbital. Consequently it is unstable and may potentially react with and damage any cell, tissue, or organ.
Our bodies naturally produce free radicals such as singlet oxygen, superoxide radicals, nitric oxide, and peroxyl radical as a byproduct of metabolism, immune responses, and other physiological reactions. Free radicals serve important roles within our bodies at a normal physiological level. For example, our immune cells release free radicals to destroy infections or viruses that have invaded our bodies and help with immune defences.
Fortunately, over millions of years the human body has evolved natural antioxidant systems to help deal with naturally produced free radicals and keep them in check, preventing them from damaging healthy cells and tissues. These systems include copper- and zinc-dependent superoxide dismutase, selenium-dependent glutathione peroxidase, catalase, uric acid, albumin, and other plasma proteins that bind trace elements.
However, the number of external free radicals found in the environment is rising dramatically. UV radiation, pollution, cigarette smoke, and pesticides all cause excess environmental exposure to free radicals. Also known as oxidants, they exhaust our supply of internal antioxidants and put our bodies at increased risk of oxidative stress.
Simply put, oxidative stress causes the cells, tissues, and organs to age more quickly, which may speed the development of many diseases. Oxidative stress increases the risk for many cancers, cardiovascular disease, arthritis, diabetes complications, and even Alzheimer’s. Virtually every disease may have some connection to higher levels of oxidative stress.
Antioxidants As Radical Check
Dietary antioxidants support our internal antioxidant defences against free radical damage. As environmental oxidants increase, these low molecular weight phytonutrients become increasingly important. Dietary antioxidants found chiefly in plant foods include vitamins C and E, beta-carotene, lycopene, zinc, selenium, and magnesium.
They also include a multitude of phytochemicals, the natural pigments found in plant food that not only act as a built-in shield to resist disease but give plants their characteristic colours, flavours, and aromas. Thousands of phytochemicals exist in plant foods, including chlorophyll, beta-carotene, lycopene, proanthocyanidins, catechins, ferulic acid, and lutein. These phytochemicals exert potent antioxidant properties that may be much stronger than the commonly known antioxidant vitamins C and E.
Zinc is an essential mineral needed to activate an important antioxidant blood enzyme called copper-zinc dependent superoxide dismutase. This enzyme is responsible for quenching the superoxide free radical, thereby reducing oxidative stress. A low dietary intake of zinc has been found to depress the activities of this antioxidant enzyme.
High-quality green food concentrate supplements may support antioxidant defences. A clinical trial to evaluate the antioxidant potential of a high-quality plant food concentrate was published in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition in 2003. It found that supplemental intake of greens significantly increases the activity of the antioxidant enzyme superoxide dismutase, increases plasma levels of the antioxidant mineral zinc, and reduces the levels of lipid oxidation in the majority of participants.
In line with the improvements in antioxidants in the body, total plasma cholesterol and LDL cholesterol levels were significantly reduced while the ratio of HDL (good) cholesterol to LDL (bad) cholesterol had improved. The cholesterol-modifying effects most likely resulted from the rich levels of water soluble fibre and the phytosterols contained within the supplement.
Interestingly, these results were found after only four weeks of supplementation, suggesting that green food supplements may help to improve antioxidant status and reduce cholesterol levels. Future long-term studies are warranted to further elucidate the health potential of plant food concentrates.
The Take-Home Message
So what does this mean? First and foremost: start consuming more plant food on a daily basis. Load your shopping cart with organically-grown fruits and vegetables, choosing a variety of super-antioxidant vegetables such as broccoli, kale, spinach, cauliflower, tomatoes, carrots, romaine lettuce, garlic, onions, and sweet potatoes. Aim for at least five servings daily. Also, start eating a minimum of three daily servings of antioxidant-rich fruit such as blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, oranges, limes, grapefruit, and grapes. Select beverages such as green, black, or white teas, which are rich in super- antioxidant phenolic compounds. Last but not least, consider sensible supplementation with a high-quality green food supplement.
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Tuesday, September 7, 2010
Don’t Let Worry Kill Your Faith*
Let me ask you something. Is worry a sin? When you worry, are you going against God and His will?
Well, let’s look at the Bible, God’s Holy Word, and see what it says. In Romans 14:23 it says that anything that is not of faith is sin. Now, let me ask you another question. When you worry, are you in faith? Well, the answer is NO! You cannot be in worry and faith at the same time. Let me explain.
Worry, a type of fear, is the opposite of faith. In the English language we have words that have opposite meanings. If I were to ask you the opposite of hot, you would immediately say cold. If I asked you the opposite of up, you would quickly say down. If I asked you the opposite east, you would immediately say west. Why? Because they are opposites. They are not only opposed to each other, they can not exist together at the same time. If I asked you to face east, you could not be facing wes t at the same time. Why? It’s impossible. They are opposites.
Sometimes when you translate from one language to another, the meaning can be lost or changed slightly. That’s the case with worry. In the Hebrew language, the opposite of worry is faith. Remember, worry is a type of fear.
In the same way that you cannot be going up and down at the same time, because they are opposites, you cannot be in worry and be in faith at the same time. When you are in faith, you are not in worry. And when you are in worry, you are not in faith.
Several times in Jesus’ famous “Sermon on the Mount,” He addressed the subject of worry. In Matthew chapter 6, verses 25, 27, 28, 31 and 34, Jesus commanded us to not worry.
When Jesus commanded us over and over again in Matthew 6 to not worry, He knew that worry would kill our faith. Is that so bad to have dead faith? After all who needs faith anyway?
In Ephesians 2:8, the Bible says we are saved through faith. In James 5:15, the Bible says the prayer of faith will heal the sick. In Hebrews 11:6, the Bible says that without faith it is impossible to please God.
In James 1:6 we are told that if we want wisdom, all we have to do is ask, but if we don’t ask in faith, the Bible says in verse 6, we won’t get anything. And in Romans 14:23 it says that anything that is not of faith is sin.
So, who needs faith? According to the Bible, God’s Holy Word, those who want to be saved, healed, who want wisdom, who want to please God and who want to stay out of sin need faith. To me that makes faith extremely important and it also explains why Satan hates it.
Worry is a tool of Satan. He knows that if he can get you to worry, you will not be in faith. When you are not in faith, you will be ineffective as a Christian. So, today I will tell you the same thing Jesus did. Do not worry. No matter how bad things look, be in faith and not in worry. If we really believe God, then there’s nothing to worry about anyway, right?
Remember, as Christians we walk by faith and not by what we see. So when things look bad, look through the eyes of faith and worry will flee.
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