One Key “Nutrient” No Child Should Do Without

Article written by LaTricia Morris, CIWC  LaTricia Morris is an Integrative Wellness Counselor, Writer, Author, Illustrator & the Founder of See Kids Thrive. LaTricia is an avid-health enthusiast committed to helping families like yours maximize their life potential and realize their greatet dreams.

When talking about health, nutrition and wellness, we can get so caught up in micromanaging each nutrient, afraid of the ramifications of not getting enough protein (which is so ridiculously rare in our country) or not getting enough magnesium or calcium.  However, there is one factor that probably couldn’t be more critical to a child’s development yet receives so little attention.

While we’ve all heard about the importance omega 3’s in brain development, maybe even about the connection between B vitamins and stress, we hear very little about one intangible factor that can directly hinder or boost our children’s capacity to grow, learn and thrive:  Joy.

When the brain is in a state of fear or in “fight or flight” mode, it is wired for survival and cannot retain information as readily as when it is in a relaxed, peaceful, joyful state.  Not only does negativity impair learning but it also weakens the immune system and primes the body for sickness and disease while positivity possesses the power to enhance resilience.  Joy isn’t just desirable, it’s medicinal.

Scientists and researchers have been dedicating much energy and effort in helping us understand how joy and positivity effect brain development and function.  While many have understood that what we think effects the way we feel, science is now proving that what and how we think directly alters the terrain of the brain.

That’s right – positivity & negativity directly affect how the proteins in the brain form and trigger the release of stress-related chemicals in the body.  Toxic thinking puts a lot of wear and tear on the brain.  Chronic low-joy environments not only reduce children’s capacity to enjoy life but they also impair their learning ability.  If that in itself isn’t incredible, it has also been found that how we think also affects activation of DNA and the resulting genetic expression.

Without getting too technical here, what we’ve learned is that health is not determined by heredity.  Heredity is not destiny but rather a genetic predisposition.  How we eat and how we think play the greatest roles in determining whether heredity becomes our reality.  When we indulge in toxic thinking, the signals being sent from our brains into our bodies that activates disease-promoting DNA.

The beauty of this is that as we learn to gear ourselves toward positivity, we simultaneously boost our immunity, growth and overall state of wellness.  Joy increases our children’s capacity to learn, to be creative and to function efficiently – all factors that support success in their education and careers.

Happiness vs. Joy

So often, we confuse happiness with joy and cater to the constant demand for more happiness.  Americans plow each other over in hopes of getting their hands on the latest and greatest gadgets just to see that smile on children’s faces when they take hold of it.  Yet, we also see many parents stressed to the max who are otherwise failing to make the genuine connections with their children that they so desperately need.

We see a smile when we let them do this or have that but often fail to see where those smiles are but a mask concealing deep hurt and hunger.  The things we say and do that seem so small to us often speak volumes to our children.  Some parents believe they’re giving their children “everything” because they buy them virtually everything they want but are completely blind to the many ways they tear the child down through words and actions – constant disappointment in the child, ignoring the child, name-calling…the list could go on.

So many families are foregoing family meals or struggling to engage in genuine conversation.  Go to any restaurant and you’re sure to easily see tables full of family where there’s little interaction as each is too distracted by cell phones and social media to truly appreciate the people they have sitting right next to and across from them.  How about enjoying “Family Movie Nights” where no one looks at or talks to each other but still call it “quality time.”  Don’t get me wrong, we love movies too but we also have to see the difference between family time and group entertainment.

People have spent so much time developing gadgets and gizmos to help us accomplish tasks more quickly in hopes of having more time for family.  Yet, live in a day where all that convenience so easily paves the way for more distraction from those that should matter the most.  We let comments and replies nickel and dime our time to the point of regularly losing hours of precious memories we’ll never have the opportunity to get back.

In this, we not only rob ourselves but our children as well as so many of them are now being primed for a lifetime of joy-less distraction.

Low-joy environments are not only linked to a decreased learning capacity but also to an increase in toxic behavior such as promiscuity and drug addiction.  A person deficient in joy is substantially more likely to seek to supplement with pseudo-joy, false-positives and other things that trigger temporary feelings of happiness.

Joy.  Love.  Sincerity. 

These are things I believe we really have to take back and impart upon our children if we wish to see prosperity accompany the generations to follow.

As parents, we have a great tendency to place a great emphasis on reshaping the conditions in which our children will grow up.  Having grown up considerably poor, I can absolutely relate to the desire to give my kids more than what we had as children.  However, when we get so caught up in giving them the advantage in terms of resources and material comforts, we often fail to miss where they may be moving forward with one of the greatest disadvantages of them all.

Where Joy Can Be Found

Learning all of this and more demanded that I put more thought into my own parenting while my children were still very small.  I had to start making conscious connections, seeing where I could be a real joy-killer when I hit that wall and just needed one stinkin’ moment of silence.  I see where I have to make a steady effort toward making genuine joyful connections with my children and to not steal their joy when I can’t seem to find my own.  The awesome thing is that in doing so, their natural tendencies toward joy, when nurtured, can promote joy in those around them.  Sometimes all it takes to hit that “reset” button on the day is slowing down for a moment to take them up into my arm and reaffirm my affections.

The greatest joy is imparted through acts and expressions of genuine love.  Giving a child a gift isn’t a bad thing.  Gifts are considered one of “the 5 love languages.”  By all means, gift away but realize and help children see that gifts are not a measure of love and affection but only a demonstration of it.

Generating joy need not be expensive or even strenuous.  It merely involves a little extra time and the expression of your genuine affections.  Joy feeds off of joy and children are already excellent joy-generators.  Enjoy jokes, crafts and tickle time.  Enjoy multi-generational interaction.  Break out board or card games like people actually used to do before everything went digital.  Don’t just eat dinner together, make dinner together and enjoy making memories in the process.  As parents sow the seeds of love, our children reap harvests of joy.

While I absolutely appreciate the critical role of sound nutrition in child development, I’ve become increasingly convinced that little can have such an impact on the “Success Story” of their lives as love and joy.  Joy is precious, invaluable and free.  It is something so many are desperately lacking which we can all so readily give.  Anybody can change another person’s life.  Be the kind of person that changes it for the better.

Be sure to SHARE this article with friends and family as we work together to reshape the future for our children and the many generations their lives will impact.


From Past to Precious Stones

There are many times I wonder what it would be like to come from a place of growing up in relationship with Christ.  I see some who fell in love with Jesus at an early age and have never really fallen out.  Not to say they’ve been perfect, as none of us are, but I think there is much to be admired in those who’ve remained faithful against all odds.  How often I wish I didn’t have the regrets of the life I once lived and the attitudes/inclinations I still sometimes fall into.  How much I wish certain spans of my life just didn’t happen, yet they did.  Things were done, words were said, things that should have never been were built up in my life.  Oh, to have a past that would be a joy to retell.  

How many times I’ve recounted and repented for so much of my past and marvel at the mercies extended to me in the present.  I didn’t deserve the life I now live yet He’s freely given it and every day, despite the challenges and even wrestling with self I still have to do, He makes it all the better.  An incredible family, a home in the promised land, promises of God ever being fulfilled before my very eyes and its marvelous beyond words.  Even aside from the numerous tangible gifts, He pours out a comfort and the assurance of always having Him to look forward to, lean on and trust with everything in my life.  

Is it not incredible to you that Jesus actually secured a way that would strip off every hindrance, tear down every barrier and abolish every excuse we could ever have for not living an incredible, rich and abundant life in His presence?  It’s just dumbfounding that I could look with horror on decades of my life as he gently presses my chin, turning my head and resetting my gaze onto a future for me that He looks at with joy.

It’s easy to wonder “how could God want me?” Yet, every word, every action, every promise makes the truth of His desire to have us all to His own, undeniable.  …and not only to have us but to build in us something great.

“I will make your battlements of rubies, your gates of sparkling jewels, and all your walls of precious stones.”  (Isaiah 54:12)

Before Christ, we worked and strived to build our own lives in a way that seems pleasing to us.  At times, we erect strong timbers and hand pick the finest woods to piece together the vision of the life we want to live.  At others, we find ourselves grasping at straws, patching holes in what we’ve built with scraps and cardboard, trying to keep the rain out.

Having been built on the wrong foundation to begin with, it can never truly be trusted, so God, in His goodness and grace, often has to take us through seasons where we feel like the walls are being torn down and crumbling around us.  In these times, we can feel as though we are being punished for the lives we’ve lived, as though God has set Himself against us.  We struggle to see His mercy at work when it all comes down, when, really, He would be justified in leaving us to what our own hands have built.  Yet, He doesn’t.

He doesn’t leave us.  He doesn’t watch and laugh as we struggle and fail a thousand times over.  No.  He comes to our aid and sets out to build something of real, true value in our lives – something beautiful and lasting.  To mount those rubies on walls of wood, it would all come down.  What our hands have built could never support the weight of what God is building in our lives.  But, there has to be a removal of the old to provide a clearing for what’s to come.

Our God is all-in for those who are in it for Him.  He has always been all-in for us.  Not a single action of God contradicts that.  Every move and work of God only underscores that truth.  He has withheld no good thing from us but has given everything that we would get to know Him.

So, when the things of this world are fading away in our lives and the pain and discomfort of saying “goodbye” to things and places that, at one point were all we had known, seems nigh unbearable, we can muster up within us joy and hope.  Yes, joy and hope.  It is not in God’s nature to leave the ground barren and unfruitful or to leave a life in rubble.   No.  God builds.  God restores.  God heals.  God makes whole.  What an incredible gift it is that because of Jesus, those but willing to submit to His work in their lives will not enter heaven as one barely escaping the flames, seeing the sum of everything else in their lives come to nothing, but that we would come into His presence with a life lived as a gift to Him.  (1 Corinthians 3:10-14)

I don’t know about you but I don’t want to live the kind of life God would have to choose to forget in granting me passage into His kingdom.  I want my life to be a joy for Him to recount – my “THANK YOU!” for all He is and all He’s done for me.

“See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!”  (‭‭1 John‬ ‭3:1‬a )

Why Christians SHOULD Be the Fittest People on the Planet Yet So Many of Them Aren’t

By LaTricia Morris, Author, Illustrator, Integrative Wellness Counselor and the Founder of Eden Life Ministries and See Kids Thrive

I know the title here may sound a bit like a bold statement but the reality is, those who’ve been redeemed by Christ and received the full measure of what He’s done for us should be the healthiest, most vibrant people you’ve ever seen.  I think one of the great testimonies to our faith is how God has given us the ability to live an abundant life, walking in wellness and joy.  Yet, too often, even when we’re willing to believe that’s His desire for others, we struggle to believe it’s His desire for us.

Is that you?

Maybe it’s just me but I get incredibly upset seeing Christians – young Christians with decades of powerful living ahead of them – miss it because they’ve settled for less than Christ’s vision for them, especially where they’ve fallen prey to modern/worldly living that’s slowly killing them.

The Word says that we’ve been given the choice – life or death, blessings or curses (Deut. 30).  God says “choose life that you and your children may live.”  We have been granted freedom but too often we use that freedom as a cover up for a lack of personal responsibility and discipline.  

Yes, we are totally free to gorge ourselves full of BonBons and Bacon Cheeseburgers but as we understand that our bodies were not created for our own indulgence and we start to process the reality of what those foods do to us, do we honestly believe that way of living resonates at all with the plans and the call God has on our lives?  I’d argue a VERY LOUD “ABSOLUTELY NOT!”

While there are many things that have held us captive in our health (and believe me, I have every intention of tackling them in the time ahead), there are several acts we need to catch ourselves in so we can turn the tables on our health and consequently become more powerful and effective in every other area of our lives.  That’s not to say we have to be perfect but we should be doing the best we can with what we’ve been given.

I typically try to keep my writing a little more upbeat and really hope you guys don’t think I’m out to give anyone a word-lashing, but I really feel like these are some key points we, as the Church, need to rethink and I don’t really know how else to approach it but head-on.  Sugar-coating it, playing victim and patting ourselves on the back about it isn’t helping!

I look forward to every opportunity to encourage and uplift here but we have got to be willing to catch ourselves in these traps so we can learn to avoid them in the future, freeing us to embrace an incredible life.

Dr. Caroline Leaf consistently reiterates the importance of being “transformed by the renewing of the mind.”  We have to change our mind before we change our behavior and today we’re doing just that.

1. We abuse the privileges granted in Scripture.

Got a Christian that doesn’t want to exercise?  You just might hear:  “For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come.”  (1 Timothy 4:8)  

Note, this passage doesn’t say physical training is of no value.  It merely reminds us of the priorities we ought to have – godliness is of more value than speed or brute strength.  Physical training is good for this lifetime but spiritual training is good for eternity.

Maybe you have somebody who wants to eat whatever they want to eat and they don’t want to hear a thing about it…  They might say, “Therefore do not let anyone judge you by what you eat or drink, or with regard to a religious festival, a New Moon celebration or a Sabbath day.”  (Colossians 2:16)

 

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And I cannot tell you how many times I’ve been asked about passages in which God declared “all foods clean.”  {Yes, He declared them “clean” in that what we eat has no bearings on our spiritual status.  A rack of ribs will not disqualify from entering His presence but that doesn’t change the scavenger nature of the animal it came from. }

The thing is, the issue here is not about holiness and sanctification to which these passages are referring – the issue hereis stewardship.  God set the record straight with Peter because the food laws of the Jewish people were serving as a barrier keeping people from hearing the Gospel.  It was creating division amongst a people God intended to be united.  However, this was not to say that all foods are equal in terms of our health. 

While we are free from sin and the bondage that comes with rigid legalism, we are not exempt from biological cause and effect.

We can totally acknowledge the importance of demonstrating good stewardship over our finances and even in not being wasteful with things like food.  We understand that as good stewards, we should care for our environments, taking good care of the gifts God has granted and striving to be wise with the resources He’s given us, using what He’s provided to advance His kingdom and live a life that brings Him praise.  

Now, maybe my view is a little less conventional here but hear me out.  

We only get ONE body and that ONE body is our “earth suit” in which we walk out the entirety of our lifetime.  That ONE body, can be a great gift to you OR it can be the source of some of your greatest burdens.  By and large, that choice is up to you.  While I don’t claim to know the answer as to why some people never see the fullness of healing here on earth or why some people are born with disabilities we do not yet have an answer to, the evidence is increasingly clear that MOST people could be living an incredibly vibrant life ifthey were but willing to seek God’s wisdom, pray it through, and align their lives with that desire.   

Yes, you have every right to eat processed foods that destroy your body and eventually lead to disease.  But, as Paul says “‘I have the right to do anything,’ you say–but not everything is beneficial. ‘I have the right to do anything’-but I will not be mastered by anything.” (1 Cor. 6:12)   

At some point, we have to realize that our determination to eat the foods that result in death and disease is not a measure of freedom but rather a form of bondage.  If you do something you know you ought not (especially where you know you really don’t want the results inherent to it), you are not walking in freedom but enslavement to something the enemy will, if given the opportunity, use to destroy you.

Pray God would help you see His plan for you in this area and that He would give you the scriptures and support to help you realize it.  

2. We take the gift for granted.

I know it may not seem overly profound to put it this way but in a great way, I think we should walk in the gifts we have with gratitude, rather than tossing them aside as we take them for granted, knowing there are so many that wish they could have such gifts and don’t.  

In terms of food, we live in a time and country where most of us have access to incredible, life-giving foods in abundance yet we choose, (for whatever reason we offer) to let them rot on the shelves.  People around the globe wish they could eat so well while we stock our pantries with non-foods and complain about why we don’t really like all that healthy stuff.  So many call it “rabbit food” and turn their noses up to it.  Excuse me but, no, that’s human food and is an incredible gift to have.

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Here’s where some may not like me but I shall toss it out there any way.  It’s not theory.  It’s fact.  Acknowledging it could save your life.  Ignoring it could cost you dearly, even your own life.

God made us.  God made the food that would feed us – food that would give us energy and help our bodies ward of all manner of disease.  The food God provided is God’s provision (“pro”+”vision” = for the vision He has for our lives).  He made it to nourish and satisfy, prevent cancer, rid our bodies of all manner of toxins, abolish inflammation, repair tissues and more.  Yet, we say “God, I don’t like that.  I’d rather eat what this company/restaurant/fast food joint made…”  (As though Nabisco is somehow better at making food than God. ? )

Now, when that all backfires, because we have chosen man-made counterfeits to God’s provision, whose fault is that?   I’m not trying to throw guilt but I am trying to challenge our perspectives.  

We should be eating and living for purpose over pleasure.  Any time pleasure takes the helm in our decision-making process, destruction is not far behind.  It catches up with us all eventually.  Yet, when we determine to eat and live for purpose rather than for pleasure, we end up finding great pleasure in the things that fuel the purpose.

How do we justify eating ourselves into diabetes and heart disease then act like God put that on us as our cross to bear?  If this is where you’re at, I hate to have to tell you but no doctor or medication will/can bring about the fullness of life that only God and His provision can give.  Too many Christians make it too easy on the enemy when it comes to taking us out.  We’re killing ourselves with a fork and still giving him the credit.

With fitness too, we need to stop complaining because those first few minutes hurt or because its work.  We should be incredibly grateful to be able.  Even if we’re so far from “fit,” we can’t fathom stepping onto a track, we can still take those first few steps then ask God’s help to take a few more. 

I recently walked with a very determined young man as he left his wheelchair to make his way up two sets of stairs to walk with our group.  He was on his knees because he couldn’t walk but, holding onto the rail with one hand, and my hand under his other arm, he made it to the top.  You could see his pain and struggle but he made it.  In my heart of hearts I know that if he had but the chance, he’d run – he’d run with all he’s got.

Stop complaining that you “have to walk” here or there or the length of a few extra parking spaces at the grocery store and be grateful you can.  

I dare you to step to health and fitness in gratitude – even and especially when it gets hard.  Instead of telling yourself how bad you hate it, tell your God how grateful you are that He has made you able and that He is making you stronger with every step you take with Him toward the amazing life He’s envisioned for you.

Do you realize what Christ has given that you could live well?

He bore the stripes upon His back that we would be healed (1 Pet. 2:24), he came to set the captives free (Isa. 61:1) and came that you would have life and life more abundantly (John 10:10).  

I cannot tell you with what depth of sincerity I pray that we as Christians would come to understand and appreciate what we’ve been given and that we would walk in the incredible gifts He has so freely granted us all.

3. We forget who we’re living for.

We as Christians understand that we have been bought with a price.  Our lives are not our own.  In that, I come from a perspective that while my body is a gift given me by God for my use in the time that I am here, it is not to be used just for my own ends or pleasure.  

This body is one of the greatest assets I have as I work to reach people with the Gospel and for meeting the needs of those around me.  With these arms, I get to bring comfort and carry my little ones.  With these feet I get to go wherever God sends me or travel whatever distance I must to walk alongside others, using the voice I’ve been given to uplift and speak life over all I can.  

My body is a gift to me but it is not exclusively for me.  I was created by God with works prepared in advance for me to do and it is much harder to do those things if I abuse the body he’s given me to do them with.  

Again, we’re talking about stewardship.  My aim is not to make it all about me but to protect my capacity to serve God and others.  

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I don’t know about you but I’m not up for spending the last 3-5 DECADES of my life deteriorating, winding down into the grave.  I want to make the most out of this ONE LIFE I’ve been given, to be as powerful and effective as I can in my ONE SHOT to do so.  

Once the curtain drops on your life, that’s it.  Won’t you be so glad to say you didn’t live it just to indulge and die but that you lived it with purpose on purpose.  Safeguarding your health plays a critical part in that!

4. We fail to see what it means to everyone else.

Last but not least, we often let ourselves get away with not walking in wellness because we limit our view on who it affects to ourselves.  The truth is, you cannot even begin to calculate the lives that are impacted whether you are walking in sickness or in health.  

Growing up with a mom who was always sick, I believe this especially applies to our spouses and children.  

Consider the gifts you give to them when you take care of yourself and consider what you’re ultimately asking of them when you don’t.

Even beyond our immediate family, there are countless people in the world desperately in need of the gifts God has placed within you to give to them.  Too many Christians flick through the channels and scroll through the stories with an “awe, that’s so sad, I’ll have to pray for that…” when they find themselves too weak/tired/sick/distracted to respond any other way.  Yes, pray.  Pray continuously.  But remember what James said loud and clear – faith without works is dead.  We pray but we’ve also been called to take action and to make a difference in this world.

Too many Christians are so tied up in doctor’s offices and waiting chairs that they feel powerless to affect the many things unfolding around us.  Yet, meanwhile, people are dying because they lack basic resources.  Widows and the elderly are slowly losing themselves in loneliness and a life they can no longer keep up with.  Precious, amazing children, who but wish they had someone to wrap a pair of loving arms around them are being cast aside or trafficked for use by wicked men.  

I know this view may seem harsh – maybe even extreme – but it’s still not as extreme as Christians willingly/carelessly settling for a life that’s far less than what we’ve been called to and actually believing we’re powerless against the world as it devolves around us.  Are cookies, cakes, pies and fries really worth it?  Are we really willing to trade off a life of power for a life of indulgence?  That’s not how the children of God should be living!  

 

It’s long past time we as Christians accepted that there’s much more to our lives than ourselves and that there are others out there waiting and counting on us to be who God Himself has made us to be.  We should strive to be the healthiest, fittest people on the planet because we’re determined to live ready to be used, ready to help, ready to be a light in this dark world.

We don’t have time for self-indulgence and lackluster living.

We must rise up and walk in the victory God has granted us in every area of our lives.

God has placed within you a gift to help bring the change that the world so desperately needs.  I dare you to live in such a spiritual, mental and physical preparedness that as God says “GO!,” you’re hopping saying “God, I’m ready!”

I am so grateful that as you determine to shine for Him, He is going to shine through you – accomplishing great and mighty things beyond your wildest imagination!

 

Fearfully & Wonderfully Made, Fiercely & Wondrously Loved

By LaTricia Morris, Author, Illustrator, Integrative Wellness Counselor and the Founder of Eden Life Ministries and See Kids Thrive

“You have searched me, Lord, and you know me.  You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar.  You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways.  Before a word is on my tongue you, Lord, know it completely.  You hem me in behind and before, and you lay your hand upon me.  Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain.  Where can I go from your Spirit?  Where can I flee from your presence?  If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.  If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast.  If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me and the light become night around me,” even the darkness will not be dark to you; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to you.  For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.  I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.  My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.  Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.  How precious to me are your thoughts, O God!  How vast is the sum of them!  Were I to count them, they would outnumber the grains of sand—when I awake, I am still with you.”

-Psalm 139:1-18

One of the things that has intrigued, even perplexed, me over the years, is just how many women struggle to grasp how God would care about something like our eating and our health.  At best, many of us hope He’ll care when it all comes apart.  My question is “why would He not care now?”

Why would God NOT be concerned with your well-being?

The truth is, if we believe what the Word of God says to be true – we serve a God who is deeply, intimately concerned with EVERY detail and every facet of our lives.

Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you. – 1 Peter 5:7

We often wrestle to understand how God would care about our physical wellness because, too often, we come from a place of worldliness rather than godliness in our ambitions.  We get caught up in wanting to look the way the the world says we ought more than we desire to run our race with the unhindered power and pointedness intended for the Daughters of God.

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When we talk about health, I’d beg you – stop letting the focus of this world throw you under its oppression.  Consider the implications in how we approach every other area of our lives – our families, our marriages, our relationships, our jobs and our ministries – as we step to them in full force.  And, as you ponder the ways each of those areas would be affected by your health – be it good or bad – ask yourself “Why would God not care about that?”

I truly believe that God has incredible plans for you and that far too many of us settle for a life that is dramatically less than what God Himself has envisioned for us.  

You are not some thing that has crawled out of this hole, who God is just putting up with until He gets to draw the curtain on this life.  You are deeply loved by the God who gave you breath.  Every word, every action, every movement of God underscores His affections for you!

How I pray you’d see it – right now, in this moment – and to believe Him when He says He has called you and equipped you to walk in victory in every area of your life.  He didn’t leave anything to chance.  He has already provided all that you would need to walk in freedom and triumph.

He secured your victory once and for all and bore on His back the very stripes that would pay for the FULLNESS of healing for His people.  

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Start taking healthy back with one simple change.

“But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement for our peace was upon Him, and by His stripes we are healed.”  –Isaiah 53:5

How can we look at what He’s done for us and question His affection or concern?

I don’t know where you’re at right now but I know and believe in my heart of hearts that God is ready to walk you through an incredible journey and that regardless of how dire you may feel the circumstances or how long a road you feel you have ahead of you, God is able and WILL complete the work He has started in you.

“I thank my God every time I remember you.  In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”   – Philippians 1:4-6

For today, I beg you to believe:  

You are fearfully and wonderfully made; fiercely and wondrously loved.

 

 

Finding Your Push

Don’t you hate when you find yourself daydreaming about enjoying a face full of fresh foods or getting a good sweat in at the gym only to jar yourself back to a frustrating reality knowing you’d surely enjoy all of that if you could just convince yourself to actually get up and do it?

Been there.  Totally been there.

We all need a good swift kick in the pants from time to time; maybe even a good friend willing to give us that straight talk to get our head back in the game.  You’re not alone and having to wrestle through that DOES NOT mean you’re weak or any less capable of walking in victory than the most bull-doggish people you know.  Maybe you just have to find your way and here are a few points that can help you do just that.

Keep It Simple but Intentional

While some people have no problem whatsoever grabbing that big ole bull by the horns, others find a rapid shift to be totally unsustainable.  This is typically where we see the average American mom stuck in her health – she gets frustrated with where she’s at and puts her foot down, determined to do something about it.

Like a mad-woman, she dashes through the house with a massive black bag, pitching everything and anything to get temptation out of the house.  By 10:00a, she’s at the grocery store, re-stocking the pantry.  By noon, the her pics of the nose dive she did into the salad bar at Whole Foods are up on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.  3pm – she’s a Sweaty Betty’s, leaving the gym.  4:30 pm – “I’m so crazy hungry!”  (House full of new foods)  “What on earth am I going to make?”  {“Healthier veggie chips” devoured}  Day 2 – repeat steps 3 and up.  Day 3 – She’s getting bored with it and that cheeseburger smells SO GOOD.  Day 4 – Still going strong but thinking about getting that head checked.  Day 5 – She says “forget it, I can’t take this anymore” {“healthy” Oreos devoured while taking a nice warm bath in nacho cheese sauce.}

Okay, so maybe that’s not your story but most of us can relate to the feeling of cycling through the excitement, frustration, elation and disappointment as we cycle through all the latest diet trends, hoping that this one will finally be the one.

I know the ads can be super-convincing but you don’t have to drop 8 pounds in 8 days, or 50 in 10 weeks, to be a real success story.  You just have to make it a point to take even simple but intentional steps toward your health and wellness goals.  Even on days you feel like you’re barely inching toward it, you’ll soon enough look at the huge divide between where are were and where you are with intense joy.

You cannot measure your successes and failures on the successes and failures of others and you have to learn to run at your own pace.  When you do, you’re going to quickly surpass your wildest expectations and walk in true triumph as you start to see all the progress you’ve made with no temptation to go back to the way things were.

Get a Solid Motivator

A major hurdle many women face in mustering up that moxie to get up and get moving is that they have their sights set on very faulty motivators.

While we may want to lose that weight once and for all, or find ourselves determined to get back in those old jeans, we really need something more substantial to give us the drive we need to be successful over the long haul.  Even those who can hold themselves to it until they hit that goal often find that maintaining the ground they’ve lost can be very difficult over the months and years to follow.

If we want to get healthy and stay healthy, it has to be about something more – something that really means something to us and those we hold so dear.

Weight and waistlines can be VERY poor measures of progress when it comes to your health.  You can drop 10 pounds in 10 days and maybe even feel better for the time while doing a lot of damage to the body.  On the flipside, you might feel like you’ve gained a few pounds over the last couple weeks since you started eating better (I know – total head-scratcher) but have no idea as to how much your body has done in that time to cleanse and heal the organs, or reverse chronic or underlying conditions.

I know it’s exciting to “see the results” but to get a better picture of your progress, you’ll have to look further than skin-deep – not only in measuring progress but also for the strength and motivation to keep going when the going gets crazy tough.

Look to the Hills

If you ever catch me in a workout and I’ve got that stern, gritting my teeth look on my face, with my eyes closed or staring intently up and forward, chances are, in my head, I’m repeating Psalm 121:1-2 “I lift up my eyes to the mountains—where does my help come from?  My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.”

Now, some of you may find that silly but it’s a verse that helps me keep going when I’d otherwise be tempted to give up.  Adding empowering, encouraging personal, positive declarations can not only increase your enjoyment of the activity/effort in the moment, but can also be a great help as you seek to establish new, lifelong lifestyle habits.

Rather than looking to the pain or even to the clock, choose to look to “whatever is good, whatever is pure, whatever is noble…” Instead of complaining (even to yourself) about how much it aches, how about giving thanks to your God that you are able?  He has made your body capable of doing incredible things and will help you get there but you’ve got to press in and press forward.

Stop telling yourself about all the reasons you can’t do it and start speaking words of victory over yourself and your efforts (and more over those around you while you’re at it).

Whether you’re feeling weak, tired, or just straight not in the mood, look to God, look to His Word, think life, speak life and find your push to keep pressing forward.

 

No Time for Purpose

If you’re anything like me, you can oft catch yourself racking your brain, pouring over the last couple weeks or even the last couple months wondering “what on earth have I really accomplished?”  We know we have days where we’re on a constant stream of overdrive but, in terms of eternity, in terms of the things that truly matter the most to us, what have we truly accomplished.  

As a working mother of two, I can totally relate.  After being at work all day, it’s dinner and a list of to-do’s.  There’s time taken to enjoy some time with the most fabulous children a mother could ask for.  There’s a growing business demanding the work and attention needed to make it grow and the ministry that burns from within the bones.  And, as I find myself tight walking the fine line that rest between the hustle and the burnout, I can only wonder how long I can keep it up.

Some days,  I feel like I’m making waves.  Others, I feel like I’ve sprinted a lept through a day full of hoops with no finish line or any other indicator that I’ve accomplished anything.  Does this not so much sum up much of the problem with the present American culture – feeling the intense demand to bear so much burden with so little fruit.

As I catch myself caught up in such a cycle, I have to step back and wonder, am I giving priority to the things that matter most in my life?  Do I look at the people God has placed around me and the ministry He’s so heavily laid on my heart and determine to make time for it or do I simply resolve to get around to it when I find the time?

Conviction.

Boom.

It hits.

If there’s one thing I’m reminded of repeatedly in the process, it’s of my own limitations and the fact that I CANNOT do this on my own.  I try.  Some days, believe me, I try.  It’s funny and sad how we sometimes we so easily get so caught up in all the urgent that we lose sight of the important.  The time, once lost, is lost.  What do we have to show for it?

I get that we all have a time and a season.  We all have a time to work and a time to rest.  The question I have to ask myself (knowing my own nature and all) is, am I adjusting my schedule to the season God has me in, or am I crowding out the purpose in giving priority to the things that matter most to me in the moment?  

I find one thing I have really struggled with in pressing forward over the years is my tendency toward having so many reasons to plan to act later, rather than doing what I can now.  (Again, we all have our seasons.)  

I find myself thinking “when I can just get better positioned financially…” or “as soon as things settle down over here, I can give this more of my attention…” or, how about “once I get x, y, and z in position, then I’ll be ready to really make waves over here.  Yet, what happens day to day?  What, if even small, differences can I make that carry me closer to the vision?  

Too often we underestimate the value of the little steps taken today as we’re distracted by the big steps we hope to take tomorrow.  My friend, he who proves faithful with little will be entrusted with much.

We keep thinking we need more time, more money and for all these things to line out for us to step into the things God Himself created us to do. We don’t need more of anything but God.

There’s a time and a season. We need to be sensitive to God’s timing. Sometimes we’re anxious to step out into things long on our hearts when God says we’re not ready. Still, I believe when we keep Jesus front and center, we’re going to see the door when it opens.

I don’t really know what season you’re in.  I know, for myself, I am in a very busy, full season where I feel like I haven’t the stomach for half of what I have on my plate.  I desperately want to cultivate the growth of my businesses while I also want to reach those my heart so longs to help.  I can’t do it all.  On the one hand, I want to reach out.  On the other hand, I want to see the kind of business growth that should allow me to shift into a position of being more available to meet those needs.  

Lord, help me, so many days I stand there staring down a hazy path while looking at this tiny piece of a map I get to hold in my hand.  Thank God that, at least I know He has the rest of it, even as the piece I hold is just enough to move me one, maybe two steps forward at a time.  How I pray He’d be my eyes when I can’t see.

I feel the pull (even the need) in some areas to just set things down, if only for a time.  That’s all good and swell; sometimes even absolutely necessary.

What I have to ask myself is, what things am I giving priority to?  

How about you?  What things are you giving priority to?  Do you feel like those things are moving (even if just inching) you closer to God’s plan and purpose for your life or pulling you further from them?  

What can you do today to make time for purpose in your life and the things that truly matter most?

 

The Rocky Road into the Promised Land

I don’t know about you but I can easily pull from a pool of memories – times when two words were enough to send my heart into a flutter and a flurry. For years, I had scriptures posted to our refrigerator as a way of helping my heart hold fast to the promises of God as I waited, and waited, and waited…

Seems hard to believe today marks a month since we locked the door on our previous home for the very last time. A thousand miles later and we find ourselves still making our way into our promise land. What can I say? I would love to say the road has been a stream of posies popping up everywhere our feet have landed. I would love to tell you that after years of waiting for that moment that we’d be released to embark on this journey, everything just came together and has fallen into our laps like a feather dropping from heaven. I wish. Do I ever wish.=

Don’t get me wrong – this transition has been blessed in many ways. We have watched God bring things together and work in situations like only He can. We’re seeing provisions made manifest. We’re getting glimpses into blessings being conferred. Yet, mixed with these things, have been challenges and tragedies alike – things that can’t be undone and things, admittedly, my heart hasn’t fully learned how to carry or let go of just yet (though I know I WILL get there). It’s incredible how much life can change in a day, isn’t it? Seeing firsthand how much it can change in a month is exhilarating and frightening all at the same time.

So, here I sit in my journey into our Promised Land – eager, anxious, grateful and exhausted, desperately praying “God, just get me to the other side! Please, let the months and hurdles ahead fly by that I can find myself curled up with my family in our new home in the land You have for us!”

Ever been there?

One Book I spent much time in in the years prior to our relocation was the Book of Joshua (big surprise considering our topic of discussion, right?). So, wasting no time whatsoever, the Book of Joshua jumps right into the task at hand – getting God’s children into the promise land. Now, at some point you would think my mind would have wrapped around the fact that God was calling for two key measures of preparations as the moved ahead – Consecration and a readying of their “fighting men.” 

I suppose I was hopeful that the journey would be a waltz to some degree – that the doors would just start flying open and we would step in from great to grand as we finally would come to see the fulfillment of such long awaited promises and prayers.  

In all honesty, God, in His grace has granted me a measure of that in some areas though, in others, I’ve seen it get downright brutal. Why? Because it is a battle. Our family has been challenged physically, mentally, spiritually, financially… yet, in all things we are more than conquerors.   

See, I still believe in trusting God for big things – now as much, if not more so, than ever. I also know that the big things of God don’t always come easy. They’re the kind of things that determined hands take hold of. (Not that its a matter of our strength or power but more so that its a matter of us holding on against all odds with that bulldog tenacity that says “No! God says its mine!” Am I wrong in that? Is that not the essences of holding fast to the things of God?

I believe we each face circumstances, obstacles, challenges and situations where we are standing at the edge of the promise. We can see it. We can smell it. We can reach our quaking fingers out and just about touch it but then the battle starts raging around us and, for a moment, our hearts grow faint as we start to think “God, did you really promise? Did I really hear you right? Was this just something I made up as I went along and just put your name on it?”

If you’re there right now, can I just beg you to hold on a little longer? I know you maybe think you can’t right now. I know you’re questioning how much more you could possibly take but, I’m praying that now, in this moment, a spirit of fiery faith would well up within you and that God would stir you again to press into His promises.

“Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful.”

‭‭Hebrews‬ ‭10:23‬ ‭NIV‬‬
I believe one of the greatest obstacles we all have to overcome in realizing our God-sized dreams is in actually allowing ourselves to believe that they’re ours to be had. As I write this, my mind goes back to a quote out of a daily devotional I used to have on my desk. One day in particular, before we’d even moved from our old home, we were really feeling the crunch of everything that was happening. We were getting things in order for the move and were just on overload. How I cherished those words as I read something to the effect of “God is leading you into the Promised Land. He knows the way and is even more committed to getting you there than you are.”

As hard as that can be for me to believe in my heart amidst the strain and the struggle, something within me just knows that there’s a sobering amount of truth to that.

It’s not about bragging rights. It’s not about God bending and flexing the world around our desires. It’s about God just being God in our lives. I hardly have the words to explain it and I don’t have to. I don’t have to know the why’s or the how’s. I simply have to muster up the resolve to just trust. 

I choose to trust and press forward knowing that even when the war wages, God can and will bring to pass EVERY WORD He’s spoken over our lives.

What “promise land” has God spoken into your life? Are you daring today to trust Him for it?