Eat and Be Merry

The holiday season is a time where we don’t talk about healthy eating, but rather forgo all diets and eat whatever we want.  This usually results in an unpleasant wake-up in January when it dawns on us we’ve gained weight from the holiday helpings.  Let’s talk about what we can do to make January a little more pleasant for ourselves.

1-eat in moderation.  This is probably the last thing I want to do when I see the cookie platter in the kitchen.  But, truth be told, if you only have one cookie each morning, you can have another that night!  Pigging out isn’t the way to enjoy the holidays, nor is it the way to enjoy January.

2-exercise.  There are some fun activities you can be a part of, whether you enjoy snow or not during the winter.  If you’re in a warmer climate it’s easier to stay on top of your exercise regimen, but for those of us with snow, it can be challenging to keep exercising when it’s so cold! I’m not a snow person but I do enjoy walking around and seeing Christmas lights, so I get some exercise that way. Walking the malls and parking a distance from the food store and your work place are other good ideas.

3-eat extras…extra vegetables and fruit that is!  Make sure you’ve got fruits and vegetables on your table and in your fridge at all times.  Always eat the fruits and vegetables at parties and proportionally eat more of them than of the festive foods.

4-lighten up your recipes.  Don’t go for the recipes that have extra calories or use the really high-calorie ingredients.  Use low fat, fat free, or light products whenever possible, and always look for ways to make your recipes taste better with spices and made better with healthier ingredients.  Many food recipe websites have a section where they “make over” recipes and transform traditional recipes into much healthier ones.  If you follow my creative blog, I always try to include some lighter recipes with the decadent ones.

This holiday season, and all year long, remember that good nutrition starts with a bit of moderation and a touch of common sense.  What do you do to help balance out the holiday foods?

Love and Kindness

Psalm 103:2
“My soul, praise the Lord and never forget how kind he is!”

This month we’ve been talking about what it means to be kind and thankful, and next month we’re going to be talking about love.  I’m always excited when I see people doing things that are kind and loving or people who are thankful for what they have in their lives.  It warms my heart to know that there are people who do make a difference by little gestures of love and kindness.  Every act of love or kindness comes back to one individual though, God. He’s the perfect example of what it means to be loving and kind.

I know we’re in this world with challenges and a devil who tries to wreck our lives, homes, marriages, families, careers and countries, and that there are many reasons to be unhappy and dissatisfied with life, many reasons to be depressed or figure life is just a wash or a waste.

But what I’ve been noticing, especially this past month, is that the more time we spend praising God, appreciating each other, worshiping God, and focusing on making a difference in someone else’s life, the better life seems no matter how challenging life gets.  Personally, it has been a very busy month for me (not my best as far as being a good friend goes), yet I spent a lot of time listening to uplifting music (and some Christmas too!) and focused on sharing thanks and kindness, and I’ve felt surprisingly positive all month long.

I think what the Psalmists knew was that the more time we spend praising God and being supportive of each other, the more we’ll feel good ourselves! So this holiday season, don’t get dragged down by miserable people, stay cheerful by praising God and spread some of your joy to someone else.

Kind Sayings

Our themes this month have been kindness and thanksgiving.  I’m always thankful for the kind people I run into, whether in a store, while driving or at home.  Over the years many people have shared wise thoughts about kindness.  Here are some of them:

“Kindness is in our power, even when fondness is not.” Samuel Johnson

“What this world needs is a new kind of army – the army of the kind.”  Cleveland Amory

“Wherever there is a human being, there is an opportunity for a kindness.” Seneca

“How far you go in life depends on your being tender with the young, compassionate with the aged, sympathetic with the striving and tolerant of the weak and strong.  Because someday in your life you will have been all of these.” George Washington Carver

“Because that’s what kindness is.  It’s not doing something for someone else because they can’t, but because you can.” Andrew Iskander

“If we cannot be clever, we can always be kind.” Alfred Fripp

“Everybody can be great…because anybody can serve. You don’t have to have a college degree to serve. You don’t have to make your subject and verb agree to serve. You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love.”  Martin Luther King, Jr.

“It is not only for what we do that we are held responsible, but also for what we do not do.” Moliere

“So long as we love we serve; So long as we are loved by others, I would almost say that we are indispensable; And no one is useless while they have a friend.” Robert Louis Stevenson

“Thousands of candles can be lighted from a single candle, and the life of the candle will not be shortened. Happiness never decreases by being shared.” Buddha

“Great persons are able to do great kindnesses.” Miguel de Cervantes

“A kind heart is a fountain of gladness, making everything in its vicinity freshen into smiles.” Washington Irving

“Smile at each other, smile at your wife, smile at your husband, smile at your children, smile at each other — it doesn’t matter who it is — and that will help you to grow up in greater love for each other.” Mother Teresa

“When you carry out acts of kindness you get a wonderful feeling inside. It is as though something inside your body responds and says, yes, this is how I ought to feel.” Harold Kushner

Today do a kind thing or say something kind to someone else, you’ll be blessed too!

The Emotion of Giving

Just as much as we’re physical beings, we’re also emotional beings, after all there’s a whole genre of movies known as “chick flicks”.  Thanksgiving has turned into a day of food and sleep, not the emotional day it was back with the Pilgrims in 1621. What can we do to get back to the place of feeling that warm rush when we give of ourselves and are thankful?

Don’t just say “Thank You”, feel “Thank You”.  Thank you feels like a warm cup of tea after shoveling snow, a cool gust of wind on a hot summer day and a hug from a long separated friend.

Remember that it’s not just about saying “Thank you” but doing actions that show  you’re thankful.  One of the reasons the Pilgrims ate food on the 1st Thanksgiving was because that’s what they were thankful for; they finally had food, they made friends and they were still alive.  So celebrating with a feast was appropriate.

Your actions on Thanksgiving should also reflect what you’re thankful for.  Don’t just celebrate with food because that’s what you’re supposed to do, do something that will give you the same warm and satisfied feeling that the Pilgrims felt in 1621 when they sat down to eat.

So what are you really thankful for this Thanksgiving, and how will you show it?

A Psalm of Thanks

Psalm 138
A psalm of David.

I give you thanks, O Lord, with all my heart;
I will sing your praises before the gods.
I bow before your holy Temple as I worship.
I praise your name for your unfailing love and faithfulness;
for your promises are backed
by all the honor of your name.
As soon as I pray, you answer me;
you encourage me by giving me strength.

Every king in all the earth will thank you, Lord,
for all of them will hear your words.
Yes, they will sing about the Lord’s ways,
for the glory of the Lord is very great.
Though the Lord is great, he cares for the humble,
but he keeps his distance from the proud.

Though I am surrounded by troubles,
you will protect me from the anger of my enemies.
You reach out your hand,
and the power of your right hand saves me.
The Lord will work out his plans for my life—
for your faithful love, O Lord, endures forever.
Don’t abandon me, for you made me.

Thanksgiving is an opportunity for all of us to stop and really remember those around us.  We’re not alone in our life journey, we’re surrounded by other people.  Thanksgiving is also a time when we should remember the good things God has done for us this past year, as well as the things He has helped bring us through that were challenging.  The troubles don’t go away just because it’s Thanksgiving, but knowing that we’re not alone, both surrounded by others and protected by God, makes it easier to go through each day.  What are you thankful for

The Spirit of Thanksgiving

The closer we get to Thanksgiving, the more people focus on getting the food, decorations and guest lists.  Those aren’t bad things but they do miss the spirit of what Thanksgiving is all about.  Let’s think for a moment about what we’re thankful for usually: food, shelter, friends, family, and jobs/money.  What do all of those things have in common?  We wouldn’t have them to be thankful for if it weren’t for other people!

You can’t grow into an amazing leader without learning from others, you can’t be an amazing parent without kids, you can’t work at a job without someone to sell to, and you can’t cure cancer if there’s no cancer to cure.

My point is simple: this thanksgiving, focus less on the details and more on each other.

So this Thanksgiving as you gather around the table with family and friends, or if you get to work on Thanksgiving, stop and take a moment to be thankful for who’s there.  These people play a very important role in your life and future.  Everyone has something to be thankful for, and that something is often a someone.

Who are you thankful for this year?

2011 in Words: Kindness

“But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.”  Galatians 5:22-23

This verse in Galatians talks about our theme for this month, kindness.  So what is kindness?  Well, you can have random acts of kindness where you do nice things for strangers or as needs appear.  There’s also kindness in words and behaviors towards friends, family and coworkers.  Kindness is also important when talking about ourselves since many of us don’t treat ourselves kindly.

You’ve probably heard these verses from Galatians before, maybe quoted sarcastically, seen it called a “guide to life” or heard it read in church many years ago.  These verses say two things to me.  First, we can’t just be kind.  Kindness is tied into, related if you will, all those other qualities.  If you were to try to separate them it would be like asking for a fast food chicken sandwich without all the calories; it just can’t be done.

The second thing I learn from these verses is that it’s a goal.  Each of us has flaws, maybe they’re not big flaws or flaws that will get others killed, but flaws that will make it hard to do all those things all the time.  Galatians isn’t suggesting we should be perfect or are expected to always do those things, but to set a goal for our lives of doing as many of those things as possible, as often as possible.  We won’t be always do those things, but we should always look for opportunities, especially the random ones, to do the right thing.

It’s good to know where your strengths lie.   Are you a more loving than kind person?  A more patient than gentle one?   Which of those qualities do you do the most?