The Blessing of Health

We’ve reached the end of another month. I’ve had moments of challenge with our topic of health this month, as well as some good victories. To finish off the month I wanted to share a bit of what’s known as a benediction with you . A benediction is a blessing pronounced on someone or a group of people.  It’s something that was typically done at the end of church services, although now some churches end with a song or prayer rather than a spoken blessing.

Health is something that should definitely be seen as a blessing, but not as a curse when it’s lost.  So as this month ends I wanted to make sure we ended on a positive note, because more often than not we are blessed with good health. Sure we’ll have the occasional cold, bruise or headache, but the majority of the time we don’t even notice how healthy we are because it’s not something we usually think about unless we’re having issues. It’s one thing that we should be able to add most days to our list of things we’re thankful for.

So as we close out this month here is my benediction to you: “Long life to you! Good health to you and your household! And good health to all that is yours!” 1 Samuel 25:6

It’s a simple benediction and prayer, but contains some really big wishes. As you look forward to the remaining 4 months of the year, to school starting back up, businesses racing towards Christmas and goals for the year trying to be met, I encourage you to take time to celebrate your good health and the life you’ve been given, because every day truly is a gift whether we make the time to see it or not.

A Healthy Relationship

It’s challenging to work towards healthy relationships because there are more than one of us making a decision about something or having influence over a decision being made. Even when I make my own decisions, I sometimes take a minute to think about my partner and how he would be influenced if I made one decision or another. When it comes to aspects of health like exercise or eating, or even success or money, you’re really not dependent on anyone else, it’s up to you to research, make decisions, take actions and follow through on stuff. It’s really not up to anyone else.

But one of the most rewarding aspects of health are relationships. I may enjoy my food at dinner or enjoy taking a walk, but it’s so much more enjoyable when my partner is around. It’s also encouraging to having him choosing to eat healthy or be fit too because then I’m not dependent completely on my own feelings or willingness to do something, I’ve got someone to support and encourage me on my journey.

I’m always thinking about the words I use, probably because I enjoy writing so much. At least 5 years ago now I realized that I don’t really like the word “relationship” because it’s been screwed up too many times and in too many ways by everyone. It doesn’t carry the weight that I believe a true relationship like my guy and I have, and it leaves much to be desired. The word that works for me is partnership. It’s a clear dual-commitment from both of us to work on what we have together, to communicate about it and to support each other when we need it most; even if we can’t reciprocate at that time or in the same exact way that they’re supporting us.

A relationship, a partnership, is an opportunity for us to partner with the person we’re romantically connected with in such a way that it improves many aspects of our life and theirs too. All the lessons and experiences I’ve had have shown me that it’s worth it when you’re both committed to making the partnership work and you have enough in common to make it worth it and enjoyable. It’s not always easy, but I’m thankful for it.

What healthy thing will you do with your partner this weekend?

The Gift of Nature

One of my favorite things to do and think about is nature. I love taking walks with my partner and by myself, I love when I get to dog sit and take them for walks, I enjoy looking out my window and watching the seasons change, I love taking breaks from work to check out what’s going on around the animal world through the live cameras at Explore, and I love sitting outside with a good book on a nice sunny day. All things nature inspire me, they make me feel whole, and they ground me beyond anything a good yoga session or massage could do.

But nature is about more than just me, it connects us all together no matter where we are in the world. Whether you believe the theory called the Butterfly Effect about how when a butterfly flaps their wings in Brazil a tornado is experienced in Texas or not, I do believe that our actions and treatment of nature have an impact not just on our local world/physical location but the rest of the world too. I was reading an article this week about how some of the awesome ancient structures around the world like Machu Picchu and Angkor Wat are in danger of deterioration because of the sheer numbers of tourists that visit them each year. They’re not technically natural, but it was a reminder of just how fragile things can be and just how blessed we are to have all that we do have.

So why talk about nature in this month on health? Because what affects nature affects us. If there’s no rain, crops can’t grow and we can’t eat. If all of nature is earthquakes, tidal waves, hurricanes, volcanic eruptions and melting water our very lives are threatened, and we’ll be so busy working on staying alive that progress will be put to the wayside (although New Orleans reports that 10 years later some awesome things have developed as a result of the damage of Hurricane Katrina). But more than that I believe that part of the reason we’re not as balanced, happy and relaxed as we could be is because we don’t spend enough time in nature connecting with that very prime/primal sense of self.

So I encourage you to take time each day to spend in nature, and no, walking to/from your car to stores and work doesn’t count. Exercise, take a slow walk around your neighborhood or a nearby park, just sit and meditate in a quiet outdoor spot, take time to catch up with your partner on the porch or deck with a glass of something at the end of the day, sit and watch your kids play, pick up a book, or just do nothing for a little while each day and just be in nature. I would love to hear what your favorite ways to spend time in nature are too!

Hope is Healthy

Health is about more than just what you do or don’t do, it’s about your mind too. If you’ve been in the faith world for a while you know that God’s a God of actions and words, that according to Him the words you use have just as much power as your actions do. So today the healthy living topic I want to talk about is hope.

I am so thankful for all the advances that doctors and medicine has made in the past couple of centuries, it amazes me what “modern medicine” can do for us. I’m not opposed to the simpler answers of herbs, meditation and healthy living, in fact I always prefer a more natural approach. But while medical study has provided some ‘cures’ it’s also provided a lot of answers to us about what goes on in our bodies and some of the causes of different things. It’s also given us a front seat and up close and personal glimpse of the ravaging damage that different illnesses can do to our bodies.

So what’s my point in going through this? Simply that as good as medicines, cures, treatments etc. are, I don’t believe it’s ever sufficient to just slap a label or band-aid on it and call it good. True healing isn’t just a physical thing, it’s mental too, which is one of the reasons that some of the most advanced treatment centers around the world are adopting a more holistic treatment approach to working with patients.

One of the greatest healing tools God gave us was our power of hope, whether we’re talking physical, mental or relational healing. When we’re negative it’s just not as easy to fix things or keep going in the face of big obstacles. But hope, like many other things, is a choice. We can choose to have hope that tomorrow will be a better day and maybe some answers will finally appear, or we can accept our fate and choose the walk of doom. What will your choice be?

“I pray that the God who gives hope will fill you with much joy and peace as you trust in him. Then you will have more and more hope, and it will flow out of you by the power of the Holy Spirit….in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.” Romans 15:13, 8:37

Frustrations and Freedom with Food

One of the areas that we struggle most in with regards to health is eating. With the busy society we’re part of we don’t make the time to create healthy and nutritious foods for each meal, instead grabbing whatever we can scarf down in the little time we’ve allowed ourselves. I’ve always preferred the healthier foods (with the exception of sweets!) but over the past 2 years I’ve really worked to make my eating habits more strict and healthy. Sure I’m still exposed to the same foods you are ever time I go food shopping or hang out with friends, but I try to make better choices for my body.

Why? For the reason most people make changes to their lives and routines: I got sick of feeling bad and was frustrated with the symptoms my body was using to show me I needed to make changes. So I did what not everyone chooses to do and made changes to my diet and lifestyle. I made a point of researching my symptoms and issues and started taking supplements that I was missing out on in my diet and my conditions were indicating I needed. I changed my diet and now try to make healthier choices for every meal and avoid my triggers (sugars, breads, over-processed food etc.) whenever possible.

Food is such a simple thing, but it’s central to many cultures around the world. Food is what brings us together at the end of the day whether we want to be together or not. Food is the fuel for what keeps your body going and putting in junk food is like putting bad gas in the car; it might work for a while, but soon enough you’ll start to see problems, maybe even serious breakdowns. The more I work on it and think about it, the complications and challenges that arise with eating healthier are really worth it.  Healthier food tastes better, you feel better and, all unforeseen events ignored, you’ll live longer.

If you’re ready to start feeling better, take a good look at what your body is trying to tell you and start making changes. With the internet and lots of blogs with healthy recipes including mine, there’s no excuse for saying you don’t know what to eat or how to make it anymore.

The Advantage of Attitude

In this month’s discussions on health it’s important to take time to talk about having a healthy attitude towards life. Yes, life will sometimes get the best of you and sometimes kick you where it counts. But not only can your attitude make a big difference, it can be the difference maker for your life. If you’ve been looking for the key to a happier, healthier, more successful life for some time this could be what you’ve been missing out on.

Attitude is often judged by considering whether you’re typically a glass-half-full or glass-half-empty person. It’s a good place to start for today’s discussion, because it indicates how you see the world. Do you see the world as a place full of opportunities and gifted people or are you hung up on the problems and believe there’s more bad than good in the world? If you’re a half-empty person I believe you’re missing out on a great deal of life today. No, having a half-full attitude won’t remove all the bad in the world, but it will give you the chance to see that there’s more to life than what’s wrong.

Your attitude might just be what does or doesn’t get you that job or client, the deciding factor in how quickly you get well when you’re sick, how many friends you have, how long your relationships last and how long you live. Attitude is so much more than the thoughts you think, it’s your outlook on life and influences how you live your life.

You may not believe that attitude, or the principles taught in the book/movie The Secret really can have an impact on life, but they can and do.  My experiences have taught me that while my attitude may not fix all my problems or cause them not to exist, a positive attitude does go a long way to helping me resolve them while still keeping my humor, soul, patience and relationships intact.  Is your attitude a help or hindrance for you?

The Discipline of Health

In my studies and writings this month I’ve been reminded consistently that healthy living is a choice.  It’s one of the many things that if you don’t make a choice about it consciously it will make a choice for you, and usually that’s not a good thing.  The really difficult word that comes to mind when we consider this is discipline.  Yes, discipline is known for what happens when a kid (or adult) is bad; they’re disciplined for their actions.  But discipline when it comes to healthy living is all about making a choice and sticking with it.  It’s discipline (and knowing the consequences if I don’t follow through) that has me choosing the healthier foods instead of the bad ones, the good relationships instead of those that would constantly hurt me, and the other healthy habits I’ve chosen for my life.

Sometimes discipline starts out as a fear or consequence that we’re avoiding, but the better use of discipline is when it helps us turn a good idea into a habit and a wish into reality.  Discipline is what gets us up every morning to go to work or to care for our kids, even if it’s not what we really want.  It’s what keeps us going on that really tough project when we know it will help us be successful.  It’s what keeps us moving one step at a time to get closer to accomplishing our goals.

In this definition of the word, discipline is helpful and necessary.  While we don’t always enjoy discipline in this definition, or the well-known one of discipline as punishment or consequences, both are necessary at times.  Discipline is part of our lives for a reason, but we aren’t always willing to follow through with the reason or the punishment.  Life, and health, is all about choices, and choices have consequences and results, whether we want them to or not.  I encourage you this week to take time to consider what the disciplines in your life are teaching you, or trying to teach you.

“Think about it: Just as a parent disciplines a child, the Lord your God disciplines you for your own good.” Deuteronomy 8:5

Healthy Success

When it comes to health one of the things we think about often are how healthy are our finances. I shared some thoughts on money on my Business and Family blog last Friday, and today we’re going to talk about a topic that’s very closely connected to finances: success. We all think about success, we compare ourselves to our neighbors, family members and coworkers, the people we see on TV and strangers from around the globe that we read about in news reports. We’re obsessed with being successful. It’s not bad to want to be successful; if you’re successful you’re in a much more stable position when it comes to finances and your future which is something that many people wish they could say.

The first thing that needs to be established when it comes to success is that it has a million definitions, from having a successful family to career success to health success. Don’t let someone else define success for you. Choose success on your own terms.

We struggle with success for many reasons, some of the biggest include fears, laziness, our comparison habit, our unwillingness to change, and other people diverting our success journey. Of all the reasons we struggle for success the last reason, other people, is usually actually the least challenging reason, but we turn it into the biggest. Thanks to the internet though, many of the reasons we think we can’t be successful don’t exist, and things like choosing the wrong goal for you personally, or getting caught up in our areas of lack rather than what we can do are actually what hold us back from success most often.

If you’re ready to be successful it starts with believing in yourself. If you don’t think you can do it or you deserve to be successful you will have a very challenging time getting there, and it may even be impossible. Then you need to choose a smart success target. This means choosing something that’s not a scam or an almost unreachable target, but something you can be passionate about and are willing to be invested in building for a very long time. If possible get the support of your family on your project, but if not make sure you do have people who will support you in your success journey. Finally, don’t give up because it’s too hard.

If you’re really serious about being successful it will take long, hard work to achieve it. Yes, many of the days will be awesome because you’re working on something you believe in, but other days will be difficult and discouraging. But if you ask any of the most successful people in the world they will tell you that every tough day was worth it.

The Loss of Health

When it comes to talking about health this month I would be remiss in not taking time to talk about the dark side: the lack of health, better known as sickness, illness, disorder and disease. For almost as long as we have walked on this planet there has been sickness; people of faith attribute it the fall of Adam and Eve, others just acknowledge the dark/evil and light/good that struggles for dominance in this world. Regardless of what you believe we’re stuck with it.

In 2015 we do have many more answers than we used to have about all things illness related. We’re researching causes and cures to all that ails us, with some better results on some things than others. The best news is that we’re dedicated to doing the research so that we don’t just slap a drug on it and pretend to deal with it, but to discover what causes it so we can prevent it for future generations. We’re also doing more to spread awareness and education of the conditions we’re facing, and thanks to social media we’re able to do more than ever, which means that we don’t have as many myths and misleading beliefs about conditions and are better able to understand that we are so much more than what ails us.

There are very few of us who don’t have a family member or know someone personally who is struggling with an illness or disease, so there’s more reason than ever to get involved and do what we can to encourage real research and answers to not just the things we deal with now, but to prepare for what the future could hold.

If you’re facing a lack of health take the time to really research what it could be, consult with multiple doctors and naturpaths, get connected with a support group and encourage your family to as well. If you’re not the person who is sick do what you can and support health causes you care about financially, sign petitions, sign up for walks and follow the research so you can support your friends or family in their struggle.

Death is part of life, a part of life we’re constantly resisting because we like living. There wouldn’t be much point to all that we do if we were eager to get to the death part of our lives. Choose to fight to live, choose to encourage others to do the same and choose to live healthier so your body will last longer and serve you better.

The Look and Feel of Health

One of the things we struggle with when it comes to health is other people’s definitions of health that we think have to apply to our lives. We think that we have to look like supermodels or fitness buffs. We think that we have to be taking all the top supplements or following the trendy diets. We think that beauty looks like whatever the magazines and social sites say is popular. The reality is that while we probably all could look like those people or follow the current most popular advice, most of us shouldn’t. We’re all created with similar bodies from a very basic appearance perspective, but that’s about where it ends because we all have different food requirements, physical capabilities and tastes which differentiate us from many other people. I don’t do well with a lot of meat, gluten or sugar in my diet, I prefer walks and the elliptical, and don’t really like flashy looks, but you may be the exact opposite.

And that’s more than OK.

The good news is that God says there’s a lot more to life than just how we look, and there’s a lot more to health than it too. No, we shouldn’t be sickly or trash our bodies or appearances, but healthy for each of us is different when it comes down to the details. Health is about looking and feeling good inside and out, in ways that we feel confident and honor the body, mind and life that God has given us.

Just because you don’t eat, look or dress like a superstar doesn’t mean that you’re not an amazing or healthy person. Make the right choices for your life in the food you eat, the daily exercise you get, the clothes you wear and what you feed your mind too.

“But the Lord said to Samuel, “Don’t judge by his appearance or height, for I have rejected him. The Lord doesn’t see things the way you see them. People judge by outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”” 1 Samuel 16:7