Wednesday, October 15, 2014

God is not the author of confusion

I think somebody needs to hear this message tonight. I pray it speaks to your heart…

"For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints." - 1 Cor 14:33

If you feel confusion in any area of your life, consider the source. The Bible clearly states that confusion is not from God, and if it's not from God, I know I don't want any part of it. Confusion is defined as “lack of understanding; uncertainty; the state of being bewildered or unclear in one's mind about something.” Go ahead and substitute that definition in the verse and it will read “For God is not the author of a lack of understanding; uncertainty; or the state of being bewildered or unclear in one's mind about something. WHEW!! Isn’t it refreshing to read that truth?

Confusion can come from the enemy in many forms, or even from our own flesh. That is why it is so important to stay grounded in God’s Word & in prayer and to GUARD our hearts & minds! When we are seeking the Lord, we will begin to quickly recognize any lies from the enemy, any false teachings that do not line up with the Word of God, and any other worldly messages trying to deter us. Having those truths impressed on our hearts is so important, and that’s why I love memorizing Scripture. Think  you don’t have a good memory? I bet you know the words to LOTS of songs! I for one can rap almost every word to Whoop There It Is, some Salt N Peppa songs I’m embarrassed to name, Ice Ice Baby, & The Fresh Prince theme song. (Okay, maybe nobody else was a 90’s kid white girl thug wanna-be like me? Ha!) Really though, my point is, we can absolutely memorize Scripture if we commit ourselves to it and study it enough.

Deuteronomy 11:18 tells us "So commit yourselves wholeheartedly to these words of mine. Tie them to your hands and wear them on your forehead as reminders” and Psalm 119:11 encourages us to follow David’s lead as he said “I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.”

If you’re at a cross point in your life or are confused about a decision or direction, my best advice is to STOP. Wait for a clear answer from the Lord before making a move. It may not seem easier on the front end to patiently seek the Lord, but I can assure you it’s a whole lot easier than cleaning up the mess than can result from stepping out of God’s will and making hasty decisions with negative consequences. God will always respond when we wholeheartedly seek him. The problem is, many times when he does not respond in our timing or with the answer we want, we choose to either stop seeking or go our own direction.

James 1:5 tells us "If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you." This is the BEST place to go if you need clarity. Seek the Lord with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength. Study the Word and PRAY. Or even better, pray God’s Word!!

I also wanted to share a resource I have found for Christians regarding apologetics.  I If you have questions about what you believe, other religions, false teachings, etc., I have found these teachings to be Biblically sound: www.carm.org Check it out if you get a chance.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Are you a SEEKER??

One message that is being drilled in me from many angles right now is to “be a seeker.” When I hear something once, I listen. If I hear it a few times, it catches my attention. When I hear something over and over from many people whom I greatly respect, you better believe I’m going to act on it.

Between our leaders in AdvoCare, to our Sunday school teachers, to reading it in The Best Yes: Making Wise Decisions in the Midst of Endless Demands, the concept of seeking wisdom is being brought to my attention over and over. Andy Andrews also shared it in The Traveler's Gift: Seven Decisions that Determine Personal Success. It’s the second of the seven decisions.

The Bible tells us in James 1:15 “If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.”

I think the first step here is realizing we don’t know as much as we think. That is called humility. There is ALWAYS room for growth, so the way I started was by identifying the areas that are most important in my life and some areas where I would like to grow. I know they are different for everyone, but here are some of the areas that are on my priority list:

  1. Faith (my personal walk with the Lord)
  2. Being a godly wife & mom
  3. Family & Friends (relationships with others)
  4. Fitness/Health/Wellness
  5. Finances

I decided to look for others who have fruits on the tree in these areas and start picking their brain and asking for resources that have helped them. I seek their mentorship through conversation, asking a lot of good questions, observing what I see them do & mimicking that, reading, and fervently PRAYING. I have my own personal mentors & some resources I love in each of these areas and it has made such a difference in my life. I am NOT the same person I was even 6 months ago, and I pray in 6 more months, I’ll be able to say the same thing. I do not want to become complacent, and the best way I know to strive to improve myself is through “being a seeker.”

There is no shortage of wisdom available to us, but many times we aren’t making the choice to seek it until it’s too late or some damage has been done. The best time to seek wisdom is NOW.

Wouldn’t you agree…

It’s much wiser to go to a marriage conference before there are issues than go to a marriage counselor after the issues arrive?

It’s much wiser to study the Word about what God expects from us ladies as a wife and mom rather than listening to the world & have a failing marriage or wayward children?

It’s much wiser to invest in your health now than pay through medicine, illness, or disease down the road?

It’s much wiser to spend time educating yourself on financial matters now than to look up years from now and not like where you are and wonder where your money went?

I’m not the smartest gal you’re going to meet, but I do believe in common sense. And to me, it’s just WAY more logical to focus more on preventative measures than solutions to problems that could have been prevented in the first place.

The problem is, we live in a society that would rather be entertained. People would rather watch t.v. shows or play games that add ZERO value to their life than spend time learning.

As The Best Yes says, “we’ve got to train our wisdom muscles to be strong and capable so when we need them most, we’ll know how to use wisdom” (p. 108).

We have to seek wisdom. Proverbs 2:1-11 says…

My son, if you receive my words
and treasure up my commandments with you,
2 making your ear attentive to wisdom
and inclining your heart to understanding;
3 yes, if you call out for insight
and raise your voice for understanding,
4 if you seek it like silver
and search for it as for hidden treasures,
5 then you will understand the fear of the Lord
and find the knowledge of God.
6 For the Lord gives wisdom;
from his mouth come knowledge and understanding;
7 he stores up sound wisdom for the upright;
he is a shield to those who walk in integrity,
8 guarding the paths of justice
and watching over the way of his saints.
9 Then you will understand righteousness and justice
and equity, every good path;
10 for wisdom will come into your heart,
and knowledge will be pleasant to your soul;
11 discretion will watch over you,
understanding will guard you.

If you think about your dream life…your dream job, family, ministry, health, relationships, etc., WHAT are you doing today to help you get closer to making those a reality? If nothing changes, nothing changes. If you don’t do anything differently than you’ve been doing, how can you expect to get different results? The only way for something to change is to change our actions. The only way to change our actions is to change our thinking. And the only way to change our thinking is to change what we are allowing into our mind. We have to actively seek wisdom and practice it.

Andy Stanley says this in  The Principle of the Path: How to Get from Where You Are to Where You Want to Be :

“The direction you are currently traveling- relationally, financially, spiritually, and the list goes on- will determine where you end up in each of those respective arenas. That is true regardless of your goals, your dreams, your wishes, or your wants. The principle of the path trumps all of those things.

Your current direction will determine your destination. And like every principle, you can leverage this one to your advantage or ignore it to your disadvantage. Just as there are paths that have led us to places we never intended to be, there are paths that have lead us away from those places as well.”

Proverbs 27:12 tells us that “The prudent see danger and take refuge, but the simple keep going and pay the penalty.” Andy Stanley breaks that down so well.

“The implication here is that a prudent man or woman understands that all of life is connected. He is aware of the cause-and-effect relationship between what he chooses today and what he experiences tomorrow…Consequently, prudent people look as far down the road as possible when making decisions. Every decision. After all, they understand that today and tomorrow are connected. As the author of Proverbs states, they stand on the lookout for signs and trouble up ahead..They ask what I refer to as the best question ever: “In light of my past experience, and my future hopes and dreams, what’s the wise thing to do?” The prudent draw upon the wealth of data that life has already provided them and then take the appropriate action when they see danger ahead.”

I have found that the more I focus on growing and seeking wisdom, the more aware I become of my own weaknesses, and the more I thirst for knowledge and the Lord’s help to strengthen those areas. Memorizing Scripture has personally been another great tool for me in this area. I can’t think of anything more powerful than drawing on the truth of God’s Word to help me.

**Are you a seeker? What are you doing on a daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly basis to seek wisdom? Where & from whom are you seeking wisdom??

Friday, October 10, 2014

Is that REALLY healthy?

I have several goals for my blog- to scrapbook for my kids, to minister and share the love of Christ, and to educate and add value wherever I can. I am not an expert, but I am a “seeker” and a “learner” and have spent years educating myself on many of these topics. I hope you learn something and I would love for you to pass a post along to any friends if you think they might find value in it too.

One of those topics I post about frequently is health & wellness. I am particularly passionate about nutrition.

I  know some people are intimidated by a healthy lifestyle, and that is natural because we often fear what we do not understand. But I also know that some people are just not educated when it comes to healthy eating, and if I can help in any way, I definitely want to do so.

According to the U.S. Department of Health, nearly 53% of Americans have a health literacy below basic. I’m on a mission to decrease that number, one family at a time. (I know, where is my cape, right?)

Really though, if you don’t know where to start,  click on the “clean eating” or “nutrition” labels in the label cloud or the “Health & Fitness Junkie” tab and spend some time browsing.  I have several older posts about clean eating & overall health that I think will be helpful. If nothing else, THIS is a great starting place, and here is a great grocery list.

Here are some of the reasons I am so passionate about health, wellness, disease prevention, and fitness.

  1. Our bodies are a temple. (1 Corinthian 6:19)
  2. I was adopted and don’t know all of my family medical history, so disease prevention is important to me.
  3. I have lost someone I love too soon as a result of lifestyle choices. 7 out of the top 10 killers are diseases that result from unhealthy lifestyle choices.
  4. We are called to serve, not be served. We are called to work hard as if working for the Lord. Poor health can limit those callings. (I’m not saying it always does, but it certainly can.)
  5. I know that I am a better wife, mom, daughter, friend, leader, etc. when I am taking care of myself. Performing to the best of my potential is important because I see it as being a good steward of the gifts I have been given.
  6. I view providing my family with healthy meals and making sure they get enough rest as part of my ministry in my home.

So here’s the deal…lifestyle related diseases are shortening life expectancy and decreasing the quality of life. Basically, in America, we are digging an early grave for ourselves and our children. (If you haven’t seen Fed Up, I highly recommend it.)

Here are some other statistics we need to know.

“Obesity, a common and costly health issue that increases risk for heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and cancer, affects more than one-third of adults and 17 percent of youth in the United States. By the numbers, 78 million adults and 12 million children are obese—figures many regard as an epidemic. Adults are considered obese when they are about 35 pounds overweight. In 2013, obesity rates among American adults remained high. No state has an obesity rate below 21 percent and rates have risen in six states. In two states obesity rates now exceed 35 percent for the first time and 20 states have obesity rates at or above 30 percent.” (http://www.ncsl.org/research/health/obesity-statistics-in-the-united-states.aspx)

Overweight and obese individuals are at increased risk for many diseases and health chronic conditions, including the following:
  • Hypertension (high blood pressure)
  • Osteoarthritis (a degeneration of cartilage and its underlying bone within a joint)
  • Dyslipidemia (for example, high total cholesterol or high levels of triglycerides)
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Heart disease
  • Stroke
  • Gallbladder disease
  • Sleep apnea and respiratory problems
  • Some cancers (pancreas, kidney, prostate, endometrial, breast, and colon)

(Reference: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The Surgeon General's call to action to prevent and decrease overweight and obesity. [Rockville, MD]: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Public Health Service, Office of the Surgeon General, [2001]. Available from: US GPO, Washington.)

Another great starting point is quality supplementation. The Council for Responsible Nutrition encourages supplements to fill in the nutritional gaps of our diet. The four basic products for core nutrition they recommend in conjunction with healthy eating, adequate sleep, exercise, and less stress are:

  1. Multivitamins
  2. Calcium (which need to be taken with vitamin D and magnesium for best absorption)
  3. Omega 3- Fatty Acids
  4. Probiotics

CorePlex®OmegaPlex®Calcium PlusProBiotic Restore™ ULTRA

SO, now for the real point of this post. “Is that REALLY healthy?”

We are told so many lies in America, and a lack of knowledge about nutrition is leading us to consume lots of food we THINK are healthy, but in reality are anything but. I want to knock out a few myths about healthy eating & share some key thoughts. I know I have fallen into the trap of believing a few of these, so I hope sharing what I have learned will change your thinking & help you make better choices for your family.

  • We all have a diet. Some are better than others. “Going on a diet” does not work, so focus more on lifestyle adjustments (eating a healthy breakfast, proper portion sizes, minimal processed foods, drinking plenty of water, etc.) that can actually last a lifetime so you are not yo-yo dieting and destroying your metabolism. Consistency is key.
  • For the average person, fat-free, low-fat, and low-carb diets are not a good idea (unless you’ve been instructed by your doctor for a specific medical reason). We NEED healthy fats (think nuts, avocado, fatty fish, etc.) & complex carbs (sweet potatoes, oats, quinoa). The key is BALANCING those with our protein at each meal.
  • Lean protein and amino acids are extremely important because they are the building blocks of muscle. We WANT lean muscle because it keeps us strong (for every day activities) and helps burn more fat. If you are supplementing protein, know that all protein powders are not made the same. You want a high quality, pre-digested protein without all the fillers. (This is one instance where you often get what you pay for, but you also need to know what you’re looking for in a protein. There is a difference between protein to supplement in your diet and protein specifically for post-workout.)
  • Processed foods are garbage. If you can avoid the center aisles of the grocery store or anything in a box or plastic that is not made on its own in nature (like fruits & veggies, beans, meat, eggs), try to avoid them. A few examples of processed foods include chips, cookies, crackers, lunch meat, microwave meals, cereal, soda, fruit juice, canned soup, mac n cheese, Hamburger helper, pre-made frozen chicken nuggets, etc. If you want one of those items, it’s best to make it yourself. Otherwise, just say NO.
  • Just because something is diet, organic, all-natural, or Paleo, does NOT mean it is healthy. For example…you can get organic packaged bean & cheese burritos, or all natural cheese puffs, or Paleo brownies. Those are not good for you. While they may be a somewhat better option than the conventional items, they are still not the best choice. Those titles do NOT deem something as healthy, so be cautious.
  • Overall, we have no clue about portion sizes and are eating the wrong amounts. We should be eating small, balanced meals every 2 1/2 – 3 hours to keep our metabolism burning and our blood sugar stable. Most of us are either not eating enough (yes, that IS a thing!) or are eating way too much all at once. We eat a lot of food throughout the day to fuel our bodies properly, but that’s the key. There are some awesome portion size guides that are very helpful.
  • Alcohol has a TON of sugar. It should be avoided.
  • Even the ‘healthy’ options at most restaurants are not as healthy as making the same meal at home. (This is a tough one for us because our parents really enjoy eating out, so this is often how we spend time with them.)
  • Most condiments are packed with sugar and sodium. Mustard & salsa are a great option.
  • Eating healthy does not have to be boring or bland! We eat so many flavorful, robust meals that are absolutely DELICIOUS!! We mix it up all the time, add new spices, and try new recipes to keep it interesting.
  • Eat a BIG, hearty, balanced breakfast. Most people are starting their day on the wrong foot.
  • Tea & coffee do not count as consuming water. Drink more H20!
  • Sneak in health foods when you can. I love to add chia seeds (super food!), ground flax, apple cider vinegar, and Amazing Grass
  • We do not deprive ourselves & we do not obsess about how we eat. We enjoy cake at birthday parties & weddings, & we like fro yo as much as the next person. We just take Carb-Ease first and try to enjoy them in moderation.We make the best choices we can as often as possible.
  • Non-nutritive sweeteners get a bad-rap from the media (who know nothing about nutrition), but they are a better alternative than sugar. Sugar is extremely addictive, and the majority of Americans (myself included) are eating WAY TOO much sugar. Sugar leads to obesity, which leads to many of those diseases listed earlier, which can lead to death. Personally, I trust the doctors and medical professionals who HAVE done the research and have found sucralose to be the safest non-nutritive sweetener. Always consider your sources. Are you listening to someone telling you to avoid sucralose who eats fast food, processed food, & makes other unhealthy choices regarding nutrition?
  • Subway not not healthy. It may have better options than Burger King or McDonald’s, but it is still not healthy. Starbucks is not healthy either. Your best bet is to avoid them both, despite what pop culture & the media is trying to convince you.
  • Yes, it takes some time to learn this. And yes, it takes some time to meal prep. But, it DOES get easier, and the rewards are immense. It becomes habit & second nature, and you and your family are WORTH it!!

Hope that helped some.

What small step are you taking to start eating healthier?

Annual Pumpkin Patch Visit

Well, it’s officially FALL! It may be 85 degrees outside, but it’s pumpkin time! (Seriously, this weather is perfect!)

Last year we started our ‘annual’ visit to the pumpkin patch with the Adams family. Here is the post from last year….can’t believe how much our boys have changed!

PicMonkey Collage

This year we went on a Thursday again so it wasn’t too crowded.

It’s crazy to think of all the changes that have occurred for our family throughout this past year. What a wonderfully BLESSED year!

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Last year they could barely sit up, and this year they were running all over the pumpkin farm!

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“Lady, if you want my autograph, just ask…but please stop following me around with the camera.”

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Jase was more interested in the wood chips and trees than the pumpkins.

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BUTLERS, 2014

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ADAMS, 2014

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Love these precious boys!! They are so FUNNY & keep us laughing.

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There is something special about a mama & her baby boy. I can assure you one thing- these two little fellas have been prayed over a LOT by their mamas.

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The boys both LOVED the tractor.

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Jase thought it was hilarious to put his head through the pumpkin hole.

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The white washed pumpkins were my fave.

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BFFs and mini-BFFs.

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Jase loved to throw that baby pumpkin as far as he could. He’s got a little arm on him!

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Of course the boys were totally still and cooperative when their daddy’s were holding them.

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Bros for life!! (This is some serious dap if I’ve ever seen it…

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“Every blond needs a brunette best friend.” That applies to boys too, right?

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We had a blast!! Love Brian, Laura, & Braylon and so thankful for awesome friends & fun traditions with our little fellas. I can’t imagine how different next year will be!