Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Death to Complacency

I was at our big international conference for my business this past weekend, and I walked away with a lot of conviction.  The word complacent was mentioned, and it hit me pretty hard.  I started to think more about complacency and ask the Lord where it had taken root in my life and all aspects of it.

     Complacent - Contented to a fault; self-satisfied and unconcerned.

     "At that time I will search Jerusalem with lamps and punish those who are complacent, who are like wine left on its dregs, who think, 'The LORD will do nothing, either good or bad.'" (Zephaniah 1:12)

     "Woe to you who are complacent in Zion, and to you who feel secure on Mount Samaria, you notable men of the foremost nation, to whom the people of Israel come!" (Amos 6:1)

     "Within a year and a few days You will be troubled, O complacent daughters; For the vintage is ended, And the fruit gathering will not come." (Isaiah 32:10)


So even though there is more to the story with each one of this scripture references, it is easy for me to decide that I certainly don't want this word to explain any aspect of my life.  However I realized that indeed there are places of Kristen that can very accurately be described in this way right now.

As they say, though, "Knowing is half the battle."  The other half is changing it.

How does complacency set in?  Knowing this will help in preventing it again (and again and again) down the road.  It is like a cancer because it is not usually detected until it has grown enough to cause a problem.  Then it must be fought with vigor and aggression to destroy it completely in order to be set free from it.

My definition of complacent is:
     Knowing what I should do and not doing it.  Being content with where I am.

Even if I think that I am thinking otherwise - ie: I don't consider myself content with where I am - my actions speak the truth.

I have realized that this is going on in my business, for example.  I have a job do to, a responsibility, to those whom the Lord brings before me to offer hope through what my company has to offer.  How can I be complacent when I know how much I have been blessed by it?  How can I act unconcerned for others?

I have realized that I have grown complacent in my prayer life.  I have been more intentional in recent weeks, but still the battle must be fought and won in order to restore my prayer life to one that takes seriously the call to pray.

I have realized that I have grown complacent in my outreach to my neighbors.  I want to show my neighbors the love that Christ has for them and the love that He has given me for them, as a result.  I want to invest in them and be a good friend.

Complacency can sometimes be disguised as busyness.  Sometimes I am busy, but other times I have not been intentional in making what the Lord has called me to do a priority and something of great importance.  I can make great excuses, some of which may even be valid, but the fact remains that a complacent heart is not good.

The Lord sees our hearts.  He knows what is going on in there, and only He can help us do what is right.

I need Him.  It is so easy to become complacent if I forget this truth.  I need Him for everything.  I must depend on Him wholeheartedly and realize that apart from Him I can do no good thing.

So now I revisit these areas of my life, look into what scripture says about them, and carry on.  May I be faithful to continually slay complacency with the Sword of Truth, for His glory.

Can I get an Amen?

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Intentionality in Taking Care of Yourself

Flat Stanley Getting His Veggies On
  Hey, who loves to work out, eat right, and get enough sleep?  I do, but it doesn't always happen.  If you go to a mall and sit for ten minutes watching the people who walk by you can see that it doesn't always happen in the lives of others, either.  Why not?

I think it comes down to a combination of a few possible reasons:

1. Ignorance
2. Busyness
3. Laziness
4. It seems too hard and overwhelming.
5. Guilt

Any of these strike a chord?  I think I have spent time with each of these possibilities as one time or another, but what I have found over the years is that I don't have a choice.  Well I do actually have a choice to either take care of myself or not, but really if I want to live well is there really a choice?

So if the desire is there, where does one start?  I think that dealing with the ignorance part will help with the rest of it.  I suggest starting with the food you eat.  Do you look at the ingredients in the foods you buy?  Start with one or two ingredients that you want to get away from.  My suggestion: Work on cutting out high fructose corn syrup and hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oils.

High fructose corn syrup, despite the catchy ads, is a chemically altered sweetener that is in a lot of foods.  Your body uses it and responds differently to it than natural sweeteners such as raw, unfiltered honey.  Less refined sugars such as evaporated cane juice, turbinado, and natural sweeteners such as honey, or natural maple syrup, stevia, and rebiana (there are others, too) are much better.  Actually my company has a great natural sweetener which you can check out here.

If there are hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oils in a food, then there is also trans fat.  Trans fat is no good for the heart, and to put it in the words of a professor my cousin studied under, "I'd rather smoke a pack of cigarettes than eat something that has trans fat in it."  That should speak volumes.

So what do you do?  Your favorite snacks and foods have those two items in them!  Have no fear, there are so many healthier options out there that often even taste like the foods you love - and sometimes even better.  Example: Do you love Wheat Thins?  For years they have had high fructose corn syrup in them.  I love Back To Nature's Crispy Wheats.  They taste even better and have healthier ingredients.  And as a bonus, they are even cheaper!

Did you know that even 20 minutes a day of good exercise is beneficial?  Can you go for a walk?  Can you get a Zumba or Pilates DVD and pop it in for 20 minutes?  It takes actually taking action and forming this into a habit to make it a part of your life.  It's so worth it!  You don't have to join a gym.

It amazes me what type of foods people eat and how little care they take of themselves mostly because they just don't know there is another way that is actually easier and affordable.  You have to be your own advocate when it comes to what you put into your body because there is a lot of junk for sale.

Maybe it's busyness that is the problem.  I know I get busy sometimes with life and neglect working out or getting adaquate sleep.  Again it takes having a plan and being disciplined to stick with it.  Also realize that it takes time to establish a habit.  If you work on establishing a habit everyday for a month, you probably will have it as a part of your routine by the end of that month.  I always include "exercise" on my to-do list, so that I can remember to do it and cross it off when I am done.

Many people argue that it takes time to cook healthier meals for their family.  Sure, this is probably true.  However, with proper planning you can make it work for you.  For example, if you carve out a little time each day to take care of prep work, such as chopping veggies for the next day, you can save some time the next.  Even more so, I have found that making a flexible meal plan helps tremendously.  Each week I sit down and write out what will be for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks for every day of that coming week.  Sometimes I change my mind about what I wrote down, but for the most part it helps avoid the "What am I going to make for dinner?" scenario.  Planning this out can save a lot of time!  For me, it eliminates the wandering around aimlessly looking between the fridge and the pantry trying to pull something together at 5:30.  It's too easy to just give up and order in or make something far less nutritious when you don't already have a plan in place.  There is a great little book called, How to Take the Hassle Out of Homemaking, by Rena Stronach that offers some great advice.  I highly recommend it!

And if you are too busy to get enough sleep perhaps you should look at your schedule and see what you can cut back or cut out.  Sleep is so much more important than people realize or maybe want to believe.  It seems more convenient to just have an extra cup of coffee than get the full amount of sleep required to function optimally.  God made us to need sleep - really 1/3 of each day (at night) should be spent sleeping.  Your body does the most repairing during the hours of sleep.  Plus you just can't function well when you are tired.  So get some sleep, will ya?!  And by the way, for more insight into caffeine, check out Caffeine Blues, by Stephen Cherniske.

Laziness can be another cause of failing to take care of oneself.  I've talked about laziness before, and it seems to be a big problem in our society in particular.  Laziness is also a characteristic of our fallen human nature because it is rooted in selfishness.  Laziness affects others, too.

"If a man is lazy, the rafters sag; if his hands are idle, the house leaks." (Ecclesiastes 10:18)

If it is a feeling of being overwhelmed that is holding you back, making a plan is a solution for this, as well.  Also realize that you don't have to change everything at one time.  Pick one or two things to change at a time and work on that.  It will get easier as you add one or two changes at a time.  Don't get overwhelmed by the big picture.  Just take a step at a time.

I have found that often with moms, but also with others, there is a feeling of guilt associated with the idea of self-care.  My mother will tell you that she did this for years.  She took care of everyone else and not herself.  I think that had to do with not realizing that she was just as important as everyone else and maybe she felt guilty about taking time for herself.  Thankfully she made a significant change and started taking care of herself in a big way.  One of the ways she has done that was by losing at least 50lbs!  It took time, but I am so proud of her.  She has a lifestyle that has helped her live better, and I know she will continue.

Maybe guilt comes in the form of "I never stick with it," or "I've let myself get this far gone."  Don't beat yourself up.  It doesn't do any good.  Instead, make a plan.  Start with learning more about one aspect of taking better care of yourself.  If you know someone who is good at doing this, ask them questions.  Take one step at a time, and if you fail to follow through one day, wake up the next day with a second chance.  No one is perfect. 

I long to see this taken more seriously within the church (all followers of Christ).  We are called to be set apart as holy unto the LORD.  Again, we are not going to be perfect.  I think we can do much better though.  It's starts with me.  I need God's help to be disciplined and intentional.

I'll recommend one more resource here.  I love the book, What Would Jesus Eat?, by Dr Don Colbert.  I found it very helpful and will read it again.

The next two things I am going to work on to make changes in order to take better care of myself are:

1. Going to bed earlier, so I can get up before my children...
2. Snack on more veggies instead of carbs (I have found myself filling up with more carbs than I need lately)...

I hope this encourages you.  What are you going to start with next?  Leave a comment.  I would love to hear, and you never know, you might encourage someone else.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

And Then God Will Bless Us

I stumbled upon this Psalm this weekend, and it really came to life for me and struck a chord in light of the state of our nation.  I thought it would be important to share because this inspires me to pray even more urgently for our nation and the world.  It is so amazing how the LORD lays out His truth so plainly.  We need only to search for Him and find Him by searching with all our heart (see Jeremiah 29:13).

Psalm 67

"May God be gracious to us and bless us and make His face shine upon us,
that Your ways may be known on earth, Your salvation among all nations. 

May the peoples praise you, O God; may all the peoples praise You. 

May the nations be glad and sing for joy, for You rule the
peoples justly and guide the nations of the earth. 

May the peoples praise You, O God; may all the peoples praise You.  

Then the land will yield its harvest, and God, our God, will bless us.
God will bless us, and all the ends of the earth will fear Him."

Oh how I pray, LORD, that the peoples will praise You!  May all the peoples praise You!  Then the land will yield its harvest.  Then You will bless us, and all will revere You!

May we be faithful in praying for our leaders, our people, and other peoples and their leaders.  May we each seek the LORD and praise Him wholeheartedly.  May we never cease to praise the LORD!  He is so great!

"Let all the earth fear the LORD; let all the people of the world revere Him." (Psalm 33:8)

"Let everything that has breath praise the LORD.  Praise the LORD." (Psalm 150:6)

Monday, August 8, 2011



Definition: The surrender or destruction of something prized or desirable for the sake of something considered as having a higher or more pressing claim.

You may have heard about the military helicopter that was fired on and went down in Afghanistan over the weekend killing 38 international military coalition members, including 30 US service members.  I heard about it when I happened to be in a restaurant and saw the report on a television there.  I thought about it several times after that and thought about the families of those service members.  I thought about the people involved, the mission they were on, and the fact that because there are people willing to serve in this way I have the freedoms I have in this country.  These service men saw these freedoms as "having a higher or more pressing claim" than even their own lives.

There are many freedoms that we have had since the founding of our country that have been challenged, but the fact still remains that I can live freely here in my country.  It is easy to remain removed from the reality of the sacrifice that service members make, not to mention their families' sacrifices, as well.  If you are not directly connected to someone involved, it can be difficult not to take for granted what these men and women do for us.  But, I want to be faithful and pray for them.  I want to be faithful and pray for our leaders.

Perhaps I had already stopped thinking about this helicopter that went down and the lives that were lost as as result.  I pretty much moved on to my daily life and forgot thinking about the families that now are grieving.  Then this morning, I learned that I actually knew one of the men who gave his life when that helicopter was attacked.  I went to high school with him, and I went to college with his sister.  His family was a family that I admired while I went to the same youth group shortly after I began to follow Jesus back in high school. 

Suddenly, even though I hadn't been in touch with Aaron or his family much over the last ten to twelve years, the story became more real to me.  As I watched the videos and read the stories today, I felt more of a connection with these service members and their families then I knew how to before.  Though I only knew this family briefly, I knew their love for Jesus and their love for each other. 

I don't know this kind of sacrifice.

Thinking about this today really made any sacrifice I thought I had ever made pale in comparison.  Making a sacrifice to put down something I want to do in order to spend time with my husband or children, though valid, did not seem like much of a sacrifice anymore.  Being willing to consider someone else over myself, didn't seem like that big of a deal. 

In a society like ours, sacrifice is often not seen as a strength.  I pray that these service members will be honored in the way they deserve for fighting for our nation, for freedom, and for each one of us.  I don't know how the news organizations will cover this story.  I don't know how the families will feel about that coverage, but I do rejoice in the ways at least this one service member, Aaron Vaughn, is being remembered.

So many Americans are embarrassed to be American and fail to recognize not only the sacrifices made to found this very republic, but also the sacrifices that are made to uphold it!  There is a lot of misinformation out there that leads to disdain for our founding fathers, US service members, and the leaders who have served our country, many of them sacrificing everything to do so.  Respect is what they deserve.  I thank God for them!

After hearing about this loss that the Vaughn family now has to endure, and watching this interview from the Today Show, I kept thinking of this passage of scripture from John 15:12 and 13:

"My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.  Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends."

Jesus spoke this to His disciples.  It is still true today, and those of us who follow Jesus are called to this kind of love.  Of course, many of us won't be called to this kind of sacrifice.  The question is, though, are you willing?

May we be prayer warriors for these families and those who serve our country.  May we be willing to appreciate their sacrifice and be thankful.