Movement is a Gift

“Verbing”

Here is a quick activity to prepare you to read this post. Read through this list of verbs picturing a 3-year old child doing each one: jump, run, skip, hop, walk, crawl, bend, sway, swing, shake, twist, gallop, leap, roll, twirl, kick, tip-toe, stamp, grab, punch, pull, push, wiggle, catch, throw, dig, wave, climb, shuffle, creep, march, turn, dive, skate, dance, jog, and stomp.

As I did this exercise myself, by the end of the list I was giggling. I especially like wiggle and creep.  Little kids are so adorable and watching them move in almost any way is cute.

We were created to move. Expectant moms celebrate the movement of their children before they are even born. As babies develop into toddlers, movement is eagerly anticipated and even documented in baby books: first time to roll-over, crawling, pulling up on furniture, first step…and on and on. Movement is miraculous and wonderful. It is awe-inspiring to consider all that occurs, beginning from the cellular level and spreading throughout our body systems, just for us to be able to get up to answer the door!

jumpropeMovement, then, should not be taken for granted! We want to do all we can to protect this ability, strengthen our bodies, and live life to the fullest…right? Now picture yourself doing all the verbs in the above list! When was the last time you shuffled, twirled, or galloped?

Re-framing Exercise

I love and am inspired by hearing about all the various types of physical activity that you guys are involved in! Hiking, half-marathons, boot camps, walks for charities, running, biking, weight lifting, cross-fit…I could go on and on. So wonderful! If you are regularly out there making it happen just take a moment and tell yourself “good job, self!” You are celebrating your ability to move and giving yourself a much better shot at being able to keep moving!

It takes a lot of determination and lifestyle changing to create a dedicated work-out routine. If you are watching from the side-lines and wish you could get a routine going, it is time to make it happen! Every person that regularly works out, at some point had to start and then keep going.

Re-framing exercise in our minds can motivate us to get started or continue to challenge ourselves. Our perspective holds a lot of power. For instance, when I don’t feel like exercising, I think of someone that can’t. We all know of people that struggle with chronic pain or other health issues that limit their mobility. We know of those with acute disease processes or medical treatments that make physical exertion impossible. Maybe this sounds dramatic, but it is important to think about how blessed we are to be able to move around!

Over the past 3 years my Dad has gone through two back surgeries in an effort to alleviate intense and chronic back and leg pain and weakness. It has been a difficult journey for him physically but also emotionally and mentally. Traveling this road with him has changed my perspective on the ability to move and exercise. During this time, if I didn’t feel like running one day, I would do it for my dad. While I ran, I’d pray for him and text him when I got home to tell him “we” had been for a run. When I hurt and ache from exercise, I am motivated to stretch and keep working so that those aches don’t become debilitating. Yes, I want to look good, but my perspective has shifted away from that desire to a more big-picture point of view. Being healthy, fit, and strong are my goals for whatever circumstance I may find myself in.

Maybe you need to re-frame your views of exercise. If you make it a “should” it can cause you to feel pressure and that can give birth to rebellion. If you put unrealistic expectations on yourself, they can be discouraging and lead to destructive behaviors. Instead of looking at someone else and wishing you were them, create the life you want. My dad is back on the tennis courts 3 times a week now. He and my mom are working out at a gym a couple times a week. I am so very proud of them! He still has a lot of pain, but he has re-framed his attitude about exercise and decided what kind of life he wants! He is making forward strides in improving his mobility and decreasing his need for pain medication. He is being active with my mom which is an important show of commitment to her and a time of bonding for them.

Exercise is not just a “should”. Being able to be physically active is a gift. A gift that comes with a lot of perks: better sleep, improved memory, cognitive sharpness, stress relief, increased self-confidence, better time management, higher productivity, improved mood, reduced risk of diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure,  & stroke! On top of all that: strong muscles, endurance, less fat, and less stress on our joints and spine. Feel better, play hard, get moving. I think a big twirl and some marching might just be in order.

The Best Way

 

laughing-baby Unique from the Beginning

From our first breath, we are unique. I see it every day in my job as a baby nurse. Some infants are quiet and content, some are feisty and “talkative”. Some babies want to be held all the time, other babies need a break from the cuddling. I continue to be in awe of the unique personality traits that are evident from the first moments of life. From feet to fingerprints, we are individuals and one-of-a-kind miracles from the moment we arrive on this earth until the moment we take our last breath.

In order to fully embrace our lives, we must understand, accept, and remind ourselves daily that we are unique…and that is how it supposed to be. You have been created with a unique set of gifts, talents, desires, and characteristics. When honed and mastered these skills will enrich your life and bless those who come in contact with you. So, open your heart and identify your strengths. Nurture them, refine them, use them, and relax in knowing you are exactly who you were meant to be and you are precious.

In our world buzzing with social media it is easy to get lost and believe that only other people are having fun, enjoying life, and making dreams come true. That is a bunch of b.o.l.o.g.n.a! Don’t waste time wishing you were someone else, spend your time and energy becoming your best you!

Healthy Lifestyle – My Way

A healthy lifestyle means different things to different people. That makes sense being that we are all different! Acceptance of others and their beliefs is an important component of any healthy lifestyle. For me personally, my approach to eating is one of balance and moderation. I enjoy every food group and choose to focus on portions, monitoring my macro-nutrients (Carbohydrates, Proteins, and Fats), and overall caloric intake (Thanks My Fitness Pal!). This approach has developed over years of frustration with fad diets and yo-yo weight loss/gain prompting research and commitment to success. It works for me. Does that mean it is the plan, morsel for morsel, that you should immediately apply to your life? Nope. You need to discover your own style, your own methods, and a lifestyle that works with your big picture of life! It is unfair and unrealistic to think that just because a certain plan or approach works for one person that it will work for everyone. Flexibility and adaptability are important components in all of life, including the development and maintenance of a healthy lifestyle.

That said, I still am passionate about sharing what I have learned over the years! Managing diet and nutrition can take up an inordinate amount of space in life and become an obsession. I got so tired of thinking about food all the time while trying to not eat! So I share, hoping to lighten your load and encourage you. If you truly desire to lose weight and eat healthfully, you can do it. It takes commitment and acceptance that habits will not change overnight, but you can do it. It takes support and willingness to be uncomfortable, but you can do it. It requires learning new things and applying that knowledge, but you can do it. You have to want it more than you want the instant gratification of a yummy morsel, but you can do it!

So what is “Your Way”?

What works for you? If you don’t have success stories, then what you do have is valuable experience. You have learned what doesn’t work for you and that is very helpful! When you fail (and we all do), realistically evaluate what happened and adjust the plan. Don’t keep trying the same thing and expect different results. This behavior modification is the difference between falling with a crash and burn vs. falling but building strength and momentum! We all run off the rails sometimes. A healthy lifestyle must include a recovery plan and realistic expectations.

baby fat If you know that you love lattes, then don’t develop a plan that completely eliminates lattes or you are setting yourself up for failure! If you are used to eating 2500 calories per day, don’t restrict yourself to 1200 calories and expect that you won’t struggle with that…be realistic and work your way down. Don’t eliminate all bread if you love bread, just commit to lunch being a lettuce wrap instead of a sandwich…small changes grow into bigger ones! Modify and adapt changes in slowly and you are much more likely to enjoy success and create true and lasting change. An additional perk to a slow and steady approach is that you are not so irritable or frustrated! You will be able to sustain changes and even continue to tweak your choices. After a while you will look back and see the emptiness in trying to find satisfaction and contentment in cookie dough or a bucket of chicken.

healthy lifestyle pic                       Some Science

While we can tweak when we eat, what we eat, and how active we are, there are some things we need to accept and apply as fact to our healthy lifestyle plans. Here are a few things to log away as “givens”:

  • All calories count. Healthy food, junk food, vacation food, food no one sees you eat, every calorie in is faithfully either utilized or stored by your amazing body.
  • Math is involved. If your caloric intake is less than your caloric output then you will lose weight. If your caloric intake is more than your caloric output you will gain weight. Friend, it is math, I’m sorry, but it is. If you honestly and consistently create a calorie deficit, you will lose weight.
  • Balance is required. Our bodies function best from a combination of protein, carbohydrates, and healthy fats. If you want your body to perform for you, you must fuel it appropriately. This is about more than weight loss or gain, it is for your overall health and wellness. Our immune systems, emotions and coping mechanisms, mental processes, hormone cascades, and sleep cycles all depend on a balanced diet to function at optimum settings.
  • Patience is required. Weight management is an ongoing goal. Our bodies are complex and our habits are hard-core. Be patient with yourself and take one day at a time…one choice at a time.

               “The way I live either contributes to the darkness of our world or to the light

                                               and hope of our world.”  ~ Ann Smith

 

Stress Management…just do it

What Stress?

Work, Image result for stressed outfamily, relationships, finances, illness, change…the variety of ways stress comes into
our lives presents us all with a challenge. There is no one way to reduce and manage stress. But, it is universally accepted that less stress is better. So, the first important step is identification. You can’t fix what you don’t acknowledge. You know you feel it, just identify and accept what causes stress for you. Don’t worry about if it would cause stress for someone else or if you believe it is less stressful and worthy of attention than what someone else may be experiencing. Your life, your stress, and your job to handle it. Own it and then you can fix it. Identify each stress and your response.

Good stressors, like a promotion or a new baby, are still stressors. Negative stressors, like hectic schedules or holding grudges, need attention. Internal stressors, such as striving for perfection, must be managed. External stressors, such as deadlines at work, must be given an outlet. We need positive and effective coping skills to enjoy physical, emotional, & mental wellness. The first step is identifying what is stressing you. The next step is identifying what you can do to reduce & manage your stress.

Just do it

We all know the top tips for managing stress I bet. Get enough sleep, eat right, exercise, meditate/pray, play, take time for yourself…blah, blah, blah. That is what you expect me to say, right? Well, I’d love to report that I have new information and there is now a pill. You can take this pill and your stress will be relieved; you will sail through adversity without a tight muscle or added pound; you will glide through 17 dance, gymnastic, and soccer practices a week, help with homework, and still prepare healthy meals with a smile and a hug; and you can immediately dismiss hurt feelings and apologize to your spouse without shedding a tear! Ummmmm…not gonna happen! Here’s the truth: in this life there will be trouble (John 16:33), we will have stress, good and bad, and we get to decide if we manage stress or if stress gets to call all the shots, even determining our health. So just do it.

SoAuntJodi, as your friendly u.b.healthy coach and mentor, I’d like to gently encourage you to pay attention! Today is the day to make changes and decrease the impact of stress on your physical body as well as your mental health. The stress level you live with impacts not only you, but everyone around you. (As does your effective or not-so-effective set of coping skills) None of us get to try today over again…this is it. This is not like Solitaire where you can play and then hit the button to “replay this game” now that you see the correct moves. The impact of stress is very real inside our bodies and chronic stress is very damaging in the short-term as well as the long-term. It is time for us to take stress management seriously and enjoy our lives more each and every day.

Usually I try to stay positive in my approach here, but I feel the need to help us all identify some poor and ineffective coping habits regularly on display all around us:

  • Denial/Suppression
  • Isolation
  • Procrastination
  • Indulging addictions (food, alcohol, shopping, gambling, drugs, etc.)
  • Ranting/Rage

I’m sure this list is not exhaustive, but it covers a lot of the most common “fails”. These strategies create more stress and perpetuate dysfunction in our lives. Procrastination is probably the culprit if you read this and say to yourself, “this is true, I do need to manage stress differently”, and then get up and get a snack.

Change is a choice and is often difficult. These types of ineffective coping skills were probably modeled in our homes and are reinforced daily everywhere we look. But making changes in how we manage stress has enormous rewards. Rewards for us personally, our families, and our co-workers. So, yes, I’m encouraging you to slow down, take time for yourself, eat a healthy and balanced diet, exercise, enjoy being outside, breathe deeply, meditate, pray, spend time with friends, have fun, laugh, play, sleep, eliminate grudges and comparisons to others, and share with trusted friends the concerns on your heart. Take time to share, but also to listen, to advice from people who know you, love you, and have your best interest at heart. This is your one shot at today, don’t just wish it was over, decide to enjoy it.

“Don’t underestimate the value of Doing Nothing, of just going along, listening to all the things you can’t hear, and not bothering.” – Winnie the Pooh

 

Healthy Lifestyle vs. Diet Plan

Oh my goodness, my heart breaks when I hear friends that are discouraged and depressed when diets are embarked upon and then abandoned. The feelings of guilt and self-degradation are useless and yet overwhelming. The self talk becomes damaging and discouraging. Self-esteem plummets and self-loathing moves in. This does not need to happen, it is not helpful or productive. There is a better way and I plead with you to read these words and take them to heart. A healthy lifestyle includes room for desserts and vegetables, physical activity and rest and relaxation, fun and hard work, protein and carbohydrates! Diet plans restrict and offer merely a band-aid, but a healthy lifestyle frees and brings long-term success. There is no comparison…a healthy lifestyle is the only way to lose weight and keep it off, maintain a healthy weight, create balance, joy, health, and wellness for you and your family.

It seems a new and improved diet plan shows up every day. Headlines boast: Follow these 15 simple rules and you will reap the benefits of “easy” weight loss, non-stop fat-burning while you sleep, unlimited energy, and detoxed cells…and they’ll even throw in happiness, whiter teeth, and a group of slim, energetic friends. Seriously, anytime you see the word easy next to weight loss…stop reading! Weight loss and weight management take hard work, period. Weight management is not a temporary mission or a destination, it is a journey.

Women, seriously, please stop the beatings! We must change our focus to healthy living instead of striving for perfect bodies. This is such a passion of mine. I have lived for years in bondage to food and perfectionism, I was never thin enough, good enough, disciplined enough, smart enough…you get the picture I’m sure. I understand the trap and I also understand the depression, discouragement, and hopelessness that comes with yo-yo dieting and failing time and time again. It is ok if you don’t love broccoli. It is ok if you have chocolate every day. It is ok if you “just” take a walk after dinner for your exercise that day. It is ok! You are ok! Just keep taking steps forward and use your head. If something seems too good to be true it probably is bunk. If someone says you can lose weight without changing your diet, it is bunk! If your self-talk says you are a failure and you’ll never change, preach truth to yourself–you are unique and valuable and the only one that can offer the world you! Simple things like portion control, desserts in moderation instead of three times a day, and adding more veggies and more water to your day will help you in your journey to better health and weight loss. Please stop wasting time looking for the quick fix…there isn’t one, that is a path to discouragement.

Start today to live a healthy lifestyle. Eat a healthy and balanced diet. Take time to relax, rest, and sleep. Enjoy the relationships you have in your life and laugh, smile, and play. Eliminate extra clutter in your schedule and spend more time creating in your kitchen, taking walks and bike rides as a family, and noticing the sunset. Take care of yourself! Get to the doctor to have your physical, have lunch with a trusted friend, share life and be genuine. These are the keys to a healthy lifestyle and will result in a life that is full and breeds contentment. You can do it and you will thrive! Spend your energy and your money on creating a healthy lifestyle…the benefits are endless.

 

Chaos…BUT God

I woke up early this morning. My mind was busy processing the events of an insanely crazy shift at work yesterday. Anyone else relate? As a nurse, frequently shifts are chaotic and busy, but yesterday was different. As the shift started with a stressful and emotional crisis, we then moved from crisis to crisis, it was a day that seemed to move in fast-forward while being paused all at the same time. Our minds raced as we attempted to keep up with the needs put in our laps. BUT…(there’s always a big but) God was there.

I woke up this morning overwhelmed and humbled by the circumstances I participated in yesterday. Tears flowed as the emotion was finally able to come to the surface and be felt. The time for intense focus has passed and today, on this day off, the time for reflection is here. Reflection today inspires humility and gratitude. My God is big! His promises are for real. It is o.k. to trust Him, He is trustworthy.

As you may be wondering what transpired, I can’t really say due to patient confidentiality and the like, but please continue reading as I take a few moments to focus you in on the important details. #1 Be grateful. As you go through your day today, know that there are people who have studied and persevered through trials and difficulties to become experienced to serve you should you have a medical crisis. As I assembled with a team preparing for a critical arrival yesterday, I looked around the room and was humbled and in awe. Dedicated people, a wide range of knowledge bases, different ages, cultures, races, religious beliefs with one goal…service. Later as I dressed to attend an emergent c-section delivery, again I looked around the room in awe…same scenario, different floor. I am in awe and humbled to be a part of the medical field. Not perfect by any means, but devoted to compassionate care? yes.

#2 God is trustworthy. For years I tried desperately to get out of nursing. I spent the first decade of my career terrified that I would miss something and someone would be injured or worse. As my faith was wobbly I did not understand where the peace could come from when I knew that tragic events happened to Godly people. It seemed that God was wild and unpredictable, how could I rest and accept his word that he would protect my patients and me? Over time God has shown me that my perspective was misdirected. While I was focused on my performance, anxiety and worry overwhelmed my daily life. Yesterday was confirmation to me in so many ways that God is faithful and trustworthy. As circumstances were intense, I had the ability to see God’s hand moving and going before me because I was focused on Him. The emergencies still happened…BUT God was there. The loss was still real…BUT God was there. I still had to work and endure a draining day emotionally, physically, and mentally…BUT God was there. He provided the people who needed to be there. He provided extra hands that were a bonus. He provided opportunities to laugh amidst the seriousness. He provided opportunities for me to love, touch, and minister to hurting people. He went before me, with me, and continues to be involved in each scenario even though I have moved on to this day. He is amazing and you can trust him.

#3 Jump In. Over the past couple months a transformation has been happening in my mind and heart. I finally kicked fear to the curb and told God, “alright, I’m 100% in. I surrender and give you my whole life…now what?” It has been amazing! Idols are getting obliterated as I have eliminated my addiction to Diet Coke and also food. Addictions that have ruled for at least 30 years (wow I’m old). The weight has dropped off as I’ve accepted his plan for me which encompasses taking care of the blessings he has given me, including a body that can work and move. I have learned that I must still work hard physically, emotionally, and mentally, but his help and strength are real things when I stay close to him. And my biggest take away from yesterday is the blessing of being in at 100% when the rubber hits the road and circumstances and challenging…being a vessel for God’s love and mercy to others is amazing. Being able to serve others and focus on them instead of me and my weaknesses allows me to enjoy God working in the situation because I am freed up to see Him. It allows me to lay down my pride and need for approval and just be a piece of His glorious plan being fulfilled. He offers abundant living and it happens when I jump head first and remain focused on my role…which is surrender to Him. He has all the heavy lifting in this relationship!

Over the past couple years I have been growing in my trust in God. He has been faithful to show up and speak to me through his word, during my quiet times with him, and through other people too. As I’ve sought help with anxiety and fear, He has shown me the steps needed to overcome these very common obstacles. Surrender. Accept. Trust. Receive. These are the steps and they work every time. This year as I have a goal to stop striving for anything else before Him, I am living in freedom in a new way that is exhilarating. I share with you today because my heart is full and I am so thankful to see His powerful hand at work in the my small piece of the puzzle. IMG_0546 (2)The God who knows the number of
grains of sand on every beach just because he can and designs the sunrise and sunset every day in a glorious display no matter who is paying attention because He is worthy of glory and praise…this is the God that was present with little, insignificant me yesterday, all day, moving and working as I bumped into people who needed help. Amazing.

“Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will know what God wants you to do, and you will know how good and pleasing and perfect his will really is” (Romans 12:2, New Living Translation). 

Dream: Go For It!

Dreaming 

A new year with new opportunities for fresh plans and goals. Unfortunately, this is also prime time for unrealistic expectations that can lead us down the road to frustration, disappointment, and yet another hit to the self-esteem. As the infomercials and gym fliers attack, pause and figure out what you really need and want for 2016.

Dream a little bit. What would you really like to see happen in 2016? I don’t mean win the lottery! I mean, what goals are you willing to fight for, sacrifice for, and come out of your comfort zone for…because that is the goal you want to put in the cross-hairs.

Patience 

Whatever goal is your focus, be patient. Much easier said than done! Habits are hard to change, but not impossible! The formula is consistency and time; we must be dedicated to transformation.

I recently heard a tip that I thought was phenomenal. We need to stop listening to ourselves and start talking to ourselves.  We need to be patient and understand that it takes time to change those negative tapes that run in the background of our minds, but we can challenge them and preach truth to ourselves and with perseverance, we can change.

The Pit of Comfort

I am a queen of justification! Who’s with me? I can always come up with “legitimate” reasons why I “need” something that I want. And, we seem to be quick to help each other justify actions counter to our goals too! Why is it so tempting to lure ourselves and others off the path of discipline that leads to success? My guess is that fear often drives that bus. Fear of failure, fear of expectations, fear of giving up vices, fear of disapproval of others, fear of discomfort…fear is huge. All of these fears add to the trouble we experience leaving our pit of comfort…whatever that pit looks like for us. You may be surprised what pit you are choosing to hang out in. Maybe you have set up house in a body that is too large because you believe it is shielding you from pain or fear. Maybe you cuddle with negative attitudes and depression buying into the lie that you don’t deserve anything else due to leftovers from past hurts or failed relationships. Maybe your soft landing is a pile of excuses you have claimed as truth as to why you can’t change fueled by smoldering crash landings from former attempts. Our justifications keep us in our comfort zone that is really more like a strait jacket. We believe we are protecting ourselves, but in reality we are hiding and hindering growth and maturity and abundant living.

A big pit of comfort for me has always been Diet Coke. As a teenager it was an allowable pleasure in my strict and conservative home, it didn’t have any calories so if fit in with my crazed eating habits, and it became a friend for when I felt down or wanted a treat. It never asked anything of me and it was consistent and unchanging. That habit grew over the years into a powerful force in my life, becoming an immovable part of schedules and budgets. This has been my reality but I am staring it down in 2016!

What is your “Diet Coke”? What is that thing that you are absolutely unwilling to give up even though you know it is not in your best interest? That my friend is where you need to aim your weapons to begin true transformation. There is a reason you cling to it, an attachment that is larger than just the object of your desire, your idol. Figure that out and you are on your way to meeting goals and creating the lifestyle you really want.AuntJodi

My challenge to you as this new year begins, is to find goals that challenge comfort. For me this means no more Diet Coke, yep, I’m done. As I talked this over with my husband to ensure he was willing to support my whiny and probably irritable transition, he asked me a valuable question: “have you thought about what you will replace it with?” Any plan for change must include survival strategies that are realistic. I can drink coffee and tea to ease the transition off of caffeine, but the reality is that I don’t want to replace the idol that Diet Coke became. I have accepted that this will be uncomfortable and I am determined to learn though the discomfort and embrace it instead of run from it. I pray and meditate when the cravings are strong. I speak truth to myself about the cravings, what do I really want…peace, relief, rest…Diet Coke doesn’t meet any of those needs! It is about being honest with our realities and being willing to be uncomfortable in order to achieve the lifestyle of health and freedom that we really desire. One of my favorite quotes from Jillian Michaels is “Get comfortable with being uncomfortable”. Dream big friends and achieve lasting success by stepping outside of your comfort zone!

“For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so that we can do the good things he planned for us long ago” (Ephesians 2:10, NLT).

 

Not so Normal Night

Ordinary People — Extraordinary Plan

The Christmas message is about a bunch of ordinary people involved in an extraordinary story. Sometimes I think it is easy for us to read the story of Jesus’ birth and imagine that the other characters in the story were set apart and different in some way, or we just don’t think about them at all. Well, I’d like to focus in for a moment on the shepherds.

If you were arranging the arrival of a king, would you be sure and notify a bunch of dusty, ordinary guys who care for stinky sheep? And not just send them a text message, but send a choir of angels? Well, God thought it was a great idea. One of my favorite parts of the Christmas story is thinking about what that night was like for the shepherds. “That night some shepherds were in the fields outside the village, guarding their flocks of sheep” (Luke 2:8, NLT). Ok, stop for a minute and set the picture in your mind. Just a routine shift, nothing new to see here, just a bunch of dirty, lazy sheep, watching out for predators, counting stars, trying not to freeze…” Suddenly, an angel of the Lord appeared among them, and the radiance of the Lord’s glory surrounded them. They were terribly frightened, but the angel reassured them. “Don’t be afraid!” he said. I bring you good news of great joy for everyone. The Savior—yes, the Messiah, the Lord—has been born tonight in Bethlehem, the city of David!” ~pause~ If you aren’t very familiar with the Bible, just know that these men would have heard prophecies of the Messiah coming since they were little boys. That history in conjunction with the angel and radiance of God all over the place had to be quite a spectacle!  ~play~ Then, after giving instructions on how to find the Messiah–Baby Jesus, “Suddenly, the angel was joined by a vast host of others—the armies of Heaven—praising God: “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and peace on earth to all whom God favors” (Luke 2:13-14). Imagine for a moment the glorious sound and sight that those shepherds witnessed! The shepherds decide to take the advice of the host of angels (good plan) and go to find baby Jesus in a manger in Bethlehem, sharing their beautiful experience all along the way. These men were shepherds, ordinary people doing ordinary things who were suddenly and gloriously interrupted by a host of angels…way cool!

So, what does this have to do with living a healthy lifestyle? Well, it is important to remember that God shows up in the lives of ordinary people. And He didn’t just whisper to the shepherds, he organized a very unique invitation for them to celebrate in the birth of Jesus Christ, the arrival of the Messiah. I imagine the shepherds felt pretty special after all that went down. A new identity perhaps? A new God-sent-angels-to-the-field-to-talk-to-me kind of identity. Enjoying a healthy lifestyle includes a solid understanding of identity and value. So often we get caught up in trying to solidify our identity and value by trying to please others, comparing ourselves to others, or striving to meet unrealistic expectations. Unfortunately, the holiday season is prime time for these kinds of pressures to escalate. Remember, your value comes from being a creation of the most-high God and has nothing to do with the number on the scale, the color of your hair, the number of children you have, how fit you are, the job you have, or if you have been acknowledged by Forbes magazine!

Maybe you haven’t been visited by a host of angels, but God did send Jesus for you. “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. God did not send his Son into the world to condemn it, but to save it” (John 3:16-17, NLT). And we get to experience reminders of God’s love all around us every day. We don’t live in a bland world, we live in a world full of sights, sounds, smells, and touches, and we have the capacity to enjoy it all. Seeing familiar smiles to greet you, birds flying in formation, 15 shades of pink in the sunset…yep, that’s for you. Hearing orchestra concerts, ocean waves crashing, babies cooing…all for you to enjoy. Smelling fresh baked cookies, Grandma’s perfume, wood burning fire, pine needles…you guessed it, all for you. Experiencing hugs, warm coffee soothing your throat, puppy tongues licking your cheeks, a hot bath or steamy shower…all for your pleasure because you are loved.

Banish thoughts of creating the “perfect” Christmas for your kids and just savor the season, even if it is filled with sniffly noses and crazy relatives. Relieve the pressure and take in the brisk air, the twinkly lights, and the festive music and be grateful for the ability to do so. Rest in the reality that you are perfectly created by God and he loves you.

Have a Merry Christmas!

Night Songs

Surviving life with grace and hope

u.b.healthy

Create the life you want