How I Kept from Gaining Weight over Thanksgiving

I didn’t gain any weight over Thanksgiving. I know…sounds sad…right? But, don’t feel bad for me. I ate what I wanted. Turkey. Ham. Sweet potato casserole. Pie. All my favorites.

Before you call me a party pooper. There’s a reason for my madness…and this post. Always before I kicked my holiday season off with a few extra pounds and it was downhill from there through the New Year’s celebration. I’ve learned by experience that I’m most productive when I maintain a healthier weight. I always blew that this time of year.

This year I’m trying to be smarter. Trying.

How did I do it over Thanksgiving?

Exercised daily – Everyday, for the four day break, I went for a run and did sit ups. Everyday.

One big meal a day – I could have had two…or three. I had one. Everything I wanted. Once a day. Then chose much smaller, more sensible meals the rest of the day.

Got full and stopped – When I had enough…I stopped eating. I know. It makes too much sense, right? But, I didn’t gorge. I ate, got full, and quit.

Took what I liked, not what I didn’t – I often find myself eating things I really don’t like that much…certainly not my favorites, just because it’s there. And it’s the season. I stuck with those things I especially liked and stayed away from others. I found my plate was not as full as in year’s past, but every bite was a treat.

Quickly back to normal, healthy eating – Monday, following the Thanksgiving break, I started eating in my normal routine. In the past, I’ve allowed Thanksgiving to kick off a month long holiday binge. I always regret it the first of the year. Trying not to do that this year. There will be lots of Christmas events, but as much as I can, I’ll be eating sensibly.

Sounds simple, right? Yea, it was. I’m committed to trying it again through Christmas. I wanted to start the new year off without a lot of extra poundage or the sense of burden that I need to lose some weight. The year will have enough responsibility without having that pressure.

That’s my plan.

Do you have one? Does it matter to you?

7 Specific Ways I Deal with Stress

Yesterday, I shared some general ways I deal with stress. Today I’m following that up with some specific things I do that help me deal with daily stress.

You can read yesterday’s post HERE.

Here are 7 specific tips I have for handling stress:

Plan each day – Begin each day with a predetermined win for the day. What do you intend to get accomplished? Learn to plan what you can actually do. Don’t overcommit. Complete the item or move it to another day. Keep in mind, if you keep moving items you are either not making good use of your time or planning too much for effectiveness. The more you plan days you can complete the less stressful individual days will be and, ultimately, the more effective you will be. (In fact, read a post HERE about doubling your productivity.)

Switch projects – When I’m really stressed about a specific project, I like to take a break and work on something different; hopefully something I can easily complete. Now obviously that can become a problem if you never complete the stressful project, so use it as a help not a crutch. Sometimes, howerver, the energy created in making progress on another project will fuel you for the stressful project.

Review your time commitments – Monitor all the ways you spend time. (I wrote a post about this previously HERE.) If you were going to create a monetary budget for the first time, financial planners would have you track everywhere you spend money. The same principle applies here. If you’re always stressed chances are good you have a time management issue on your hands. Figure out the problem areas and you’ll decrease stress.

Practice redirection of thoughts – Read a Psalm. Listen to a song. Recite poetry. Look at pictures of your family. Take a moment to reflect on something of greater value in your life than that which is causing the most stress. (By the way, this works even if the family is causing the stress :) )

Move your body – Take a walk. Stretch your muscles. Head to the gym. I have found that the deeper the stress the more exercise I need, even during the middle of a busy day. When I come back from time in physical activity I’m more energized to attack stress and win!

Talk to someone who listens and cares – Sometimes just walking to another office and venting will relieve a stressful moment. Others, especially those who know me and care for me, can see things from a perspective I can’t see. They can speak into my day. They can help redirect my focus and give me a fresh start.

Stop and dream – What’s something you can look forward to? It may be at the end of the day, the weekend, or a year down the road. Knowing there’s something beyond today helps me handle the current stress. Guys, this is one reason I’m always intentionally trying to have a mini-vacation on the calendar for my wife and me. I know she and I both need that in our marriage to handle the daily stress grind. Again, don’t let this become a distraction to progress. You’ll have to discipline yourself back to the task at hand, but,in my experience, typically people who stress the most (people like me) are wired for progress more than process. We stress when things aren’t getting done fast enough and we tend to overcommit. I’m not sure our basic wiring will ever change, but sometimes, in the midst of that stressful moment, stopping to “smell the roses” lowers our stress level, gives us more fuel for the journey, and makes us more efficient…and more happy!

Those are my tips.

What tips could you add?

7 General Suggestions for Handling Stress

The world is stressful. It is not getting any easier. There seems to be little relief in sight. If anything, life seems more stressful today than even a few years ago. It may be getting worse…not better.

I’ve written about the subject previously, but it keeps coming up in discussion, so here we go again.

What should we do? How do we handle the stress of daily living?

Here are 7 general suggestions:

Have a greater purpose than today – If it’s all about your current situation, when times are good you’ll be good, but when times are bad… You have to live with a greater purpose. What’s beyond today? Where are you headed? What’s the future look like for you? Do you have a plan beyond the stress of today? It will help free your mind from stress when you can lift your focus from today. (By the way…mine is an eternal purpose!)

Be a giver – People who cling tightly to what they have stress when they have less or what they have feels in jeopardy. Stinginess leads to discontentment. Giving frees you to joy.

Direct your thought life – It is a discipline to think of the glass as half full. Stress often comes through what consumes our mind. Garbage in…garbage out. In times of extreme stress, we have to pull from a predetermined and preconditioned ability to look to the bright side.

Stay as physically healthy as possible – Exercise and eating healthy are always good ideas, but it becomes monumentally important during stressful times of life. We tend to do the opposite. We skip our workouts and grab junk to eat. In the process, we starve our bodies of energy and our brains of needed nutrition.

Forgive easily – The lack of forgiveness injures you more than the person who injured you. Holding a grudge leads to bitterness. Bitterness leads to store up destructive emotions. That’s a recipe for stress. Pile on the normal stress of life and you’re going to be one stressed out person. Let go. Forgive. Move forward in freedom. You’ll stress less.

Ground yourself in truth – You need some roots in something that will sustain you during times of stress. God’s word is my foundation. I read it everyday. I memorize it. I sometimes write a verse down so I can see it during the week. Here’s a good verse: “He who began a good work in me will be faithful to complete it.” (Philippians 1:6) Or, “When I am afraid I will trust in You, in God whose word I praise.” (Psalm 56:3-4)

Celebrate often – Take time to laugh. Decompress. Unwind. Choose the bright side of life. It is there even on the worst days. Sometimes I get up from my desk, put my headphones in my phone, crank up a fast worship song…and dance. It breaks the hold stress has on me at the time. Also, surround yourself with positive people when you can. Find a community of hope. That’s what church does for me.

As I said, these are broad suggestions. Tomorrow I’ll share some specific suggestions for handling stress

What’s your remedy for stress?

What Every Pastor Needs

Then Amalek came and fought with Israel at Rephidim. So Moses said to Joshua, “Choose for us men, and go out and fight with Amalek. Tomorrow I will stand on the top of the hill with the staff of God in my hand.” So Joshua did as Moses told him, and fought with Amalek, while Moses, Aaron, and Hur went up to the top of the hill. Whenever Moses held up his hand, Israel prevailed, and whenever he lowered his hand, Amalek prevailed.

But Moses’ hands grew weary, so they took a stone and put it under him, and he sat on it, while Aaron and Hur held up his hands, one on one side, and the other on the other side. So his hands were steady until the going down of the sun. And Joshua overwhelmed Amalek and his people with the sword.

(Exodus 17:8-13…emphasis mine)

Every pastor needs some hand holders on his side.

Someone who will hold up his hand when it begins to fall.

Every pastor I know has days when he feels he carries everyone else’s struggles, but there is no one to help with his. Of course, we are all to “cast our cares” on God, but God uses people to encourage people. Pastors need that too.

Pastors need people they can trust to be supportive. Someone who will not talk about them, but with them in love when there is a problem. People who believe in him, pray for him, and follow his lead if he is seeking to follow God’s. Pastors need to know they have safe places, people to whom they can be real, even on their weakest days, and still be loved. Pastors need true friends; friends who are friends not to be close to the position, but simply to be a friend.

Are you a hand holder for your pastor?

Those people are true Kingdom-builders.

Winning Battles…1 Day at a Time

The girl got on the machine next to me

There were lots of similar machines…she chose this one

In one glance I knew there was potential trouble

She wasn’t wearing much. What she was wearing fit rather nicely…tight if you catch my drift

She was very attractive

I had to use discipline to bounce my eyes

By the way, that kind of discipline starts early

It doesn’t begin in the moment

But, it took discipline

I knew she was there the entire time. I just chose not to look

In fact, instead, I chose to write this blog post

Reminds me though…Satan is not above tempting a pastor

Or you

(And, yes, pastors are human) :)

Satan has great abilities but, thankfully, he has limited powers over the believer

No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to humanity. God is faithful, and He will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation He will also provide a way of escape so that you are able to bear it.” (1 Corinthians 10:13)

the One who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.” (1 John 4:4)

I won the battle. That day. Actually God’s Spirit won. This time.

There will be other battles. Even before this day ends probably.

I must be prepared.

Let’s pray.

Happy Veterans Day: God Bless Our Veterans and Troops

Give us aid against the enemy, for the help of man is worthless. Psalm 60:11 NIV

I have never been to war. I have, however, had the experience of meeting some veterans of foreign war; my father and brother included. As a patriot, I have the utmost respect for our armed service personnel in my country. Growing up in a military town, I tear up at official military functions. God bless our men and women in uniform!

I recall someone who was wounded in action say to me once, that on the battlefield, when you face the enemy, there is no greater time when your dependence upon God is needed. The old saying goes, “There are no atheists in the foxhole.” I can only imagine the genuine fear that one must face when their life is in such danger.

I don’t know about you, but this world seems like a war zone sometimes. No, we don’t feel the danger that our military often do, but there are moments when we can feel the things important to us are in jeopardy. Times when the doctor gives a loved one unfavorable news. Times when the bank account doesn’t balance, because there is more outgoing than incoming. Times when children are challenging are parenting skills can handle. Times when there are decisions to make bigger than our ability to reason.

I don’t know about you, but the process of daily living often causes me to realize I have no strength on my own. I suspect that is how those in real war feel.

The Psalmist recognized that the help of man was really worthless. Certainly God gives us each other to help us along our way, but when the real problems of life come, only One can help us through. If you were in trouble, I would try to help you, but I can assure you, if the problem gets too big, I’m of no use!

It’s Veterans Day again. Time to remember and recognize those who serve so well, so brave, so unselfishly. I am reminded too that the One and Only God the Creator, the One who knows how to paint a sunset and send waves along the ocean surface, is the One who can ultimately fight the struggles we face in life. When life is at its worst (and its best) we need a Savior! Thank you for our veterans God. Keep our soldiers safe from our enemies. God protect our country.

Happy Veterans Day! God bless our troops. God bless us all!

As a mentor…

I received an email this week from a young man in our church telling me how thankful he was for the investment I’ve made in him. Granted, I just arrived here a few months ago and landed into a whirlwind of activity. I’ve been pulled in lots of directions. I am a constant seeker of potential though, so I’ve seen some in him. We have spent very little time together. It has been a very few moments out of my busy calendar, but to him, those have apparently been monumental moments.

I was humbled…again…but it was a great reminder to me:

A little bit of investment…goes a long ways…

You don’t realize the power of the moment…

When you, who may be looked up to…because of your wisdom…because of your experience…because of your story…

Take an interest in someone who is not there yet…when you speak into their life…

It is powerful.

It is life-changing.

Maybe not for you every time, but for them.

Try it. See what I mean.

Be intentional to invest in someone today.

Have you seen a little investment in someone go a long way?

Discarding the Truck: Guest Post

This is a guest post by Josh Riebock. Josh lives in Texas with his wife and dog. He’s the author of Heroes and Monsters and My Generation. He loves 80s music. He doesn’t think TV is evil. He once got a really bad tattoo and he sometimes tells the truth. You can visit him at www.joshriebock.com

Discarding the Truck

A little boy was in the backyard, playing with his brand new toy truck, when he heard his dad calling. Immediately, the boy ran into the house, looking through all the rooms for his dad. Eventually, he found him in the bedroom, sitting in a chair, reading the newspaper. The little boy ran to his dad, and said, “Dad! I was outside and I thought I heard you calling me. So I ran to you.”

Setting the newspaper aside, the dad lifted his son onto his lap. Then he looked into his son’s eyes, and slapped the little boy across the face.

“Son, you’re wrong. I wasn’t calling you. Next time you think you hear my voice, you better make sure that it’s me before you come running.”

In a nearby backyard, another little boy was playing with his brand new toy truck, when he heard his dad calling. Immediately, the boy ran into the house, looking through all the rooms for his dad. Eventually, he found him in the bedroom, sitting in a chair, reading the newspaper. The little boy ran to his dad, and said, “Dad! I was outside and I thought I heard you calling me. So I ran to you.”

Setting the newspaper aside, the dad lifted his son onto his lap, and smiled.

“Son, I wasn’t calling you in here. But the fact that you came running when you thought you heard my voice brings me so much joy.”

I find the idea of hearing and responding to God’s voice to be an incredibly fuzzy concept. It’s wonderful. It’s frustrating. It brings me comfort. It drives me mad. Sure, I believe God wants me to be able to recognize his voice, to respond to it. And I believe that as I grow closer to him I’ll become more familiar with what He sounds like, but what am I supposed to do along the way? How am I supposed to respond to a voice when I’m not sure if it’s God, or just some voice in my head? And how am I supposed to lead others through this fog?

The above story is about this very thing, and more specifically, about reconfiguring my understanding of who God is, what He values more, and what I, in turn, ought to value.

Like the second father, perhaps God takes greater joy in my desire to respond when I think I hear him calling, rather than my ability to hear him perfectly. Perhaps God wants me to go where I believe He’s leading—even if I’m uncertain that it’s him, even if I’m wrong altogether—and to lead others to do the same. Perhaps God wants me to long for intimacy with him over clarity from him. But for that to happen, I have to see God as the second father rather than the first. I have to believe that He is that second father. After all, it’s my fear of what will happen if I’m wrong that often keeps me from pursuing the voice of God. But if I were to believe in a loving father who takes great joy in my eagerness to run when I think I hear him calling, then perhaps I’d come running more often, and spend less time worrying about whether or not I’ve got flawless hearing.

 

What do you think? 

10 Random Post Election Thoughts

I couldn’t get on with my day until I processed a few random thoughts. So many. Many undeveloped. Very random. More to come.

I see so many comments through social media. Some of hurt. Some of frustration. Some of anger. Some of rejoicing. (I am glad I have friends on both sides of the political spectrum.)

10 random post election thoughts:

God isn’t perplexed today about the state of our country.

Fear is an emotion and not necessarily a reality, but perfect love casts out fear. If I’m afraid I should trust in You…in God whose word I praise.

I am supposed to pray for even my enemies…and those with whom I may not agree. Have I done that?

I wonder if our unifying answer is beyond our current two dominant party choices.

Christians have a unique responsibility. We are to respect authority, pray for our nation, and care more about its soul than its economy. I wonder how well we are doing that?

Just because God allows a king doesn’t mean He has chosen to bless a nation with one. That could be true of either party candidate who was elected. Remember the story of Saul and David?

Our country needs the Gospel even more than it needs new jobs. Revival often starts with a few people.

When the country is less unified, the church should be even more unified.

What if President Obama chose Mitt Romney as his new Business Czar? (Supposedly a position he’s proposing.)

I am looking forward to Sunday. My favorite day of the week.

Listen, as an encourager and teacher of God’s people, speaking to the church, let us not become weary in doing good. In due season, we will reap what we sow. Let us be be an example for our nation today. At work. At home. In our hearts. Let us show and be the love of Jesus. He is still our hope.

Draw near to God and He will draw near to us. (James 4:8)

(By the way, I have another theory about the state of the church as it relates to the state of our nation, but I’ll save that for another day.)

Back to work.