One of the most important lessons I am teaching my boys in their spiritual lives is about temptation. Temptation is everywhere and seems to be more and more prevalent in our world. Mark Chapter 4 tells us that even Jesus was tempted, so we have to expect that there will be temptation in our lives. I want my sons to be equipped to handle any temptation they may face. It always seemed to be a difficult subject to teach and to get them to understand. I had prayed about how to get the message across to my boys and do it in a way they can understand. Finally, it came to me and I tested it out on them and they really seemed to get it!
Prayer is a very important part of my life. I have to admit though, it has been a selfish part of my life for many years. I looked back and realized that so much of my prayer life was about me or the things around me that would make my life easier.
You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasures. James 4:3
I have struggled with my weight for 10+ years and have been on many diets and programs, none of which were successful in the long term. I decided in January to make big lifestyle changes. I have changed the way I think about food and am much more active. In less than a year, I have lost 38 pounds, lowered my heart rate, lowered my cholesterol, lessened my fatigue, improved my GI issues and improved my overall health greatly!
Why have I seen more success this time? Instead of making an empty plan to lose weight, I made a resolution to the Lord to get healthier and take better care of myself. I could not do this on my own, He has kept me strong through it all. I still have a long road ahead of me, but I am well on my way to making myself the “temple” that I believe God has called me to be! It is not about being skinny or perfect, it is about being all that you can be so that you can do what God is calling you to do!
Do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s. 1 Corinthians 6:19-20
I am committed to staying successful with my lifestyle changes during the month of December, my biggest struggle when it comes to weight loss. What can I say, I love Christmas cookies! But I love the Lord more and I want to share some of my ideas for eating healthy during the holidays for anyone else looking to improve or maintain their health. Let me put a disclaimer out there that I am not a weight loss or health expert. I am just a wife and mom who has struggled with weight and I want to share my ideas and strategies with you.
The most important thing is prayer. When temptations get strong and you think you “need” that extra piece of pie…get on your knees and pray! Prayer has gotten me through many cravings and temptations over the last year. You will be amazed at how quickly God can refocus you and remind you of your priorities.
Another very important rule is….do NOT deny yourself an occasional treat! If you have a favorite cookie or food that you can’t imagine Christmas without, then indulge, a little! As long as you don’t splurge and only occasionally indulge, you can enjoy your favorites. If you don’t allow yourself an occasional treat, you are setting yourself up to fail.
Learn to use substitutes while baking/cooking. Some of my favorites are:
- Use egg whites as a whole egg substitute if possible. This works for many of my recipes. You may also consider using an egg substitute in your recipes. I made egg salad this week using only the egg whites and it was delicious!
- Use applesauce instead of oil in your baking. This cuts out much of the fat. The result is a more cake-like brownie. If you like a fudgy brownies, here is a great recipe for brownies that are made with black beans. It may not sound good, but the brownies are delicious and healthy!
- Instead of cream to thicken, use pureed potatoes.
- Use dried fruit instead of chocolate chips.
- Instead of sugary frosting, top it with fresh fruit and a little powdered sugar.
As you are baking or cooking, chew gum. This will help you resist the temptation to snack while you are busy in the kitchen. Many times we don’t even realize we are snacking and can take in hundreds of calories just “tasting” things. If you are chewing gum, you will avoid this.
Roast a turkey breast instead of a whole turkey.
When having a meal, be careful of all of the trimmings. Things like gravy, whipped topping, nuts, cheese, butter, etc. can add extra calories without filling you up. You want to be satisfied when you leave the dinner party, not stuffed! My mom makes a delicious sweet potato casserole for Thanksgiving dinner, but the topping is loaded with nuts and butter! I just scooped my serving underneath the nuts and I was able to enjoy the sweet potatoes without all of the extra fat! And of course, there is always someone willing to take the topping you left behind!
When you go to a Christmas dinner, wear snug-fitting clothes, not those pants you wore to Thanksgiving dinner because you know they will stretch as you fill your tummy. If you are wearing something a little more fitted, you will be more aware of how much you are eating. Trust me, this works! Also, be picky about what you eat. If it is not something you love, don’t eat it! Save your calories for foods you love.
A good way to stay active and moving during the holidays, park at the back of the mall parking lot. This will have you taking some extra steps and it also reduces the stress of trying to find a perfect parking spot. Do not use the escalators or elevators, take the stairs! You will be amazed at how less crowded the stairs are in the mall this time of year. You will burn a few extra calories and by the time you would have gotten on the elevator, you are already at your next stop!
And if you feel like you just can’t fit your exercise routine in during the holidays, don’t stress, be encouraged…30 minutes of gift wrapping burns approximately 45 calories and 1 hour of light baking burns over 150 calories!
What are some of your favorite strategies to healthy eating and staying active during the holidays?
~ by Heidi, Heidi’s Miscellany
The fall is a busy time of year for traveling. Some are taking fall family vacations and some are traveling for the upcoming holidays. Either way, you may be dreading another long road trip with your children.
Sometimes a family vacation isn’t really a vacation at all. No one seems to be having any fun. I have some ways to help you make the most of traveling with children!
The most important thing to remember when you travel with children is to set realistic travel goals and expectations. If a trip takes you 8 hours without children, you need to assume that it will take at least 10 hours with small children. Also, be careful of your travel times, you do not want to get stuck in traffic in a major city with hungry or potty-bound kids!
Be flexible when planning your road trip with children, plan frequent stops, even if only for 10 minutes at a time. Anything longer than 2 hours in the car and the whining will begin. Kids are just not designed to sit still in a confined space for long periods of time. Travel breaks with children can include state parks, rest areas, playgrounds at local parks, restaurants with play areas, or just a picnic table on the side of the road.
Make Activity Bags
Before we leave on a trip, I like to make an activity bag for each of my boys. I fill it with activities they can do during the trip and a few fun snacks as well. When possible, I like to theme the bag according to where we are going. If you are going to Disney World, buy Disney coloring books, fruit snacks, games, books, stickers, etc. If you are going to the beach, buy water-themed or summer-themed items. If you are going to an amusement park or zoo, include a guidemap of the park. This is so fun for the kids and it gets them excited about where we are headed! I also have a blast finding the stuff to fill the bags.
If you are headed to visit family, put together a small album of the people you will see and talk about each one of them with your children. This is a great way for them to get to know family and for you to recall your memories of family. Play a game of family trivia…see if your children can recall their own memories of family.
Always remember to pack your family’s essentials…wipes, hand sanitizer, paper towels, extra toilet paper, etc. If you have a child that is prone to motion sickness, be prepared. There are many options to help cope with motion sickness, talk to your doctor about all of them and which is best for your child. I like to use the motion sickness bracelets for my son. If you have a child with a disability or severe allergies, make certain their medical bracelet information is up to date.
If you are traveling with a toddler, you may want to bring along a small potty or potty seat. Your toddler’s timing does not always coincide with an acceptable bathroom option.
Do not forget their favorite toy or stuffed animal. I usually allow my children to each pick a couple of their favorite things from home. Of course, you have to be careful with this as an open invitation. My 4 year old requested to bring his “Mickey Mouse” when we went to Disney World. Sounds like an easy request, however “Mickey Mouse” is a huge stuffed elephant that is larger than he. We were able to convince him to take something else, thank goodness because there weren’t enough seats in the van!
Encourage some quiet time during your trip. When we travel to my hometown in West Virginia, the view of the mountains is beautiful, especially in the fall! Turn off the electronics, put away the crayons, activities and games and just enjoy the view and quiet. Reflect on God’s creation and everything around you. If you want to do a family devotional about God’s creation or just talk about the things around you, this is a good time to do that.
For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made -Romans 1:20
Here is a list of ideas to help entertain your children on road trips…
Maps or a road atlas: For older children, include a road map of your trip and let them help navigate. This also helps with the times they ask, “Are we there yet?”you simply answer, “You tell me!”.
Notebook: Bring a spiral bound notebook for each of your children and they can journal about the trip. Have them write about the oversized peach or giant cow they saw! This will be a fun way to look back on the places you have been and some of the fun memories that were made.
Metal Cookie Sheet: One of the best travel tools for children is a small metal cookie sheet. Use it as a tray table and it gives your child something to draw/color on and it keeps the crayons and pencils from rolling away! You can also go to the dollar store and buy magnets with letters and numbers or with their favorite characters and they can use the tray to create their favorite scene from a book or movie.
Audio Books: If you have access to a CD player or in our case, a cassette player, be sure to include audio books. Many are also available to download for MP3 players. There are many fun family friendly options available. My family loves the Adventures in Odyssey Series.
Portable DVD Player: If you have access to a DVD player in the car, it can definitely entertain them for a while. Bring a variety of movies from home or if you want something new and different, you can go to your local library and borrow movies. Also, many kiosk DVD rental companies allow you to pick up and drop off at different locations. Pick up a movie on your way out-of-town and drop it off when you get there, this way you only pay for one night’s rental. Make sure you bring movies that appeal to the whole family. If you have multiple players, remember to bring headphones! The last thing you want to hear is everyone fighting over the volume of the different movies playing.
Handheld Gaming Devices: If your child has a Leapster, MobiGo, or Nintendo, this is a great way to keep them busy for a while. I recommend having screen time guidelines on the road. As entertained as they may seem while playing, too much screen time on the road can cause headaches and motion sickness which makes for upset and whiny children.
There are many fun activities to pack that are great for road trips. The key is to stay away from tiny pieces or messy activities. These are a few road trip-friendly activities:
- Pipe Cleaners and/or Wiki Sticks – these are so fun and there are so many different possibilities with them. You can bend them and shape them to make jewelry, or animals, or trucks, or whatever you can dream up!
- Travel board games are great for older kids, but be careful because some of them have tiny pieces. Most are made with magnetic pieces so they do not move around while the car is moving.
- Coloring/Activity Books and crayons and pencils.
There are many fun travel games to play that include the scenery around you. When I was growing up, this was our favorite travel activity! These get the whole family involved and make for very fun memories!
- I Spy is fun for the whole family, especially the toddlers!
- The ABC Game is fun and actually gets the younger ones thinking about the alphabet! Who knew learning could be so fun? There are many different variations of this game. Instructables explains it well here.
- It is also fun to see how many different state license plates you can find or play it in the style of BINGO for a more competitive approach. KOA has instructions here.
- Play a fun travel version of BINGO. Momsminivan has some fun printable BINGO cards for the road. You will also find other fun travel games to print.
- You can also create your own roadside scavenger hunt, include things like cow, red truck, school bus, purple car, a particular restaurant sign, etc.
Snacks, of course!
Be sure to bring snacks that are road-friendly. Chocolate, sticky, and crumbly snacks can quickly become a huge mess in your car! Things like pretzels, granola bars, dried fruit, jerky, and fruit snacks are good options. If you have a cooler, grapes, cherry tomatoes, carrots, and mini sandwiches are great for traveling.
Just remember to enjoy this time with your family. You have an amazing opportunity for quality time with your children, are you going to embrace it?
I pray for safe and pleasant travels for your family, wherever you may go.
The Traveler’s Psalm
I will lift up my eyes to the hills— From whence comes my help? 2 My help comes from the Lord, Who made heaven and earth. 3 He will not allow your foot to be moved; He who keeps you will not slumber. 4Behold, He who keeps Israel Shall neither slumber nor sleep. 5 The Lord is your keeper; The Lord is your shade at your right hand. 6 The sun shall not strike you by day, Nor the moon by night. 7 The Lord shall preserve you from all evil; He shall preserve your soul. 8 The Lord shall preserve your going out and your coming in From this time forth, and even forevermore.
~by Heidi, Heidi’s Miscellany
Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; 5 does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; 6 does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; 7 bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. 1 Corinthians 13:4-7
1 Corinthians 13 is sometimes referred to as the “Love Chapter” of the Bible. It is used in weddings, we read it on St. Valentines Day, and when we celebrate anniversaries. Have you ever thought to study this chapter in your everyday life and not just at those special days?
My pastor recently preached a sermon on this very topic and it challenged me to look deeper at God’s definition of love and how I translate it to my everyday relationships.
I first asked myself, “Who have you told you love lately?” My husband, my boys, my family, my friends? The answer, “Yes, sometimes, but am I showing them love the way God shows me?” Sometimes our words aren’t enough and we have show our love in actions as God shows us.
When studying 1 Corinthians 13 and our relationships, our first instinct is to look at the ”what love is” part. What God tells us to do seems pretty simple. Love is…
- rejoicing in the truth
- bearing all
Most of us strive to be all of these things in our relationships and can easily measure how we demonstrate these traits of love. These are the obvious ways to show love. If we want to show love in the way that God teaches us to love, we must look at the whole picture.
What about the “does not” and “is not” parts of this chapter, what we are told not to do? These are the things we sometimes fail to evaluate in our lives. These are the things that are more difficult for us to identify and improve.
- does not envy
- does not parade itself
- is not puffed up (proud)
- does not behave rudely
- does not seek its own (selfish)
- is not provoked (easily angered)
- thinks no evil
- does not rejoice in iniquity (does not keep a record)
Take a look at the relationships in your life and decide if any of these are present. If so, work on these areas and your relationships will improve. My prayer is to have a marriage without a record of wrongdoings, a relationship with my children that does not anger easily, and a friendship without jealousy.
The thing about love is…”If you have it, you don’t need anything else. If you don’t have it, nothing else matters.” -unknown
Today I challenge you to look at the relationships in your life and see if you are showing love the way God intends or are you just going through the motions?
~ by Heidi of Heidi’s Miscellany