Thursday, January 22, 2009

Enjoy Being a Girl

…dog, that is! The journal Animal Behavior reports a new study suggests male puppies are rather gentlemanly. When male puppies play with female puppies, researchers have discovered male dogs often let females win, even if they have a physical or tactical advantage and could pin them to the mat. In fact, male pups will even put themselves in disadvantageous positions, such as dropping to the ground or licking the female’s muzzle, just to keep the game in play. Choose your moment for sharing this fun bit of trivia. It’s a nice reminder that there’s got to be a little give-and-take in every relationship!

Friday, January 2, 2009

Stick With God’s Markers

Whales fascinate me. Their size is astonishing: California gray whales are between 32 and 50 feet long and weigh about 35 tons. Their migration is so predictable that they pass through the Bering Sea on exactly the same day each year. This amazing schedule baffles scientists. They surmise it's based on natural landmarks like the taste of varying sediments, the sun's position, and coastal or underwater markers. Following the instinctual markers God gave it, this creature makes a 16,000-mile round trip each year, feeding in the cold Bering Sea and bearing its young along the California coast in warmer waters.

God certainly must care for gray whales. After all, He gave these creatures the instinct to survive in a way that mystifies scientists, despite all their research. Think, then, how much more God cares for you and me, people He sent His Son to redeem. In Ephesians 2:8-10, Paul calls the grace of God a free gift. Paul describes His carefully planned course for our lives, calling us God’s “workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works which God prepared in advance for us to do.”

So what does that have to do with the whale? The gray whale stays on course by keeping an eye on the right markers, the markers that God prepared in advance for it. Likewise, God planned your birth in a certain year, into a particular family, in a certain part of the world. Are you finding your own "markers" to stay on course? There are tons. The stuff you love to do, the things that brighten you up, the things that cast a rain cloud over your day, and the ways people affirm you – all of these can be indicators. Find sources of truth in your life, like Woman to Woman®: Talk You Can Trust. God's brightest marker, of course, is easy to find – it's the Bible, His love letter to us. So keep on opening your mail from Him!

Remember, you might have big plans for the New Year, but so does God. He assures us, “I know the plans I have for you. . . .” (Jeremiah 29:11a). It’s up to us to keep track of the markers He’s laid out for us. God hasn’t left the gray whale unguided on its 16,000-mile journey, and He certainly won’t expect us to travel that far without His road map, either. You may not be gray or weigh 35 tons, but sticking with God's markers still makes a whale of a difference.

Here are some other things to stick with during the winter months ahead:
· Maintain a healthy and nourishing spiritual diet. Feed on God’s Word; think about what markers He gives you in whatever you read.
· Keep a prayer journal with prayer requests and answers, along with dates. When Satan fools you into thinking God is too busy or disinterested to answer, check your journal for past answers, and then remember that God is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow. As the saying goes, “His delays are not His denials.”
· Follow through and finish what you start. Experts say to tackle a large cleaning job by doing an additional small task each day, such as sorting a drawer, a cupboard, or closet. When you make the decision to start something, don’t quit until it’s finished!
· Stick with a food plan that gives you energy and diminishes cravings. Brain chemist Dr. Joel Robertson (on Woman to Woman Dec. 28 and Jan. 4) implores people to eat oatmeal every morning for a jumpstart to the day. Try several weeks of low-fat, high-fiber wholesome foods as a favor to yourself, those who love you, and the God who made and sustains you!
· Stick with regular exercise, besides rushing here and there or pushing yourself away from the table. Incidentally, avoid coffee for at least four hours before exercise if you have a family history of hypertension or if your resting blood pressure is mildly elevated. A combination of exercise and caffeine is twice as likely to elevate blood pressure for those at risk. Working out within three hours of eating, however, is a great way to burn more calories – the food produces extra heat, which translates into more calories burned. Did you know exercising after eating burns more calories than exercising on an empty stomach? Working out within three hours of eating produces extra body heat, which translates into more calories burned.
· Enjoy a bath once a week. While showers invigorate and stimulate, baths relax and slough off dead skin cells.
· Focus positive attention on someone you love. Really listen and affirm as you anticipate her or his increased self-image from your response. Watch your relationship with that person improve!
· Keep paying off a debt. A credit card balance can interfere not only with your financial life but also with your peace of mind.
· Use a shopping list to avoid overspending at the food store. Avoid impulse shopping, while still taking advantage of the specials. Stay away from convenience and processed foods; they're expensive and not as healthy as food made from scratch. Save time by cooking a double recipe; freeze the extra for another meal at a moment’s notice.
· Get “unstuck” from something in your past that is holding you back. Christ forgives you, so you should also forgive yourself. Ask God to help you focus on new things. Let go of trying to understand why. You don't have to figure it out. Get down on your knees in weakness and God will deliver His strength to you.
· Cultivate a few good friendships. Take some time and consider how you connect with these individuals. Could one be a book club friend? Could another friend be your shopping buddy? How about a confidant? Could you use one? Could you be a good one for somebody else?

Now it’s your turn! What “markers” will keep you on God’s course this winter? Send me your ideas, and take good care of yourself. After all, you belong to Him!