“One isn’t necessarily born with courage, but one is born with potential. Without courage, we cannot practice any other virtue with consistency. We can’t be kind, true, merciful, generous, or honest.” Maya Angelou
What is holding you back from living up to your potential?
The members of the council were amazed when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, for they could see that they were ordinary men who had had no special training. They also recognized them as men who had been with Jesus. (Acts 4:13; NLT)
Continuing with the list of character traits of The Compassionate Samurai from Brian Klemmer’s latest book, we start 2009 with the next to last trait on his list, courage or boldness. Webster defines courage as the attitude of facing and dealing with anything recognized as dangerous, difficult or painful, instead of withdrawing from it. Klemmer points out that to do something when you’re not aware of the risks is not courage. Courage is acting in the face of fear. He writes, “If you have fear, welcome to the human race. The minute you care, there’s fear. That’s okay. It’s natural.”
We all have fears. The key to success in life, the key to being all that God calls you to be in this new year, is to realize that much of that stuff that we’re afraid of is only the fruit of our overactive imagination painting the worst possible scenario. I’m sure you’ve all heard the acronym FEAR–false evidence appearing real. The trick is to face those fears head-on and do what you have to do–even if you are afraid.
You can’t spend your life trying to shelter yourself from every single hurt that may come your way. “The person who tries and keeps on trying will eventually get to where (s)he’s going.” We all need to move on from the lowest point in life–mediocrity. “Mr and Mrs. Average can be defined as the best of the worst and the worst of the best.” We aspire to better in this new year, and believe that you do too. You certainly have the God-given potential to excel in 2009.
Lord, we are forever grateful for the courage You demonstrated to make the ultimate sacrifice for each and every one of us. I’m sure our imaginations can’t even begin to comprehend the price You paid.
Link of the Day
How to Overcome the Fear of Failure
Blessings to you as you purposely face one of your fears head on this week and step out of your comfort zone.
“Health is a large word. It embraces not the body only but the mind and spirit as well…and not today’s pain or pleasure alone, but the whole being and outlook of man.” James H. West
After reviewing your overall health in 2008, how would you like your health to be different at the end of 2009? What changes are you willing to make?
A man who loves wisdom brings joy to his father…(Prov. 29:3a; NIV)
Yes, the time for New Year’s resolutions, fad dieting and joining a gym are upon us. What changes will you be making as you begin a new year? How do you want 2009 to be different for you than 2008 with regard to your stamina, your energy levels, and your sleep? There is a lot that you can do to turn the rudder around on your own health cruise ship.
As I’ve been pondering recipes and thinking about the upcoming year of Daily Grams, I was reflecting somewhat on my own health metamorphosis. Even though we’ve eaten a healthy diet of whole foods for many years, my food preparations have changed as I’ve learned more about how foods affect the human body.
When I began eating a whole foods diet in the late 1970’s (I know that was before many of you were a twinkle in your Daddy’s eye), there was precious little information available about what constituted healthy eating. I did a great deal of trial and error. As I’ve mentioned before, I ate a vegetarian diet for a number of years. Yes, we ate a lot of vegetables and fruit but we also ate a lot of grains. Whole grains were thought to be a health food panacea. They still are in many circles today as well. I literally have an entire recipe box full of bread, muffin, biscuit, cracker, and scone recipes. Some may ask, “Why aren’t they posted on your blog?”
When I’ve created recipes for the blog, I’ve attempted to use the most whole food ingredients possible. I avoid using (and eating) refined carbohydrates. I choose and create recipes that use lean, clean protein avoiding pork products and shellfish. I use lots of vegetables and fresh fruits. I also use various legumes (beans) and many nuts such as almonds, pecans, and walnuts. Organic dairy products also find their way into my kitchen. For years I avoided all dairy but I now do use specific organic dairy products. I also choose to use foods lower on the glycemic index so that’s why you rarely see white potatoes in any recipe. Here’s to a healthier YOU in 2009.
Father, we are so blessed by the New Year that You have granted us. May we seek You for all that we are to be about during this upcoming year.
Link of the Day
Cashew Curry Dip
Blessings on you as you enjoy some cashew curry dip!
“In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities, but in the expert’s there are few.” – Shunryo Suzuki-Roshi
What was the last occasion that led you to say, “Been there, done that, got the tee-shirt?”
A wise person is hungry for truth, while the fool feeds on trash. (Prov. 15:14; NLT)
Epitaph for the average man or woman: John Average Man. Born 1900. Died 1940. Buried 1983. Think about it…how many over 40 John Averages have you encountered? Some die even earlier. Some die when they graduate from college. Some when they graduate from High School. You’ve probably figured out that I’m not talking about physical death here, but instead, emotional, spiritual, or mental death.
You see, you’re either growing or you’re dying. If you refuse to grow because you’ve “been there, done that,” or because you’re tired of learning, or any of a thousand other reasons (aka excuses), you’re dead! Oh, you might still be taking more than your fair share of room on the planet or breathing more than your fair share of air, but you’re dead nevertheless.
The last character trait of The Compassionate Samurai covered by Brian Klemmer in his latest book is Knowledge, or a constant eagerness to learn. I’ve heard it said that the instant you decide you know something, you stop learning. Contrast that with someone who has a beginner’s mind. That person will humbly admit that there is always more to learn.
Also note that a beginner’s mind can learn just as effectively from someone half his chronological age, from someone who is in a subordinate role, from people with significantly lower IQ’s, from people they don’t know, and/or maybe doesn’t even speak their language.
A beginner’s mind doesn’t mean you don’t know anything. On the contrary, it simply means that in spite of what you already know, you’re willing to approach the subject with brand-new eyes. Take what you know, put it on the shelf and hear the other person as if you were a total beginner. Then when all is said and done, you have every right to choose to reject everything you heard, accept part of it and reject the rest, or replace your old understanding with the new. The beginner’s mind does not mean you’re gullible. Rather it means that you humbly admit that you just might not know it all.
Give it a try. You might just learn something. And for sure, those around you will respect and appreciate you more than ever before.
Lord, grace us with the humility to have a beginner’s mind toward everything…including our understanding of You. There is so much that we don’t know.
Link of the Day
Blessings on you as you purpose to listen to other people with a beginner’s mind.
“When your value system and corresponding actions become congruent with the call of God on your life, you will become unstoppable!” Sharon Graham
How does the “rhythm of your life” coincide with your values?
To know wisdom and instruction, To perceive the words of understanding, (Prov. 1:2; NKJ)
What do you do every day that’s part of your daily routine? Do you call your children each morning? Or perhaps you call your parents every evening? Maybe it’s just a short, “Hi, how are things going?” Maybe you have a special grandchild that you stay in touch with routinely.
One friend of mine packs lunches every evening for her husband and other family members for the next day. Another couple who we’ve known for years spends time together each evening in prayer for their friends and family. It’s like clockwork for them. Hopefully, you’re flossing and brushing your teeth at least once a day (at least the teeth you want to keep).
Many of you have a daily discipline of spending time with our Heavenly Father, perhaps reading a daily devotional or motivational book along with reading Scripture. Life develops into a rhythm and for the most part certain actions are performed every day.
May I propose to you that exercise can also be a part of that daily rhythm? For many of you, it is. For others, with some effort, it can become that. Jerry writes a great deal about how our thinking affects our actions and outcomes. May I challenge our non-exercisers to not think of exercise as something “I have to do!” Exercise is something we GET to do. It’s a privilege. We’re granted only one physical body. And as the saying goes, “Where are you going to live when your body wears out?”
Having spent time with my mother over Christmas, I again wasn’t able to do my normal exercise routine. I was so eager to return home and get back to the gym. My body really missed the exercise. After a couple of days of once again working out, I realized how much this is a part of me. It’s part of the rhythm of life. It’s something I GET to do and my body rewards me by working more efficiently and staying strong. What can you do to make your body sing with happiness?
Father, thank You for our amazing physical bodies and all that they can do. May we seek You for how to give them the best possible care that we can.
Link of the Day
The Benefits of Daily Exercise
Blessings on you as you learn to include exercise into your “Rhythm of Life.”
“What other people think of you is none of your business.”
How much time did you spend yesterday just sitting alone…in silence?
Be silent, and know that I am God! I will be honored by every nation. I will be honored throughout the world. (Psa. 46:10; NLT)
I enjoy good quotes. And I love great photography. Particularly of kids and animals. Today’s link is a Powerpoint presentation sent to me by a friend that hits all three of those “love” buttons. Seemed like a great segue into what promises to be a magnificent weekend.
Now that I’ve gotten through Brian Klemmer’s The Compassionate Samurai, I’m really eager to start something new. I’ve been listening to some great new (to me) teaching on the brain over the last couple of days. I want to share that with you. I’ve also been reading an incredible book called The Shack. I’m sure many of you have already read it. I’ve got some pretty strong opinions (all positive) on The Shack that I’m eager to share. And I’ve also been reading another fantastic book that delves into several more of those “universal laws” that I’ve never seen before. I’ve got so much exciting stuff to share…I feel like a kid in a candy store.
One final quote from today’s link…”No one is in charge of your happiness except you.” How true that is!!! Make it a fantastic weekend. It’s always your choice.
Lord, life really is good and we are definitely too blessed to be stressed. Thank You for being so good to us.
Link of the Day
Enjoy the Ride
Blessings on you as you slow down, relax, and enjoy the ride.
“We all need a daily check up from the neck up to avoid stinkin ‘thinkin’ which ultimately leads to hardening of the attitudes.” Zig Ziglar
How would you feel if you were in the presence of someone who could read your thoughts?
We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. (2 Cor. 10:5; NIV)
Last Tuesday while we were working out at the gym, Sharon was on the treadmill with her headset plugged into the TV and was watching the Joyce Meyer broadcast. When she got off, she came to me and asked if I had ever heard of a Dr. Caroline Leaf. I said, “Of course…she wrote the book ‘Who Switched Off My Brain?'” “Well,” Sharon said, “she was just on the Joyce Meyer show and you really need to hear it as she was saying some of the same things you’ve been writing about.”
Some of you may remember that I mentioned Dr. Leaf’s book in the lead DG of the eight-part series I did on the brain back in October and November (click here). So I came home and looked up Joyce Meyer Ministries on the Internet and downloaded the podcasts for the two shows she did with Joyce (today’s links). I’ve listened to them three or four times now and I’m even more “blown away” with the discoveries that are being made about the human brain. Remember, Dr. Leaf is a brain researcher from South Africa with over 25 years in this field. She’s also a strong Christian and does a magnificent job of explaining this research from a biblical perspective.
Through the course of the interview it becomes clear that the biblical admonition that we should control our thoughts (see above) is not just some spiritual cliche, but is an absolute necessity since it directly impacts our emotions, our relationships, our self-perception, and even our physical health. Even more significantly, Dr. Leaf explains that recent research has actually identified that our free will is a specific area in the brain, and further that it is completely under our control. Nothing occurs in our body without going through that area of our brain. Therefore we were designed to have the power to overcome those negative, toxic thoughts.
This means that we can no longer hide behind the “I just can’t do that” excuse. Joyce summed it up when she said, “You can do anything if you really want to bad enough.” (Deut. 11:30 reads, “Now what I am commanding you today is not too difficult for you or beyond your reach.”) Folks, you can literally change your life by changing how you think and how you look at things. Admittedly, it is difficult in the beginning, like changing any habit would be. But I don’t believe there is any habit that you could change that would have more of an impact on your life than becoming aware of and taking command of your thoughts.
As you can tell, I’m a bit wound up about this and will likely continue this line of thought (pun?) on Wednesday’s DG. BTW, you’re reading this on our blog. Comments are welcome and easy to make. Let’s hear from some of you. Agree, disagree, share stories, etc. It will make this experience richer for all of us if you participate.
Lord, we thank you for the amazing powers you have given us by design. Forgive us for those many times when we choose to operate at less than our full potential.
Links of the Day
Your Brain and You – Pt 1 (1/5/09)
Your Brain and You – Pt 2 (1/6/09)
Blessings on you as you choose to just think about what you are thinking about.
Capers are a common ingredient in Mediterranean cuisine.
When was the last time you used a new and different ingredient in your cooking? What’s holding you back from trying something new?
Command the Israelites to bring you clear oil of pressed olives for the light so that the lamps may be kept burning continually. (Lev. 24:2: NIV)
Today’s recipe is an olive tapenade. Tapenade is a spread consisting of olives, capers, and olive oil. It can often times contain anchovies as well. Mine doesn’t. Tapenade is usually eaten as an hors d’oeuvre, spread on gourmet breads such as toasted baguette. I use whole wheat pita bread that I toast and cut into triangles. Tapenade’s ingredient base is olives. Black olives are most commonly used. I used a combination of black, Kalamata and green olives that I bought at an “olive bar” in a grocery store near our home. I like the mixed combination. BTW, pitting the olives was…well…the pits. You can either use your thumbs or a good, sharp paring knife to cut the olive away from the pit.
Olive oil and capers are also found in tapenade. Various flavorings are also added such as garlic, herbs, and lemon juice, depending on the region of the world. So, just what are capers besides some tiny little things in glass jars found in the gourmet section?
Capers are the pickled buds from the Capparis spinosa plant, a perennial spiny shrub found in the Mediterranean region. The buds, when ready to pick, are a dark olive green and about the size of a kernel of corn. Once picked, they are pickled in salt, or a salt and vinegar solution. Intense flavor is developed, as mustard oil is released from each caper bud. This enzymatic reaction also leads to the formation of rutin, (a powerful anti-oxidant) often seen as crystallized white spots on the surfaces of individual caper buds.
So, if you’ve never used or bought capers before, don’t be intimidated. I even found organic capers when I did a search online. The Santa Barbara Olive Company offers high quality products (http://www.sbolive.com/default.aspx). I’ve purchased their olives before and was very pleased with the product. The capers I used are also from that company and I located them in one of our local health food stores.
So, make today or this evening special for someone you love and enjoy some olive tapenade together.
Father, You are such a loving and giving Heavenly Father. We continue to be so blessed by Your goodness to us. We pray blessings on all of our readers this day!
Link of the Day
Blessings on you as you experiment with trying a new food.
“Yeah, stinking thinking, I’m letting you go. Because of you I had nothing to show. You’ve never done a blinking, stinking, positive thing for me.” Tony Brigmon
In what ways has stinking thinking served you? Why do you continue to allow it?
And now, dear brothers and sisters, let me say one more thing as I close this letter. Fix your thoughts on what is true and honorable and right. Think about things that are pure and lovely and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. (Phil. 4:8; NLT)
As a follow up to Monday’s DG reporting on some of the content of Dr. Caroline Leaf’s discussion of the brain on Joyce Meyer’s TV show, I would like to share with you some of the bits and pieces that I found most fascinating.
First of all, thoughts are real things. They now have instrumentation that can “see” thoughts as they develop in a person’s brain. Every thought builds memories. These thoughts in the human brain look like trees, In fact, if you follow the link in the comment Robert Hartzell left on Monday’s DG you will see reference to a book named, “Magic Trees of the Mind.” The most fascinating thing to me was that positive, faith-based thoughts look different than do negative, fear-based, or toxic thoughts. Obviously, a thought is a thought, so the process is the same, but the chemicals involved are very different causing the negative thoughts to look like a thorn bush rather than a tree with leaves.
Apparently the toxic thoughts have little pockets of poisonous chemicals that look like thorns. Every time you revisit that negative thought it causes those little thorns to squeeze out those chemicals into the body and ultimately make it sick. Every thought you think has an immense chemical effect on your body. Every thorn tree puts your body into stress. Stress is simply the body’s reaction to a toxic thorn tree. Put another way, stress is a chemical reaction in your body to whatever you’re thinking. And get this…according to Dr. Leaf, 87% of all current illness today comes from your thought life. Note that even if you get medical help to reduce or eliminate the symptoms of that stress, but don’t deal with the negative thought pattern, the stress will simply manifest in some other form somewhere else in your body.
Dr. Leaf and Joyce Meyer did discuss ways to renew your mind (sound familiar?) on a daily basis. If done consistently, research has established that as little as four days of consistent renewing the mind results in some of the thorns falling away and being replaced with healed memories. This is certainly not to say that a lifetime of negative thinking can be resolved in only four days, but it is saying that progress can be seen and documented in very short order.
If you find this as interesting as I do, I invite you once again to click on the links below and download the mp3 audio file of the two Joyce Meyer shows that featured Dr. Leaf. Listening to these two half-hour shows should convince you beyond a shadow of a doubt that your emotions, your relationships, your self-perception, and even your physical health is totally in your control. Just take the effort to control what you allow yourself to think about. Choose to “think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.”
Lord, I thank You that You have outlined a clear path to manage our thought life. I pray that more and more people will wake up to the incredible power they have to control their very circumstances.
“Water makes up more than two thirds of the weight of the human body, and without it, humans would die in a few days.” Widely accepted as fact.
Are you drinking enough water each day? Why or why not?
Because he was very thirsty, he cried out to the LORD, “You have given your servant this great victory. Must I now die of thirst and fall into the hands of the uncircumcised?” (Judges 15:18;NIV)
I hear it from clients and friends almost every day. “I know I should drink more water.” Or, “I know I’m not drinking enough water.” It seems that nearly everyone is aware of the importance of drinking water yet most people would say that they’re not drinking enough. Even though there are a ton of facts available about why the body needs water and what happens when we don’t drink enough, that doesn’t seem to be the motivation that folks need to make water-drinking a habit.
So, what will it take to have you improve on your water drinking? I’ve worked with dozens of clients to come up with creative ways of getting their daily water intake “down the hatch.” First, do some rough figuring on how much water your body really needs per day. A common formula is to take your approximate weight and divide that number by 2. That subsequent number is the amount of ounces per day that your body will do well with drinking. So, if you weigh 128 pounds, divide that by 2 and you get 64. Sixty-four ounces is also equal to 2 quarts (or 8, eight ounce glasses.) I know the 8, eight ounce glasses is a common number that is frequently seen and heard. That’s fine if you weigh less than 140 pounds.
However, if you tip the scales at 210 pounds, 64 ounces is a great beginning but not a place to park. So, say you need to drink 100 ounces per day. First of all, look at how much water you’re currently drinking in a day. Are you even drinking 32 ounces, or 1 quart? If not, begin there. Once you master the 32 ounces, then increase that to 48 ounces, then 64 ounces. Don’t try and begin with 100 ounces if you’ve never drank more than 30 ounces of water in a day. Work up to the needed amount.
Some clients find it helpful to find or buy a container that holds a specific amount, (1 quart is a common measure.) I recommend a glass container, by the way. Fill that up in the morning and sip on that all morning long. By midday, it should be empty. Fill it up again and sip on it the remainder of the day and evening. There, you just drank 64 ounces of water! Another friend of mine works from her home office. She found that filling up various glasses in the morning with her daily water quota works well. She puts them on a pretty tray and carries them into her office each morning. By the time her work day is finished, she’s emptied her water glasses.
Jerry uses a glass, quart canning jar for his daily water consumption. Since he’s an early riser, he has one quart down by 7:00 AM. He drinks a second quart by noon. Then he sips on a third quart throughout the rest of the day but doesn’t necessarily finish it. (He weighs about 165 pounds so he really only needs a little over 80 ounces per day.) What one thing can you do to increase your daily water consumption?
Father, thank You for Your most amazing creation of our bodies. May we honor You with how we care for them.
Link of the Day
You’re not sick; you’re thirsty.
Blessings on you as you purpose to drink more water.
“No matter how far we travel, the memories will follow in the baggage car.” August Strindberg
How would you rate your memory capacity?
We all have happy memories of the godly, but the name of a wicked person rots away. (Prov. 10:7, NLT)
I certainly don’t want to “beat a dead horse,” but since this is the last DG this week, let’s spend one more day looking at the brain and it’s significance in actually creating our circumstances.
Did you know that our brain performs somewhere around 400 billion (yes, the “b” is intentional) actions a second? (I wonder who counted them.) That’s a pretty high-powered computer we’re all walking around with. But, did you also know that we’re only conscious of about 2,000 of those actions. That should give you some clue as to the significance of our subconscious or unconscious mind. You may remember that back in late October, I wrote in my DG that more than 95% of our behavior comes from our subconscious mind (click here to read that DG).
Now here’s the deal. Our brain, which is about the size of our two fists, contains 100 trillion nerve cells. All these nerve cells are like little trees that are growing branches populated with either leaves or thorns. These little trees have been growing branches your entire life. Those branches are the memories of every event that you have ever experienced. It is estimated that we have the storage capacity for somewhere around 3 million years worth of memories…so the likelihood of running out is pretty slim. Catch this now, you are who you are because of all the memories that are in your head from birth to death.
Every memory has an emotional component contained within the chemicals that are bonded to the memory. Activating any particular memory starts the chemicals bonded to that memory to start to flow. Now, every thing that we detect with our senses, or every event that we experience, enters the brain as incoming information. One of the first things the brain does is scan for an existing memory that is similar. If the memory it finds is fear-based, the event or information causes the brain to secrete the toxic chemicals associated with that memory. Fortunately, the same is true of a positive or faith-based memory.
Now, the final thing I want to say about all this is that according to Dr. Caroline Leaf, there is a physical area located at the front of our brain where we can actually choose to accept or reject a thought. If you choose to accept it, it goes in and triggers the aforementioned chemical release based on whether the matching memory is positive or toxic. So, you see, we have a choice. If we accept the thought, it reinforces the matching memory and strengthens it. If we reject it, it passes with a minimum of effect. So we do have a very significant role to play in which chemicals get released in our bodies.
Does all that responsibility bum you out? I pray not. I pray that this information excites you as it shows that you are capable of significantly reducing the flow of those toxic chemicals in your body that create so much stress and illness. We do not have to be victims.
OK, thanks for your patience. I promise no more about the brain next week. Make it a magnificent weekend. It’s truly your choice. Blessings.
Lord, we thank You for our magnificent brains. We thank You that we live in a time when we’re beginning to appreciate just how magnificently designed our brain really is.
Link of the Day
Who Switched off My Brain?: Controlling Toxic Thoughts and Emotions
Make yourself a better than fantastic weekend filled with delightful memories.