By Robin J. Steinweg –
January First circles around like a shark figure on a planet-sized carousel. The brass ring eludes me. Twenty-seven New Year’s Day journal entries reveal my redundant resolution: this is the year I conquer my arch-enemy, Paper Clutter. Twenty-seven years I have reached for but missed this particular brass ring.
You might call me an expert on organizing. After all, experts say it takes 10,000 hours of studying/working at something to become an expert (and they should know). This translates to about three hours a day for ten years. I have more than paid my dues. I’ve read a score of articles and dozens of books on the subject—some of them three and four times. Nearly twenty of these hibernate on my shelves. I even took notes. They are clearly labeled and stored in folders among random Tower-of-Pisa stacks. I could quote statistics and name the most effective methods, if I could find them.
Getting organized is not only my lifelong quest. It appears on most of the lists of Top Ten New Year’s Resolutions. One source had the nerve to say it “can be a very reasonable goal,” but gave no advice for reaching the goal. It was obviously written by someone who doesn’t suffer from C.H.A.O.S. (Can’t Have Anyone Over Syndrome).
My journal entries often include practical Bible verses to encourage me that this is a godly pursuit. God is not the author of confusion, but of order; I can do this through Christ, who strengthens me; I should forget what is behind and press on to what is ahead, to win the prize. With scripture to back me up, and the strong resolve of so many years, what is keeping that brass ring out of reach? Pogo’s words pop up: “We have met the enemy and he is us.”
If I hear and don’t act, James says it’s as though I glanced in a mirror and then walked off, forgetting what I look like. What a concept. Do what it says. Maybe I should get off the carousel and make a decision about one cluttering piece of paper at a time. And remember that with God, fresh starts and new hearts never have to wait until January First. Maybe that brass ring is within reach after all.
QUOTE: “Resolve to renew all your old resolves and add a few that are new. Resolve to keep them as long as you can. What more can a poor man do?” (Early 1900’s postcard)
“Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning” (Lamentations 3:22 and 23a NIV).
Today’s devotional is by Robin J. Steinweg. Robin’s life might be described using the game Twister: the colored dots are all occupied, limbs intertwine (hopefully not to the point of tangling), and you never know which dot the arrow will point to next, but it sure is fun getting there!
By Julie Morris, RN –
The last day of the year. Can you believe it? Last year at this time, many of you made a New Year’s Resolution to lose weight. Did you make any progress or did you lose a few unwanted pounds, only to gain them back later? Don’t be discouraged. Help is on the way!
As you resolve to lose weight in 2011, determine to get to the emotional roots of your overeating so that this year you can lose weight and keep it off!
Let’s look at each of these “Pound-Producers” and see how we can replace them with “Thinning Thoughts.”
1. Resentments are fattening. You thought it was the french fries and cookies that put on your extra pounds. The culprits were more likely the hurts and irritations you stuffed down. If you head toward the refrigerator every time you’re angry, you know I’m right. Resentments make us fat. We eat to soothe our pain. Whether from an inconsiderate mate or an overbearing boss, grudges cause bulges!
So what can we do about it? Don’t stuff your anger; get rid of it with the Anger Buster. Spend a few minutes journaling through the list below. After you’re finished, burn what you’ve written and praise God that your anger is going up in the smoke. Then, each time you get angry, write and burn another Anger Buster.
- Write about why you’re angry. Get all your feelings on paper where you can deal with them. Let the hurts flow without worrying about how it sounds.
- Write a brief prayer that God will help you to see your part in the problem and give you willingness to forgive the other person.
- Now write about the circumstances from the other person’s perspective. Write how you contribute to the problem and ways you do things that are similar to the ones you’re criticizing in the other person.
- Write a prayer that God will bless the other person (list specific ways) and show you how to have a better relationship.
- List things you can do to improve your part in the relationship.
2. Pouting puts pounds on. Many of you are facing challenging circumstances and are overeating to help you cope. In 1 Peter 5:7 God tells you to cast your cares on Him because He cares for you. So cast your cares on the Lord, not the refrigerator! Don’t continue to say, “Why me?” Instead ask God, “What would you have me learn?” Then give thanks because He loves you and will help you.
3. Worrying widens hips. I discovered the antidote to anxiety many years ago when the doctor found a suspicious mass on my mammogram. The night before my appointment with a surgeon, I was such nervous wreck that I couldn’t sleep. I turned on the TV and a choir happened to be singing a soft melody… “We exalt thee. We exalt thee. We exalt thee, O Lord.” Over and over they sang those words. My mind joined in their singing and soon my panic subsided. A blanket of peace covered me and I fell asleep. Several times during that night I woke up gripped by fear, but each time as I focused on those words of praise, peace flooded my mind. The next day, I was relieved to hear that I didn’t have cancer, but I never forgot the valuable lesson I learned that night: It is impossible to worry and worship at the same time. Praise erases panic.
I pray that after reading my words you will get to the emotional roots of your eating so you can lose your weight for good in 2011.
Julie Morris—founder of the Guided By Him Christian weight-loss program (www.guidedbyhim.com), author of 12 books and inspiring motivational speaker—is offering a “mini-retreat” January 22, 2010 in Birmingham, AL for those who want to lose weight. Email her for questions or registration Julie@guidedbyhim.com.
By Heather Arbuckle –
Adorned in high heals, feather boas, and party dresses, my daughters feel beautiful and grown-up as they strut confidently around the living room. They are not inhibited by their dress size and they are not embarrassed about their hair style or color. Embracing their unique beauty, my daughters embrace their individuality. May it always be so.
Watching them takes me back to another time. How I long to see myself with the eyes of a child. “When did I forget who I am?” I wonder silently as I watch them in awe. Somewhere along life’s journey, I started to see myself with eyes of criticism and self-loathing. Relentlessly, the world bombards me with images, conceived by my enemy, and designed to erode my self-worth, my eyes deceive me. Commercials for weight loss plans, exercise programs, and cosmetic procedures all point mercilessly at my many flaws and shatter my confidence. Some days, it is enough to send a girl straight to the candy aisle!
UNLESS…I choose to see myself with new eyes. God’s eyes. Now is the time for me to lift the veil of lies designed to hide God’s perspective on my identity. And my daughters will learn by my example. There is no time to waste. I must begin to see myself with new eyes. So, that is what I have been doing this week. During the quiet hours of the day, before the kids rush through the door and the afternoon crazies begin, I have been lifting the veil in search of my true identity. And this is what I have discovered.
precious (Isaiah 43:4),
beautiful (Song Solomon 1:15),
chosen (John 15:16),
redeemed (Psalm 71:23),
forgiven (Ephesians 1:7),
equipped (2 Timothy 3:17),
protected (2 Thessalonians 3:3),
secure (Romans 8:38-39),
and loved. (Jeremiah 31:3)
I am His beloved, “worth far more than rubies.” (Proverbs 31:10) My Heavenly Father considers me so valuable that He sent his only Son to die for me before I ever took a breath. “You’re worth it,” God whispers to my soul. And my heart sours. Do you know what you are worth? It might be time to look again.
By Bruce Hebel –
Every year at this time people all over the world are taking life assessments and looking for ways to improve themselves in the coming year. We call this “making a New Year’s resolution.” A New Year’s resolution is a commitment an individual makes to a lifestyle change for the better. It often involves breaking a bad habit or starting a good one. Every Top 10 List of resolutions includes losing weight. Pay attention over the next few days to the morning shows and magazines at the checkout. Everywhere you look you will see people claiming to have a surefire way to help you lose weight and keep it off. It just makes sense. After Thanksgiving, the Christmas parties, cookie exchanges and all those Christmas goodies at Grandma’s, most of us have mid-sections that bear more resemblance to a barrel than a six-pack.
Let me suggest that there’s different type of weight we need to lose which doesn’t show up in larger belt sizes or groaning scales. I’m talking about the weight of old wounds we have not forgiven. Unforgiveness weighs us down and wears us out. This type of heaviness is much more harmful to us than the kind we get from that second helping of Blue Bell ice cream. Unforgiveness, according to Matthew 18, leads to the heavy burden of torment. Forgiveness takes the weight off.
Recently I helped a lady walk through the protocols of forgiveness toward her ex-husband who had cheated on her and abandoned her many years before. After she chose to forgive and sealed her forgiveness by praying a blessing over him, she said to me “I feel like I can exhale for the first time in years. My heart is so much lighter. I can feel it relaxing.” We have helped hundreds of people make the choice to forgive wounds, which in some cases, were almost unbearable. Every time someone has made a commitment to forgive, they have proclaimed that their heart is lighter and they can breathe again.
So let me recommend a New Year’s resolution for you. Ask God if there is someone you need to forgive and for what. Then choose to forgive them. When you do, you will experience the quickest weight-loss of your life.
AUTHOR QUOTE: God expects forgiven people to forgive others!
“And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive him, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins” (Mark 11:25 NIV).
Today’s devotional is by Bruce Hebel, President of Regenerating Life Ministries (forgiving forward.com) and Adjunct Professor at Carver Bible College. Bruce is the author of the seminar and soon to be published book Forgiving Forward: Unleashing the Forgiveness Revolution. He is a graduate of Dallas Theological Seminary and, along with his wife Toni, has served in church ministry for over 35 years.
Written by Eric Wilson
Reviewed by Donald James Parker –
Ever try reading a book at an airport and then later on a plane? My average reading speed is usually about a page an hour in those situations. The distractions of people-watching, shuddering jets and people climbing over me to reach the restroom usually pry me away from the written word, causing me to spend half my reading time searching for the sentence that was half digested when my attention was diverted. I encountered no such problem with The Best of Evil. My eyes were riveted to the pages both on the way to my destination and on the way back on flights that seemed to end too soon. I arrived home at 5:30 AM after almost an all night journey. Before succumbing to sleep, I was compelled to return to this book to find out how this story ended. Like performing a successful gymnastic routine, “sticking the landing” is imperative for an author to receive high marks. Eric Wilson’s finale was flawless, leading me to the conclusion that this is one of the best books I’ve encountered in Christian fiction, perhaps even Best of Class.
Authors are often advised not to write in first person since the challenges are many. Wilson took on those challenges and ascended the slippery slope nicely. I really like first person POV (point of view) novels and think they offer readers an intimate look into a person’s life. That technique in this story allows us to get to know Aramis Black very well. He certainly is no choirboy, Eagle Scout type, but despite his rough edges, he is a character who attaches himself to a reader’s heart. A debate sometimes rages about whether a plot driven novel is better than a character driven one. Either can be good, so doesn’t it stand to reason that a combination of those two would present the best of both worlds? This story has combined those paradigms seamlessly.
I was once told by an acquaintance that she knew a person who could speak twelve languages but couldn’t say a thing of worth in any of them. I think some writers are like that. Their mechanics and manipulation of language is superb, but the value of the message they convey is of dubious worth. Like cotton candy, their prose possesses beauty but, in reality, contains no substance. In my opinion, Eric Wilson could never accurately be accused of producing cotton candy fiction. His penchant toward Proverbs type down-home philosophy and wisdom is never far from display. His insight into life and people is very evident. His style occasionally wanders from straight forward and concise to eloquent. His humor is low-key but very effective when employed. The salient nuggets of wisdom pass the fools-gold test.
I share this passage from The Best of Evil to give you an idea of the depth of Wilson’s writing:
She gave a cautious laugh – that of a bereaved mother trying to wear a strong face for her little ones. Some who lose loved ones never rediscover that spring of genuine mirth, while others lay their stories of grief in the water’s path, creating richer sounds of bubbling, gurgling life.
I believe the spring’s out there, a source of heavenly strength.
Each day, in my own fumbling way, I look for it. And I listen.
I’d venture to say that Eric Wilson’s The Best of Evil is a book that has plenty to say to you – if you’re prepared to listen.
About the reviewer: Donald James Parker is a novelist and computer programmer who resides in Crossville, Tennessee. Check out his website at www.donaldjamesparker.com?tcp