Wednesday, January 30, 2008

The Danger of Replacing Self-Respect with Self-Esteem

One of the most disturbing trends I see in society is a lack of respect, for ourselves and others. I am currently reading a book by Jill Rigby called, Raising Respectful Children in a Disrespectful World. In the opening she writes,

When I was growing up, people weren't perfect, but society was certainly more civil. The lines between right and wrong were clear.
Teachers were teachers. So teachers taught.
Parents were parents. So parents trained.
Kids were kids. So kids obeyed.

Respect for authority was paramount. Service to others and respect for property were natural elements of community. Teaching manners and instilling character were the cornerstones of public education. Parents looked at the right side of the report card (conduct) before they look at the left (grades). Kids got in alot more trouble if they were disrespectful to a teacher than if they made a B minus.

How did this happen? How did our society become so disrespectful? We've substituted self-esteem for self-respect, and in the process we lost our manners.
The author does not purport that the past was perfect, only that an element of civility and respectfulness has been lost. I find this to be so true. Anyone can look around and see numerous examples of disrespectfulness in attitudes, speech, and dress. The author gives the example of how students who are caught cheating or who are failing have no fear, because my dad "will handle it." Another example is when we see elderly women pushing their grocery carts with no one stopping to help.

While some might say self-esteem and self-respect are synonymous, the author defines them very differently. Self-esteem teaches children to focus on themselves and how they feel and what they want. This focus breeds greed, arrogance, insecurity, and discontentment.

Self-respect, on the other hand, focuses on others and how others feels and what others need. The author states that this perspective leads to gratitude, humility, confidence, and contentment.

I am challenged not to be conformed to this world and its focus on self and to pass this along to my children. When our children learn to respect our authority, we lay the foundation for their ability to respect the authority of God in their lives. By teaching simple manners, we model this respect and teach our children. I will write more later on the impact basic manners can have on developing self-respect, as well as displaying Christ's love to others.

What manners do you see especially lacking in society? What methods or tools do you use to teach manners to your children?


Monday, January 28, 2008

4 Things

Here is a fun meme that Jennifer tagged me for. I haven't done one since I have been back blogging, so here goes.

4 Jobs I've Had:
1. My first paid job was at age 10 when I was cast in a Mel Gibson movie-"The River" - that was filmed near my home in East Tennessee.
2. Youth ministry intern
3. Residence Director in college housing
4. College coach and professor

4 Movies Watched Over and Over:
1. The Princess Bride!!
2. Pride and Prejudice
3. Facing the Giants
4. Hoosiers

4 Places I've Lived:
1. Louisville, Kentucky
2. Knoxville, Tennessee
3. Athens, Tennessee
4. Kingsport, Tennessee

4 TV Shows I Watch:
1. 24
2. Lost
3. Little House on the Prairie (every Friday night on DVD with the kids)
4. Planet Earth from Discovery Channel (every Saturday on DVD)

4 Places I've Been:
1. New York multiple times - love that city
2. Jamaica on a mission trip--no resorts!
3. Out West
4. Through New England

4. Cities in Europe (that I would love to visit):
Paris, Rome, Venice, London

4 People who e-mail Me Regularly:
1. Hubby
2. Brother
3. Mom
4. Best friend, Crystal

4 Places I'd Rather Be:
1. I like home--so pretty content to stay where I am
2. Beach--love the ocean!
3. On a mission trip to a country I have never visited
4. On a cross-country trip out west with my family

4 Things I Look Forward to This Year:
1. Reaching my weight loss goal
2. Going on an anniversary trip with hubby
3. Homeschooling again
4. Finishing getting our house renovated

4 People to Tag:Feel free to ignore the tag if you've done it or if you don't want to do it:

Anyone in my sidebar! Let me know so I can come and visit.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Shopping for Time

Don't you love to shop? For me, it's the thrill of finding that amazing deal. I love to see how far I can make my money stretch. As women we diligently search sales racks and thrift stores to use our money wisely--to be good stewards of our budgets. There is such satisfaction in this.

How much more should we not be shopping for time--being wise and diligent stewards of a precious resource that God has given us to serve Him, our families, our churches, and others. Unfortunately, we tend to attack this type of shopping with less enthusiasm and determination than we exert at Target or Gap. But I have come to realize that great savings in time will not come without concerted effort--don't we so easily waste time in a way that we would never waste our money!

This is one reason that I was intrigued by the book title, "Shopping for Time" by Carolyn Mahaney and her four daughters of girl talk. Carolyn Mahaney is the author of Feminine Appeal, a book that really challenged my as a wife and mother. This delightful book is a quick read at only about 100 pages and is packed with good practical advice on being a good steward of your time. If put into practice, their 5 key tips will certainly transform your priorities each day.

Personally, I was most challenged by tip #1--Rise Early. Carolyn and her daughters are advocates of the "5 am club," rising at 5 am for a time of prayer and study to prepare for the day. I am a fairly early riser at about 6 or 6:30, but I do my personal study in the afternoon or evening. I was sharing with my husband about the conviction I felt to rise earlier and meet with God early in the morning. So this week, I will be jumping into a new routine of rising earlier than I normally do and starting the day with Him first thing. Hopefully a full cup of hot tea will help!

If you want to read more about this great little book, check out an interview with the authors and review by Leslie from Lux Venit. She also is contributor at Tim Challies' Discerning Reader.


Thursday, January 17, 2008

Never the Same

During a Bible study when I was in my church youth group many years ago, my youth pastor used an object lesson that greatly impacted me. He passed an aluminum soda can around and invited each of us to put a dent into the can. We started timidly, but by the time the can had made it all the way around the circle, it was practically flattened.

Our pastor then instructed us to pass the can back around, each of us removing the dent we had put into the can. We all sat puzzled. We started the can around, attempting to remove the dents and restore the can to its original form. It became apparent very quickly that the can would never be the same as it was before.

Our youth pastor then shared with us from the third chapter of James.

How great a forest is set ablaze by such a small fire! And the tongue is a fire, a world of unrighteousness. The tongue is set among our members, staining the whole body, setting on fire the entire course of life, and set on fire by hell. For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and sea creature, can be tamed and has been tamed by mankind, but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison.

Ouch! I am often reminded of this visual image of the damage our unkind words can cause. Once said, they impact others, changing them in some way. Yes, we can ask forgiveness and many times receive it; but those words may still ring in the air at times. Those words have changed someone. During times of struggle and doubt, those unkind words can surface in the back of their minds.

As women, we wield great influence over our families through our words. We can choose to encourage, cheer on, and gently correct; or we can resort to nagging, criticizing, and complaining. This is a daily choice that has eternal impact. This choice often reflects our priorities. Are we focusing on self or on serving God and others?

Our tongues are untameable in our own strength. May this instrument that is so often manipulated by Satan, be used to bring glory to God as we praise Him and seek to edify others. Because our words do have the power to change people, may the change be one that brings hope and honors Christ!

See you tomorrow for "Fit Friday."

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Out of Egypt-Part 2

How did I lose the weight and focus on being healthy? Well, the most important key for me was submission. I had to give up the right to my body; I had to acknowledge that everything I am is the Lord's. I had to view myself as a steward of my body--it belongs to God, and I have been given the responsibility to care for myself and use my body to glorify Him. Wrapping my mind around this central concept made the rest of the journey have purpose, therefore a bit easier in the tough times.

I believe that submitting and surrendering in this area is what enabled me to be successful. So many times we "commit" to do something, but that still places us in control. Surrender and submission yields that control to the Lord. We must come "palms down" to the Lord. Satifying self can not be the focus. So I truly believe that you apply the same Biblical principles to being physically healthy, as you do to being spiritually healthy!

So many of you wanted to know the specifics of my plan. I will outline below some of the basic principles I used over the past 8 months.
  • I believe that one must focus on both diet and exercise to achieve optimal health and optimal weight loss results.
  • I work out 5-6 times a week. Typically 30-45 minutes of cardio--step aerobics, elliptical, or treadmill. I also do 30 minutes of weight training 4 days a week--2 days on arms and 2 on legs. You may need and want to start with a more moderate program--don't overwhelm yourself or you will quit. Just try walking 15-30 minutes each day.
  • As far as diet, I have not followed a specific plan, but have used principles from the Zone and Weight Watchers, predominately. I try to eat 3 meals a day with 2 snacks. This keeps your metabolism up. Another helpful approach is Bob Greene's Best Life (Oprah's trainer).
  • A typical day might be: 1 egg omelet (w/cheese & real bacon bits) or oatmeal with brown sugar for breakfast with juice, yogurt with flaxseed meal and blueberries for mid-morning snack, salad with chicken or egg (for protein) with blue cheese dressing, an apple for afternoon snack, and chicken or fish with twice-baked potato and broccoli for dinner.
  • Don't be too restrictive. You need to eat enough and things you enjoy or you won't stick with it. Healthy eating is delicious--it doesn't have to be the stereotypical diet food.
  • Drink a lot of water! I bought a great sweat proof mug at Target that has a straw. I seem to be able to drink more with a straw.
  • Avoid a lot of soda and sweet tea. Notice I did not say eliminate. I enjoy both of these, so just enjoy in moderation. Make water the primary thing you drink. I am a big fan of Perrier and juice when I want a drink with some bite.
  • Avoid eating late a night.
  • Get good sleep--for me, this is 7-8 hours.

Well, these are some basic guidelines I have used.

As you look at making changes, I would encourage you to talk with your husband and/or family. Focusing on being healthy is important for everyone and the support is helpful to your success. I am blessed to have an amazing husband who has supported and encouraged me on this journey in a phenomenal way! I have enjoyed getting fit and looking healthier for him--and he has, too!

Thank you for letting me share and for your kind comments and words of encouragement. I pray that I will bless you, as you have blessed me.


Monday, January 14, 2008

Out of Egypt, Part 1

I was overwhelmed by the response to by post Friday through comments and email! I am so excited to see how God might work through each of us to encourage one another. Being fit and healthy is so important and affects so many areas of our lives. I pray that our focus will always be to bring honor to Him through our effort to be fit and healthy. While my story is one that includes weight loss, I know many of you are seeking not to lose weight, but to be eat healthier and start exercising. Wherever you fall, I am thrilled by your desire to be "fit for service." What a great gift to give our children -- being good examples of being fit and healthy.

For me, my weight and health was not an issue until after I had my children. I grew up blessed to be athletic and fit. I never had to watch what I ate very carefully (which would be a curse later as I got older!) I played lots of different sports up through playing volleyball in college and later coaching. I was even a certified aerobics instructor through my grad school years, with one of my degrees in physical education! So, you see, just because you are knowledgeable in the area of fitness or have been fit at a certain point in your life, you are not above slipping into bad habits that can suddenly lead to a place of bondage.

For many women, this does happen during the child-bearing years. Your body experiences a lot of changes, and the stress of being a new mom can make it harder to set fitness goals--there just does not seem to be the time or energy to devote to keeping in shape. Personally, I found this to be true. I let myself become a lazy eater and a sporadic exerciser. Putting on weight and acquiring bad habits can be a slippery slope. A few pounds here and there adds up--I know on my 5'10" frame, the extra weight found places to hide before I even noticed the scale going up.

The unfortunate reality is that being out of shape affects so many others areas of our lives--our marriages, our ability to be active with our children, our confidence, our attitudes, and our ability to serve, just to name of few. Being out of shape is truly like being in bondage--we are controlled by unhealthy eating and laziness. I hit a point and made a decision that I could not go on like that. No food or other distraction was worth what it was costing me to be out of shape.

When you look at our nation, most of our prominent health problems stem in part from obesity, bad eating habits, and lack of regular exercise. We truly are at a crisis point. The sad thing is that this problem is not becoming an issue for children. We are seeing health issues in children that we have never seen before. If for no other reason, get fit and healthy as an example to your children.

I have titled my posts about my weight loss journey "Out of Egypt," because I truly believe that being unhealthy and out of shape is a place of bondage that Satan desires to keep us so that we will be less effective as Christians. Because we serve an almighty God, we do not have to stay there! He desires to lead us "out of Egypt," out of a place of bondage. As the verse that my blog is based on says, "He brought me out into a spacious place, He rescued me because He delighted in me! (Psalm 18:19)"

Wednesday I will share a bit about how I lost the weight--my eating and exercise approach. This is at times "a desert experience." I will share some of the lessons that God taught me during this time.

In Christ,

Friday, January 11, 2008

Fit for Service

As many of you know, I took about 7-8 month break from blogging starting last May. One of the reasons was to focus on getting fit. After the years of giving birth to my children and the craziness of the baby and toddler years, I had really let myself go. I had become unhealthy in my eating and struggled to exercise regularly.

During the past 7-8 months, I have lost over 50 pounds--and counting! This statement is not made to bring praise to me, but rather to give God the glory for His strength that has allowed me to be successful on this journey! I am weak, and He is strong!

Let me be clear, though, that being fit is not always about losing weight. Some very thin, seemingly fit, women have very unhealthy eating habits and do not exercise. Being fit, as we will focus on here, is about being healthy!

Why is being healthy so important? I believe that it is Biblical!

Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body. (I Corinthians 6:19-20)

We are to honor God through our bodies--the vessel He has given us to serve Him through. When we are healthy and fit, we are able to serve Him more fully and with excellence. We must seek to break unhealthy habits that might prevent our effectiveness.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. (Hebrews 12:1-3)

Next week, I will also post about my personal weight loss journey. Many of you have asked details, so I will take the time to share about that over a couple of posts during the week. Below are some before and after pictures. These are external changes; next week I will share the more important internal changes.

In Christ,

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

A Pillar of Salt

As I look forward to the coming year, it is hard not the look back and reflect, as well. Looking back can be good. We can remember wonderful times with our family, learn from mistakes, and rejoice in what God has done in and through us. But looking back can be dangerous, too.

I read the account in Genesis 19 of God's destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah and the grace He showed to Lot and his family at the pleading of Abraham. Angels sent by the Lord literally had to seize Lot and his family, due to their reluctance to leave. Lot and his family were instructed to escape for your life. Do not look back or stop anywhere in the valley. Escape to the hills, lest you be swept away."

But Lot's wife looked back. What was she looking at? Was she sad to leave all her "stuff?" Was she doubtful of what was going to happen? For whatever reason, her disobedience and looking back caused her to be turned into a pillar of salt.

The Lord really spoke to me through this story. We are called to leave much behind as we take up our crosses to follow Him. Sometimes we are even unaware at the sinful surroundings we have become accustomed to. We allow little things to creep in and influence us. God really challenged me to not look back, so as to not be tempted to cling to those things that He desires to save us from. What He has ahead is so much better!

Don't let Satan use the same old strongholds to bind you this year. Accept freedom and forgiveness in Christ and don't look back!

Monday, January 07, 2008

Word of God Speak

One of my favorite worship songs is "Word of God Speak" by MercyMe. Don't you long to hear God speak to you? Don't you want His Word to "pour down like rain?" As the new year begins, I am one of those people who likes to set goals for the year to come-I really desire to not be in the same place at the end of the year as where I begin. If I do not reflect and purpose those goals, I seem to let time just slip away. Two of my top goals are related to the reading and memorization of scripture. I have been convicted by the Lord and inspired by others to go deeper in His word.

Hebrews 4: 12 reads:

For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.

His word is alive and speaking! In a world that sends so many anti-biblical messages, I know I must be solidly grounded in His word for direction-for myself and for my ability to minister to my family and others God places in my life.

Psalm 19:7-8 reads:

The law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul. The statutes of the Lord are trustworthy, making wise the simple. The precepts of the Lord are right, giving joy to the heart. The comands of the Lord are radiant, giving light to the eyes.

It is refreshing to read this when we face so much in society that preaches "no absolutes." I find it wonderful to have a solid platform on which to stand. His word is perfect, trustworthy, right--giving "light to our eyes" so that we have direction!

So as we all look to the coming, I pray that we will let the "word of God speak" into our lives and witness firsthand its transformative power!