Hope your holiday has been full of love and cozy blankets 😊 I just have to share what has been on my heart the last few days with you!
Last year around this time, my pastor told us that he believed 2019 was going to be a year of great joy. I go to Church of the Highlands – some of you were probably there in that service with me! Maybe you’ve felt a heaviness like Pastor Chris talked about that day – like a dark cloud just following you around (here’s a link to the sermon if you want to watch it!). I remember how my heart felt sitting in that chair, and I knew that God was telling me that things were going to be okay.
This Christmas Eve, I was sitting in the same section, in the same building, and it hit me – It really has been the year of great joy. To sit there and realize how far I’d come, and just how different everything looked to me from the exact same place… was overwhelmingly beautiful. I can even say I’m thankful for the hard times, because thanks to those I got to see the goodness of God in a more tangible way. The biggest reason it’s been such a happy year is… community!! Good friends in your life are a straight up gift – and I’m so thankful for it! I really can’t credit the change to anything I did. He gives, and He takes away – and I love Him for it, and I love the way he orchestrates my life when I walk with Him.
What I learned in 2019:
- Joy is a choice, but it’s also a gift. Choose to be happy and have a good attitude every chance you get – even when you don’t feel joyful. And when you do feel it, recognize it as a gift from God.
- Hang with God and ask him for what you need. When you don’t know, just seek Him, and He’ll show you what your life is supposed to be about.
- Get in the Word. Listen to some good worship jams. Talk to God. Those things bathe your mind in protection, teach you and give you direction for life, and refresh you!
- Get active in a life-giving church and hang around people who make you feel loved.
- Choose a good attitude every chance you get.
- Focus on loving others, and your internal struggles will start to fade.
The joy of the Lord can literally help you get out of bed in the morning. It can help you find the motivation to exercise, and it can even help you eat better. God cares about everything we care about, has a great plan for our lives, and wants us to enjoy being alive. He loves us! So, if we ask for His guidance about eating, He will give it to us. If we read His Word we will learn about living a life of integrity, and become attuned to ways to steward our lives well. His yoke is easy though, and his burden is light – there’s a distinct ease that you can find in all areas of living when you’re doing it with God.
I’m so glad that I’ve studied nutrition in school, because it’s ingrained a lot of practical knowledge in me that helps me to eat well without thinking too hard about it. I want to share the basic method for building a plate that so many dietitians and successful athletes use. This is a great way to structure your meals that will help you stay satisfied between them and get a balance of all the foods that are good for you.
Start with fruits and veggies when you can because they (a) keep you full and (b) provide vitamins, minerals, and antioxidant phytochemicals to help you stay healthy and perform at your best. Add some lean protein like meat, poultry, fish, nuts, or lower-fat dairy to maintain and build strong muscles, skin, hair, and nails. Finish your plate off with whole-grain carbs or starchy vegetables like whole wheat bread, brown rice, or potatoes for sustained energy – along with the fiber you need for a healthy heart and gut. You might not always be able to get all those components if you’re eating out or at a party – just get as close as you can and call it good!
If you add fat while cooking, choose healthy unsaturated fats like olive oil over less healthy saturated fats like butter. Then, the no-brainers – reduce mindless snacking on Christmas cookies and drinking too many sugary drinks, both of which give you calories without the sustained energy that good, balanced meals do. A little bit is okay, but it’s up to you to find the balance that works for you! The best thing to do, too, is to add joy to your eating. Find that contentment with yourself and with God, and enjoy meals with people you love! When you pursue right attitudes, it’s a lot easier to be happy with what’s good for you and with where you are right now.
I just want to remind you too that food can’t soothe an aching soul. This time of year can be rough on the heart, especially if you’re experiencing loss or loneliness. Don’t hesitate to reach out! I know there is a lot of food around at this time, or maybe it’s something else that you find comfort in – but family and friends are also really available right now too. Ultimately, though – it’s you and God. That’s what you can count on when everything and everyone else falls away. You can hang your hat on Him! Say His name, even through tears, and wait – He will come and comfort you. And even if it takes a long, long time – trust Him, and He will restore your joy!