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Healthy Holiday Swaps

The holidays can bring such joy to our lives and can often bring inches to our waistline too.

So, I thought I’d provide you with some healthy swaps to help cut down on calories, but still give you delicious food to enjoy.

But first, check your normal eating habits. Do you:

  • Chew your food around 20-30 times?
  • Take a few deep breaths before eating?
  • Focus on eating and enjoy the time by yourself or with friends and family?
  • Turn off the tv and social media? Savor each bite?
  • Take 20 minutes to complete your meal?
  • Stop eating when you’re 80% full?

These are all suggestions to help your digestion and metabolism work optimally. These things can help set your body up for success even if you do decide to splurge and eat the apple pie and pumpkin pie and all the yumminess available!

I do recommend to my clients to follow the 80/20 rule. This states that you will eat as healthy as you can 80% of the time and then eat whatever you want 20% of the time. If we break that down weekly that means you will eat 17 meals as healthy as you can and 4 meals eat whatever you want. This allows you to splurge and not feel guilty. Plus, you won’t be deprived!

So, taking all these ideas and suggestions into consideration, here are a few healthy swaps you can make for a healthier holiday season:

  1. Instead of mashed potatoes choose mashed cauliflower.
  2. Instead of sugar in desserts and dishes use honey or monk fruit sweetener.
  3. Roast or grill turkey or meat instead of frying it.
  4. Leave off the glaze on the ham or make your own that has less sugar and preservatives.
  5. Make gluten free cornbread instead of stuffing the turkey.
  6. Use real cranberries instead of canned.
  7. Drink water or hot tea instead of sugary sodas.
  8. Use butter, ghee, olive oil, avocado oil, or coconut oil instead of other oils.
  9. Choose gratitude over judgement.
  10. Take a walk after the meal instead of hours of tv.

Which one sounds doable to you? Or what would you add to this list?

Are You in the Arena?

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”

-Theodore Roosevelt

I first read this quote in Brene Brown’s book, Daring Greatly. And it struck me so deeply. It convicted my heart to step back and check myself and also gave me a good excuse to ignore the critics.

The critics can feel crippling sometimes.

You know the critics: people who have a whole lot to say about what others are saying and doing but they’re not doing much of any of it themselves. These are the self-proclaimed judges. The ones who think they know it all. And maybe they know a whole lot, but when it comes to putting “it all” into practice they don’t have hardly any experience.

So, what does this have to do with being healthy?

Well, a whole lot actually. It touches deeply on mental and spiritual health which actually affects physical health more than we realize. Knowing that God is the only one true judge can take the pressure off from the critics. They’re not going to go away, but that doesn’t mean we have to listen to them. Jesus Christ died for me and you so we don’t have to fear judgement. We don’t have to fear the critics.

Because their opinion doesn’t matter.

Often we have judgements crowd our thoughts as if they are on repeat. And they can pull us down just as much as the critics.

I might invite for you to ask this question:

Who told you that?

And if the answer isn’t God, then drop it because it doesn’t matter.

2 Corinthians 10:5 says,

“We pull down every proud obstacle that is raised against the knowledge of God; we take every thought captive and make it obey Christ.” (GNT)

God’s opinion of you is what matters. And actually, He thinks you’re pretty awesome. He made you perfectly you know. We don’t have to strive to be perfect, do all the perfect things, and have our life together like the Jones’s. That is us trying to please the world and our own selfish desires. We just need to please God! That’s it!

And if we focus on that, all the things will fall into place. Not that it’ll be perfect, but we’ll be honoring Him in our messiness. And that’s what is truly important.

So, are you in the arena? Or, are you a critic on the sideline?

What’s holding you back from living? Life is short and the time to live is now. Step into the arena my friend!

A Health Coach’s Top 10 Tips for Getting or Staying Healthy

There is so much information out there. If you Google any symptom you can be certified as a fixer of that symptom in a matter of minutes it seems.

(Technology is a wonderful thing!)

But there can be so much confusing information out there. Some information even contradicts others. So, how are we to know what is good advice or not?

Well, that’s the tricky part. See, every single person on the planet is different – even if just slightly. The way we walk, the activities we do, the food we eat, how we deal with stress all affects us in different ways. So, what works for one person may or may not work for you.

Plus, health encompasses more than just the physical part. There are 3 parts to health: physical, mental, and spiritual.

So, I’m doing my best to give you 10 tips that will be good to help you get or stay healthy – no matter who you are (just remember to honor what your body is telling you!):

1. Eat Lots of Veggies

Like lots. And lots. And lots. Especially the green ones.


2. Move Your Body Every Single Day

You don’t have to run or go to the gym everyday to get in a workout. Think outside the box and get moving!


3. Eat Less Sugar (or none at all)

Sugar is responsible for so many health issues it’s crazy. Cut it out or at least way down to lessen the likelihood of serious diseases like Alzheimer’s.


4. Take Time for Yourself Regularly

It’s important that you take time to refuel yourself so you can go out and give the world your best. Do something that fills you up!


5. Volunteer

Giving of your time to someone less fortunate can help more than you know with your own mental health. Don’t know where to volunteer? Check with your local church or visit a website like: volunteermatch.org


6. Drink Lots of Water

Like at least half your body weight in ounces of water a day. Yup. At least.


7. Deal with Stress

When we don’t deal with stress our bodies actually store it. That’s when we start having symptoms like aches, pains, arthritis, chronic sickness… Find a way to release that stress.


8. Be Part of a Community

It’s been proven that people who feel like they belong in a community live longer, are happier, and feel more fulfilled. Your community could be your church, a book club, your family…


9. Pray, Read the Bible, & Worship Christ Daily

Spiritual health is just as important as physical and mental health (maybe even more so!). Get to know Christ and just how loved and supported you can be!


10. Have fun!

Allow yourself the opportunity to let go, relax, and enjoy. “Don’t get so hung up on where you’d rather be that you forget to live life where you are.” -Aurora in Passenger


11. Okay – a bonus one I couldn’t leave out: Detox

Detox means to get rid of what no longer serves you. This could mean physically in the food you eat, cleaning products you use, or what products you put on your skin. It could also mean mentally in past emotions, experiences, or people. I am passionate about detoxing (because my body requires it regularly) so if you have questions please ask!!!

Of course there are a bazillion other things you could do to get or stay healthy. But in my personal and professional opinion these are the top ones for most people. Which one would you like to start today?

My Personal Gut Story

Gut story? Who wants to read that?

I know, right?!?!

BUT, if my story can help someone else to feel encouraged then this gut story of mine is worth sharing and reading. So, here it is:

About 10 years out of college I started having some serious health issues. Pain in my upper back and stomach pain from out of this world. Had ALL the tests and procedures done. Blood work, colonoscopy, endoscopy, ultrasounds, x-rays, two gallbladder tests complete with radioactive drinks….

And the only thing they found was possibly the scarring from an ulcer. Yet, I was in excruciating pain every single day. Finally, my gastroenterologist told me, “We don’t know what’s wrong with you. There’s nothing else we can do.”

In the midst of all that I also had food allergy testing and found out I was allergic to barley. Weirdest thing ever, I thought. And I told the doctor I didn’t drink beer. He said, “Then you’re fine. There’s nothing you need to do differently.” I didn’t understand so I went home and researched and found that barley has gluten and is in nearly everything it seemed: anything with flour, Carmel color, sauces, coke….

So, that was it. That was the day the medical field lost my trust. That was the day I decided to take back control of my own health.

So, I started doing research on how to make my body healthy. On how to heal. I read, and read, and read. I listened to health talks meant for doctors. I became a sponge for knowledge about my gut and health. And the thing was, no matter what the topic there were always similar suggestions for how to heal. And it all started with diet.

I knew my mental health wasn’t in the greatest shape either. I had begun to see a counselor to help with that.

And, I had come across a reverse elimination diet called the GAPS Diet. That stands for Gut and Psychology Syndrome Diet. Whoa. The more I read and learned about it the more it described me. But if I tried this diet I was going to have to change everything. I mean everything. Starting with what I ate. See, the reverse elimination diet component means you take everything (yes, EVERYTHING) out of your diet. You drink bone broth for a certain number of days (depending on your body) and then you begin adding in foods one at a time to see if your body has any adverse reactions to them.

I was ready to not hurt every time I swallowed a bite of food. I was ready to reclaim my health. And I was ready to do whatever it took to get there. So, I jumped in. Feet first. Head first. Whatever you want to say, I was all in. And for two weeks, all I ate was bone broth. Beef bone broth, chicken bone broth, and fish bone broth. (I don’t recommend the fish. Ick!). Then I began eating the chicken from the broth I’d made. And within a few days I was already feeling better. Within a few weeks I wasn’t in pain anymore.

Then, I added cooked onions, cooked apples, and eggs next. I continued adding foods one at a time until I was on the full GAPS Diet – which is still limited but way more options than just broth. I stayed on this diet for about two years.

This diet healed my gut. But it didn’t heal my allergies. I had gotten my mental health under control by this point. I had even gotten off all anxiety and depression medication (whoa- that’s a story all in its self).

So, I began working with my chiropractic physician. She put me on a regimen for two months of supplements to reinvigorate my gut cells. Then I was on a strict diet of mostly veggies, fruit, and meat for two months.

And this process healed me from my allergies- along with tons of prayer too I might add!

So, I started eating whatever I wanted again. And for two more years I was just fine.

Then, this summer I started having pain and major gurgling again. My gluten allergy was back. And this time dairy has been an issue for me too.

So, I am once again gluten free and now dairy free. For the time being. I am certain that I can be healed again when the time is right. I’ve been through this before. And I know what to expect this time. And I’m ready. Ready to heal myself- without drugs, without chemicals, without anything Big Pharma has to offer me. Because nature was given to us by God. And he intended for us to use it. So, I will.

Are you in a place where the medical field has let you down too? Have you been given a “life sentence” of illness, disease, or symptoms? Let me speak life and love into you right now:

THERE IS HOPE. And yes, for you too. No matter what you’ve been told. No matter what your diagnosis. No matter what. There is hope. I’d be happy to listen to your story too. Share a piece of it here by commenting below.

Tips for a Healthy Brain

One aspect of our health is mental health. In the last blog post I discussed all about a healthy mind. Read it here.

This post is all about a physically healthy mind: our brain.

Our brains are so important! (Hello- without a brain we can’t live!) They protect us from illness, control our central nervous system, keep us safe, amongst a zillion other things. So, keeping our brains healthy is super important.

So, what can we do to keep our brains healthy?

Here’s my top 5 tips:

1. Exercise your brain

Yup. Do activities and games that stretch your thinking. Cross lateral movements help both hemispheres of your brain communicate better. Puzzles and games like sudoku (my personal favorite) keep your mind sharp. Also, learning a new skill or playing an instrument can also help exercise your brain.

2. Eat nutrient rich foods for brain health

These would include:

  • dark leafy greens
  • seafood – especially smaller oily fish like salmon or sardines
  • coconut oil
  • berries
  • turmeric
  • dark chocolate (Hello! Yes Please!)
  • pasture raised eggs

3. Drink lots of water.

Our brains are more than 75% water, so keeping them hydrated is of upmost importance. I recommend to my clients to drink between 50% & 75% of their body weight in ounces of water a day. This is a general number. Make sure you honor your body and give it the water it desires. (My body requires more like 75-100% of my body weight on ounces of water a day.)

4. Avoid foods that can cause brain issues

This would be sugar, artificial anything, gluten, and sometimes dairy. Sugars and gluten especially are detrimental to the brain. Some doctors are calling Alzheimer’s Type 3 diabetes. This is because of how the body is responding to sugar. Gluten has so many pesticides that the brain can’t help but be affected (yes, even organic grains can have pesticides). And many Alzheimer’s patients are seeing reduced or eliminated symptoms from no longer consuming sugar and/or gluten.

5. Reduce stress

Stress cause so many negative symptoms in our bodies when we don’t deal with the stress properly. Our bodies can actually store stress in our joints, muscles, and brain. This wreaks havoc on our health. We can’t eliminate stress, but we can manage it better.

Find at least one relaxing activity a day just for you. And maybe that’s just taking 2 minutes to breathe deeply. Or maybe it’s a hot bubble bath, a walk, or cuddling with warm blankets out of the dryer. Find something that soothes you. And give control to God. Let Him deal with the overwhelming parts of life. He wants to. And when we can finally give up control we will notice an immediate sense of peace and relief.

If we adopt a lifelong habit of caring for our brains and bodies then the likelihood of brain disease down the road will be dramatically diminished.

Want a cure for Alzheimer’s? Stop eating sugar!

Why is Change so Hard?

Change is hard.

A new job. Turning one year older perhaps. Having a kid. Trying new foods. Moving to a new town…

There are so many changes in our lives. And one thing is absolutely certain: change will come.

When things change our brain’s goal is to keep us in a place of love, safety, and belonging. And oftentimes our brain doesn’t know what’s going to happen with this new change. So, many times it freaks out and tries to get us to do things the old way. The safe and familiar way.

So, when we get ourselves in a health predicament that requires change sometimes it’s much harder than we expect.

Or perhaps, have you ever met anyone that has all kinds of health problems and complains ALL. THE. TIME. but isn’t willing to do anything about it.

This is the kind of person who just wants a pill to fix it all. An easy button. They don’t want to change.

I know people like this too. And it frustrates me to no end. They ask me what they should do. I give a few ideas. And they say, “I’m not doing that” or “I’m not eating that.”

It makes me so very sad when health issues can be EASILY avoided or reversed with one little switch. Or perhaps it does take a whole lifestyle change.

Either way, I’m here to tell you it’s worth it. It’s worth the effort it takes to get off your blood pressure meds. It’s worth the effort it takes to be able to stop taking nsaids. It’s worth the effort to get off the proton pump inhibitors.

Why?

Because God never intended for us to be reliant on chemicals. Ever. In fact, if you’re willing to work hard enough, and make some hard changes, you probably won’t need any of those chemicals at all.

There is ALWAYS HOPE.

Romans 15:13

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”

No matter what the doctor tells you, there is hope. No matter what the test results say, there is hope. No matter what you’ve grown up believing, there is hope.

We are a deceived culture. We’ve been taught that every time we have a fever, cough, ache, or pain we must rush to the urgent care, doctor’s office, or hospital. Now, don’t get me wrong. There’s a time a place for those things. BUT, not nearly as often as they’re used.

These symptoms we have are just messages our bodies are sending us. It’s a wake up call that something is out of whack and changes need to be made to put our bodies back in balance. Sometimes those changes are as easy as extra sleep, one day off work, eat more veggies… And sometimes those changes are a little more involved.

If you’ve been working hard to heal or overcome a health issue, but haven’t had results I encourage you to seek a different kind of help. Maybe a functional medicine doctor is what you need. Perhaps a chiropractic physician. Or maybe even a health coach will give you tools to start in the right direction.

Whatever you decide, make the choice and go for it. Take a step towards hope. Take a step towards healing. Take a step out of pain and suffering. You can do this!

What Are You Allowing in Your Mind?


Philippians 4:8

“Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable- if anything is excellent or praiseworthy- think about such things.”


Our minds are more powerful than we might realize.

Did you know that people have actually lost weight by simply seeing themselves exercise in their mind! Hear me again: they didn’t actually do any exercise. They simply visualized themselves doing the exercise. AND. They. Lost. Weight.

What?!?!

Yup. It’s true. Our minds are powerful. And if we fill it with negativity like:

  • I’m not good enough
  • I’ll never fit in
  • I don’t have a purpose
  • The nightly news
  • Fear and dread
  • Constant arguing

Then we will have that in our lives abundantly.

On the other hand, if we fill our minds with positivity like:

  • God loves me
  • I have a purpose (even if I’m not totally sure what it is)
  • I am loved
  • UP television
  • Peace and calm
  • Fun times with friends and family

Then we will have that in our lives abundantly.

God gives us freedom to think about whatever we want. But Satan also has the ability to influence our thoughts.


2 Corinthians 10:5 says,

“Take captive every thought and make it give up and obey Christ.”


So, how do we know of what we’re thinking is from God or not. Well, we can test it.

Here are a few litmus tests for each thought:

  • Does it contradict the Bible?
  • Does it help me show love to others?
  • Will this further the kingdom of God?
  • Do I have the mind of Christ?
  • How is this thought offering grace to others?

I only know these things because I have allowed so many thoughts in the past turn to actions that, I realized later, were not of God. And that led to some very painful events for me. (Saying sorry is really hard.)


2 Timothy 1:7 says,

For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power, love, and a sound mind.”


He gives us tools to use our mind wisely and powerfully! What we put in matters. From out of the overflow of the heart and mind the mouth speaks.

What are you allowing in your mind?

#real life

Let’s get real here friends.

Life is hard. Being a woman is hard. Parenting is hard. Work is hard. Doing the right thing is hard.

And sometimes we do it well. And sometimes we don’t.

You know, in easy times and in tough times most of us know at least one thing to do to help ourselves or our situation. We know at least one thing to help us lose weight. We know at least one thing to raise our kids to be happy and healthy. We know at least one thing to help our relationships.

YET, sometimes we do those things and sometimes we don’t.

Why? Why do we choose to do things that we know probably won’t help and might even hurt the situation or circumstance.

Because we’re tired. We’re overwhelmed. We don’t have any willpower left.

Plus, pride, selfishness, the ways of the world, and evil can get in the way too.

And choosing the quick or easy thing doesn’t usually give us the results we’re looking for. In our culture of instant gratification hard work doesn’t seem very enticing.

So, what are we to do to help ourselves get through- especially during the really tough times? Here’s my top three ways:

1. Pray

Turn your eyes to Jesus. Tell him your hurts, your struggles, your pain. He knows what you’re going through, and he knows how it feels.


Matthew 7:7

“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.”


And God wants us to co continually ask, seek, and knock. It’s not a one time and voila. Draw close to God in persistent prayer and He will draw near to you.

2. Read and Meditate on Scripture

The Bible has answers for all life questions and struggles. It may not be in the form of a neon blinking sign (which I prefer! Ha!). But, as we read more of God’s word we get to know Him more, and He then reveals more of his plan.

Study scripture (and believe it) for tips on physical, emotional, and spiritual health. It’s the greatest guidebook ever!


John 11:40

“Then Jesus said, ‘Did I not tell you that if you believe, you will see the glory of God?'”


3. Get an Accountability Partner

Having someone like a friend, coach, or pastor to help hold you accountable can be life changing. They can help you step towards your goals in a way you can’t do by yourself.

Again, most of us know what to do. We just have a hard time following through. Having an accountability partner can be the missing piece- especially if we’ve tried again and again without success.


Ecclesiastes 4:9-10

“Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor. If either of them falls down, one can help the other one up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up.”


Which one of these do you need more of in your life? How can you implement more of that starting today?

Set yourself up for success and better ability to handle the storms of life with these three tips.

If you need someone to be your accountability partner, I would be honored to have the opportunity to walk alongside you in life.

Click here to schedule a time to chat with me for free to see if we might be a good team.

5 Ways to Use Essential Oils to Support Your Ears

I’ve been using essential oils to support my health and life for many years. And it has now become my medicine cabinet. I use essential oils every single day – usually multiple times a day. I haven’t been sick in years and when I do get a mild symptom I immediately turn to my essential oils and the symptom is eradicated quickly or at least diminished.

These oils are truly a gift of the earth – from God of course. When you choose essential oils for your home please make sure they are Certified Pure Therapeutic Grade. Just because it says therapeutic grade on the label doesn’t mean it’s 100% pure essential oil. I learned that the hard way. And never, ever, ever buy your oils off Amazon or from a box or drug store. They will not be pure – ever. I get my oils here – the only 100% pure safe oils in the country. (For more information on my beliefs and these oils please message me. I’m happy to chat about it.)

So, let’s discuss some ways you can use essential oils to support the health of your ears!

1.Ear Pain/Ear Infections

If you read my previous blog post you know that I’ve dealt with so much ear stuff in my lifetime. Here’s my go-to recipe for help with ear pain, infections, swimmers ear, or ear pain when I’m flying:

In a roller bottle put about 5 drops each of grapefruit, frankincense, digestive blend, melaleuca, and respiratory blend. Then top with fractionated coconut oil. Roll this behind, in front of, (never put essential oils in your ear!) down the neck under ear toward the heart, and along the jaw line to the chin. Apply several times a day, even every hour if needed, until symptoms subside.

I have had great success in using this recipe to help my ears decompress after being in an airplane. I use the roller bottle for ease, but you might have even better relief applying these oils one at a time in the same locations. You can also take 2 drops of each: protective Blend, oregano, melaleuca, frankincense, & lemon internally in a capsule to help support the immune system.

2.Earache

I have also used basil for relief from ear issues. You can rub it in front of, behind, and below the ear in the same manner as for an ear infection. Basil is antibacterial, anti-infectious, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, antispasmodic, antiviral, and a decongestant among many other things.

You could also put a few drops of basil on a cotton ball and gently place the cotton ball in the ear. But remember, you never want to drop essential oils directly into the ear. The oils will remain on the cotton ball and not reach the eardrum so this method is safe.

3.Tinnitus

Tinnitus is ringing in the ears not caused by an external source.

See, sometimes we have ringing or buzzing in our ears because they are hearing something at a hertz that is not in our range of hearing. This is not tinnitus. This is good hearing! Tinnitus comes from something internal. If you struggle with vertigo or dizziness, and ringing or buzzing in the ears you might be dealing with tinnitus.

Many people have seen total healing or nearly so when using helichrysum. Rub the oil behind, in front of the ear (again, never put essential oils in your ear) and down the jaw line toward the chin. Do this 3-4 times a day.

4.Motion Sickness

Often when we’re feeling dizzy or have motion sickness it stems from an imbalance in the inner ear.

Before travel you can inhale digestive blend and/or rub coriander essential oil behind the ears. I have also had good results inhaling ginger.

Warning: Ginger is a hot oil and you DO NOT want to get it on your nose – or anywhere else for that matter – without a carrier oil. If you smell keep it far enough away not to touch the skin.

After you’re already feeling the sickness you can take 3-5 drops of digestive blend internally and rub it on your belly. You can also use peppermint or ginger internally too.

5.Hearing Loss

I don’t personally have experience using essential oils with hearing loss, but here is a protocol an expert suggests:

Apply this technique 3 times per week for about two months. With each step apply the oils to the palm and dipping one finger at a time into the oils start rubbing at the front of the ear, then over the fleshy rim, and down to to lobe multiple times. (Never put oils inside the ear!) Then, rub down the neck below the ear and along the jaw line. Use:

  • 4 drops each grounding blend and restful blend and repeat application technique 10 times
  • 4 drops helichrysum and repeat application technique 5 times
  • 2 drops each lavender and siberian fir and repeat application technique 5 times
  • 3 drops geranium and repeat application technique 3 times.

What techniques to you use for your ear health? Share more ideas!

Back to School, Schedule, Work, or Just Anytime Stress

Back to school time for parents and kids can seem like a lot of hustle and bustle. Gotta get a new backpack (or clean up the old one from last year), get the million things on the school supply list, new clothes perhaps so cuteness can abound, get to bed earlier, plan lunches, talk to teachers, fill out paperwork for hours…

I could go on for days about stress of getting ready for school. Not that I’ve ever had to get a kid ready to go back to school, but I sure did that for myself many, many years.

The hustle and bustle can be stressful. I kinda think of it as similar to the hustle and bustle at Christmas time too: presents, food, traveling, managing money, Santa, pictures, family, tree, church…

I could go on for days about this too.

It seems no matter what’s going on in our calendar our culture does a really good job at making us stressed out about it. We set expectations on ourselves, others, the schools, our homes, families, friends… And for what? So, we can be the cutest, give our kids the best, look like the perfect family, be the perfect student, have the most or best stuff?

What if we took a moment to step back, breathe, and refocus?

What if we could de-stress these stressful times by taking pressures off ourselves that our culture tries to drown us with?

What if we could focus on what was the most important thing?

At Christmas time of course the most important thing is Jesus. So, can we focus on showing His love and sacrifice to others? (I’m not saying we can’t give gifts, but I am saying we have the ability to simplify.)

At Back-to-School time the most important thing is also Jesus. So, can we focus on our kids and helping them feel loved and cherished – like Jesus would? (I’m not saying we can’t buy them things, but again I am saying we don’t have to keep up with the Jones’s – or what the culture says we have to be and do and have.)

It’s so easy to lose our focus when there are so many distractions every single day. Think tv, cell phones, radio, billboards… These things on their own don’t seem so overpowering, but when we look at our cell phones for over four hours a day, watch tv for over five hours a day, and listen to the radio for about two hours a day (these are average amounts for Americans according to google) our time is nearly filled up. That’s about 11 hours of marketing that we’re getting per day. People trying to get us to buy, buy, buy so we’re happy and more fulfilled.

Jesus tells us in Matthew 6:20,

But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal.

If we’re so focused on what our culture tells us we should do and what we should buy we are storing up treasures on earth. We’re trying to keep up with everyone else, and causing ourselves endless stress in the process. All. Year. Long.

So, how can we reduce stress and refocus?

I might invite for us together, to reduce the amount of media we’re taking in during our personal time.

I might invite for us to resist the temptation to be the same as all the others, feeling the need to buy all the things and go all the places, and focus on what is MOST important.

I also invite for us to put Jesus at the center of our focus. When our eyes are trained on Him, no matter what comes He will provide us His perfect peace. BUT, we must keep our eyes trained on Him. (See Isaiah 26:3)

We can’t get rid of stress in this world today. But we can do things to manage how we deal with stress. We can start with reducing how much hustle and bustle we allow during each the seasons.