Today is Ash Wednesday. It is the beginning of the 40 days of preparation (Lent) that leads to the celebration of Chris’s death (Good Friday), burial and resurrection (Easter).
On this day, we focus on our sins, repentance and God’s forgiveness and grace. It is a reminder of the price our Lord paid to free us from the grip of sin.
So today, as we think about the seriousness of the cross and what it means, examine your heart in the area of relationships. Take a few moments to engage in quiet contemplation. What might you give up for lent?
This year I am giving up all sweets. But in years past, I have given up all kinds of different things. One year, it was worry, another it was anger at someone who had hurt me.
Pastor Phil of the Lutheran Church of the Good Shepherd in Old Bridge, New Jersey posted a list of 20 things you could give up for lent. He also suggested you give these up for life, not just lent.
Here is his list and the link to his blog:
- Guilt – I am loved by Jesus and he has forgiven my sins. Today is a new day and the past is behind.
- Fear – God is on my side. In him I am more than a conqueror. (see Romans 8)
- The need to please everyone – I can’t please everyone anyways. There is only one I need to strive to please.
- Envy – I am blessed. My value is not found in my possessions, but in my relationship with my Heavenly Father.
- Impatience – God’s timing is the perfect timing.
- Sense of entitlement – The world does not owe me anything. God does not owe me anything. I live in humility and grace.
- Bitterness and Resentment – The only person I am hurting by holding on to these is myself.
- Blame – I am not going to pass the buck. I will take responsibility for my actions.
- Gossip and Negativity – I will put the best construction on everything when it comes to other people. I will also minimize my contact with people who are negative and toxic bringing other people down.
- Comparison – I have my own unique contribution to make and there is no one else like me.
- Fear of failure – You don’t succeed without experiencing failure. Just make sure you fail forward.
- A spirit of poverty – Believe with God that there is always more than enough and never a lack
- Feelings of unworthiness – You are fearfully and wonderfully made by your creator. (see Psalm 139)
- Doubt – Believe God has a plan for you that is beyond anything you could imagine. The future is brighter than you could ever realize.
- Self-pity – God comforts us in our sorrow so that we can comfort others with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.
- Retirement – As long as you are still breathing, you are here for a reason. You have a purpose to influence others for Christ. That does not come to an end until the day we die.
- Excuses – A wise man once said, if you need an excuse, any excuse will do.
- Lack of counsel – Wise decisions are rarely made in a vacuum.
- Pride – Blessed are the humble.
- Worry – God is in control and worrying will not help.
Thanks Pastor Phil for the challenging but great list!
When we hear anything about eating disorders, we tend to think of girls and women. Yet, some of you are familiar with the term “manorexic,” referring to boys and men who also struggle with a clinical eating disorder some time in their life. In fact, 10 million men suffer according to the National Eating Disorders Association.
Robert was one of them. He came to my office incredibly thin and confused about his identity. Robert’s fear of assuming the role of a man and taking on responsibility pushed him to restrict his eating and take on a more child like look. Family members then organized to take are of his illness. His dependency for care helped him avoid more independent living and decision-making. The family was stuck and needed help to respond to his food restriction and fears.
Last week was National Eating Disorders Awareness week. While women still suffer with eating disorders at double the rate of men, men feel the pressure to be ripped, lean and muscular. If not treated, both genders are in danger of dying from these psychiatric disorders.
However, eating disorders are treatable. Healing and recovery are very possible but most often need the help of a multidisciplinary professional team. So if you know a boy or a girl, man or woman, who is struggling with an eating disorder, encourage the person to seek professional help.
For more helps: Breaking Free from Anorexia and Bulimia by Dr. Linda Mintle
When I would visit my mom in the nursing home, I would visit the Alzheimer’s unit and ask my mom to come sing with me while I played the piano for the patients. What was remarkable was that the Alzheimer patients, who couldn’t remember who I was from time to time, would join mom and me in singing the words to many old songs. And after we sang, they seemed to converse better.
What I didn’t know at the time was what was discovered in a November 2013 study in the Journal of Neurolinguistics. In the study, researchers had Alzheimer patients choose familiar music . When they listened to familiar music for two minutes and then were asked to do a conversational memory task, they did better than a group who sat in silence and then did the task. The familiar music enhanced the grammar, meaningful words and content of what was spoken. Music improved their conversational skills.
Alzheimer patients experience a decline in autobiographical memory that affects their sense of identity. The thinking is that familiar music may help with recall of deep memories and strengthen the patient’s sense of identity.
Little did mom and I know that our enjoyment of music and playing the old tunes could actually be helping in other ways. We saw the smiles, we heard the joyful singing, we noticed they remembered the words, but we didn’t know that music could do even more.
When it comes to losing weight, all the tricks we know help! So here is one to add to your bag.
If you want to eat less of an item, buy it individually wrapped rather than loose in the bag. For example, let’s say you could buy individual wrapped candies and put them in a bowl, or put loose candies in that same bowl. Go for the wrapped candies because you will eat more of the loose candy. I noticed this at Christmas. I had peanut M&Ms in a candy dish. Every time someone would walk by the dish, he or she would grab a few. When I switched the bowl to individually wrapped candies, they lasted longer.
It appears that anything that slows down our availability to food helps us eat less of it. Wrapped foods slow us down! A study in Appetite found that the availability of food influences our eating. If we have a bit of a physical imposition in getting that food, it affects how much we eat.
Not only did the researchers test the difference between unwrapped and wrapped candies, but they also tested the difference between eating candies with your hand versus using a tong. Again, the tong slowed things down and that group ate less.
The take away. If you are going to have candy around the house, buy the wrapped pieces! A little physical effort slows down the snacking! And most of us need all the tricks!