Morning Inspiration

It was a tough morning. One of my sons insisted on refusing to do what I asked:

  • He refused to eat his breakfast
  • He refused to drink water
  • He refused to pass anything to anyone

In addition, he spilled water on the table and floor, swiped his lunch kit onto the floor, and glared. I told him he could not go to school until he ate his breakfast, drank some water and apologized for his behaviour.

After I put my other children on the bus, I asked my son to join me on my morning walk with our dog, Olaf. He put on his shoes and came.

As we walked, there was little conversation. I focused on breathing deeply and enjoying the beauty of nature. The theme of the morning turned out to be wild flowers.

The first flower that caught my eye was an Alberta Wild Rose. Once I paid attention, I noticed many other rose bushes scattered throughout the area where we walked.

Wild Rose

On our walk we also spotted blue bells, flowering Saskatoon bushes, and dandelions – both blooming and going to seed.

Our walk only lasted fifteen minutes, but my perspective shifted a hundred and eighty degrees. When we arrived back at our house, my son cheerfully complied with my requests and I took him to school with a smile on his face.

Perhaps I should implement a morning walk for him more often 🙂

What have you discovered in your parenting journey that has surprised and delighted you? Please share!


A New Arrival: 7 Essential Habits of Christian Writers

 

I’m very excited to share one of my latest projects with you. As many of you know, I serve as President of InScribe Christian Writers’ Fellowship. Just over a year ago, during one of our executive meetings, we discussed the possibility of putting together an anthology with contributions from members of InScribe. We organized a volunteer committee and set our sights on having the book published and ready to launch at our InScribe Fall Conference September 24-26, 2015.

The end result is a book with contributions from 28 Canadian authors, dealing with seven key areas for Christian writers: Time with God, Healthy Living, Time Management, Honing Writing Skills, Crafting a Masterpiece, Submitting, and Marketing. The contributing writers, who come from all walks of life and write in various genres for a range of audiences, are all members of ICWF. Through fiction, poetry, and non-fiction such as devotionals, essays, and articles, they generously share their own discoveries, success stories, and hard-won lessons to encourage and support other Christian writers.

The e-book is now available on Kindle:

7-Essential-Habits-Cover

The paperback version is in process and will be released during conference.

Thanks to everyone who had a part in making this book possible!

Endorsements

“I love seven things about this book: It is practical. It is affordable. It is encouraging. It is worth highlighting, underlining and dog-earing. Plus it made me forget about my toothache. Whether you’re a newbie or a veteran writer, you’ll discover 7 Essential Habits of Christian Writers to be jammed with instantly actionable advice that will make you a better writer. Dig in.”
Phil Callaway (www.philcallaway.com) is the best-selling author of more than 25 books, a popular speaker, the host of Laugh Again Radio, and a grandpa.

7 Essential Habits of Christian Writers is an absolute gem! I love that it covers all the basics a writer needs to know, making them simple and practical. I also love that the book has many authors, giving us ideas and suggestions from their own writing journey. I highly recommend this book to anyone seriously considering writing as a vocation or even an avocation, particularly those writers who see their work as a ministry—which it certainly is!”
Kathi Macias (www.kathimacias.com) is an award-winning author of more than 50 books. A wife, mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother, Kathi lives in Southern California with her husband, Al.

7 Essential Habits of Christian Writers is loaded with actionable advice that will make you a better writer. Whether you are a multi-published author or a beginning writer, this book will benefit you.”
Shelley Hitz, author coach and best-selling author
www.ShelleyHitz.com 

“This book is a beautiful blend of faithfulness and craft. It will help you answer the practical questions of what it means to be a writer while honoring what you believe. I wish I’d read this when I got started.”
Jeff Goins, Best-selling author, The Art of Work

“There are hundreds of how-to-write books on the market, but none that I know of touches BOTH of the vital aspects of writing as a Christian better than this anthology from InScribe. The practical AND the spiritual are woven into a whole by a remarkably creative group of writers who are in the trenches as we speak. I intend to snack on this fare again and again.”
Nancy Rue, best-selling Christian author and creator of Shadow to Shelf, a mentoring program for writers.


Pitfalls on the trail to healthy living & Five Minute Friday

Pitfalls

As some of you know, I’ve been working on changing some of my habits. I’m thankful for the success I’ve had – becoming more active and losing some weight. However, I still have a ways to go. I was doing very well until summer hit. I lost 25 pounds and was exercising regularly. Then I reverted back to some of my bad habits and gained 15 pounds back. Now I’m almost back to my pre-summer weight.

As I thought about why I struggled over the summer, I came up with eight pitfalls that tend to trip me up:

Stress

If I’m not careful, my healthy living plan disappears when I experience stress. We all live with stress, but there are times when life throws it’s worst at us. If we don’t choose otherwise, we can get tripped up.

Possible Solution: Watch for signs of stress and acknowledge it. Humor is a great stress reliever. Put together movies, jokes, etc. that make you laugh and have them ready when you need them.

Pre-packaged Food

We live in a frenetic world. It’s easy to rely on frozen pizza or mac and cheese instead of spending the time to cook healthy meals. I’m not saying we should never eat these foods, but they should be the exception. Recently I was reminded that sometimes we need to retrain our taste buds. We crave what we eat.

Possible Solution: Make sure you keep your kitchen stocked with the ingredients you need to cook homemade meals. If you need some inspiration, try out a new recipe. (I’ve started collecting new recipes using Pinterest.) Retrain your taste buds to enjoy food that is good for you.

Not enough Sleep

This is a contentious issue for some people. I don’t think there is a magic number for this, but if you are waking up tired on a regular basis you’re probably not getting enough sleep. I find that when I’m tired, I tend to eat more. Not a good plan!

Possible Solution: Look at your schedule and see if there are things you need to intentionally cut out. Be more conscious of when you are tired. Every once in a while allow yourself to go to bed early.

Emotional Eating

This is a big stumbling block for me, and I wasn’t even aware of it until lately. When I’m stressed, or lonely, or sad or … I can easily fall into the trap of eating to try to make myself feel better. The problem is that food can’t satisfy us emotionally.

Possible Solution: I’ve found it helps to wait for ten minutes or so when I want to snack. This gives me time to evaluate whether I’m actually hungry or if I’m struggling emotionally. I’ve also found time with friends, doing something I enjoy, and spending time reading my Bible help me deal with the real issues.

Lack of Vegetables

Have you ever stopped to think about how many servings of vegetables you eat? (Check out this visual of the recommended amount of fruits and vegetables we should be eating each day.) Vegetables have many benefits including providing vitamins and minerals, adding fiber, and satisfying us without adding a lot of calories.

Possible Solution: For me, the first step was becoming aware of how few vegetables I was eating. Then I had to make sure my grocery list included a variety of vegetables. Now I’m trying to teach myself to reach for vegetables when I want a snack.

Grabbing what’s Quick

This is something most of us do – grab something that’s quick. We live busy lives. Sometimes we don’t have time to make a meal, so we grab something on the run. Usually what we grab is not the best choice because it’s usually something sweet, or salty, or loaded with calories.

Possible Solution: Have healthy food on hand, like vegetables and fruit or things you need to make yourself a wrap. If you need to eat out, do your homework ahead of time and pick some healthy options. Most restaurants and fast food places have nutrition guides available.

Lack of Accountability

If I don’t make a conscious effort to pay attention to what I eat, it’s easy for me to get tripped up and fall back into my bad habits (like eating desserts regularly). Accountability helps us pay attention to what we’re doing, provides support, and gets us through the rough times we’ll all have.

Possible Solution: Find an accountability partner who will check in with you regularly. If you find that difficult, try tracking your eating and exercise in a journal or with an app. (My Fitness Pal is available on the web or as an App on iTunes)

Inactivity

I don’t know about you, but I find that I spend a lot of time at my desk. Unless I consciously make myself move, I sit. Our bodies are made to move. Exercise improves our memory, posture, and confidence. It also helps relieve stress, sleep better, and have more energy. (Check out Top Ten Reasons to Exercise Regularly.)

Possible Solution: I tend to find excuses not to exercise, so I had to find something I could do regularly at home. A treadmill and some DVDs help get me moving. Listening to inspiring music or podcasts while I exercise helps too.

What about you? What pitfalls have you encountered and how do you avoid them?

Dear

Dear Reader,

Thank you for taking the time to stop by my blog and read. I hope you found encouragement, humor, and some helpful information.

I don’t take you for granted. We live in a frenetic world. You could choose to use your time for many things other than visiting my website.

Thank you for taking time to leave a comment. This lets me know if content is helpful and engaging.

I hope that this Advent and Christmas season you will take time to reflect and spend time with those who are dear to you. Take time to thank God for the many blessings in your life.

I also invite you to read and share what I’ve written – both on my blog and in e-book or printed form (Note: Helping Hands Press is offering 30% off until December 18th. Enter code: THANKYOU):

  • Cecile’s Christmas Miracle
  • Shadows and Sunshine
  • Life Lessons
  • Uplifting Devotionals for Parents

If you have suggestions for blog topics, let me know.

Thanks for being you!

Five Minute Friday provides an opportunity to write about a one word prompt for five minutes and then link in to Kate’s blog. Come join the fun 🙂


Back to school for our kids equals back to ? for parents

Caregivers

For the past 8 years I’ve had the privilege of editing a newsletter for foster, adoptive, and kinship families in north central Alberta. Often I write short pieces for the newsletter as well. (If you’d like to see current or past issues, go to the north central CFSA website. This is what I wrote for the September 2014 issue:

BACK TO . . .

September. For many of us this means back to school, back to a busier schedule, back to music lessons and sports. I’ve been reminded lately that caregivers usually think of themselves last. While you are helping your children prepare for all the activities that September brings, make sure you reserve some time to think about ways to “recharge” personally or with your significant other. Here are some ideas I’m implementing or going back to:

Older Man Holding Bible

  • Starting the day with something relaxing. For me this means getting up early for some quiet time to read my Bible, pray, and do some writing.

Three young girl friends playing soccer

  • Choosing healthy habits. I’m continuing on with my health and fitness journey. During the summer, some of my habits slipped. Going back to a regular schedule makes it easier for me to be more consistent in sleeping, physical activity and healthy eating.

Woman Holding Road Traffic Sign

  • Setting boundaries. I’ve been thinking about what is truly important to me and have started to say “No” to some things.

Businessman in office with computer and fan cooling off

  • Taking a break from technology. I’m choosing not to use any technology after supper.

Family walking through countryside

  • Nourishing your creativity. I’m being more intentional about taking walks, making up stories, reading about new things, and trying new things.

What are you going back to?

 


Fitness journey check-in, recipe, and tips

Salad with no dressing 290 calories

Some of you have asked how my fitness and healthy living journey is going. I’m encouraged by the progress I’m making. (If you’re not interested, you can skip down to the recipe.)

  • I’m seeing my endurance increase. It’s no longer a challenge to walk at 3 miles an hour. Most days I’m walking at a speed of 3.5 mph with sprints up to 4.5 mph. The incline on my treadmill is usually between 6% to 10%.
  • I’ve lost 24 pounds. My goal is to lose a pound a week, for a total of 52 pounds this year. This is week 18 of my journey, so I’m ahead of my target.
  • I’m losing inches. My clothes are getting loose. Soon I’ll be able to go shopping for a different size 🙂
  • I’m eating healthier. Yesterday I made a salad for my lunch and shared the picture on Facebook. People were asking for the recipe, so here it is:

290 Calorie Salad

1 cup Romaine lettuce, cut or shredded

1 medium tomato, diced

1/2 large yellow bell pepper, sliced

1 hard-boiled egg, sliced

48g (3 slices) Maple Leaf Deli Express Ham, sliced

41 g (3 slices) Maple Leaf Deli Express Chicken, sliced

2 Tbsp (10 g) Kraft Grated Cheddar Cheese

I enjoyed my salad without any dressing because of all the flavours of the vegetables, egg, and meat.

Caloric and nutrition information provided by MyFitnessPal

The MyFitnessPal app (pictured above) has been extremely helpful in making me aware of serving sizes and helping me track my eating and exercising. There are some days I still have to choose to drink water or eat an apple to help myself feel full, but most of the time I feel very satisfied and have ample energy.

One surprise discovery I’ve made is that I need to allow myself a “cheat day” every week. I lost 10 pounds quite quickly and then for weeks nothing changed even though I was exercising consistently and eating well. One week I had a day where I was out for a special event and I knew I ate way more than I usually did. The next week when I checked my weight, I had lost several pounds. One post I read said that we should eat up to 1,000 extra calories on our cheat day, because it “resets” our body. If we always cut back on calories, our body tends to go into “starvation mode” and we don’t lose any weight. By having a cheat day once a week and then going right back to exercising and reducing the number of calories, our body is assured everything is okay and the pounds come off.

Do you have any recipes or tips to share? I look forward to hearing from you.


Encouragement to Persevere

Encouragement to Persevere
Encouragement to Persevere http://ruthlsnyder.com

This is week 5 in our Made to Crave Action Plan study.

Here are some great quotes from Lysa Terkeurst:

“Our goal is not a number on the scale. Our goal is to be absolutely at peace—emotionally, physicallyand spiritually.”

“Our scale can measure what our body weighs, but it can never measure our worth as a woman.”

“Between every trial and every blessing that comes from that trial is a path that we must walk. . .and the path is perseverance.”

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters,whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.” (James 1:2-5 NIV from http://www.biblegateway.com)

6 Summary Tips from Dr. Ski Chilton:

“Food was made to nourish us . . . when we come to manipulate it, it comes to destroy us.”

  1. Calories in; Calories out – Start your day with 16 oz of water. (This will help you reduce the number of calories you eat throughout the day by as much as 20%.)
  2. Fiber (25 grams/day for women or 30 grams/day for men) will help you feel full.
  3. Exercise to lose inches, not weight (30 minutes 5 days/week).
  4. Omega 3’s will reduce risk of heart attacks and decrease the speed of aging. The ratio of Omega 6 to Omega 3 in our diet should be 2:1.
  5. Eating 5-7 servings of fruits and vegetables (To reap the benefits of Polyphenols)
  6. Have a positive attitude!

For more details, check out The 7 Ingredients for Healthy Weight Loss

I find the item I struggle with the most is eating 5-7 servings of fruits and vegetables. Some ways I’ve found that help are:

  • Add a piece of fruit to breakfast
  • Add a salad at lunch time
  • Eat wraps instead of sandwiches, especially when you’re eating out. However, you have to be careful. Tim Horton’s snack wraps only have 190 calories, but Swiss Chalet wraps have 710 calories!
  • Have an apple or banana for a snack
  • Have a salad and two or three other vegetables with your dinner entree

What tips do you have to share?


Embracing the Equation for Weight Loss

Equation for weight loss. Exercise plus reducing calories equals weight loss

This week in our Made to Crave Action Plan journey, the theme was: “Embrace the equation: Exercise AND Reduce Calories”. Since the beginning of January I have been very intentional about getting exercise. However, I haven’t been as intentional about reducing calories, other than making sure I drink water, eat 25 grams of fiber, and am intentional about my eating. This is because my main goal has been to get in shape.

I decided to focus a bit on the reducing calories side this week. Ironically, at the beginning of the week I ended up with the flu. This made it extremely easy for me to reduce caloric intake since I didn’t feel like eating anything. (It also made it almost impossible to exercise!) While I was not well I decided to check out apps that would be helpful in keeping the weight loss equation balanced. I typed “fitness” into the search, and found several apps, mostly free. The one I chose to download is called My Fitness Pal.

My Fitness Pal is free. When you open the app you’re able to enter your current weight, your target weight, and the amount of weight you’d like to lose per week. Once those are entered, My Fitness Pal calculates the number of calories you should consume each day to reach your target. Here’s a quick overview from the app menu:

  • Home: a summary overview of the day including how many calories are remaining on your daily “allowance” as well as a pie chart of the nutrients in the food you’ve consumed.
  • Food Diary: where you enter the food you eat. A search feature makes it easy to look for the specific foods you’ve consumed. Once you enter foods, they come up on the menu every time you need to make a new entry.
  • Exercise Diary: a place to enter cardio exercise, strength exercise, and notes
  • Nutrition: gives you a visual breakdown of carbs, fat, and protein in the foods you’ve consumed, as well as target percentages for each day.
  • Progress: a visual of where you started, where you’re at currently, the number of lbs or kgs you’ve lost, and the percentage of weight you’ve lost.
  • Friends: an opportunity for you to invite friends along to keep you accountable.
  • Messages: I haven’t used this feature
  • Apps & Devices: a link to the app store
  • Reminders: a place to set reminders for yourself
  • Settings: a place to make changes/updates to your profile, diary settings, fitness goals, sharing & privacy, foods & exercise, weekly nutrition settings, or logout.
  • Help

Sorting through the time crunch

Weekly CalendarToday’s assignment in the Balanced Challenge is one that I know I’ll have to keep coming back to. I don’t know about you, but for me it’s often a challenge to figure out how I’m going to make the best use of each 24 hour segment God gives me. There just isn’t enough time to do everything.

Tricia Goyer shares one way to sort through the time crunch: Sit down and make a list with four categories.

  1. Things I have to do (non-negotiable items like work or feeding and clothing your family)
  2. Things I should do (no one will die if these things aren’t done, but they are very important. e.g. reading the Bible)
  3. Things I want to do (those things that bring me joy and make me feel more alive e.g. my work with InScribe Christian Writers’ Fellowship)
  4. Things I’m doing to “look good” or doing out of guilt (usually volunteer activities that are good, but may be zapping our energy)

Tricia then challenges us to cut ALL the items listed under #4 and schedule the rest of the items into some sort of calender. I’ve shared the beginning of my calendar at the top of this post. It still needs some work – my husband and I plan to compare notes and calendars.

This exercise has been an important reminder to me that I can’t be everything to everybody. Some things have to give. Tricia reminds us that there are different seasons in life and sometimes we have to wait to do things until a different season.

How do you plan your schedule? What do you struggle with the most? I’d love to hear from you in the comment section.

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