Category Archives: friend issues

My 40th Birthday Gift-Away Challenge

Candles spell out the traditional English birt...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A few weeks ago I mentioned I was looking for some new-to-me, never-tried-before type adventure to celebrate turning 40 this October and round out my bookend year with a little pomp and circumstance. But nothing was satisfying my quest. I heard suggestions of “go skydiving” (shudder) and “eat someplace new” (yawn) and “learn a new language” (um, in 3 months?! I’m not that kind of genius). My family and friends were tiring of giving me helpful suggestions when a crafty type friend of mine mentioned looking at Pinterest for Birthday Challenges based on the number of years you are turning and………


I was delighted to read all the meaningful ways people were using their birthday’s to bless others. My hamster wheel, lava lamp brain has been a flutter with ideas ever since, and now I am pleased as punch to unveil my invitation to join me in Celebrating 40 Years of God’s Blessings!

(drum roll and trumpets as your read this, and if you can manage, in a proper British accent)

“Hear Ye! Hear Ye! As a result of abundant blessing, ridiculous amounts of love and overwhelming grace, Debi Russell has arrived at her 40th Birthday a blessed and joy-filled woman. In honor of the many who have inspired her, loved her and led her over these past 40 years, she has decided to spend the week of her birth giving back to others in need. She would like to invite 39 other friends to commit to do the same during the week leading up to October 29, 2014. You may choose to do one act of charity, donate time or resources to a ministry or non-profit, write a check to a missionary overseas- the possibilities are endless. She only asks that you let her know what you did as a part of this celebration. Your gift to her is to give to others that week!”

So, there it is. If you’re reading this, you are invited to join! I’m hoping to have at least 39 friends who participate in honor of the 39 wonderful years I have lived. Pinterest does have tons of ideas, but if you need a few suggestions here are some I’m passionate about in my city: Greenhouse Ministries, Pregnancy Support Center, Doors of Hope and Branches (where I work). All are on facebook and you can contact them to find out what kind of donations or service they might need. (And I happen to know they all take cash!)




It’s kind of a jungle out there. Everywhere we look there are messages designed to tear us down, terrify us and hold us back from the life Jesus died to give us.

You’re too old. You’re not thin enough. You’re not a successful mom. You don’t measure up. You’ll never get it. He doesn’t love you. They think you’re a fool. 

Some messages are screaming from magazine covers. Others whisper through the look we notice from a coworker. Still some sneak in silently at the dinner table when our teenagers are disgruntled or disinterested. Sometimes the voices feel like a familiar refrain we’ve heard sung over us our whole life. Others are new accusations. One thing is for sure: we need a way to quiet the noise.

You know one thing I love about us as women? We “get” when our friends or family feel down. We can sense our loved ones hurts. We have this beautiful gift of sensitivity that can be honed to bless those around us. The battle for all of us is belief.

Whose voice, which words will I trust and respond to? 


This is where we need each other. Sometimes desperately. To remind us of what we believe and who we believe. That God says we are loved. That every place we don’t measure up to this world’s standard, or our own for that matter, that we are perfectly loved and accepted in Christ. That He was perfection for us so we could quit measuring ourselves by our failures and start measuring ourselves by His success. We need each other to love with great courage, and therefore put the courage back in us. It takes courage to face a noisy world where everything reminds us of our own brokenness and not shrink back. Encouragement is a priceless gift we can use to change the music in a loved ones’ life.

The world doesn’t need another critic. Choose to arm others for the battlefield by infusing them with the courage to believe and listen to the truth.

A Call to the Women of my Generation


Have you looked around at women 10 and 20 years younger than us lately? They are a fashionable, energetic, funny and passionate bunch. But have you noticed they are struggling? Struggling to fit in, to stay beautiful, to get married, to stay married, to balance jobs and family, to be mom’s, to come to terms with their past, to build friendships, to know Christ. Have you found yourself wondering why they are doing some of the obviously ineffective things they are doing? Have you noticed how easy it is to forget how incredibley hard it is to make it through the 20’s and 30’s?

Sisters, it is time for us to open our hearts and homes and lives to the women coming behind us. They are eager for mentoring. They are hungry for modeling. They long to see Christ in you. They need to be encouraged.

I recently had a just-out-of-college young woman mention I should lead a summer bible study. I casually thought, Sure, that’ll be easy.  Maybe five or so younger women and I could study a book of the bible this summer. I put a little post about it on my church member page thinking it would be a pretty small response. There were 17 women who decided to attend. Seventeen! Clearly I had missed how great a desire there is in my own community of women for intentional investment.

I know the idea of mentoring younger women can be daunting. After all, we are still trying  to figure life out and many of us didn’t have mentors in our lives during those  years either. Where were our trail blazers? They were exactly where we are now. Enjoying the life they spent 20 years building, wrangling teenagers and trying to slow down a little. So we come to a cross roads of sorts: do we take the harder path of investing what God has taught us into our younger sisters in the faith, or do we sit back and begin to relax a little, fearful of the energy and sacrifice it will take?

What if you could throw out the ideas you have about what mentoring means? What if instead of a formal, scheduled event it was an organic relationship where you just opened your life up?

as you teach your secret pot roast recipe and she learns to feed her family

as you shop at Target and she learns not to be so critical of her body by the way you embrace your aging figure

as you hang out around your house and she learns to speak with kindness, but also with firmness to interrupting children

as you spend time together and she sees how to live out the beautiful gospel of Jesus in all the little ways it changes everything  from running a home to working to reaching out to needy in your community

The women the bible describes in the book of Acts had these “as you go” relationships. They were cooking and cleaning and worshipping and living but they were doing it together. I still long for women who have come before me to mentor me too! But I am no longer content to deflect the responsibility of Titus 2:4 while younger women flounder. The beauty of the body of Christ is family. Big sisters, little sisters working out life together in safe relationships to ask questions, share fears and receive love.

Bathing Suit Support Groups- An Idea Whose Time Has Come

I have ventured into the abyss of Lycra and under wires and tropical prints twice this year already. Twice. There were drones of other women, all desperately looking for the last suit in a size 10, or something that will hide all the flaws while simultaneously revealing a slimmer figure. It was not madness exactly. More like resigned fortitude.
I swear I heard some muffled sobs coming from one dressing room followed by an expletive or two. One woman almost called 9-1-1 after being unable to extract herself from the contraption she had wriggled into (that may or may not have been me.)

Yes, ladies, Bathing Suit Shopping Season is upon us, unless you were lucky enough to find a decent suit in the past year to tide yourself over. My current swimsuit situation is as follows: one very cute brown tankini that mostly contains me, but is also incredibly faded  AND one maroon one piece with a bandeau style halter top that causes a searing headache from the halter being tied too tight, which is needed for, you guessed it, containment. So, in light of my current dilemma, I will once again venture into the abyss to search for a suit next week.

Here is my proposal, and I am telling you, Dillards or Target or whatever retailer decides to catch on would rake in a fortune if they followed my idea:

What we need is Bathing Suit Shopping Support Groups! For real. Group women together based on sizes and life stages. The “never given births” have differing issues than the “had 2 babies and over 40’s” but let’s face it- ALL women could use a cheering section while going through this yearly ordeal.They could turn off all the overhead fluorescent lighting, which as we all know makes the most lovely complexion look garish, and replace them with lamps. Also, offering an assortment of snacks and perhaps a little wine, to take the edge off, would be delightful.

But here is where I think my idea goes from clever to genius: when we emerge from a dressing room in a potential suit, and ask “does this make my thighs looks fat/my butt look big/my middle look too roly poly?” the resounding answer from your own personal support group is “WHO CARES?” Because you know what we don’t need? A bunch of false compliments, or distorted reality. We don’t need to find the One Suit to Rule Them All. (yep, Lord of the Rings reference. apologies.) We don’t need to believe better things about our bodies- we need to believe different things about our bodies. We need an altered perspective on the importance we place on how we look! So let me say it to you sisters- YOU ARE MORE THAN YOUR BODY! Your worth is not based on how well you rock a bikini! I don’t care what society, your husband, your boyfriend or your friends think- God created you as he wanted you to be. He gave you a body to take care of, to use for loving and serving others and to enjoy. None of us are perfect stewards of any gift God gives us, and if you haven’t taken care of your body in the way you think is responsible, then you can work on that, but you don’t have to hide in shame! And let’s face it, a lot of what we aren’t happy with are parts we can’t change anyway, and represent no failure on our parts.

So if you need to go shopping over the next week, grab a couple of women friends, invade the dressing room and tell each other the truth: how you look is not all that important- who you ARE in Christ is what matters. And you are lovely- really, you are. It is impossible for a creation of the King to not contain some piece of His image, some reflection of His love and goodness. And that makes you more beautiful to behold than “a perfect 10” will ever be.

Saving Sanity – Seven Ways to Make it Through Tough Moments

imageLet’s face it girls- some days it’s just hard to keep it all together. You know those days where you squeeze into pants that are too snug, after over sleeping by 15 minutes so you get out the door just in time to hit all the horrible traffic, while leaving behind a sink full of last night’s dishes, an unmade bed, wet laundry still in the washer (that will smell funny by the time you get home).
Or days where your kids are totally ungrateful, disrespectful and downright ornery while you are trying to find a way to salvage the dinner you just burned after reading the email that your checking account over drafted because you had unexpected car repairs and medical bills in the same week.And sometimes, even though you know deep down this is not stuff that matters in the big picture of life, it feels like all you can see is Polaroid snapshots, not panoramic views. And it is at precisely these times when you must keep handy a little list of ways to stay sane on days that are not. Here is my list:1. Breathe deep. 10 deep breaths slow and steady. It clears your brain, slows your heart rate, improves your oxygen sat’s and lowers your blood pressure.

2. Laugh. There’s no excuse with YouTube and Netflix to not have something funny to watch. Laughter is good medicine. I personally laugh at my kids, my husband and Brian Regan- my favorite comedian. Ooh and Tim Hawkins singing. And also Strongbad. And Ask-A-Ninja. Or in a pinch, like say if your Internet is down, you can imagine that the squirrels are arch enemies. And some speak in English accents and some in Mexican accents. And they trash talk each other for intimidation. (Clearly I have a lot of days I need to laugh….)

3. Baseball Bat Therapy. This is a fabulous way to get rid of pent up frustration and stress. Get a baseball bat. Find a big tree. Make sure it’s in your yard. Beat the heck out of it. Trust me on this-

4. Sing to Jesus. On days when what you know to be true, simply doesn’t feel true, worship lets you focus on the only One who can help you reconnect to truth. He is sovereign, He is faithful, He loves you, He has saved you, He is constant, He is working all things together for your good and His glory. I personally have learned if I will sing to Him, really worship Him- it transforms my heart and renews my mind.

5. Talk to Another Woman. When you’re on the brink of completely flipping out over running out of nail polish remover, or your kid’s messy room or a voice mail your mother left you- this is no time to involve men or small children. Only another woman can talk you off that precarious ledge without making you feel completely unfit for human interaction. Some issues in life defy logic. The need to have women in your life who understands and can tactfully, ever so carefully, calm you down is paramount. “You are planning to throw the entire dinner into the front yard and make your family eat it like the wolves that they are? Well, of course, of course. But……they probably won’t eat it, ungrateful savages, and then they’ll be whining about how hungry they are later. Sooooo, maybe just go ahead and serve it to them at the table and go get in the bath while they eat. And, you know, perhaps you should just not speak to anyone until like, oh say, next Tuesday. I mean, just to teach them a lesson, and ahem, prevent any calls to the authorities.”

6. Keep a stash of really good chocolate hidden for these moments. This requires no further explanation.

7. Pray and Journal. Lamentations says to “pour out your heart like water before The Lord” and sometimes I can do this in my mind. But sometimes my mind is so jumbled, it helps to write my prayers down. And even just write down all the stresses and hurts and worries and then pray about them. This is different from worship slightly. While worshipping I focus on who God is.
In prayer I tell Him who I am and allow Him refine, redirect or mold those beliefs so they are in line
with what the gospel teaches me.

So, these are mine. Tried and true. What keeps you sane when life feels crazy?

Women and Friendship

Very few subjects are trickier for many women than developing friendships (except perhaps that pesky submission business). In fact, in my experience in ministering to women, I’d say during the teen years a lot felt dating to be easier than becoming friends with their female peers. On many levels, women are complicated, are we not? I kind of love that about us. I mean, it does make us rather mysterious, but at the same time it can make opening your heart to another female problematic.

Do they really like me, or do they just need something?
Can I trust them with my past, struggles, vulnerabilities?
Are they going to gossip about me?
They seem so together, and I’m afraid I will seem so awkward and ridiculous if I open up.
I often feel pressured when I’m with this person but I don’t know why?
I feel let down over and over by this woman, but everyone else seems to love her- what’s wrong with me?
Recently I’ve heard these statements, or ones like them from friends. All around me women are crying out for community, but can’t figure out how to find it. And of course, we’re not talking about “male community”- the kind where men get together, joke around non-stop, eat something hideously unhealthy, talk about sports and work, laugh some more, give each other the chest-bump-one-armed hug and call it “relationship”. Because that just won’t cut it for us. While all that is fun and fine, and the men are actually building relationships that way, we want to walk away from coffee or lunch feeling we know something deeper than when we started. And most especially, that someone knows us and still likes us. And we’re not talking about superficial, “see and be seen”, social climbing either. Because let’s face it- that’s not friendship, that’s nonsense. (Ain’t nobody got time for that!) No, we are talking about sisterhood. Beautiful, vulnerable, truthful, you’ve-got-my-back, cry together, laugh together, love Jesus together friendship. Possible? Absolutely! Difficult? Yep. So here are some pointers if you find yourself struggling against fears, and hurts and just lack of friendship skills to help get you moving in the right direction.
Make the goal of your friendship honoring God. What does that mean practically? That you really want your friendship to be free from sin (gossip, complaint, lies, people pleasing, competition) and full of God’s grace and truth. This would look like telling the truth about yourself. It would look like serving each other. It would look like holding in confidence your friend’s thoughts and feelings. It would be full of freedom to be who you are. However, if I am really your friend, and I see you eating rat poison, and I love you- then chances are good I’m going to ask you “what they heck are you doing???” right? It’s part of a God-honoring friendship to care about sin is our friends lives. But that does not give you license to confront them about your opinion. Big difference between the two.
Learn the difference between alligators and roses. Dee Brestin, in her book The Friendships of Women, presents this concept. A rose is worth having, even though sometimes you get pricked by the thorns. An alligator is always going to be dangerous, even though they smile sweetly. Some women are not healthy. They are in a place emotionally and spiritually that would be dangerous for you. You can certainly love them, but to try to develop  deep friendship will surely end in a deep wound for you. Most women are roses. Beautiful, worth investing in- and yet, you’ll discover that in every person there are parts of them that may hurt you. A really big clue as to the difference: healthy women can take responsibility when they fail and make changes to their behavior. (If you find yourself running into a lot of alligators, you may need to do a little study. A really great book is Safe People, by Henry Cloud and James Townsend.)
Recognize that everyone wants to be loved and liked- just like you. It doesn’t matter how “together” someone appears, we all have insecurities. We all wonder if people will think we look foolish at times. We’ve all been hurt by sin and brokenness in this world. A big part of becoming closer friends is affirming your “like” and “love” of the person. Let them know you are excited to get to know them better. That you see good things in them. The things you would want to hear yourself.
A good friendship feels like a see-saw. There should be an ebb and flow in any relationship. You give a little, they take. They give a little, you take. If it feels like you are always on one end or the other, think about that. It may be that you are trying to be friends with someone who does not have the time to have a deep relationship with you. And that is not a rejection of you- simply a reality. Not everyone will like you or want to be a close friend. But some people will! The key is to not give up or get discouraged. If you initiate plans once or twice and the other person does not reciprocate, take a step back and invest in someone else for awhile. You can’t force a friendship.
Once a friendship is established, nurture it. Like any other relationship, you have to invest time, energy, thought and prayer into your friend. Prayer, in fact is a huge blessing in friendship, because in prayer God can open your eyes to needs your friend has, ways you can bless, but also when you need to step back and let the friendship breathe a little. Nurturing and smothering are not the same thing, and God can help you to see if you are becoming possessive, needy or controlling. (This would indicate a heart issue in yourself that should be addressed!)
I am ever so grateful for the wonderful, talented, Jesus loving, unique friends God has given me through the years. I have been blessed with lots of new women in my life recently, but one very precious friend, who has walked with me the longest is who I was thinking of as I wrote this blog. We have traveled 27 years of life together…..through middle school, high school, youth group, college, marriages, babies, death……… She knows me through and through. I have not always been the best friend to her. I have failed many times to love her as Christ loves me. But she saw me as a rose and hung in there in my prickly moments. And I have done the same with her. And I can tell you, beautiful friendships exist in this life through Christ, because I have had this with Caryn. Love you friend!
Caryn and I at her home two summers ago- makes me smile just to look at this picture!

Party Time (baby-palooza-central)

It is an avalanche of Pampers, pacifiiers, adorable onsie’s and baby shower bliss up in here! I have had so much fun reliving the baby days with lots of sweet mama’s over the past few months. Recently I had the priviledge to host two fun showers- one for my dear friend’s adopting three children from Colombia (yes, three!) and one for Emma’s darling teacher who is expecting her first baby. Just for fun I thought I’d share some highlights from the events.

As the children are coming from Colombia, we used a global theme
Loved how the maps looked in our decor!
Cannot WAIT to welcome these three into our church family!
The beautiful mama-to-be! Doesn’t she look so happy?
My dear friend, who is a real gourmet cook, researched authentic Colombian desserts and made these Alfajores cookies! Delish!

It was truly a wonderful celebration of a 2 1/2 year journey toward bringing home their children and I felt so blessed to get to host the joyous occasion! And there were lots of delightfully helpful friends who contributed food, creativity and love to make it a special afternoon.

My other baby shower fun was for Emma’s teacher, who is expecting her first baby boy, Avery James, next month. (We may or may not go into mourning when she goes on maternity leave) It’s a little more challenging, decorating and celebrating in a school classroom, but I think it turned out great and the kids had a blast celebrating their beloved Mrs. Wilson.

Because we combined our class Valentine’s party with the baby shower we went with the theme “Showers of Love”
We played “Guess the Baby Food” and don’t be fooled by that smile- Emma skipped the taste testing and opted to sniff the little blobs to make her guess!
All the 4th grade parents contributed food and we had quite a spread!
What a blessing for Emma to have had Mrs. Wilson this year! (side note- Emma picked out her Valentine’s Day outfit and was decidedly the most colorful child in class! Love my little fashionista!)

Grace, Mercy and Apple

Two nights ago I received grace and mercy, quite unexpectedly in the form of a brand new Ipad.

Two days ago I was having one of those irrational, hormonal, “don’t mess with me pork chop” kind of days. For no good reason, mind you. Nothing bad happening, no drama- just a moody and unbalanced kind of day. Fortunately for the children they were all in school. Not so fortunately for my husband, he was not. Working from home has many challenges for him, not the least of which is his wife interrupting his concentration by asking questions that come to mind or trying to talk him into taking me on a lunch date (although to be fair he is pretty easy to convince on that one). At any rate, on this particular day I was not in the mood to have him home. I wanted the house all to myself because I’m almost never there without someone else. Plus, and this will make no sense to men, I can’t clean in peace knowing he’s there. But, here’s the kicker, I wasn’t even planning on cleaning. I just wanted the option to know if I decided to clean in peace, he was not going to be there to annoy my inner zen. (I already admitted to being irrational- just giving you an accurate picture of my self absorption in the moment) So, I began a not-so-subtle campaign to create motivation in him to leave. I wasn’t exactly picketing his presence, but close. I whined about how I’m never alone in the house. I reminded him he had some good errands he needed to run. I even became tearful at one point about how I can’t get on the computer because he’s always working on it. It wasn’t pretty and i even knew it was ridiculous, but felt incapable of reeling it in. Finally, as any sane person would do, he got the heck out of there.

About 4 hours later I got a text. “I have a fun surprise for you.” Curious, I thought, but fun none the less.

When I came home from picking up the kids from school, waiting on the kitchen counter was a big, red Valentine’s bag with heart tissue sticking out of it and a card resting next to it. My husband came out of the bedroom with that look of someone who knew he was about to totally delight me. And he was right. I opened the card, which was super sweet, and then pulled out a brand new Ipad and attachable keyboard. I was completely shocked. For one thing, I have never owned a piece of new technology. I always get hand-me-downs because I’m cheap like that. (Remember, I used a duct taped washing machine for a year) But also, we do not exchange gifts for Valentine’s Day normally. And certainly not one so extravagant. As he was telling me all about how he spent several hours comparing devices and talking to the sales guys about which option would fit my needs best, I was thinking, “I am a big fat jerk. I cannot believe he went out and bought me an Ipad in response to my bratty attitude this morning.” But, you know, that’s how God designed marriage to work. When I am being unlovable, my husband is supposed to mirror God’s love for me. And when he is having his “jerky” moments, I am to reflect God’s love to him.

Grace is getting what you don’t deserve. Mercy is not getting what you do deserve. I deserved my husband to be annoyed or angry with me. Perhaps to withhold his love until I at least apologized. But I got none of that. I did not deserve an overflow of extravagant love, but I got it anyway. In Christ, I receive both grace and mercy every day. I deserve punishment for my rejection of God in my self service. I don’t deserve an extravagant inheritance and blessing upon blessing. But Jesus took my punishment, so I could receive His reward. Grace and Mercy.

Lessons from the Six Month Fast

It’s official. (drum roll, please) The end of Shopping Fast and Purge-the-House is upon me. On the one hand I’d like to run out and buy some of the boots I’ve been longing for. On the other hand it feels a little strange. After abstaining from commercialism personally for 6 months, I’m not overly eager to get back into it.

I have been thinking a lot about the point of some of my recent ventures. Wondering and questioning myself as to why I am even doing things like “purging seven items a day”. What is the point? Emma asked me the very question as we were setting items on the dining room table to photograph for tonight’s blog. I told her about how I wanted to help our family be free from materialism- loving things more than God or people. Then it hit me- my stuff is not my problem, my heart is. If I love my things more than God or his mission, it’s not because of the things themselves. In fact, you can be consumed with greed while living in poverty, or abundantly generous while living in plenty. I don’t need to purge items from my home, but idolatry from my heart, if I want to be free from materialism.

So was my experiment an unnecessary exercise? Foolish? I don’t think so. Because attachment to things is an outward symptom of an inner problem- so I suppose in some ways this experiment was exposing places in my heart that need exposing. The places I can usually overlook and rationalize. Every time I said no to my usual course of spending and accumulating stuff, I had to deal with the desires I was starving. There is no denying that my shopping or “treating myself” (as I like to call it) often flows out of frustration, exhaustion or insecurity. And while buying a new pair of boots will make me feel better momentarily, it’s not meant to be my primary source of comfort or encouragement. And far too often, it is. In fact, without shopping or getting little treats like a Sonic diet coke, I noticed I actually felt sorry for myself sometimes. As if it was a terrible thing to have a stressful day with no way to alleviate that stress. (Really?? I have the King of the Universe I can talk to any time, who has rescued me from all of my sin and death and I think I need something from Altar’d State to make me feel better?)

I’ll be the first to tell you I did not hold perfectly to my fast or purge. But since perfect is not my goal, and utterly impossible anyway, I am not concerned about that. I set out to see if by removing some of my normal life I could create a space for wanting more of Christ. And that was absolutely a success. Not in some noble, clouds parting and sunbeams shining on me kind of way. More in a cranky, annoyed, humbling realization that I am weak and tend to seek comfort and security in so many things besides God, and yet He loves me all the same. And from that awareness I am gratefully driven back to Him.

some of the 217 items we are selling from this month

proud of my whole family for joining the purge!

Some Thoughts on Being Healthy

It’s like I blinked and missed January. Have you ever had that experience? You’re just plugging along in your little life and suddenly it feels like you entered a time warp and lost days or weeks with no real awareness of how. So hi. Glad to be back into normal time and my bloggy adventure.

In honor of the annual “Get Back to the Gym, Eat Healthy, Lose Weight” month (otherwise known as January) that begins our year in American culture, I have been thinking about the pressure to deal with our health as women. On the one hand, God is very clear that our lives are a gift and we are to reflect gratitude and exercise good stewardship for these ever-aging bodies while we can.  On the other hand, exactly what does that mean? Can I still eat a cheeseburger sometimes? Do I have to cut out all high fructose corn syrup, non-organic veggies, Blue Dye 40 and aspartame? And what about exercise? And how do I decide which voice to listen to in making these decisions??? (I vote Pinterest because there are constant reports of how simple it is to be healthier and most of it seems to involve crock pots, 10 minute workouts before you shower and detox water’s full of yummy. Plus in all the pictures the girls abs are ROCKIN!)

So, at the risk of stepping on toes, I’d like to offer a few ideas for how to approach the concept of being healthier. Not necessarily which step for you to take, but how to evaluate taking them. And what that might look like in the realistic life of a mom/wife/worker/student.

Idea One: we can only deal with one change at a time. It’s just the way most people grow and learn. We tend to make lasting changes if we pick one thing and allow ourselves to adapt to it, rather then completely overhauling everything at once. So, if you think you need to eat more vegetables, drink more water, cut out fast food and exercise 3 times a week- as slow as it feels, just pick one to begin with. Let your life and schedule and brain adapt to it. Let it become “normal” before you move on.

Idea Two: quit making it a moral issue. This is where I could risk stepping on toes, but I’m going there anyway. Unless it is a command of God’s, we have personal choice to evaluate and decide what we believe works best for our life. God never says “thou shalt avoid GMO’s” or “thou shalt exercise daily”. Do you know where legalism comes from? It comes from taking a principal of God (like modesty, generosity, stewardship) and creating rules about how to live out that principal. I can’t tell you how you should best steward your health any more than you can tell me about mine. I know you need to consider that question, as do I. But I may come to a different conclusion than you, or mainstream media or my doctor or my natural health inclined friend.

Idea Three: start with either- your most troubling area OR the one that sounds the easiest. This speaks to motivation. Depending on personality, you may be motivated more by attacking the area of your health that causes the most stress. (In my life this was my lack of energy for several years. I needed to have this problem resolved so I was willing to hit the gym at 5:15am for months to get into an exercise groove.) On the flip side, you may be more motivated by attacking the thing that feels easiest to start with. Sort of the dip-your-big-toe-in-the-pool approach. So maybe you think, I need to exercise, drink water and quit consuming large amounts of bacon. Pick the one that sounds the least difficult. (Water obviously. Bacon is delicious and exercise is hard.) Once you have some success and your water intake is up, you can move on to cutting back on pig.

Idea Four: use common sense. The internet is full, I mean FULL, of information. Some of it good, some of it nonsense. Be cautious and be aware. Listen to those whom you respect and who are generally very healthy people. Some things just make good sense- eat real food with as little chemicals as possible, over all. Move your body regularly. Sleep every night. Drink a lot of water. Get variety in your diet. Practice gratitude by thanking God for your body and how it allows you to serve Him, your family and others. Allow times for both feasting and fasting in your life, as both have value. (I feast from Thanksgiving till New Years! Then I fast, till my pants fit properly.)

Hope your 2013 is off to a bang!