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Encouragement in Your Wellness Journey

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Time in His Hands

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Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord. . .” (Colossians 3:23)

I don’t have enough time. We are all guilty of expressing this sentiment.  Sometimes it is frustration, sometimes it is weariness, and sometimes it is an excuse not to do add more to an already busy schedule.

Colossians 3:23 reminds us to work at all we do with our whole hearts. We might find encouragement in that verse when we are teaching Sunday school, singing in the choir, or taking a meal to a sick friend.  We are serving others when we do those things, and we know that work is for the Lord.  But what about the tasks we work on at home or our jobs? Do we take pleasure in housework, laundry, yard work, and grocery shopping?  Do we enjoy our jobs? Are we doing those unto the Lord?

And what about the added work that comes with the holiday season? Do you take pleasure in the extra cleaning, decorating, cooking, baking, and shopping that comes with the season, or is it just something you do because of tradition or expectation?

I have always enjoyed preparing for the holidays, but I often resented my “regular” work because it was taking my time from doing the holiday things I enjoyed.  However, as I now have more time on my hands, I find those chores more pleasant, or at least less irksome.  That led me to the realization that it isn’t really the chores themselves that are the problem.  The problem is my possessiveness of my time. MY time! Do you see the problem with that attitude?  My time is not my own time; and if I operate in that mindset, of course I will be frustrated.

If we are walking the path God has set before us and being led by the Holy Spirit, our time is in His hands.  Psalm 31:14-15 says, “I trusted in, relied on, and was confident in You, O Lord. I said, You are my God. My times are in Your hands. . .”

Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 says there is a time for everything, and we generally interpret this verse to realize we have seasons in our lives.  But what if we read it as there is time for everything?  Would we be less stressed and possessive of our time if we really believed we have plenty of it? What if you really do have plenty of time?

We know times goes quickly, and as we get older, the time seems to race by even faster.  We all have a list of things we want to accomplish—whether it’s today’s to-do list, this year’s goal list, or a lifetime purpose list.  But if God truly has a plan for our lives (Jeremiah 29:11) and He orders our steps, we do have time for everything.  Psalm 37:23 says, “The steps of a good man are ordered by the LORD,” but can you quote the second part of that verse?  “He delights in our way.”

If God takes delight in our way—in our daily steps, our mundane tasks, we can rejoice in Him and delight in our way ourselves.

Does that sound too easy?  Are you looking at your holiday to-do list and thinking there is no delight in it? It really is all about mindset. It takes a proper outlook and practice. It takes believing God’s Word about time is as true as everything else He has said, and then acting on that truth.

Here are some steps that may help you cooperate with God’s timing and bring the joy and delight back to your busy holiday season.

Set your mind. Cultivate a positive mindset. Rejoice in the day God has given you. “This is the day God has made! Rejoice!” (Psalm 118:24) You get to spend the day with God, the King of the universe!

Pray. Before you start your day or any of your tasks, ask God to order your day and give you strength. I have found, time and time again, that this is the best way to approach a day when I feel overwhelmed by the number of tasks I need to complete.

  1. Ask God to order your steps. He has promised to do that. Remind Him of His promise. (Psalm 37:23)  Claim it for your life. “In their hearts, humans plan their course, but God establishes their steps.” (Proverbs 16:9)
  2. Ask God to keep you from distractions. Explore these promises.
    • Ephesians 5:16 “making the most of every opportunity…”
    • Hebrews 12:2 “Fixing our eyes on Jesus…”
    • Proverbs 4:25 “Let your eyes look straight ahead; fix your gaze directly before you.”
    • Matthew 6:34 “Do not worry about tomorrow…”
    • Philippians 4:13 “I can do all things through Christ, who strengthens me.”
    • Psalm 90:12 “Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.”

Let your words match your mindset. We know words have creative and destructive power, so eliminate negative sayings, like I don’t have time; express positive things: I can do all things through Christ; My steps are ordered of God.You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence.” (Psalm 16:11)

Combine things you like to do with tasks you find challenging. Listen to music, a podcast, or a book as you work.  Count your blessings as you shop, thanking God for the provision to purchase groceries and gifts.  Check your email or social media while waiting for an appointment.

Rest and recharge. When your task list is long, make sure you schedule times for quiet, reflection, prayer, or just something you love to do. Don’t neglect that workout time, coffee date, or favorite holiday movie.  Psalm 23:2-3 reminds us God cares about our rest. “He makes me lie down in green pastures; he leads me besides quiet waters; he refreshes my soul.”

When we look forward to time with family and friends over the holidays, it is rarely about what we do. We just take pleasure in being with them.  If we take that same approach to our time with God, then we can enjoy His presence regardless of the tasks we need to accomplish. And we can take pleasure in the tasks because we take pleasure in Him.  We can rest confidently in the knowledge that He is aware of our time and our to-do list, and He will make the most of it, helping us to redeem the time we have efficiently. There is a time for everything.

Muffins and Sugar Cookies with Einkorn Flour

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I love baking in the fall.  I love muffins, quick breads, and Christmas cookies!  A “breakfast” muffin or sugar cookie with a light glaze of frosting, accompanied by an early morning cup of coffee, is one of my favorite things cooler weather.  And then my health care professional told me to limit or cut out wheat.  What’s a girl to do?  Just so we are clear, I am not allergic to wheat.  It’s just not the best thing to put in my body.  I had already been experimenting with baking options because I love muffins and have to have sugar cookies at least once a year.  I had tried coconut flour and other types, but I didn’t like the flavor so I gave up.  Then, Young Living introduced Einkorn Flour.  I have been using it ever since.

Containing 1% gluten, this may not be the product for you if you are allergic to all wheat; however, if you are just looking to eat healthier, even when you are eating sweets, Einkorn Flour is a great choice. Einkorn flour is Heirloom wheat that has not been modified. You can read more about that at Gary Young’s blog here.

If you do any research on baking with Einkorn flour, you will find most resources say that it can be used the same as traditional flour and your recipe amounts will not change.  From my experience, this works okay; but muffins, for example, are less dense and occasionally come out a bit gooey in the middle. After a few near misses, I decided to add a bit of extra flour to my recipes.  Typically, if the recipe calls for 1-2 cups of flour, I add an extra 1/8 –¼ cup.  I make muffins frequently, so I am getting pretty good at it; but I only attempt scratch cookies once a year.  I wondered if I could make a decent Christmas cookie with Einkorn.  I decided to try my sugar cookie recipe with Young Living’s Einkorn Flour.

I started out by following the recipe exactly.  I used a basic Traditional Sugar Cookie recipe from Betty Crocker.

I chilled the dough and then took it out.  I was ready to roll!  I spread a generous amount of Einkorn flour on my counter so I could roll out the dough.  What a sticky mess!  I was afraid that this would be the result, but I wasn’t ready to give up.  I scooped up my prepared dough, along with all the flour I had spread on the counter, and kneaded it together.  That made my cookie dough less sticky.  Then, I spread more flour on the counter and tried again.  This time, the dough rolled out perfectly, and I was able to use the cookie cutters to make perfect trees, bells, and stars.  The cookies also tasted great.  Just as I found with the muffins, this cookie recipe needed a little extra flour to make it work.  Next time I make this dough, I will just increase the flour amount in the recipe, probably by ½ cup.

I am no expert baker, and you will have to experiment with your own recipes; but I can tell you this.  Adding a little extra Einkorn flour to your recipes when you are substituting for traditional flour will probably make them turn out a lot more to your liking.  And you don’t have to wait until Christmas to bake these cookies.  Halloween, Valentine’s Day, St. Patrick’s Day, and Easter are all right great times to eat cookies. Trade your bells and Christmas tree cutters for  pumpkins, hearts, shamrocks, or bunnies. But don’t wait! Start now! Who doesn’t love a round, cut-out sugar cookie in the summer with a glass of sweet tea?  And when you make those summer cookies, try a bit of Lemon Vitality essential oil in your dough.  Yum!

The Gift of Hospitality

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img_3897Hospitality is listed in the Bible as a spiritual gift.  But anyone can become better at hospitality if they just practice.  Essentially, hospitality is making people feel welcome; and when you open your home for a dinner, a business meeting, a holiday party, or a one to one conversation, you can offer hospitality and make your guests feel welcome.

I learned hospitality first at home.  My mom and dad often had people over after work, especially in the summer, for a backyard cookout.  It wasn’t anything special, really.  It was just burgers on the grill and a lounge chair seat.  But people liked to come, and we had a few single people who became regulars—almost part of the family.  My father always made people had something to drink—even when I returned home as a “guest” after I married, he was caring and attentive to my needs.

When I met first met my husband and began joining his family for Sunday and holiday dinners, I learned more from my mother-in-law.  She always had a beautifully set table, serving dishes, and frequently, little favors at each table setting.  She silently taught me about the little “extras.”  I learned through observing.

When my husband and I had been married for quite a while, we began to host Easter breakfasts at our home when our church stopped having them.  We lived near to the church during those years, and it was convenient for our friends to have breakfast at our house.  This is when I learned that my husband had also picked up some things from his mom, and probably his grandmother, too.  He was the cook at these breakfasts, as he had previously been at church.  His little extras included warming the plates so the food would stay hot, warming the syrup for the pancakes, choosing attractive serving dishes.  This is where I took on the role of table setting.  Fortunately, we had received some lovely things as gifts when we were married, and this was an opportunity to pull those things out of storage and use them.  This home had more storage in the kitchen than our first home, and I was able to keep those items in an accessible place.  One of the little extras I used was individual salt and pepper shakers—one at each place setting.  Extravagant? Maybe.  But I had them, so why not use them?

Wimg_3900hen we moved again to an older home and began hosting our families for Thanksgiving and Christmas, I began to hone my skills as a table setter.  My goal was for my guests to feel that the holiday was special and they were special.  I wanted them to be filled with delight at the setting, even if they only experienced it at a subconscious level.

I am not always good about planning ahead, and I would sometimes get bursts of creativity at the last minute, forcing me to rush around and sometimes improvise.  But over the years, I have gathered a lot of things for my collection for table settings:  my mom’s silver table service, cloth napkins, napkin rings, colorful tablecloths and placemats, water goblets, a varied collection of creamer and sugar sets, butter dishes, gravy boats, platters, a punch bowl (for larger crowds, which I bought at an auction for $2.00 and it included the cups), centerpieces, handmade name cards, holiday dishes, and figurines.  One year, I took a Christmas poem I had written (but you could use any appropriate poem), and I printed it, pasted it on a colorful construction paper background, and set it at each place setting.

As the family grew, I hosted wedding and baby showers. Now here is where I gathered some help.  I am not great at the gift favors, and I recently enlisted my sister-in-law to help with those for a shower I was hosting.  There is nothing wrong with enlisting the gifts and talents with others to assist you in your hospitality.

Nimg_4143ow, I have a home business, and I sometimes host gatherings in my home.  Though not as elaborate, I try to take the same approach so my guests will feel comfortable and special.  Everyone wants to feel special, and the little extras show that you have taken the time to care.

I recently hosted a customer event at my home.  I learned from others who had shared and then modeled my event after those. I purchased what I needed to make my customer event uniquely mine.  And I bought everything at the dollar store, so I didn’t need to break the bank to pull this off. I didn’t have a specific plan when I went into the store.  It developed as I found what was available.  I found silver (plastic) trays and silver frames, so I had a theme going.  I had already purchased gold and white dispensers I needed, and I thought those colors would work well together.  When I went out to buy more frames, I ended up with black ones.  Okay, still works.  I just went with what’s available and made it work.  I chose a coordinating color tablecloth, and I was ready.

Maybe you don’t feel table setting is your gift, but you can still be hospitable.  Perhaps you are a great cook.  You notice I don’t talk about the food for any of my events.  My husband does the cooking.  I make some things, but I stick to the few dishes I’ve mastered and don’t try to get too wild with new things.  And when it’s a business meeting or a make and take, food isn’t the focus so simple is best.  Or maybe decorating cakes and cookies or making desserts is your specialty.  Make a dish that makes your guests feel special.

And it doesn’t have to be formal to be hospitable.  I admit, I used to use the good china for every occasion, but I finally figured out that smoked ribs in the summer don’t require a china plate for a picnic setting.  I’ve succumbed to paper—but I always buy Chinet plates.  Thick and heavy-duty so the plates don’t sag in the middle when loaded with food.  You can also find lots of fun and colorful, seasonal, tableware at a dollar store to spice things up, even if it is just a centerpiece.

Each of us has something unique to offer when we invite guests into our home for a dinner, an event, or a meeting.  If hospitality is your gift, this is your chance to shine.  And if it isn’t, you can take one or two ideas to add something special for your own guests.

The most important thing is to be there to greet them, introduce them to people they don’t know, and then, relax and enjoy them.  They came to see you.