eucharisteoIt’s easy to talk about being thankful during this Holiday Season for all the many blessings we experience in our lives. No sweat there.  But what about other times, when the blessings seem few and far between?  Paul writes in 1 Thessalonians 5:18 to give thanks in “all” circumstances. Note, he doesn’t tell us to be thankful for our situation, but rather, to be thankful in our situation.

  • When the bills are due and the finances are low;
  • When alcoholism or pornography take a front row seat in our marriages;
  • When our spouse walks away in pursuit of another bride;
  • When the child we poured our hearts into has plummeted into a self-destructive path of addictions;
  • When the business fails and our dreams are shattered;
  • When friends lie, or loved ones pass away;
  • When trauma strikes,

…..how can we find any reason to be thankful?

Or worse yet, how in the world are we supposed to even come close to following the exhortation of James (1:2) who tells us to “consider it all joy” when we encounter various trials? Beats me.

But there is a greater story in the midst of our sufferings. It is a story of rescue, redemption, and hope. It is a story intertwined in the infamous cliché that we hear so often, “Let go and let God.”  It is a story of faith in a God who is not only sovereign, but intimately compassionate towards us. The psalmist writes, “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and [delivers] those who are crushed in spirit” (34:18).  For that, we can be thankful.

Ann Voskamp writes about her own painful journey toward thankfulness in her book, One Thousand Gifts.[1] “How do we choose to allow the holes to become seeing–through-to-
God places? How do [we] give up resentment for gratitude, gnawing anger for spilling joy? Self-focus for God-communion?” Her answer? Eucharisteo. Or simply put, thanksgiving.

But there’s more. Eucharisteo envelopes joy, and grace. Eucharisteo is to fully live – “To live full of grace and joy and all that is beauty eternal.” Is this possible? Voskamp says that it is, but only if we dare to live an emptier, fuller life. It begins with an attitude of thankfulness, not just for the many blessings in our lives, but for the painful circumstances that bid us to search deep for the beauty if we are to survive. Eucharisteo: it is the Greek word with the hard meaning and the even harder meaning to live.” But it is the only way to live from “empty to full.”

James adds that in choosing joy in the midst of our trials, we grow, we mature, and afterwards, we receive the crown of victory that God has promised to those who love Him (1:12).

Thanksgiving is about more than thankfulness. It is the beginning of an answer to the curveballs of adversity that come our way. Thanksgiving is defined within Eucharisto. But only if we choose, and only if we dare.

I dare. Do you?

[1] Voskamp, A. (2010). One thousand gifts: a dare to live fully right where you are. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Zondervan.

 

Flaxseed oil is a rich source of omega-3 essential fatty acids that is absolutely necessary for our health. Fats, or “lipids,” play a big role in how our body functions.  Lipids are essential components of cellular membranes, the means through which cell-flaxseed_oilto-cell communication takes place.  Keeping toxic substances out, while allowing necessary nutrients in, is largely dependent on the health of the membranes.  Research has shown that a deficiency in omega-3 fats may be linked to the high prevalence of inflammatory disease that we are seeing today. Adding flax to your diet on a daily basis can be one solution to this problem.  Flax oil is nutrient dense and very sensitive to heat, humidity, light, and oxygen.  It is best not to cook with flax, but to incorporate it in salad dressings or other cold foods such as guacamole, or hummus.  Flax seed can be ground up and used in protein smoothies, oatmeal, or sprinkled over soups and salads.

Flax Tips:

1. Store both the oil version or the ground flax in the refrigerator.

2. Only grind small amounts of flax seed at a time and use 1 tablespoon when adding into foods or smoothies. Refrigerate the remaining.

3. Consume 3 servings of essential fatty acids daily and choose organic flax seeds that you can grind for the freshest source of omega-3 fat.

You can barely see them in the darkness of the early morning hour.  Huddled together under the park’s shelter, they chat lively as they await the sound-off from their coach.  The sun begins to peak above the horizon and the dawn’s light gives a glimpse of the women. If you look closely, you can see that they are almost naked.Almost Naked

Oh they are clothed alright, but barely. Shorts, tanks and sports bras are the preferred attire.  With their hair pulled back, head donned with a cap, visor, or headband, and virtually no makeup, these women come in all shapes and sizes, and they dare to expose their most vulnerable self. There is little room for pretensions. Walls are broken down and masks are removed.  Some have never run before and others have been running for years.  Some are fast and some are slow.

Stripped of professional titles and corporate affiliations, these women are connected together by their running shoes. Profession by trade makes no difference; Socio-economic status does not matter; Age is not an issue; Sexual orientation has no bearing; The color of one’s skin is irrelevant.  They are CEO’s, business owners, professional executives, nurses, teachers, students, store clerks, waitresses, housewives, and unemployed.  They share many faiths, Bahia, Jewish, Christian, Catholic, Buddhists, or none of the above.   They are married, divorced, single, or in a significant relationship.  They are wives, mothers, grandmothers, aunts, daughters, and sisters.   But you don’t see any of that.  What you see is that they are almost naked, and they come together for one purpose: to get their run on.

What you see is what you get when you’re almost naked. Young or old, fat or thin, these ladies unite in a spirit of community and acceptance. Many seek to get their bodies back in shape after years of neglect and weight gain. Some are hoping to avoid getting caught up in the epidemic of obesity.  Others want to maintain their shape and improve their health.  Some simply want to reduce stress or find an outlet to help them deal with a challenging life circumstance.

Whatever the reasons, they have one thing in common: the courage to take the first step. Our goals are simple. Complete each mile in 18 minutes or less, and cross the finish line. Collectively, the women find encouragement and support from one another.  Connections are made, bridges are built, and hearts are woven together as they get their run on.  With the support of each other, they stay the course with their training as they pursue a goal. In the process, their lives are changed forever. These gals are members of the FAB 50 Women on the Run team, and together, they are almost naked.

Now you too can get in on the fun and be part of a revolution that sees women push through self-imposed limitations and achieve what they never dreamed possible! Get naked (almost) and join with us! Go to FAB 50 Women on the Run and get signed up for our next training program! We’ll see YOU at the start line!

 Most people think your life changes forever the second you cross the finish line.

Runners know your life changes forever the second you decide to go to the starting line.

 

II Corinthians  3:17

II Corinthians 3:17

When the time came for Jesus to make his ministry public, he entered the synagogue and read from the book of Isaiah. He read aloud the words of a prophet to a captive audience. All eyes were on him. He then pronounced that these words, written some  700 years prior, were now being fulfilled through Him, and the people marveled (Luke 4:21).

But one would have to know the words penned by Isaiah to understand what all the excitement was about. And it is indeed exciting. Isaiah described the Son of God as one who would come to heal the broken-hearted and set the captives free. He said Jesus would give us beauty instead of ashes, and joy instead of mourning. Instead of carrying around heavy burdens, we can find strength, rest, and renewal.  This is why Jesus came. To deliver us from bondage and bring us into a place of freedom. He died, so we might be free.

Years later, after Christ’s death and resurrection, the apostle Paul summarized this beautifully: “”Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty [emancipation from bondage, freedom] (II Cor. 3:17 AMP).

Liberty, freedom, emancipation from bondage… I’ll take it! How about you?

Leviticus is not one of my favorite books in the Bible. It seems more fitting for someone with an architectural Surrenderbackground. But when you read about men dying on the spot for doing something that is seemingly well and good, you can’t help but stop and take notice.

That is exactly what happened with Nadab and Abihu, sons of Aaron, appointed by God to serve as priests.  These men were burning incense and fire, as was customary in that day, as an offering to God. Yet the fire consumed them and they were killed right then and there.  But why? It seemed they were doing a righteous thing, offering sacrifices of worship before the most high God.  But as you read in Leviticus chapter 10, you learn that God gave them very specifics of how he wanted the fire and incense to be burned.  He wanted it His way. Moses explained to his brother Aaron, now a grieving father, that God had commanded them to do things HIS way. Nadab and Abihu, while doing a good thing, did it their way, and they lost their lives for their disobedience. God looked upon the “false” fire that these men presented as dishonoring towards Him (Leviticus 10:6).

It’s about honor.

How often do impose our own will over God’s?  Probably more times than we can count.  To honor God, we submit to His will, acknowledging that His ways are not our ways (Isaiah 55:8). To honor God, we surrender our lives before Him and walk in obedience to His sweet commands. These include walking in love, truth, integrity, kindness, gentleness, and compassion.   Our biggest issue is ourselves.  Scripture teaches “to obey is better than sacrifice” (1 Sam 15:22).  We do things our own way, and the consequences of such may bring many regrets. When we do things God’s way, the payoff is big.

Honor.  It is a word we don’t hear of often. But it means oh so much to God.  He tells us clearly in the ten commandments to honor our father and mother. Why?  That it may go well with you. (Deut 5:16). God is our ultimate father, and He desires honor. I want to give Him that. How about you?

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