1) Sleep. A non-negotiable. Lack of sleep will jack you up emotionally. Everything will go from an emotional two to an eight. Compensating with caffeine will bring anxiousness and edginess. Shoot for seven to eight hours. 10:00pm bedtime!

2) Exercise. Make the time. It’s that important. Shoot for 30 minutes, 5 days a week. Brisk walks, treadmill, elliptical, jumping jacks, body squats, burpees, etc. And lots of stretching. You can find many exercise/workout routines on Youtube. Yogalates is a great option! My faves are here and here.

3) Drink lots of water. Water purges and cleanses your system. When you are dehydrated you have food cravings and you feel terrible. Think 8 x 8. Eight glasses of eight ounces of water per day (half-gallon).

4) Fast from social media. Especially when slipping into a funk. You’ll be tempted to compare yourself with others who seem put-together, happy, smart, fit, and on and on. Don’t do that to yourself! Take a break. If anything only look at social media with positive messages, inspirational quotes, and Scripture verses.

5) Avoid the news. Avoid like a stomach virus. Much of the news feeds fear and outrage. Disengage for your mental, emotional, and spiritual health’s sake.

6) Beware of sugar. Cookies, fruit drinks, soda, cakes, pies, candy, and so forth. I love all that poison. Sugar can reek havoc not only on your body but especially your emotional and mental health. I read somewhere that 25 grams is the daily allotted amount. A 16oz. coke has 52g alone! Also beware of too many carbs (breads) because it turns into sugar. Save it for the actual holidays.

7) Commit to devotional time with the Lord. Again, you make time for what’s important. And if you are slipping into the blues, you’ll begin to let this slip. You need quiet time and space to read Scripture, pray, self-examine, repent, journal (if you are into that), and the like. Here is what I do for my heart everyday.

8) Get some sunlight. At least 20 minutes a day, four to five times per week. If in the dark wintry Northeast, perhaps invest in a Seasonal Affective Disorder Therapy Light. I use this one. Take daily Vitamin D.

9) Don’t isolate yourself. When the emotional fog rolls in you will be tempted to isolate yourself from others. Don’t do it. Force yourself to connect with friends by phone, for coffee, for a meal. Also, serve someone… even anonymously. All of this gets you out of your head and out of yourself.

10) Get help. Talk to a pastor. Go see a doctor. Get counseling from a Christian psychotherapist. Perhaps there are deeper underlying issues going on. Perhaps you need medication to weather the tough season you are experiencing. Don’t put it off or tough it out. Get help.

a877463c8ff55d5dbd531826356d319c1) Be thankful.
Family. You’re all together. Take a look around. Enjoy them—the good, the bad, the ugly. Don’t forget: They are your family.

2) Take nothing personal.
Odds are something will be said to offend you or provoke you. Whether it is religion, politics, or sports. It’s coming. Pray up. Take it on the chin. Let it go.

3) Stay above the fray.
If conversations go there, stay above it. Don’t leave with regrets. It’s not worth it to prove your point. You will convince no-one. Be bigger than the moment… and the conversation.

4) Get some air.
Your buttons get pushed. Your blood begins to boil. Pause. Slip out or excuse yourself. Breathe. Pray. Get perspective. It’s all good.

5) Laugh… a lot!
Lighten up! Don’t be stand-offish. Don’t be so guarded. Don’t take yourself or anyone else so seriously. Laugh it off. And eat a plate of food or three. For crying out loud, have some fun!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Blessing. You can’t just pray for it. You have to put yourself in the place where God’s blessing already dwells. Where is that?

1) Family
Time with your spouse, your children, your family is never wasted time. Family is a well of God’s blessing. But cheat your family, you’ll end up with a well of regret.

2) Devotional time.
Time with God is not wasted time. Reading and meditating on God’s word, prayer that adores God and requests of God, is where God’s blessing fills your soul and flows out of your life. Cheat yourself of time with God, you cheat yourself of eternal perspective.

3) Community.
Time with God’s people is never a waste. Without community you will bang your noggin against the ceiling of emotional and spiritual growth. No-one wants to continue struggling with the same issues from three years ago. Cheat yourself of community, you cheat yourself of victory and maturity.

4) Financial Generosity.
Sacrificial giving is never wasted money. When Jesus said (commanded!), “do not worry” but “seek first [give first to] the kingdom,” he was dealing with money. Do you want God’s blessing of provision on your finances? Seek Him first. Give tithes and offerings.

5) Humility.
Humility is not thinking less of ourselves but thinking of ourselves less (C.S. Lewis). It’s decreasing ourselves and increasing others. There’s no threat or loss here. On the contrary, just as rain runs off the high places and puddles in the lowest places so God’s blessing puddles on those who get low in humility.

6) Forgiveness.
Anger, sleepless nights, pits in the stomach, revenge fantasies, come with grudges. Contentment, peace, freedom, and ability to get on with life comes with forgiveness. Forgiveness does not let him or her off the hook. It lets you off the hook. And repositions you under God’s blessing.

7) Purity.
John Piper once said, “God is not a kill-joy, He’s just against what kills joy.” Resisting ungodly desires and behaviors does not mean you are missing out. It means you’ve situated yourself under God’s blessing. Cheat yourself of purity, you cheat yourself of God’s peace and pleasure.

There you have it. So put yourself under the spout where God’s blessing is already pouring out!

What else would you add? Which of these meant the most to you? Which are hard for you?

Speak+Truth (1)The time will come when we must confront loved ones with truth to protect them from themselves and/or protect others from them.

Love always involves truth. Truth should always involve love. If you have truth, but not love, you will sound like a gong (1 Cor. 13:1). They will hear nothing you say, only the way you say it. If you have love, but not truth, you most likely won’t confront at all. Or worse, you’ll unintentionally endorse or excuse their sin and their self-destructive and others-destructive behavior.

The balance is speaking the truth in love. But what’s the best way to do so? Consider these:

Are you grieving, burdened, and fearful for them? Or do you look down on their choices and behaviors as if you are above those choices and behaviors (and therefore above them)? Do you see yourself beyond being tempted by or behaving in ways that they are? Have you taken the log out of your own eye (Matt. 7:3-5)? By the way, never hide behind that question as a reason not to confront either. We must deal with our own logs (sins, secrets, failures, habits, shortcomings), nail them to the cross, and with the grace of God go to the one we are burdened for, grieving for, and kept awake at night for.

There is no easy answer about the timing of confronting someone with truth in love. It comes down to specific situations and the specifics of those situations. Wisdom is a must. Proverbs 15:23– “To make an apt answer is a joy to a man, and a word in season, how good it is!” A word in season…. The timing of your words is crucial when confronting someone. The right word at the wrong time can be damaging, hurtful, even relationship ending. Keep praying for yourself and them until the time is right.

Tone is everything. Everything! You can have the right motive, the right timing, but if your tone is off, you’ve lost your opportunity—perhaps for good. That’s why you never confront in a text, email, Facebook message, or letter. I’ve learned this the hard way. Tone cannot be communicated properly in those forms. It’s a one way conversation. Perhaps a hand-written letter as a last resort, but just that—a last resort. Truth and love is displayed when you take the time and energy to courageously risk your relationship with the person and meet with them face to face to share your heart. But tone—facial expression, body language, verbal language—matters.

For the hardest heart Solomon writes, “A soft tongue breaks the bone” (Proverbs 25:15). “Bone”… the hardened heart of defiance and resistance they carry toward you and your words (Tim Keller). Perhaps they even wield a verbal bat toward you! Don’t waver in your love and truth. Don’t lose courage. Wield the truth like a bone-cracking feather in loving motive, loving timing, loving tone.

addictionI came across this in a doctor’s office a couple of weeks ago. Sobering, literally. Had to share…

If this letter speaks to you, please get help. Cry out to Jesus. Plead to be filled with the Holy Spirit. Call a friend or family member to surrender yourself to get help. Call a pastor. Call a counselor. Join a group. Fight for your life. May today be the first day of your freedom.
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