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As a former nutritionist, I’d like to share a few pre-Thanksgiving tips to help reduce the traditional spreading-of-the-middle that a lot of us experience at the holidays.

I heard current stats this week stating that the average American eats 2,000 calories in the Thanksgiving meal alone!   Whoah!  That’s more calories in one meal than most Americans need in a whole day! (The average daily requirement is 1,800 calories per day.)  It’s expected that the grand total of calories consumed by the end the day will be 4,000!  Do I have your attention now?

So here’s the deal…Celebrate the holiday and enjoy a nice Thanksgiving dinner, but don’t over-do it.  Here’s a few tips to help:

1) Don’t starve yourself all day to save up for the meal.  Your body needs 200-300 calories at a time spread throughout the day.  When your body doesn’t get the calories/energy it needs, it preserves the stores of calories it has by slowing down your metabolism.  This means that when you do eat, your body won’t burn calories as efficiently and will be more likely to store your calories as fat rather than burn them as energy. 

Metabolism is the process of breaking down and distributing calories and nutrients.  Higher metabolisms burn more calories.  << this is good.     Slower metabolisms tend to burn fewer calories and store more fat.  << not good.

2) Rev up your metabolism by getting extra exercise this week prior to Thanksgiving Day.  At least 20-30 minutes of continuous light exercise is enough to raise your metabolism for up to 24 hours for some people.  Be sure to get exercise early in the day on Thanksgiving before your meal to raise your metabolism, and allow yourself mini-snacks and meals throughout the day until feast time. 

3) If possible, go for a walk outside after your meal.  Oxygen is key for many things in your body, including  metabolism.

4) Eat what you want – within reason!  Watch portion control.  If you want to sample some of everything, take small amounts that would equal one serving for that food group. 

5) Turkey is a good, lean meat that is high in protein.  Eat it and enjoy it!

6) Starches: Potatoes are great for you, too, but minimize gravy and butter.  If eating sweet potatoes, try to avoid or minimize the gooey marshmallow toppings and enjoy the sweet potato part.  As for bread, try to eliminate or reduce your use of butter.  Save your fats for the yummy desserts!

7) Veggies/Fruits:  Excellent for your diet.  Most Americans don’t get enough of them, but watch out for fatty sauces and seasoned butters.  

8  Beverages: Try to drink non-caloric beverages.  Some people get half their daily amount of calories from beverages alone!  On Thanksgiving day, try to keep beverage calories to a minimum. 

9) Alcohol: Although alcohol originates from grains and fruits, it’s burned and stored in your body as a fat.  One beer, one glass of wine, and one shot of alcohol each counts as a pat of butter in your diet.  Just thought you’d want to know!

10) Desserts:  How can you have Thanksgiving and not eat dessert?  You gotta enjoy the good stuff, just don’t indulge.  One nutritionist on the Today Show suggested cutting off the back piece of crust from your pie to save 100 calories.  This would reduce fat intake, too, since pie crust is high in fat.  Watch portion size.  As I said before, if you want to sample some of everything, go ahead, but take small enough portions that the total of what you take is equivalent to one serving of dessert. 

11) Don’t feel like you have to take it all in at one meal!  Remember the first thing I said?  Your body only needs several hundred calories at a time.  All extra calories taken in are automatically stored as fat.  Enjoy a moderate sized meal, and a few hours later go back for seconds or for the things you missed the first time around.  You know, apply the ‘spread the wealth’ spirit to your diet.   🙂

I’ve never felt that people should totally deprive themselves of things they enjoy eating, but sometimes we have to learn to ‘budget’ foods into our diet and eat in moderation. 

Take care.  God bless you.  Have a happy Thanksgiving!

Thank You, God, for being there in our day today. 

Today was the day of final cuts for our middle school’s basketball team.  My son was very hopeful going into tryouts.  He’d made the football team, is in the best shape he’s ever been in, is one of the tall guys, and basketball is his best sport.  However, he wasn’t chosen for the team.  

I ran into a friend this morning whose son was also trying out.  She said she was nervous about tryouts and that her son was, too.  He wanted her to pray with him before school.  She prayed for God’s will to be done, and asked that those who would make the team be the ones God chose; and for it to be because He had other plans and purposes for those who didn’t make the team. 

I liked the perspectives she shared.  I’d been asking God to help my son do his best, but hadn’t stretched my thoughts to consider the big picture as my friend had done.  So throughout the day I prayed for our sons, asking that if it was God’s will for them to be on the team for whatever His plans and purposes were for them, that He would help them do their best; and that if they didn’t make the team, then it would be because He has other plans and purposes for them.  Many times I asked for God to help them do their best if He wanted them to make the team.

My son’s friend made the team, but as I said before, my son did not.  We were so proud of how well he responded.  After seeing that his name was not posted, he turned back to us to let us know he didn’t make the team, gave a fist bump to his friend who did make the team, then proceded to congratulate his friends who did make the cut.  I’m sure our son was disappointed, but he wasn’t upset.  I, however, was sick at my stomach.  That feeling didn’t last long, though, because God made Himself evident very quickly.

Remember how I said I asked God to help them do their best if they were meant to make the team?  Well, the first thing my son said as we walked out of the gym was that he didn’t play well today.  We asked what had been wrong.  He said it just wasn’t his day.  I was assured then that the outcome was of the Lord.  I didn’t just feel better.  I actually felt joy in the Lord.  Even though the outcome wasn’t what we’d hoped it would be, God was looking out for our son, and that’s the best outcome I could hope or pray for. 

This is a disappointment, but still a situation for which I can truly give thanks. 

Dear God, Thank You for being with me/us in this day.  Thank You for the godly perspectives of my friend.  And thank You for stepping in to do what You know is best for our son.  Please help us to use this season as a time to pursue other activiites that will help our son improve his fitness, work on skills, and prepare him for next year year’s tryouts.  Please continue to watch over him and guide him/us along as we seek to do what’s best for him and most pleasing to You.  And, Lord, I also pray for all who did make the team, that they will be healthy and well throughout this season and for You to be with them in their endeavors, too.   In Jesus’ name I pray.  Amen.

The Book of Isaiah is from the Old Testament of the Bible.  Isaiah was a prophet.  Prophets were those whom God called to give His messages to His chosen people. 

Early in the Old Testament, God called the Israelites to be His chosen people to be holy, righteous, and a light to the pagan/evil people around them.  God proved His power and might to them time and time again.  He blessed them when they were obedient to His laws, and allowed punishment when they ‘became evil in His sight’ by worshiping idols instead of Him, putting their trust in ‘man’ and not having faith in Him to provide for their needs.  By this time the people were ruled by kings and often battled other nations.  When the Israelites were under the rule of godly kings, they were given victories and prospered.  When they were ruled by evil kings and followed the sinful ways of these kings, God allowed them to be defeated.  Often the people were too caught up in themselves to make the connection of blessings for good behavior and punishment for bad behavior. 

God wanted so much for the Israelites to turn to Him and turn away from their evil practices!  Time and time again He sent prophets to the kings and Israelite people to warn them of impending punishment if they continued with their sinful ways.  Time and time again the people ignored the messages of the prophets.  Eventually God enacted the consequences He’d warned about.  The Israelites were taken into captivity by their enemies. (Israel fell to the Assyrians.  Judah was taken by Babylonians). 

Their time in captivity was long and tough, but God was always there with them.  He could have banished them from His favor, but as any loving Father would do, He wisely used their punishment to bring them around to right living and proved His ever faithful love to them.

In the Book of Isaiah, chapter 40, Isaiah the prophet is giving God’s message to those in captivity, and this is a summary of the comforting and reassuring words he says (shared in my paraphrase):

Comfort, O comfort my people…’Tho the grass withers and the flowers fade, the Word of God lasts forever.  The Sovereign Lord iscoming!  He’ll rule with awesome strength, bring rewards, carry His lambs close to His heart, and gently lead the mother with her young. 

Do not be afraid to shout this good news!  God is so great!  He held the oceans in His hands, measured the heavens with His fingers, and knows the weight of the world.  He is so wise that no one is wiser to advise the Spirit of the Lord.  No one compares to Him!  Can God be compared to inanimate idols that can’t even hold themselves up?  Even God Himself asks, “To whom can I be compared?  Who is my equal?”

God called the stars by name and counts them to make sure none are lost. 

This is our everlasting God!  Our Creator!  He never weakens or grows weary.  None of us can comprehend the depth of His righteousness. It is this powerful and mighty God who sees us and hears us!  He gives us strength when we feel weak and empowers us when we are tired and worn out.  Yes, “Those who wait upon the LORD will find new strength.  They will fly high like eagles.  They will run and not grow weary.  They will walk and not faint.”   – Isaiah 40:31

Please read those passages again (either paraphrase above or from your own Bible) and read them as if God is saying them to YOU.  

The same powerful God described by Isaiah is the same powerful God who is there for us today!  And don’t we need Him?  As I write this post, I am praying that you will find strength, confidence, hope, and be full of praise for your LORD when you read those verses!   Whoever you are, whatever your circumstances, our everfaithful, ever loving God and Heavenly Father, is there to comfort and deliver you, too.  Praise be to God!  And God bless you.

Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.     – Thessalonians 5:18  (NIV)

 

Do you ever have those days when things are going well, life is good, and you just can’t help but give praise and be thankful?  Sometimes just seeing the beautiful day around me is enough to lift my spirits and make me want to pause and give thanks to God – especially this time of year on beautiful, crisp fall days!  But what about the other days?  What about the days when things aren’t going well? 

For many people, struggles, hurts, and difficulties can be too much.  Some are suffering from illnesses, financial uncertainty, grieiving the loss of a loved one, or trying to recover from unexpected setbacks.  Are we to give thanks in those circumstances, too?  Yes.  The verse above tells us to give thanks in ALL circumstances. 

That verse came to mind yesterday as I thought others who are struggling.  A dear friend’s mother is losing her long battle with cancer; someone was seriously injured logging behind my uncle’s home; friends are without jobs; a family at our local elementary lost their oldest child over the weekend AND gave birth to twins, and both parents are out of work.  Now they have two newborns to care for, will be grieving the loss of their 3rd grade daughter, and have no income at this time.  Yes, thanksgiving is to be said. 

1) In all circumstances there is reason to give thanks.  My friend’s mother is a wonderful Christian woman.  She will depart from her loved ones to be with The One who loves her the most!  And she’ll be healthy and whole.  The man who was seriously injured was able to return home with injuries much less severe than they could have been.  Those who are financially unsure at this time still have the ever faithfulness of the Lord to rely on.  The family who lost their oldest daughter?  That’s a tough one, I know.  Yet they have two beautiful babies to be thankful for, each other, and hopefully they know the Lord and will draw closer than ever to Him.

2) God does His best work in our worst circumstances.  Often God uses these circumstances to bring about good and give greater blessings.  It’s been in my greatest times of challenges and suffering that God has grown me the most and shown me beautiful blessings.  I’ve seen this to be true in other’s lives, too.  And it’s often in the worst of times that He finally becomes known to those who didn’t know Him before. 

Two of my friends love the story by Corrie ten Boom, survivor of Nazi halocost (sp?), of how she and her sister had to sleep on flea-ridden mattresses while in the concetration camp.  Corrie wanted to complain about the fleas, but her sister reminded her that she needed to give thanks in ALL circumstances.  Even the flea ridden mattresses?  Yes, even the flea-ridden mattresses.  It ended up being those flea-ridden mattresses (for which they gave thanks) that saved them from the soldiers.  You see, Corrie and her sister had sneaked their Bibles in with them.  Had they gotten caught with their Bibles, they’d have probably been killed, but the soldiers weren’t about to come near them because of the fleas.  This likely prevented other horrible situations with the soldiers, too.  Corrie eventually survived that horrible time and God was able to use her and her stories to inspire countless others!

I know Thanksgiving and the holidays will be a difficult time for many, but I truly hope and pray that all will find reason to lift their offerings of thanks and praise to the Lord for ALL circumstances, and in doing so that they will be blessed in abundance.  All praise, thanks and glory be to God! 

The good person is generous and lends lavishly…   – Psalm 112:5

My friend, Charissa, did a great thing.  A while back she took in two puppies from an animal shelter because their days were about to end.  She was sure she could find homes for them, but no one took them.  Charissa kept them, loved them, HOUSE TRAINED them, and took care of them, then offered them up for adoption again hoping to find homes for the dogs by Christmas. 

Both dogs now have new homes to live in and families to love them, thanks to Charissa’s wonderful heart to rescue them and prepare them for other owners by training them through their puppy stages.   Praise! 

One of the dogs, Rainey, was taken in by friends of ours who recently had to put their family dog to sleep.  I met Rainey this morning when my friend, Laura, and I met to walk.  Rainey is a precious little, shaggy dog!  So cute!  Laura says Rainey is so sweet and good.  I know Rainey will be the perfect dog for their family, and  they will be the perfect family for Rainey.

Thanks to Charissa’s tender, loving, and wonderful heart, she gave the gift of life to two great little puppies and the gift of joy to two families.  As I told Charissa, it feels like Christmas already!  Praise for people like Charissa/her family and Laura/her family who have the generosity to open their hearts and homes to animals in need. 

Thank you, Charissa, for showing us what selfless love and giving is all about before the Christmas season even begins.  I know God is smiling above. 

“It’s not difficult to make an impact on your world.  All you really have to do is put the needs of others ahead of your own.  You can make a difference with a little time and a big heart. ”   – James Dobson

A prayer for generosity…Dear Lord, You have been so generous to me, yet I don’t always show generosity to others as You have shown to me.  Help me to learn from people like Charissa how to be generous of my time and heart so that I, too, might share Your gifts with others.  And thank You, Lord, for people like Charissa and Laura’s family who have a special place in their hearts for the furry little friends You give us.  May Charissa and those like her be blessed in special ways for the blessings they’ve shared with others in ways that bring glory to You and goodness in Your holy name.  Amen. 

In the post below, I mentioned hearing Maya Angelou talking about her latest book, “Letter to my Daughter”.  I bought it today and can’t wait to start reading it!  

Ms. Angelou never had her own birth daughter(s), but out of the love of her spiritually mothering heart she wrote this book to reach out to women everywhere – of all races, sizes, shapes and ages – because she considers us all her daughters.  How touching it was to read the first few words, “Dear Daughter,…”

This appears to be a ‘topical’ book, with chapters given topical names like Home, Giving Birth, To Tell the Truth, Violence, National Spirit, Poetry (this book contains some of her poems!), and Keep the Faith, just to name a few.  I especially like the title of the last chapter.  I might have to start there first! 

This is my Christmas gift to myself.  Yes, I agree that it’s too early to start celebrating Christmas (I’m a firm believer in celebrating Thanksgiving first), but I just couldn’t wait to get her book! 

FYI:  Borders is currently selling “Letter to my Daughter” for 30% off!  It would make a great gift for others, too! 

I just had a thought…Ms. Angelou lives somewhere here in North Carolina. I wonder if we could get her to come speak to us!  Oh, what an honor and inspirational time that would be!!!   For a review about this book go to www.bookladysblog.com, Sept post. 

God bless you!  – Renee

1) Maya Angelou was on tv today.  She is SO amazing.  I found myself hanging on her every word.  Everything she said was inspirational.  If you’d like to be inspired by her, too, then treat yourself to a gift for your soul and get yourself her new book.  It’s dedicated to her daughters…but she only has sons.  Her daughters are you and me, and women everywhere.   She said she was reading through messages she’d written to others through the years and thought that other women might benefit from them, too, so she gathered them into this book.  I know what my Christmas gift for myself will be this year! 

2)  I also saw the story of a woman who took her children to the playground one day and noticed a girl in a wheelchair watching from outside the playground.  The playground was completely inaccessible for this child and the woman felt badly for her.  The very next week, her baby son was diagnosed with an illness that would be terminal.  Hospice suggested that she and her husband think of a way to commerate the boy’s life with something lasting that would make a difference for others.  She remembered the little girl she’d seen at the playground and decided to have a playground built in her son’s name that would be totally accessible to children of all special needs.  There were none in existence, so it took a lot of planning with professionals and people with special needs.  It also took a lot of donations and assistance from the community.  Her determination payed off.  Today there’s an amazing playground that welcomes everyone to come and play.  They even showed a mom in a wheelchair who’d never been able to play with her ‘regular’ child on a playground because she couldn’t get her wheelchair through the mulch and sand of other playgrounds.  She could join her son on this playground and even push him on his swing!  (We take so much for granted, don’t we?) 

This playground has become a model for other playgrounds and a springboard of ideas for new ways to accomodate people with special needs. 

What a great story this is!  A woman acknowledged a tug on her heart to do something to make things better for someone else (someone she never even met!).  Even when struggling with the loss of her baby boy, she was determined to see her desires come to fruition.  Now countless others have benefited in ways beyond her greatest hopes. 

What desires are on your heart?  Getting back to Maya Angelou, one of the things she said was, “When you do something good for one, you do something good for everyone.”  (I hope I quoted that properly!)

God bless you.

While reading in the Book of Amos just now, I discovered something that I’ve overlooked in the past. 

It’s the verse of Amos 9:11 –  In that day I will restore the fallen kingdom of David.  It is now like a house in ruins, but I will rebuild its walls and restore its former glory. 

Those are very interesting and encouraging words when you think about what happened on 9/11 and that Bible address is 9:11.  Even more interesting is that the verse above was written approximately 760-750 BC. 

Dear Lord, We’ve seen much re-building and restoration since 9/11, not just of buildings, but of faith and brotherhood.  May we continue to be a nation that prospers under YOUR leadership and strives to be a nation that brings You glory.  Amen.

In keeping with the ‘Be Thankful’ theme for this month…

The same Lord is the Lord of all and gives many blessings to all who trust in Him.  – Romans 10:12

I LOVE the fall, and today is a gorgeous fall day here in Charlotte, NC!  The trees are absolutely brilliant in color, there’s lots of ‘Carolina blue’ sky, and the air is warm, but nice and crisp.  My friend, Laura, and I met to walk this morning and our walk was just what I needed!  We tried out the new greenway path that recently opened adjacent to our neighborhood!  I’m so thankful that the city preserved all this natural space that runs right through city limits to give us such a wonderful place to walk!  Every once and a while we’d hear sounds of traffic in the distance, but otherwise we were just immersed in the beauty of nature in all its autumn splendor all around us. 

It was great getting out to enjoy the world around me.  It was great getting out to exercise.  And it was great spending dedicated, uninterrupted time with a friend. 

I’ve had a couple of weeks in which I’ve been getting more and more behind, barely keeping up with the asolutely necessary things, and having to keep a running list of everything else that I need to get back to.  Sometimes it’s as if everyone else’s needs have to come first and it crowds my needs out.  I love most of the things I do, but I’m a person that needs time and space to myself for balance and I haven’t had much of that lately.  Today’s walk was just what I needed!. 

I have God to thank for all this, and my friend Laura who asked me to start walking with her.  So to God and my friend, Laura…Thanks!  I needed that!

Today I’m thankful for the beauty of autumn, the wonderful walk that started my day, and special friendships. 

How about you?  What are YOU thankful for today?

A devotion based on one of my previous blog posts is ‘published’ today as the “Encouragement for Today” from Proverbs 31 Ministries. (Yay!)  To sign up for a free subscription to these online devotions, or to read “Handprints of Love”, go to www.Proverbs31.org . 

God bless you!

Renee

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