Thursday, December 31, 2015

How to Keep Well This Winter

Winter is in full swing around here.  Everywhere I go, there are sick people.  You can’t help but encounter germs.  There are a few things we can do to help strengthen our immune systems and stay well.  

I’m sure you’ve heard what I’m about to tell you, as these things are pretty common sense, but, it’s good to be reminded occasionally.

I think the reason this is so much on my mind is I watched a friend who is generally healthy go through some bad cold and sinus issues recently.  She is usually able to escape sickness with her health regimen.  She told me “I did this to myself.  I know better than to treat my body the way I did.” 

Here are some important things to help you stay well this season:

* Drink lots of water.  Keeping hydrated is a big key for the body to be able to function properly.  You should drink half your body weight in ounces of water daily.  

* Eat properly.   Maximize on protein, veggies and fruits.  Have a few carbs on the side (choose wisely).  Whole Grain is always best.  Remember caffeine and sugar are not food groups.  They are chemicals, and they suppress the immune system.  A little may be fine, but don’t let them monopolize your diet.

* Minimize stress.  When the body is stressed, nothing works properly.  Picture your hand in a fist.  Nothing you try to grasp will get in it as long as it’s tightened up.   To absorb the nutrition from the foods we eat, we must loosen up the stress.  

* Exercise.  A brisk walk can do wonders to refresh you and strengthen your immune system.  

* Pray, read the Bible and Journal.  Spending time with God daily will put your mind at ease and give you peace and direction.  

* Sleep.  Eight hours is a good number, but listen to your body and give it what is needed.  If you have to stay up late, take a nap, if possible.  Lack of sleep weakens the immune system and affects your mood.  

* Take vitamins and supplements. A good multivitamin can do wonders for your body.  Vitamin C, Zinc and B complex vitamins help build the immune system too.  Some brands are better than others.  If you want suggestions, just contact me.  

* Use essential oils.  Use essential oils daily as a preventative and when you feel that little scratchy throat coming on.  It really helps.  I’ve tried it many times with great results.

* Wash those hands.  This one is a no brainer, but everywhere you go there is bacteria and viruses.  Here’s a few of the easiest places to pick up germs:  grocery carts, restaurant menus, cell phones, money, ladies’ purses (from sitting in crazy places).  I’m sure you could add your own list.  

When we encounter germs, they get into our body through breathing them in or by touching something that is germy and then touching our mouth, eyes, etc.  If we can arrest it before it becomes systemic, we have won the battle.  Using essential oils can support the body in this way and so can saline sprays or sinus irrigation, as it flushes out the germs. 

God has blessed us with an awesome immune system.  We sometimes weaken it by our actions.  If your world is anything like mine, you won’t be able to live all my suggestions perfectly.  I just try to stay mindful of these things, and do the best I can.      

If you would like more information, please email me so we can chat more specifically about your needs.  (debgray6@gmail.com).

Friday, November 27, 2015

Reach Out & Touch Someone!

Whether you are young or old, there are things you know that others would love to learn.   Titus 2:5 tells the older women to teach the younger ones.    I have also discovered that chronological age does not matter.   There are many young men and women I have learned plenty from.

Many people don’t feel they are mature enough, have it all together or are just plain shy and don’t reach out to others.  Each of us has different personalities, and we have to learn how to reach out in a way that makes us feel comfortable. 

How can we do that?   For the extrovert, that is easy.  They love to talk to everyone and don’t hesitate to make a plan to get together. 

For those of us who are a little more introverted, it can take a little work.   Starting small helps. 

Our church has a coffee shop and people hang out in between services.  It is a good place to get to know new people.  I often see some sitting alone with their face glued to their cell phones.  I don’t think it’s because they don’t want to talk to people, they just don’t know how.

If you are shy yourself, it may take a little courage to reach out, but I have found if you take the time to ask a few basic questions, people will be drawn in and feel more connected.

Here are some questions I usually ask people at church that I don’t know:

·               How long have you been coming here?
·               How did you find the church?
·               Did you grow up around here?
·               Do you go to school (if they are young)?
·               If they are married, how long?
·               Do you have kids?  How many?  Tell me about your kids.
·               Do you work outside the home? 
·               What do you like to do when you are not working?

The list can go on and on.  As they talk, you will think of other things to ask and share.  You may find them asking you questions as well.

A few weeks ago, I sat next to someone at church and discovered our kids were doing mission work in the same country.  I had seen her at church often but did not know anything about her.  Now we have something that really connects us.  I’m so glad I took the time to get to know her.   

You will not connect with every person you meet, but there will be some that you are drawn to and feel a desire to get together with again.

Brian was one of those people for us.  Years ago, we went to a church in NC and had a row we liked to sit on.    Brian sat in Jerry’s “usual seat.”    Instead of going somewhere else, we sat beside Brian, a college student.   It was then that God showed Jerry He had big plans for Brian, and we should invite him to come over to get to know him better.  

What started out as one dinner became a regular thing.  When Brian was in town from school, we made sure he was at our table.  We didn’t do any type of formal training with Brian, we just loved him, listened to him and encouraged him. 

A few months ago, Brian wrote a letter to Jerry, and I want to share a portion of it with you: 

“I’m glad I stole you seat at RCC all those years ago so we could meet.  You helped me work out things in my life with my messed up relationships and were like a father to me (a young father, of course).  Today, I emulate for other young people what you did for me.  My wife and I like to invite young believers over to our house to mentor them ‘just like the Grays’ did for me.   I remember how at home I felt in your home and I want others to have that same feeling.  Like you, I ask them what God is doing in their lives, what their career choices will be, if there’s a significant other in their lives; and I even give them a DISC personality profile.  So you have multiplied yourself!  I pray that as I disciple others as you discipled me, that my ‘disciples’ will also emulate what I’m doing  for them when they have a family of their own.  I can truly say God used you in an amazing way to help mold me into the man I am today.  I remember the prayers you had for me when I’d leave your home.  I remember you would usually end the prayer by asking God to use me ‘in a might way.’  I now pray this same prayer for the young people I disciple.  And, I can confidently say that God has already used you ‘in a mighty way’ and I pray that he will continue to do so.”

By reaching out to those people you connect with, you never know the impact you will have on them.  For Brian, the time we spent was fairly short because he went to school out of town, and we only saw him on breaks.  The impact was long lasting, though. 

Let me encourage you today to begin reaching out to those God brings along your path.  Show them a little love and encouragement.  It could change your life and theirs forever.

Friday, November 6, 2015

Show Hospitality

1 Peter 4:9
Show hospitality to one another without complaining.

Our culture is rapidly changing.  Things are just not the same as when I grew up.  When I was a kid, most moms stayed at home, and I didn’t know of anyone who was divorced.   We ate our meals together, without television or cell phones.   

Our home was one with an open door.  People were in and out of our lives.  I loved having company over.    My mom could have probably outdone Martha Stewart, I will admit, and I wanted to be just like her.

Well, I didn’t develop all of her skills.  My house has rarely been clean in every room at one time.  It’s hard for me to keep the laundry done, and I certainly didn’t get her sewing gene.  However, I did pick up a few things about hospitality.

My mom’s advice would be, “Whoever drops by just love them, listen to them and pray for them when needed.” 

Mom used to have a round platter with sections in it.  When these impromptu guests arrived, out came the platter with whatever she could find in the pantry and frig.  It might be crackers with peanut butter, cheese, pickles and store bought cookies, but arranged on that platter, it became a feast to guests. 

What is served and how things look isn’t as important as loving guests.   Recently a couple invited us to their home, and they were in the midst of major renovation.  The fact they didn’t wait until everything was complete to have us over caused us to see they had a heart of hospitality.   We all had an awesome time together, and they didn’t apologize for the unfinished projects.   

There’s a big difference in hospitality and entertaining.  Hospitality is all about the person visiting.  Entertaining is more about impressing guests.

I find in this day and time particularly, there are many young men and women as well as couples who have never had family life modeled to them.  They may have some false perception of what life will be like when they choose a mate.

When our kids were young, there was a young man we used to have over regularly.  I will never forget the night he told us there had to demons in our house because the kids were not getting along.  It was a little chaotic.  We just laughed and told him we couldn’t wait for him to get married and have kids.  Years later he called us to apologize.     

It doesn’t require the perfect Christian life to invite others to come along side you.  We all have growth areas.  There have been times I have discussed my shortcomings with a friend and told her I needed to change.  

It doesn’t matter how old you are or whether you are single or married, you are needed to pour your life into others.  There are so many people who would jump at the opportunity to be noticed, listened to, and encouraged. 

With the holidays approaching, let me challenge you to reach out to others in your own way.  In a future post, I will give some practical ideas, but until then, please feel free to comment and share ways you have found to welcome others into your own heart and life.



Saturday, May 9, 2015

When Can I Find Time for God with My Schedule?

What would our world be like without the nurturing of moms?  I know mine made a huge impact on me.  I made a decision early in life I wanted to be just like her.  She made me feel loved and modeled how to walk with God every day.

I had the following question asked of me, and thought in honor of Mother's Day I would answer it:

As a mom, how do you find "quiet time" to spend in God's Word when the kids are up at 5:30 am, nonstop until 9 pm and then you're so exhausted you can hardly keep your eyes open?

When my children were small, my desire was to spend time in the presence of God alone in the morning so I could set the tone for the day.  However, the earlier I got up, the earlier they woke up.  As frustrating as that was, I came to realize my kids benefited from watching me seek Him.

Kids can be taught to have their own quiet time at an early age too.  Our family learned when we spent time in God's presence it made a huge difference in our mood.  

I'll never forget the time I was grumpy and my young son asked me if I had done my "Prime Time" (what we call our time with the Lord).  He told me I needed to go spend time with God.  He was right.

Having three boys, I had to learn to be flexible.  My desire and passion was to know God so I had to press in any time I could.  I learned to journal with a toddler holding onto my knees.  I prayed in the car after dropping the older boys off at school -- and out loud -- while my toddler listened.  Nap times were often used to grab a few minutes of reading the Word.  Worship music helped me stay focused on the right things.

God's desire is to have all of your life--not just the time you can sit down.  We can commune with him no matter what we are doing.  I find every day He is teaching me little lessons.  When I pull weeds, the Lord reminds me of removing things from my life that should not be growing there.  Today as I opened the blinds, I was reminded of how we must open up to let the "Son" into every room of our hearts.  

According to Luke 18:17, we must receive the kingdom of God like a little child, and I'm sure He can use your kids to teach you His truths in your everyday life.  Just ask.


Thursday, April 23, 2015

Be Still So I Can Help You!

This morning I took my dogs for a walk.  Sadie, my bichon poodle, had a loose collar which wedged its way into her mouth like a bridle, as I gently tugged on her leash.  She reminded me of a wild horse kicking profusely.  I picked her up to take her collar off, but she was flailing around so much I couldn’t even get to the release button.  I found myself telling her repeatedly to be still.    

This situation made me wonder, how often do we overreact when something difficult comes our way?  If Sadie had cooperated, she would have been set free a lot faster.   She really prolonged the process by resisting my efforts to help her.

God is always with us in good times and in bad.  We should look to Him when we don’t understand the things that feel like traps to us.   

Here’s some suggestions on how to get through difficult things:

1.             Be physically still.  Go to a quiet place. It says in Psalms 46:10, “Be still and know He is God."

2.             With paper and pen in hand (or an electronic device), write out what is going on.  Let go of the things you can’t change and ask God to help you.  I like to do it in the form of a letter to God.

3.             If there are people to forgive, do so on paper first.  Later if painful thoughts arise, stop the video in your head and forgive verbally to yourself.  Then play another movie instead. Repeat the process as needed. 

4.             Ask God to show you what it is you are supposed to do.  Often “Be still” is followed by an instruction. 

5.             Follow God’s instructions. 

I find often if I let things go on paper, I hear God’s voice much more clearly.  Scriptures start going through my mind, and I find the answers I need.  As a friend put it, “It’s as if the answer comes at the tip of your pen.” 

Some trials are easy fixes like releasing Sadie from her collar, but other times things are more involved and take time.  If you are facing things right now that are complicated, God is still with you.  He wants to release you and set you free.    


Just rest assured, God is working on your behalf whether you can see it or not.  Trust him.  Do the things you know to do and leave the rest to Him.

Friday, April 10, 2015

Joyful in Spite of Trials

James 1:2-4
Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. 

Let’s just face it, friends.  The last thing most people consider is joy when going through trials.  They are not fun.  Having our faith tested is the last thing any of us want to do.  

However, I find that focus is everything.  Will I focus on the trial itself or on God, who is much bigger than the trial?  Do I blame God for what is happening or do I just embrace what is happening and make a decision to trust God?

These last few weeks, my husband and I have had an opportunity to have our faith tested.   I know we are not the only ones.  Many in this day and time are enduring trials.

When you are going through tough seasons, what are some things you do to help you through?

Here are a few things that have helped me:

1.              Spend time with God, asking Him to reveal anything that I have done to cause the situation I am currently in.  If He shows me things, repent.

2.              Surrender my life and plans to God, expecting Him to direct my paths.

3.              Ask God to show me what I need to learn and help me embrace any changes I need to make. 

4.              Don’t look back at the way things used to be or be envious of anyone else who seems to be doing well. 

5.          Don't play the "if only" game.  It will not help.  What's done is done.  Concentrate on a solution instead.   

6.              Pray the Word of God out loud.   I have 3x5 cards everywhere and also scriptures in documents on my computer.  Romans 10:17 says, “Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God.”  Hearing the Word causes me to feel stronger spiritually. 

7.              Control my thought life.  Philippians 4:8 says to think on good things.  If I am constantly thinking about my trial, I will be depressed.  If I think on good things, I may come up with a creative solution to help me through.

8.              Make a decision to worship and praise God through it all.  Worship music helps.  God is worthy to be praised regardless of circumstances.   
9.              Ask God what and who is on His heart and reach out to others with words of encouragement. 

I was told once that we may not be able to shorten our trials, but we can probably lengthen them by our attitudes.  I do want to be mature and complete, lacking in nothing, so I make a decision today to press on, knowing that God will complete the work He has begun in my life until the day of Jesus Christ.