Journey to Faith

Journey to Faith
Follow your own path

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Come a Little Closer this Lenten Season

Most of us are really busy. We have our schedules and our plans. We like our routines and our lifestyles. We get so wrapped up with the stuff of life and the common complaint is
"I don't have enough time to ......" You fill in the blank.

The stuff of life can keep us so busy and wound up, we rarely have time to do what Steven Covey, author of numerous best selling books including "7 Habits of Highly Effective People", calls "Quadrant 2 Activities".

Quadrant 2 activities are those activities which are important but not urgent or pressing. Some of them include planning, prevention and improvement. These are all so important but none of them are critical and each takes thought, energy, and time. But it is time well spent.


Sadly, it is not until life gets uncomfortable and something drastic happens that stops us dead in our tracks that we say "Whoa, wait a minute. Maybe I need to slow down and rethink things" : an illness, a job loss, a breakup. When things get uncomfortable, something is in the process of changing. God may be leading us away from certain activities or people. He is always trying to get our attention onto what really matters. We may resist and rationalize. When God is calling us to something new, it is important to stay with the discomfort, even when it interrupts our busy lives and messes up our agendas. God has the plan. All we need to do is let go and surrender to it.

We don't always understand what God is up to, but he is always up to something and that something is for our good. When the questions whirl thru my mind like the swirling winds of March, my natural instinct is to try to figure out what is going on. We need not fret. God is faithful. All I need to do is to call out to God, "Speak, Lord, your servant is listening", then listen and wait. The answer is always the same.

Come a little closer. Let that go.

Is Jesus calling you to come a little closer this season? Perhaps, like me, you sometimes get too caught up in the busyness of doing that you fail to hear the still soft voice of God.

"Draw near to God and he will draw near to you." (James 4:8).

What is it that God is working on and in you today? What is he calling you to let go of or to embrace? Are you willing to listen? To surrender? To obey?

Close your eyes and to this song by Dierks Bentley. Jesus is saying the same thing to us.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rVGw7FbohY4&feature=kp

If you enjoyed this post and would like to join our blog community, enter your email address in the box provided. You'll receive my bi-weekly posts right in your inbox. I'll also send you a copy of my free e-guide entitled "7 Steps to Finding Your Spiritual Path" for yourself or a friend.

Until next time, come a little closer and keep looking up!

Ariel



Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Ignite the Power Within Step 3:8 Tips for Breaking a Bad Habit

Bad habits. We all have them. Don't kid yourself that your seemingly perfect friend is flawless. She has hers too. Habits are tough to break, for sure, but they can be broken.  Today we'll talk about how changing our thinking and learning to let go can help us transform our lives.

Bad habits often come from a poor self-image. Some bad habits include over-eating, getting high, drinking or shopping to excess, biting one's nails, picking one's skin, etc. The list goes on and on. The media makes such a big deal over being thin, having long luscious hair and a porcelain complexion. It is important to realize these are all just mind games to make us spend our money on their products. Being super-model thin, having extra long lashes or a peaches and cream complexion is not going to make us a better person but our society has been conditioned to place a high value on the superficial. True beauty comes from within a person, not what's on the outside. So, how to deal with pesky bad habits?


Take heart. No matter how long we have had the habit, it is possible to break it. We have probably had them for quite a while so be patient with yourself. Here are some steps I am using to break one of my bad habits.

1. Make a decision to let it go.
All change starts with a decision and a change of mind. We must decide we are no longer going to tolerate a certain behavior. We do not need or want negative things in our lives. We deserve to feel and look as beautiful and as confident as possible.

2. Bring more awareness to the habit.
 Instead of pretending it is not a problem, really focus on when you engage in the habit. Practice
 mindfulness. Be more aware of how often you do the behavior. It helps to write down when we engage in the behavior AND how we are feeling at the time. This helps bring the unconscious into the conscious.

3. Notice how you're feeling.
Emotions and stress have a lot to do with bad habits. We reach for the ice cream, the mac and cheese,  or the glass of wine when we're feeling stressed and need comforting. Feeling our feelings is vital to connecting the dots and making positive changes. When we ignore our feelings, we fall back in the same negative patterns.  

4. Substitute positive behaviors for the negative behavior. 
For example, instead of having that piece of cake or cookie, pick up a piece of fruit or go for a walk.
Sip a glass of water instead of alcohol. Stop yourself before you engage in the behavior, if at all possible.

5. Be patient with yourself. 
 Most bad habits took years to develop. Changing them isn't going to happen overnight and there will be setbacks. Forgive yoursel, understand what caused the setback, and start again. Tomorrow is a new day.

6. Develop a support system. 
Yes, I know it is embarassing to share your flaws with another person but we need support. Find someone you can trust and confide in them. Use the buddy system. Have them tell you something they want to work on and you can be the support for them and vice versa.  Don't try to go it alone.

7. Manage the stress. 
Stress makes us more prone to give in to bad habits: having that extra glass of wine, going back for seconds, chugging the beer, and heading for the bathroom mirror. When we are stressed, we have less self-control. We tell ourselves things like "I worked hard all week. I deserve this." What we deserve is to take better care of ourselves, to give to ourselves and to treat ourselves and our bodies with respect.

8. Watch the self-talk. 
Habits develop over time. We have internal dialogues that we might not even be aware of that perpetuate bad habits. For example, we might think "I ought to have perfectly thin thighs. But because I don't, I'm fat and ugly". Or "I can't put on a swimsuit because of these thighs." Men do the same thing. How many times have you seen a man with a cap on and when he takes it off, he is bald. Don't they know bald is sexy? These types of negative thinking patterns distort the truth about ourselves. We don't have to have perfectly thin or clear anything. We don't need a full head of hair to be loveable. We need to love ourselves exactly as we are while we are working on improving. In fact, self-love is crucial to making changes.

So there you have my 8 tips for breaking a bad habit. Give them a try and hang in there. You are not alone. We all have habits to break. When we make taking better care of ourselves a priority, we will see progress.

If you enjoyed this post and would like to join our blog community, enter your email address in the box provided. I'll also send you out a copy of my free e-guide entitled "7 Steps to Finding Your Spiritual Path". 

Stay tuned for more on letting go and transforming your life into the one you dream of!

Keep looking up!

Ariel 





Thursday, March 16, 2017

A Funny Thing Happened On the Way to the Dance

Do you hate getting lost? I do. It doesn't happen often but when it does, I know I'm in for a test. It seems like it happens when I'm in a hurry to get someplace. You know the feeling, I'm sure. Life's frustrations can cause us to lose our peace and get angry, but today we'll talk about how to let go of anger and frustration before they steal our joy and ruin our day.

It was a Friday night and my son, Jon, and I were out celebrating his 30th birthday. We had just finished a lovely meal at a Spanish restaurant in Houston and were headed to a dance studio to take a salsa lesson at 9 pm. We had less than 30 minutes to get there. On the way to the car after dinner, I started to get excited about the evening. It would be the first dance lesson my son has had and perhaps I was more excited than he. I had found a coupon for free entry if we arrived before 9:30.

"This is going to be so much fun!" I exclaimed as I settled into his new Nissan with the homemade birthday cake on my lap.

Now, Houston is not exactly the easiest place to get around. The city is huge and so are the highways. Jon plugged in the address of the studio into his trusty GPS and waited. And waited. And waited. No response.

"I know where this place is," he announced and pulled out of the parking spot.

"We're looking for 59 north," he said.

As we headed out of the city, it seemed we were going into nowhereland.

"I don't see any signs for 59 north," I said. After circling the side roads, we eventually hit a dead end. Jon's tone was becoming firmer and the tension in the air was getting thicker by the minute.

"Doesn't look like we're going to make the lesson, so we might as well go home," he announced. It was like someone stuck a pin in my balloon of anticipation and excitement.

"Ok, if that's what you want to do," I surrendered.

Then Jon says: "I think the enemy is trying to get us into a fight to ruin the evening. But he's not going to get his way. Forget this GPS. I think I know how to get us there," Jon stated with a renewed sense of determination. My hopes started to rise again as he found the way to a highway.

It was 9:20 when we pulled into the parking lot of the studio.

"Let's take a few breaths," Jon said and we both sat in silence for a few minutes collecting ourselves.

Peace must be fought for.

We knew we had avoided a close call and we both accepted that fact that we had missed the lesson.

"At least we made it in time to get in free," I offered.

We stepped into the studio. The place was hopping with activity.

"I guess the lesson is over," I said to the gal checking us in at the door.

"No, as a matter of fact, it is going to start in 5 minutes."

Jon and I looked at each other in amazement. We both knew what had happened.

"That's God's favor," Jon says quietly. "Because we didn't get into an argument in the car,".

I was grateful for both the unexpected blessing of the dance lesson and for the fact that Jon was so wise to have learned this lesson so young. It had taken me years to realize this.

So, next time you find yourself in a tense situation that is out of your control, remember to defuse it by surrendering. When we choose peace instead of conflict, we not only save our energy and our spirits, but God smiles upon us with favor.

If you enjoyed this post and would like to receive my bi-weekly posts, enter your email in the box provided and I'll send you a copy of my free e-guide "7 Steps to Finding Your Spiritual Path". 

Love to hear your feedback on your latest adventure and until next time, keep looking up!

Ariel















Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Ignite the Power Within Step 3: Make Room for What Really Matters

Most of us lead pretty full lives, yes? We are always on the go. Our to do lists are never ending and the activities never ceasing. But yet, in those still quiet moments, we get that gnawing feeling that somehow we are unfulfilled and we have lost our joy. We really don't know what's important anymore. Ever feel that way?

It happens to all of of us from time to time. It's kind of like when our closets are bulging with beautiful clothes. We stand there in confusion wondering what to wear.  How can we decide what's important when our closets and our lives are so cluttered?

If the rooms of our lives are so full of stuff i.e activities, how can we possibly know and then make room for what truly matters? Begin by getting rid of what is no longer useful.

Every 6 months or so, I ask myself this question "What am I holding on to that I no longer need? and then I begin an inventory of my life. I start with the easy and mundane like my kitchen drawers and cabinets. Then I move on to the house and closets. Then it's time to analyze the deeper things like my priorities, my habits and thought patterns, and my relationships. Which of these are no longer useful or bearing fruit?

To be honest, I have been guilty of holding on to cars, jobs, and some relationships for far too long. I've held on to thinking patterns as well. The result of trying to hold on to something or someone that God was trying to get me to let go of was stress and anxiety and who needs more of that in our lives?

The key is to realize when I am holding on to something that is non-productive sooner rather than later, and then - let it go! When we let go of something  people and activities that no longer serve us, we make room for something better to come along like JOY! So why do we hold on so long?

It comes back to that ugly four-letter word - fear. Remember, we have not been given a spirit of fear, but of power, love, and self-control. (2 Timothy 1:7). Let's not shrink back in fear of letting go of something or someone that is not good for us. God always has something better He is waiting to give us, but we must have open hands to receive it. Let go of the "I must do all this" mentality and instead, reframe your life into "I want to do this". See what a difference it will make in your life.

Today, I encourage you to take a step of faith to let go of whatever it is that is holding you back from receiving what really matters to you. Take time to reevaluate your priorities and decide if it's time to let go of something or someone.

If you enjoyed this post and like to join our blog community, enter your email address in the box provided and you'll receive my bi-weekly posts.  I'll also send you my free guide entitled "7 Steps to Finding Your Spiritual Path". 

Until next time, keep looking up!

Ariel 

Thursday, March 9, 2017

6 Strategies to Guarantee Weight Loss - Part 2

The battle of the bulge is a never-ending struggle for most of us. Don't let your weight get the best of you. It is never to late to change some habits and even small changes can make a huge difference. Think of how much energy you will have, the activities you will be able to enjoy, the clothes you will be able to wear with confidence. Sounds good, doesn't it? So let's get started with three more strategies that I guarantee will help you lose those unwanted pounds.

Tip #4: Drink more water
This cannot be emphasized enough. Dehydration is a cause of headaches, fatigue, dizziness and other symptoms. We often mistake hunger for thirst. So I drink a glass of water with a bit of lemon or lime juice which helps balance my PH especially at meals. The amount of water we need to consume on a daily basis varies but I think it's safe to say most of us don't drink nearly enough. An easy-to-remember rule of thumb is to drink at least 8 8 oz glasses of water daily, preferably filtered. Not only will drinking water keep you full, it will flush out those toxins and keep everything flowing nicely.

Tip #5: Eat only when you're hungry

Now this may seem obvious to some, but if you're overweight, you probably don't wait for hunger pains to eat. I know sometimes I don't. An upsetting phone call, an unresolved decision, an emotional dilemma can all make me want to head for the fridge. This is what we call "emotional eating". It is not real hunger. Somewhere along the line we have learned to use food to comfort us during times of stress. The key is to distinguish between the two. I am working on becoming more conscious of my physical state when I want to reach for food. I ask myself "Are you really hungry right now?" As a working mom, I have had to eat "on schedule" for many years. The clock determined when I ate, not my belly. A better way is to pay more attention to what I am feeling. Is my stomach growling? Is my thinking fuzzy? Do I feel cranky? All of these are good indicators of true hunger. If I still am not quite sure, I drink a large glass of water first and then see if I still want to eat.

Tip #6: Sit down to eat

Today's fast-paced lifestyle has many of us eating on the run, in the car, at the desk, at a fast-food joint. I know sometimes it can't be helped but eating on the run prevents us from focusing on what and how much we are eating. We don't enjoy the meal. When we slow down and focus on the taste, texture, and color of our meal, we are being mindful. This allows our brains and our bellies to recalibrate and deliver the message "I am full." We reduce the risk of overeating because we are more present and in control of our intake. As a single parent, I always made dinner-time a priority; it was important to prepare healthy meals and teach my sons good eating habits, but also to reconnect after everyone's long day.

I have used these 6 strategies with success over the years to lose about 35 pounds and maintain a healthy weight so I know they work and they are simple to do. The battle of the bulge is not unbeatable. You can be slim and trim, have more energy, and feel great about yourself. Start today with a few of these tips. What weight loss tips can you share with us? Leave a comment below or post on Facebook.

If you enjoyed this post and would like to join our community, enter your email address in the box provided. In addition to my bi-weekly posts you'll also receive a copy of my free e-guide entitled "& Steps to Finding Your Spiritual Path". 

Until next time, keep looking up!

Ariel


Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Ignite the Power Within Step 3: 7 Keys to Letting Go

We've all heard the expression "Let go and let God", right? I assumed everyone understood what this means until I posted this photo on Facebook and a friend came back with the question "How do you do that?" She made me think. Maybe this concept isn't clear to everyone. After all not everyone has gone through a 12-step program which is where the phrase originated. I talk about letting go in my book, "The Power of Faith", so this might be a good time to delve into the concept for my online friends.  It wouldn't hurt for me to revisit this phrase either so here's my best shot at explaining what "Let go and let God" means and how to put it into action in your life.

1. First step is to realize that letting go is a process.
We learn to let go. It doesn't come naturally. We develop the ability to let go gradually as we experience loss, grief, and pain in our lives such as when a loved one dies or leaves home, a beloved pet dies, or when a relationship ends. Letting go is an ongoing process because we are constantly in a state of change.


2.  Another term related to letting go is "detachment" which means separating ourselves from another person. 
In recovery terms, detachment means emotionally disconnecting from the abusive, destructive or unhealthy behavior of another person for our own well-being.

It does not mean we stop loving or caring about the other person but we no longer allow their behaviors to steal our peace and joy. Some extreme examples would be living with an alcoholic, an addict, a gambler, or someone with a debilitating disease such as Alzheimer's. Sometimes, we have to detach from friends who, for whatever reason, are unable to participate fully in a healthy relationship. It takes two people to make any relationship work.

When we detach, we find more time and energy to love and take care of  ourselves and we allow the other person the dignity of dealing with their own issues.

3. Letting go has to do with responsibility. Sometimes we take on responsibility for problems we do not own. For example, a parent taking financial responsibility for an adult child. A mother not allowing her children to suffer the consequences of their actions. A spouse covering for an addictive trait of the other such as overspending, drinking, gambling, not showing up for work etc. Codependency causes people to take on others' responsibilities to the detriment of their own physical and financial well-being.

4. Letting go is the opposite of controlling. People who are overly responsible are often codependent and usually have control issues. Codependents think they are taking care of others, but in reality, it is a form of control based on fear. Most people have control issues to some degree, but fearful people are on the extreme end of the spectrum.  If  someone you know is controlling, one question to ask them is: "What are you afraid of here?" This will help bring to light the irrational fear they may be struggling with.

No one wants to be controlled.  We are responsible for managing our own lives, but not the lives of those around us. When we let go of control, we allow the other person the freedom and the dignity to make their own choices and experience the results of those choices.

5. Letting go applies to every area of our lives.
Many people hold on to stuff for years and years for emotional reasons. I once dated a guy who had an entire office filled with old newspapers he'd never read. His garage was packed with stuff his kids used when they were little. These people have a hard time "letting go" of stuff. They've even made a TV show out of this behavior called "Hoarders". If you have a hard time parting with material things, your house is cluttered, and your garage is overflowing, you may want to examine your reasons for holding on to all of that. Does it make you feel loved? Secure? Are you holding on to the past? Think of cleaning house as an opportunity to practice letting go.

6.  Surrender to God's will.
When we learn to let go in our lives, we are basically saying "Thy will be done" or "Que sera sera". We no longer insist on our agendas, our plans, and our timeframes. We are more flexible and resilient when the unexpected happens. We feel more peace and tranquility because we have let go of the need to control the outcome of events. We really can't control very much in life. We can't control the stock market, our relatives, our kids, or what happens in the world so we might as well accept life as it is and enjoy it the best we can.

7. Evaluate my priorities.
There are only 24 hours in every day and we only have so many days to live. How will I choose to live them and with whom? I reexamine my priorities several times a year. I make a conscious choice on where, how, and with whom I want to spend my time. I have learned that in order to add something or someone new to my life, I must let go of something or someone else or I will be out of balance. When we let go of  an unhealthy relationship,  we are open to receive a healthier one in its place. When we let go of anxiety and worry, we make room for peace and joy. When we let go of activity, we make room for relaxation and self-care. It's all a matter of evaluating what is important to us now.

If we want to have more peace and joy and less stress in our lives, learning to let go is one of life's most important lessons.  I have a post- it note on which is written a quote from Oprah Winfrey that says: "All stress comes from resisting what is". And I think she is right on.

So what have you let go of that made a difference in your life? What do you need to let go of today that could bring you more peace?

If you enjoyed this post, please post a comment or click the +1 Google icon. If you'd like to join our community, enter your email address in the box provided. You'll receive my bi-weekly posts as well as a copy of my free e-guide entitled "7 Steps to Finding Your Spiritual Path".

Stay tuned for more on this valuable life skill and

Until next time, keep looking up!

Ariel 

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Gluten-Free Vegan Pad Thai with Garbanzo Beans

I love to cook and create as you can probably tell by this blog. So tonight I thought I'd go vegan and get a serving of legumes in for dinner at the same time. Here's a healthy, quick, nutritious and tasty version of the popular asian dish, Pad Thai. In addition, rice noodles are lower on the glycemic index for those watching their sugars.



You need:
1/2  package rice noodles - soaked in water for 10 minutes or until soft
2 c. frozen stir fry veggies
1/2 can low sodium garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
Organic Coconut  Aminos (a soy sauce substitute gluten-free)
2 tbsps tahini
1 tbsp honey
juice of 1/2 lime
1 - 2 tbsps water
1 tbsp fresh ginger, chopped
sesame oil

Heat wok and add sesame oil. Add stir fry frozen veggies and toss till done. Meanwhile, combine tahini, honey, lime juice, and water till desired consistency. You don't want it too thick or too thin.
Add rice noodles and drained beans. Add tahini mixture and toss to thoroughly coat. Serve immediately and enjoy!

If you enjoyed this post and would like to join our community, enter your email in the box provided and you'll receive my bi-weekly posts in your inbox. You'll also get a copy of my free e-book entitled "7 Steps to Finding Your Spiritual Path" for you or a friend who's seeking.

Stay tuned for more on body, mind, and spirit and remember,

Keep looking up!

Ariel