What I’ve been up to this week!

kids, VBS

It’s been an extraordinarily busy week for me.  Insanely busy.  Hectic.  Chaotic.  Work is crazy; every day the phone has been ringing constantly with requests that go something like this:

“I’m so sorry to do this to you, but I (forgot about this – just found out about this – need revisions – want to completely change the design and format we were working on) and I need it immediately.”

I’m not joking when I say the phone was ringing constantly.  A couple of times toward the end of the week I almost answered the office phone by saying, “Kim Edwards, graphic designer, what’s your emergency?”  My desk was plastered with sticky notes.  My calendar was a scribbled, jumbled mess of overlapping events.

To top it all off, it’s Vacation Bible School (VBS) week.  I leave work and head to church to take up the duties as VBS director.  For a girl that needs at least seven hours of sleep per night, the four, maybe five I’m getting just ain’t cuttin’ it (pardon my grammar).  About 8 p.m. the tiredness washes over me, and for a minute I really want to just go home, crawl under the covers, snuggle with Toby Dog and forget all the stresses and demands of the day.  But then a volunteer has a question, a teacher needs something or a child is upset and I have to shake off the craving for sleep and solitude and take care of my director duties.

I have managed to stick with healthy nutrition, and that’s largely responsible for my energy to keep on keeping on.  However, my exercise has suffered.  I have managed a few early morning workouts, but poor Toby Dog hasn’t had a good walk since last weekend.  He’s such a good boy and hasn’t complained once.  I do believe when I left this morning he shot me a sarcastic look as I breezed out the door and said, “Bye, Toby Dog, Mama loves you, we’ll have a day to rest soon!”  I just know he was thinking, “Yeah, yeah, whatever.”

It’s just been one of those weeks where I felt like everyone and everything was grabbing and pulling for attention at the same time.  But you know what?

It’s been one of the best weeks I’ve ever had.

I truly believe this has been our best VBS ever.  It’s such a joy to see children having fun at church and in worship.  Young minds are receiving God’s message.  Learning the Bible has been fun for them.  They are asking pretty deep questions about salvation, surrendering to God and what it means to live as a Christian.  They hear stories of how Jesus showed His love to others and how we are called to follow His example.  They are getting it.

Why are they getting it?  Because of the many volunteers that have sacrificed their personal time to make sure these kids hear the Word of God.  The teachers have spent weeks planning lessons and decorating rooms.  There are those that have planned, organized and served meals, then cleaned up after.  The craft leaders put together projects ahead of time and have spent the evenings patiently helping youngsters to make their own versions.  The music leaders learned songs and routines so they could teach them to the kids for performance night.  There are volunteers who served as photographers and floaters, filling in wherever help was needed.

Why did they do this?  Because they have hearts for God and are obeying His Word.  Proverbs 22:6 reads:

Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.

However, the week leading up to this one was not all smooth sailing.  There were last minute roadblocks and problems, one right after the other, bringing on a high level of stress.  As of last weekend, I was on the phone with my pastor telling him I was done with Bible School.  Next year someone else could direct it.  I didn’t need this added stress, I was done, finished, no talking me into it next year.

I know without a doubt that those roadblocks and problems which had me throwing my hands up in despair came from the devil.  He knew that young minds would be receiving the message of God’s grace, love and mercy and he tried all his tricks to stop it.  The last thing he wants is for anyone to be saved, most especially the young ones.  When I realized that’s what was going on, I got my attitude straight, banished the devil from my brain and went to my pastor’s house to apologize for venting my frustration and coming close to freaking out on him.  If God wants me to be involved in VBS next year, I’ll be there. I’m not done, Pastor Jimmie!

I have realized this week how fervently the devil and his armies constantly try to keep us from living a Christian life and spreading the Gospel.  They never stop seeking to destroy those who do so.  I have also realized that, while nothing bad comes from God, He will allow a little “bad” into our lives to admonish us when we let our own selfish attitudes and desires get in the way of serving him.  It’s in such times that we realize just how much we need Him.  He uses this to draw us closer to Him.

God calls us to surrender, sacrifice and serve.  All the volunteers at our VBS are doing just that this week.  Surrendering to His call as missionaries, sacrificing time away from home and families and serving as we minister to and love on these children.

Reflecting on your own life, what are some things that God may be calling you to sacrifice or give up in order to fulfill His purpose or minister to someone?  The issue is this – are you willing to deny yourself, the things you want, to become the person God wants you to be?

It’s difficult to live a God-focused life when we are tempted to live in a me-focused way.  We have to look at our lives to turn down the habits, thoughts and behaviors that do not bring glory to God.

Scripture

Mark 8:34:  Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves.

Prayer

Father God, show me the areas of my life that I need to surrender to You.  Help me to give my own desires to You and flee from the attitudes and actions that are not pleasing to You.  Help me to give to others in a way that allows others to see Christ in me by the way I serve.  In Your Son’s most precious and holy name I pray, Amen.

Click for more VBS pictures:  https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100011575305989

 

Week 11: Salt – how much and what kind?

salt how much what kind

We all know that too much salt in your diet is unhealthy.  However, many of us are unsure of how much we should have on a daily basis.  Then there’s the myriad of salts to choose from on the grocery shelf.  Table salt, sea salt, kosher salt – so many choices can be confusing.  Which brings us to the question:  Salt – how much and what kind?

The current CDC recommendation is 2,300 mg. or less of salt per day for healthy people under 50 and 1,500 mg. or less per day for most people over 50.  Sounds like a lot, right?  It only sounds that way – 2,300 mg. of sodium is one teaspoon (6 g.) and 1,500 mg. is ¾ of a teaspoon (3.75 g.).  How many of us actually limit our sodium to one teaspoon, or 6 g. per day?

Most of us are probably aware of the health risks associated with consuming too much salt daily – kidney stones, obesity, heart disease, stroke and high blood pressure.  However, most American aren’t aware that controlling your sodium intake is about a lot more than just avoiding the extra shakes from the salt shaker.  The average American’s dietary salt comes not from the shaker but from processed foods.

There are the obvious salt bombs – processed foods, snack foods, luncheon meats, canned soup, and frozen meals – but there are others that may surprise you at their high sodium content.  Restaurant  food, prepared pasta sauces, processed breakfast foods (including cereals), bread and muffin mixes and even ketchup.  Just one tablespoon of ketchup has 160 mg. of ketchup.  How many of us limit our ketchup to one serving, a tablespoon?

The reality is that very few people have the slightest idea how much salt they consume in a day.  You can mostly take control of how much salt is in your foods by preparing it yourself instead of relying on packaged or processed and avoiding eating out more than you eat at home.

As with any healthy diet, the salt issue is all about balance and moderation.  You shouldn’t cut it out completely; in small amounts sodium helps to maintain the correct balance of body fluids and aids in muscle contraction and relaxation.  It’s also important in the sweating process, which allows you to cool down and avoid dehydration and heat stroke.

On the other hand, too much salt can have serious effects on your body’s nervous system.  Salt is a key factor in your brain sending nerve impulses to the rest of your body.  For your nervous system to function properly there must be a good balance of sodium and potassium; too much sodium can have negative effects on nerve functions.

A study of 12,000 adults published in the Archives of Internal Medicine found that maintaining a diet with equal parts sodium and potassium can actually reduce risk for some diseases. Researchers found that simply cutting back on sodium-rich processed foods and eating a diet rich in fresh fruit and vegetables was usually enough to balance the mineral levels for optimum health (http://archinte.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?articleid=1106080).

Once you have a handle on sodium intake, the next hurdle is understanding the different salts that are on the market.  Although they all contain the same amount of sodium per serving, the unique flavors of some of them can actually help you use less.  A bonus to most of the “gourmet” salts is that, unlike regular table salt, they are unrefined and don’t contain the additives of regular table salt.

Below are three of the most commonly found salts on the grocery shelves, their characteristics and best uses.

Table Salt

  • Consists of fine, evenly shaped crystals and is denser than other salts. It’s usually mined from salt deposits underground, iodized and contains anti-clumping agents, such as calcium silicate.
  • When to use: Keep out on the table for last-minute seasoning. It’s also good for salting pasta water or seasoning soups.

Kosher Salt

  • Less refined than table salt with larger flakes and coarser.
  • When to use: Kosher salt is the most versatile; use to season before, during and after cooking. Especially good for seasoning meat before cooking.

Sea Salt

  • The least processed; flakes are collected from evaporated seawater and may contain residual minerals that could alter the color.
  • When to use: Best as a finishing salt; usually more expensive so use sparingly.

If you use only one salt, make it kosher. It’s affordable and usually contains no additives.  Remember to check the ingredient label, it should only list salt.