A Healthy Mind

…mens sana in corpore sano. (Roman poet Juvenal)

Jesus said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the first and great commandment.” Matthew 22:37

When we think of health, we tend to think of physical health. It has a tendency to be front and center — sometimes due to serious health concerns of loved ones, sometimes because of the neighbor who bought stock in the gym or the many ads containing people who seem bursting with physical fitness. We also periodically think of our spiritual health — usually related to how daily devotional times are going. Mental health also comes up, but it’s often related to our churning emotions or simply needing a day of rest rather than medical issues.

Our physical health does have value on this earth. When our muscles are strong and our systems healthy, we have the energy and strength needed for our God-given responsibilities.

But how often are we concerned with how our brains are working, whether our thinking is sound? Once out of the educational environment, it doesn’t come up that often until old age approaches.

It should. I am intrigued by the studies that explore how mental activities affect the health of the brain, specifically related to age and Alzheimers. I am a little confused, though, by how we tend to think that we can set cruise control after the first 20+ years until we think we are approaching the last 10. That can be a lot of years, which would be many wasted opportunities.

So much could be said on this topic, but I will simply beg this:

Stretch your mind AND stretch your muscles. Work your brain AND workout at the gym. Both will have lasting value when driven by transformed hearts striving to love God with all that we are.

There are many ways to do this, from reading a book to doing a daily crossword to taking a class to memorizing Scripture to engaging in adult conversation. Learning a new language or a new skill will really stretch you, but the rewards match the effort. However you can, please find some ways that work for your current stage of life.

Daily Priorities

We’ve discussed priorities several times, but those discussions have been pretty big picture. Today, let’s talk about where the rubber meets the road. What do you do when you’re surrounded by fires and a mountain of tasks? There are several things to think about as you do prioritize your day or task list.

What can’t wait? Some things truly must be done right now. If a family member is completely out of a prescription medicine they need, you must go to the pharmacy that day. Extending out from the immediate, what needs to be done today, or this week, or this month, or just someday? Think about any deadlines. Now you have a timeline for a start.

What are my responsibilities? We all have them. There are two ways to look at this question:

  • My responsibilities vs. someone else’s responsibility — absolutely help others, but put on your own oxygen mask before helping the person next to you. Note: sometimes we tend to enable irresponsibility instead of actually helping; it would be wise to make sure it is loving help before doing it at all.
  • Responsibilities vs. fun — painting the bathroom is going to look beautiful and make the home and atmosphere better and add beauty to life, but is that project replacing work you should do or leading you to ignore family needs? It can be good to browse at the store as you pick up good deals in accessories, but have the last five dinners been frozen pizza because you haven’t planned meals or gone grocery shopping?

What can be grouped together? If you are already going to the pharmacy, how about stopping at the grocery store and dropping books off at the library on the same trip? Although it’s not urgent for any given day, bins of donations can be dropped off on any trip you make driving right by the charity. If you are putting a dish in the oven for dinner, could you throw in the brownies for the bake sale right after you finish putting dinner together? Why not write the three thank-you notes and return the call while waiting for the piano lesson to finish?

What makes a nice break? All things being equal, if you’ve spent an hour sitting and paying bills, it might be good to head outside to pick up sticks after the storm. If you’ve spent the entire morning raking the yard, maybe a quiet activity would be a nice change right after lunch.

What is the value? What will be done in the end? Is the benefit only for today or for eternity? Yes, we wash dishes only to wash them again in a few hours, and that is good work, but we are also called to proclaim all God’s excellencies and speak truth in love. Or in other ways, are you investing time now that will pay off for days and weeks to come?

Remember prioritizing is about putting things in order. It’s not that you don’t do a lot of different things, it’s that you do them at the best time. The responsibilities for each day are puzzle pieces; you make them fit beautifully when you prioritize well.

Deep Breaths

You know those days where the so-much-to-do-so-little-time cliche is overwhelmingly true for you? When you are surrounded by fires and are spinning in circles, beating each blaze in turn? When you don’t even have a minute to think?

Our natural response to this is to go in swinging — do as much as we can as fast as we can and all at the same time. This is counter-productive. Our heart is in the right place, but our head isn’t driving.

Next time this happens, would you try something new? Take a deep breath and rapidly prioritize. I’m only talking about a minute here, no major planning. Just decide what needs to be done next and then next after that. Once you have a start on your priorities, start doing them. I’m all for plowing — but in a straight line! It works better than running in circles or a scatter-shot approach.

The deep breath gets you off on the right foot. So often we respond to others’ urgency or react emotionally before thinking things through. Remember, tension will work against you. Give yourself a few seconds to make sure you react wisely and think through your priorities well.

If you will focus on one thing at a time, knocking them off the list as you go, you will get more done faster. You will be thinking more clearly and be able to handle each item well. Once it is done, you have one less thing to think about, and that relief will snowball the more you do.

DEEPBreath --Now Get it done!


Created to Serve

For you, brethren, have been called to liberty; only do not use liberty as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Galatians 5:13-14

God has set His children free! Glorious truth that is!

But that freedom is not the freedom of an unsupervised toddler, free to touch and play and wander at will. We as Christians are called to use our liberty for love. Our life’s purpose of loving God and loving our neighbor will involve serving each other — not just doing whatever we want.

We can serve in so many ways. It will take wisdom to know how to serve each day, since the opportunities are endless.

  • Serve your husband by running the two errands he asked, instead of getting all your tasks for the day done before saying, “Oops, I just didn’t get to that. Maybe another day.”
  • Serve your neighbor by taking the time to stop and touch base for a few minutes, even though your coffee got cold.
  • Serve your cousin’s grandmother by popping by the nursing home for cheery visits.
  • Serve your neighbor by attending the fundraising banquet at the end of a long day to encourage the staff and financially support a good cause, if you are able.
  • Serve the body of Christ by teaching children and young people the precious truths of Scripture.
  • Serve your children by encouraging their walk with the Lord and growth in godliness, rather than only harping on the obvious failures.
  • Serve a young mother by doing her laundry or cleaning her kitchen one day.
  • Serve a missionary through regular notes of encouragement.
  • Serve your pastor by listening to and carefully considering his counsel.

May God strengthen us to fulfill our purpose as we walk in freedom today.

Changing Colors

“Some things just make my heart happy!”

That was what I said to my husband while painting our master bathroom recently. The beauty and promise of a fresh coat of paint going smoothly on the wall…oh yes!

You can bring new life to a room with that one step. You can give a completely new look to furniture or an accessory with the same step. If you are looking to refresh your space — without remodeling — I highly recommend thinking about paint. As you do, here are a few comments and suggestions.

It can be done. You don’t need many tools, and you can get a nice look with focus and care. You will need to take time for painting, though, so don’t try to fit it in between chores or with young children in your care.

  • You need a paint tray (& cheap liner to make cleanup easy), a roller with cover (one-time use for covers will save your sanity and time), and an 2″ or 2-1/2″ angled brush. I find the short-handled brushes to be much easier to hold, and I clean them thoroughly right away for several uses.
    • A paint key opens cans easily, but a screwdriver also works.
    • A stir stick is nice, but you won’t need it if you buy your paint right before you use it.
    • Chip or sponge brushes are handy for touch-up after the entire room has dried (since you have everything else cleaned up). They are cheap, so you can use and toss them.
  • Use the angled brush to paint the edges of the room. Go slowly and carefully, and you can get a smooth line right up to the edge. Take your time — it’s worth it! You can also tape to make sure you stay within the lines, but tape does not mean that you can be sloppy. Globs will still show when the tape is pulled off.
  • Rolling is the easiest and quickest step. If you haven’t before, check out online videos for how to do it well. It’s really fairly easy, once you get the feel.

Use quality paint. Buy the best paint you can afford. Using cheap paint will mean more coats, so you end up spending as much or more. Better paint will cover the wall smoothly. I rarely have to do two coats, although reds or lights-over-darks always take more work.

Spray paint is cheaper than a new ceiling fan. A friend recently moved into a new home and was decorating without spending a lot of money. She knew the look she wanted, but then she compared the price of a new ceiling fan with the price of spray paint. Pictures of her process are below, and she is quite pleased!


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Consider the size of the room. Dark paints will make a small space feel smaller. Light colors will open up a tiny room. Consider your color and how it will act before you buy and paint. Samples are a great idea to get a better idea of how paint looks in your space and lighting.

You don’t have to change everything. You can change the color on the wall, even slightly, and not change anything else in the room. You’ll be surprised at how much fresher the room feels to you when you are done! Sometimes a different color choice will change the feel of a furniture item also. It’s a cheaper way than completely redoing the room, if new furniture and decor is not in your budget.