By Baylie Redman
Many of us have heard the saying about grasping at smoke. While it looks solid and sustainable, you could spend your whole life trying to grasp it, to keep it, without any success. The smoke metaphor is often used to teach us that we can't always have control. No matter how badly we want things to go our way, regardless of the effort we put in to make things work out, we don't always get the final say. There is nothing this metaphor speaks more accurately to than control itself. In the moments that we see control in our midst, we want to grab at it and keep it going, but in our attempts to do so, we only cause the smoke to disappear.
In the book of Ecclesiastes, life itself is often referred to as "hevel," which is the Hebrew word for vapor. This line is repeated over 30 times in the biblical text, and as upsetting as it may sound to be told thirty times that life is nothing but vapor, there is actually a really valuable lesson we can learn from this. Particularly in times of fear, or stress, or chaos, we are significantly more tempted to find things we can control. And if we can't find these things, we begin to try and make them happen. But the more we try to control the world, the more out of control we start to feel. This is why we need to work on our locus of control.
Our locus of control is just another way of referring to who we believe has control over the events and circumstances in our lives. Often when we hear about this concept, we are presented with a dichotic choice, an "either-or" decision. Either our locus is focused on ourselves, where everything is a consequence of our own choices and beliefs, or our locus can be focused outwardly, where life's circumstances are brought about by the actions and choices of others, and therefore beyond our control. In reality, life happens as a result of both our own choices, as well as the choices of others, but the only thing we can actually control is ourselves.
Ultimately, we have to let go of trying to control the things that happen to us in life. It's no less fruitful than grasping at smoke. This doesn't mean to just surrender to what happens in the world. And it doesn't mean that we should just stop trying to cause change. But it does mean that while we should always strive to make changes in the world, whether they actually pan out or not is beyond our control. We learn this from the parable of the sower in Matthew 13. The sower scatters the seeds in a variety of places. Some seed falls on the path, and others amongst the weeds, but some manage to land in good soil. Just like the sower, we should always try to plant the seeds, but we don't control whether it lands on good soil, and we don't get to make it grow. Our job is to plant wherever we can, and let God make those seeds grow.
If we ever want to find peace and comfort in difficult times, we have to let God do the work. "'For I know the plans I have for you,' declares the Lord, 'plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future'" (Jeremiah 29:11). We have to surrender our lives, and more importantly we have to surrender control, to God. We need to stop grasping at smoke and decide to let that control go.
By Baylie Redman and Kaeden Forleo
I want to talk a little bit about legacy. Specifically, who are the legacies we are trying to create intended to serve? There are so many people throughout history who have left noteworthy legacies, but as Christians, I think it's important to look particularly closely at figures from the Bible to learn more about this matter. There are so many prophets and spiritual figures throughout the Bible that we can learn from, but for right now I want to look at two in particular.
In first Samuel, we learn about King Saul, who was at this point preparing for a large battle against the Philistines. Before the battle was to begin, he was supposed to wait for the prophet Samuel, who would burn an offering for Saul and go with him to battle. But when Samuel didn't show up on time, Saul burnt the offering himself and went into battle without God's prophet. In other words, Saul chose to fight the battle without God. When Samuel showed up, he made it very clear that Saul's legacy was forever changed because he chose to fight for himself and not for God. There are many theologians who believe that had it not been for this decision, Jesus would have come through Saul's lineage, and not David's. Samuel chastises Saul for his decision by saying to him, "But now your kingdom shall not continue. The Lord has sought out a man after his own heart, and the Lord has commanded him to be prince over His people, because you have not kept what the Lord commanded you" (1 Samuel 13:14).
We all know that God does not make a habit of condemning people for making mistakes. There are numerous examples in the Bible of Him not letting our mistakes define us, and giving us the chance to repent and seek His forgiveness. One example of this is Saul's successor, King David. Despite more than a few really poor life decisions during his reign, the Apostle Luke still called David "A man after God's own heart" (Acts 13:22). The difference between the two kings was how these men handled the consequences of their actions. Saul was vengeful, unrepentant and prideful in his sin. He sought to make his legacy about his own glory and greatness. David, on the other hand, repented and came back to God. He decided to glorify God above all else, even during the lowest points of his life.
It's David's legacy that we should strive to imitate. In Psalm 91, God tells us "Because he has set his love upon me, therefore will I deliver him." When we choose to make our legacy about our work, accomplishments, or even about our own character, we choose to live for our own sake rather than for the glory of God. In doing so, we forfeit everything that God has promised to us. But when we choose to "set Him on high" (Psalm 91:14), His promises and His favor can become visible, as we reflect His light in our life.
Finally, we must remember that we will answer for every action, every reaction, every motivation, and every decision when we stand before His throne. Matthew 12:36 tells us "But I tell you that everyone will have to give an account on the day of judgement for every empty word they have spoken." So, ultimately, we need to ask ourselves: what kind of legacy are we building? Are we willing to answer for it?
The first mile of any hike is always the easiest. You start out full of energy and excitement to reach your destination, and the path ahead seems pretty straight forward. "In order to get where I want to go," you think to yourself, "all I have to do is stay on the path." But as most of us know, that's a lot easier said than done. After the first mile, we start running into huge rocks, steep inclines, and endless switchbacks that make us wonder if we've even made a dent in the journey ahead. And after several miles of these difficult obstacles, we might start to question if the destination is worth the journey. For the rest of the hike, you will have to choose moment after moment whether to turn back, or to keep pushing forward with the hopes of a gorgeous view being closer than you think. If you want to push through the pain and keep going, mental toughness will be essential to your success.
Over the last few months, a few of our students have taken to helping each other build that skill. In a weekly workout, not so affectionately known as "Demon," a small group of our students spend 30 minutes pumping out as many burpees as they can. In those 30 minutes, each one of them have to face their demons head on. They face the voice inside their heads telling them they've already done enough, or they're going to be sick or get hurt. In that moment, they have to choose for themselves whether to give up or push through, whether to maintain their previous record or to beat their personal best.
It's not an easy decision. The natural inclination is to keep yourself safe and drop out. It's easier, safer, and you can escape the pain and exhaustion of the workout. But giving up means you didn't give it your all, and it leaves you with a sense of guilt and regret. But in making the decision to push through, you walk away with an incredible sense of pride in yourself, and the knowledge that you were capable of more than you thought you were. By repeating this process every week, they begin to push themselves harder and harder, building mental toughness in the process.
Without that level of discipline and determination, trying to accomplish a goal or some kind of challenge becomes sufficiently more challenging than it already is. But just like our students, we can build the right skill set by making regular, in the moment difficult choices. By pushing ourselves a little bit harder every time, we slowly condition ourselves to make the right choices and keep pushing ourselves. And it doesn't take long before you realize that making those decisions is a little bit easier than it used to be. After all, the only way to reach the top of that mountain is one step at a time.
By Jennifer McGregor
Image courtesy of Pixabay
Are you tired out, stressed out and maxed out? Would you rather get more wellness and positivity out of your days? With some thoughtful strategies, you can enjoy a happier, healthier lifestyle.
First, you need to take a hard look at the pattern of your daily life. Many of us are on the run, and along with that, we often make unhealthy lifestyle choices. If you’re throwing on makeup during your morning commute, hitting the drive-through for most of your meals, and your version of unwinding is a few minutes of road rage to release some negativity, chances are that you’ll feel better with some adjustments in your routine. Here are some simple steps to help you develop a sustainable wellness program and live a more positive life.
Clear the clutter. Spending lengthy periods of time in a disorganized environment can leave you feeling stressed. When you take the time to declutter your home, you’re setting yourself up for better sleep, improved focus and enhanced mood. Start by tackling a small area like the kitchen counter, and don’t do it all at once to avoid feeling overwhelmed. Make sure you give your home a deep clean afterward to effectively remove airborne toxins and allergens. If you need help with this, hire a cleaning service, which costs between $114 and $200 in Billings.
Choose good foods. Eating healthy foods is a key to improving your wellness. Family Doctor recommends ensuring your diet is high in fruits and vegetables, your meats are lean, and your carbohydrates are whole grain. Drink plenty of water, and when you must eat out, be alert to portion sizes and hidden sugars. When you need some healthy, on-the-go snacks, opt for foods high in protein such as cheese sticks, peanut butter packs or almonds. You’ll find that protein-rich choices satisfy your hunger without raising blood sugar levels, which helps keep the cycle of cravings at bay.
Spend time with Fido. If you don’t already have a dog in your life, consider adding a furry friend. Dogs benefit health in many ways by reducing stress, anxiety, and depression and lowering blood pressure. Spending time with your dog releases feel-good chemicals in your body and reduces stress hormones. Dogs also tend to keep you more active, getting you out for walks and trips to parks more often. Your pooch also provides structure to your days, and because he relies on you for food, walks and love, you feel needed and important.
Get some rest. According to Rush University Medical Center, most of us aren’t getting enough sleep, and it’s hurting our health. Getting too little sleep can leave you at an increased risk for a stroke or heart attack, regardless of your age, weight, fitness and other lifestyle choices. If you aren’t getting a full seven hours or more of sleep each night, it may be time to rethink your late-night television programs or web surfing.
Care for your body. Are you slumping at your computer screen? When you rise after a half hour of sitting, do you feel stiff all over? Do some stretches, get some regular exercise, and embrace good posture. You’ll find you feel much better, and your body will age better. Our martial arts and self defense classes are a great option for that (the cost of a membership can save you on doctor bills). If you’re tight on time, take a walk on your lunch break a few days every week. Get out with your pup and explore the neighborhood. Some experts suggest making oral hygiene a priority as well. Brushing and flossing a couple times per day can actually impact your overall health.
Spend time in nature. Enjoying nature is a boon, whether you’re sitting on a park bench or gardening. Some researchers found that spending time in nature improves wellness, reducing your risk for stroke, heart disease, obesity, depression and stress. You even do a better job of coping when troubles come your way. Even a view of a natural setting can be a benefit to your well-being, so make it a point to incorporate nature into your daily life.
Simple strategies. Improving your wellness doesn’t need to be difficult, and you can reap big benefits. Look carefully at your daily choices and take steps to improve your lifestyle. You’ll find that with some simple wellness strategies, you’ll be on the road to health and happiness!
By now summer is in full swing and we hope that everyone is taking advantage of our summer classes here at Shepherd-Warrior Martial Arts! If you are looking for something fun to keep your child occupied this summer feel free to find us at the front desk or give us a call and ask about all the cool things going on this summer!
Today I wanted to offer a few tips on how to keep boredom at bay this summer! These are simple tips that you can implement NOW, and will help set your child up for success.
Communicate the plan
Every evening, take a few spare minutes and review the “plan” for the next day. A little bit of structure will go a long way and will also help everything go smoothly. If possible, try to include 45 minutes to 1 hour of physical activity doing things such as swimming, biking or practicing their martial arts!
Work together to develop effective summertime habits
Many parents will set boundaries and limitations for their kids which is great, but if you include your kids in the process they will better understand the “how” and “why”. This will help them better understand why certain things are limited and also help them find ways to keep themselves entertained. Talk with your child and determine how much electronics time per day & week are appropriate. Then work together to come up with a list of activities they enjoy!
Be a good role model
Get outdoors and show them how much fun it is to be active! Children will often make better choices when their role models are doing the same - do so and they will be more willing to give it a try! This can be as easy as having them teach you how to play a game! You can even take it to the next level and have them teach you how to do a few kicks or a form!
We hope that this has given you a few ideas to use when tackling summer boredom! If you are out and about or on vacation don’t forget we would love to stay in contact by posting a picture or video on our FB page. We hope you are enjoying your summer and can’t wait to see everyone back on the mat!
Master Forleo & the Staff
Photo via Pixabay
Article written by Jennifer McGregor - PublicHealthLibrary.org
Healthy lifestyle changes may seem overwhelming at first; many people want to eat better, get more exercise, and reduce stress, but those things aren’t always so easy to take on. Busy schedules, work, family issues, and responsibilities can frequently get in the way of even the best-laid plans, leaving you feeling guilty for being unable to stay motivated. It’s important to keep in mind that your physical health isn’t the only thing that will benefit from some changes; your mental health will also get a boost, which can help elevate your self-esteem and mood and reduce anxiety and the symptoms of depression.
The good news is that there are many simple changes you can make to your lifestyle that won’t take a lot of time or money but will make a big difference in the way you feel. The key is to think outside the box a little, and remember that your health doesn’t just depend on a few main factors; lots of things can affect your well-being, from the way you sleep to the air quality in your home. When you take a look at the details, it’s much easier to make small but significant changes.
Read on for some great tips on how to make easy changes to feel better.
Keep Your Dental Health in Check
Many people don’t realize just how closely linked their mental and physical well-being are, but when it comes to anxiety and depression, the symptoms can be very hard on the body. Oral health is one of the biggest concerns for many people since depression can take a toll on oral hygiene. Gum disease can lead to issues with the heart, so it’s extremely important to make sure your dental health is on point. By eating right, brushing and flossing each day, and attending regular checkups at the dentist, you can keep your mouth in great shape.
Get to Know Your Insurance Policy
Your insurance policy can help you stay on top of your wellness, so make sure you’re familiar with the plan you have and how to get the most from it. Seniors, in particular, can benefit from understanding their policy, especially when it comes to Medicare. Advantage plans from insurers like Humana can help you cover the costs associated with dental work, eye exams, and prescription medication, which original Medicare doesn’t cover.
Keep Your Gut Healthy
Your gut health can have a big impact on other parts of your body and even affect your mental health, so take time to get to know your microbiome — the area of your gut that is home to good bacteria which are necessary for your digestion and immune system. Learning about this area of your body — and how to keep it in good shape with the right foods, exercise, and environment — can help you ensure that your digestive tract is healthy and running smoothly.
Take a Break
Stress and anxiety can affect us all differently, but for most people, those negative feelings often lead to depression, physical decline, or issues at work or home. Knowing when to take a break and give your mind and body a much-needed rest is crucial to your overall well-being, even when you have a busy schedule. You don’t have to go on vacation; instead, simply taking a timeout for 15 minutes when stress is at its highest will do.
Head-to-toe lifestyle changes can be a little much if you try to take on too many at once, so narrow down the options and choose the best ones for your current needs. Focus on eating healthy or getting more exercise, or make time in your routine to take better care of your oral health. Once you feel comfortable with one, you can move on to the next until your mental and physical health are where you want them to be.
This article was sent to us in an email. I (Master Forleo) am not the author of it but I am putting it here on our blog for your benefit.
1. It helps them make new friends.
The bond between martial artists is stronger than most other sports. Martial arts are physical, and they require physical confrontation. When confronted with someone of similar size, strength, and skill, students develop a sense of respect for one another. They realize they are capable, and so are others. Out of healthy respect for themselves and others, long-lasting and rewarding relationships develop.
2. They will learn better human relation skills.
During martial arts training, students need to learn the concept of physical space, how physical contact is both an invasion and invasive. The sport literally and figuratively breaks down barriers. Students will confront people of all types and abilities during martial arts training. This kind of exposure helps to prepare them for a dynamic and diverse social environment.
3. They learn new coping skills.
Your kids deal with a world unlike anything we’ve seen before. The pressures of a social network, expectations, and a world full of need and change are overwhelming for children with no experience to handle it.
Martial arts are an outlet. Their physicality trains physical fitness, which balances the body physiologically and emotionally. But it also emboldens kids with a warrior’s mentality of gratitude, humility, respect, and self-confidence.
The world is full of confrontation. We’ll teach your kids how to thrive with it.
4. They develop better focus and concentration.
Practicing martial arts requires patience and persistence. Not everyone is at the same level of skill, but kids need to know that they can change and grow. A body is the one thing that everyone has that they can always improve. When you show kids that they can get better when they focus on improving their strengths and weaknesses, you provide them with hope that their dreams are possible.
The rewards carry over into every aspect of their lives, like better studying and better behavior at school.
5. They develop better respect for authorities.
In martial arts, as in life, there is always a teacher and a student, and nothing can replace the value of mentorship. Martial arts, more so than other activities, emphasize discipline and respect for authority.
Kids need to learn that they’ll go far on their own, but they’ll go the furthest with the help of others. A teacher’s wisdom is the most valuable kind of guidance. A martial arts teacher sets a standard that helps kids relate better to other figures of authority in their lives, like teachers and parents.
Dedicated students...isn't that what we want?
Coming to class takes dedication.
I had a mom recently say, “We know you want dedicated students and we just don’t think he is dedicated, so we are not going to renew his membership.” I had a dad last year tell me the same thing.
I have to be honest with you; I really don’t care if your kid is all that dedicated. You and I know that he is going to change his mind the minute that class starts and he is going to love it just like he did yesterday. You and I both know that when they pass their next belt test they’re going to be super excited all over again. You and I both know that when they get their Black Belt, it will be worth every ounce of struggle you're having now. It’s simple, everyone, adults and kids, dread working hard, but no one regrets it afterwards. The pain of discipline weighs ounces, but the pain of regret weighs tons. The biggest benefits in our life come from the things we find the greatest challenge in.
WHat's Going ON?
At home he may whine and complain about coming to class because you are dragging him away from doing something fun or easier, like playing video games. Make sure he is doing some chores before class and the struggle will suddenly be much less. Look, we are not here to entertain your kid, that’s Chuck E Cheese. You enrolled your child here so we could help them accomplish certain goals that you had set for them, to solve certain problems or to help with a certain path. We can still help to accomplish those goals if he is here, but not if you don’t bring him.
Is he going to have fun once he’s here? Absolutely! Our instructors go through intense training on how to keep the kids having fun and how to disguise the repetition, but repetition is still required and even fun things are boring if you do them enough. Riding a roller coaster is fun, but doing so 1000 times in a row will get old sooner or later.
The real problem is that somewhere along the way he got the crazy idea that he has a choice about attending. Perhaps you gave him that impression? Then the problem isn’t him, it’s you. Does he get a choice about eating healthy? How about brushing his teeth? Can he choose to not study, or not to go to school? Can he pick his own bedtime?
When our kids were born we were immediately and automatically given the immense responsibility to be great role models, and to make the right decisions for them when they couldn’t or wouldn’t make the right one themselves. Many times we have to do so in spite of what our children think or say they want. You enrolled him with us because the training is and will be good for him. By all means, let him quit things that are just entertaining. But why in the world would you let him quit things that you know are beneficial for him - things that will affect his life and make him a better person?
Kids learn from what they see
Families that kick together, stick together.
His dedication is going to feed off of yours. There are parents who train in class as students, you’ve seen them. They are guaranteeing their child will make Black Belt. There are parents who watch class and support their child by being right there, on the sidelines, showing interest in their child's training. They have a great chance to see their child make Black Belt. Then there are parents who drop them off and go to do “who knows what.” They are pretty much guaranteeing their child will want to quit. If you complain about the drive, the cost, waiting for him in class, etc, he is going to want to please you and try to get you to let him quit. You spent all that time and money only to sabotage us, yourself and your child. We see it all the time.
I even overheard one teenage girl tell her dad, “Papa, it costs too much, I don’t want you to pay that much.”
Her dad, realizing what he had done, wisely replied, “Honey, I’ve got the money, it’s just a few dollars per week, and you are worth much, much more than that to me.”
Our kids want to please us. Give them the chance by supporting their growth and being strong when they can’t be or aren’t mature enough to be.
Yes, we love dedicated students, but the fact of the matter is that all students are going to run hot and cold at times in their training. Most Black Belts contemplated quitting at one point or another. Even I did when I was younger. So be dedicated for your child. They need your support. They need your encouragement.
I’ve never met an adult who was glad that their parents let them quit martial arts when they were kids.