Friday, May 30, 2014

Wisdom From An Awesome Teenager

Since 2001, I've been blessed to write for Good News Daily, a publication of devotional writings with global reach. Last year, our teenager was asked to submit a series of devotions to be considered for publication. So toward the end of his sophomore year, our son wrote a series of thought-provoking and inspiring pieces. Here is one that's received quite a bit of feedback from adult readers. It is published here with permission from the author and publisher.

May our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved us and by his grace gave us eternal encouragement and good hope, encourage your hearts and strengthen you in every good deed and word. (2 Thessalonians 3:16-17)

"While today's reading (2 Thessalonians 3:1-17) speaks about being strengthened in every good deed and word, in the following chapter we see the result of this strengthening: 'And as for you, brothers and sisters, never tire of doing what is good' (v.13). Never tire of doing what is good. That's quite an idea. No, Christianity is not about good works. Ultimately, Christianity is about putting aside the religion-y ideas of living as a 'good Christian.'

It's simple, really. We are called to love Jesus, the Lord our God, with all our heart/strength/etc. Through this love come all good things one who never tires in loving God will never tire of doing what is good. Doing good will stem from loving God, and then loving your neighbor as yourself. The rules do not lead to love of God: love of God leads to leading a wholesome life. 'Against such things there is no law' (Galatians 5:23).

"Jesus tells us that 'a good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit.' If we love him, we will in turn love others (his creation), and life will flow in an unimaginable harmony. Just imagine a world in which everyone was looking out for his neighbor, making their own needs secondary. It sounds nice, doesn't it? Yes, the unimaginable, invincible, perfect world is within our grasp. It is the mark of a Christian to pursue it."

* This was published in the May 18-24, 2014 edition of Good News Daily, a weekly publication of Bible Reading Fellowship. *

Well done, son! We are so proud of the young man you are and know that your life and future are in God's Hands. He will continue to guide you to use your many gifts for His glory.

I thank You, Lord, that as You become the center of our lives, everything we do is transformed. 
Help us come near to You, Lord, and live to fulfill Your purpose for our lives.

Be blessed!
Dr Mari

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Radio Interview: Living Well With Dr. Mari

Follow this link to my interview with Hope Matters on Monday, May 26 at 7pm. I will share about hope, healing, and wholeness as well as an update on my books, projects, and recent speaking and mentoring opportunities.
I've been blessed to serve as copyeditor and Spanish translator for Hope Matters since 2009. Its founder, Maryann Makekau, is the author of the Little Pink Book series that includes When Your Teacher Has Cancer and When Your Grandma Forgets, among others. These books help ensure that children are not forgotten when adults walk through tough journeys like cancer and Alzheimer's disease. They inspire and equip families during life's challenges in a whimsical and thoughtful way.

Maryann's co-host, Rob Harris, is the author of We're In This Together: A Caregiver's Story. This touching book will soon be followed by a caregiver's guide I was blessed to review. His perspective as a husband and caregiver provides practical help laced with compassion and understanding.

I look forward to another interview with my friends at Hope Matters and RobCares. Join us and call in with your questions and comments, and have a blessed and safe Memorial Day celebration!

Live well!
Dr Mari

For information about my book to inspire and equip caregivers and healthcare professionals, check out my book site.

For a recent interview about the book for girls I coauthored (The Ultimate Girls Body Book), follow this link.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Stress in the Workplace: Are We Missing Something?

Last week I had the privilege of speaking to fellow Latinas about ways to stay healthy at work. As part of a panel, I was asked to address the spiritual aspects of health in the workplace. It's been wonderful to hear from so many women after the event, whether at the hotel or later on via email and social media. Clearly, the session met a need, one that often goes unmet because it's not talked about enough!

Most of us spend 40-50+ hours each week at work or dealing with work-related issues. We're often told to "leave our problems at the door," a piece of advice that, though practical, is impossible to achieve perfectly. The reality is that we are not neatly compartmentalized like cars. The mind, soul, and spirit affect the body and vice versa, and we simply can't leave a part of us at the door when we arrive at work.

Furthermore, I'm convinced that we are spiritual beings who have a body rather than human bodies with a spirit. As such, the human spirit is critical; it must not be neglected. Think about it. Is it the physical body or is it the human spirit that has the potential to endure and outlast this world?

Regardless of our existential or religious beliefs, it is evident that our bodies won't last. It is also well known that our emotions impact our physical health in significant ways. As human beings with body, mind, soul, and spirit, our spiritual and emotional health must be addressed, at work and elsewhere.

Part of being spiritually and emotionally healthy involves our relationships with other people and with God. Studies show that people with healthy relationships do better physically. Studies also show that people who pray and for whom a relationship with God is important are often healthier in every way -- down to the cellular level! In fact, hundreds of scientific studies have addressed the many positive outcomes that can be directly tied to various spiritual beliefs and practices, including prayer. For some of the latest research, browse Duke University's research library here.

Ignoring the spiritual side of human lives is a formula for disaster, and it is time for those of us in healthcare to recognize this and become more intentional in addressing it. Issues like unforgiveness, resentment, anger, bitterness, unresolved grief, and hopelessness are often tied to depression, anxiety, and a lack of contentment. They also drain us of energy and vitality, making us less productive and less effective at what we do.

Although this seems obvious when stated in this way, we sometimes don't realize that we carry these areas of "unfinished business" into the workplace (no pun intended!). No, we don't check these 'at the door.' Such emotions and attitudes affect us deeply, and they must not be ignored. The soul that is neglected becomes stagnant and stops growing. When we talk about stress in the workplace, we must consider our whole being.

So, ladies, if you heard me speak at last week's event, know that I've enjoyed hearing from you. Remember to walk, move, and eat as healthy as possible while at work. Pack healthy snacks with lots of protein to keep your sugar levels steady for longer periods. Bring some carrots with hummus (my favorite work snack!) or a healthy drink. High-fat snacks will drain your energy; avoid them at all costs!

Remember to get enough sleep at night so the body's chemicals and hormones remain within a healthy balance. Drink enough water while avoiding soda's empty calories and too much caffeine.

And do not neglect your relationships, or your heart, soul, and spirit. Feed your soul while at work, and get some fresh air every chance you get! As we all incorporate healthier behaviors into our daily routines, we will find that vacations become an extension of all the good things we're already doing.

Finally, I encourage you to get to know your coworkers. You spend hours with them each week. Why not get to know them better? During breaks, resist the temptation to get on your smartphone and talk to your colleagues instead. Human interactions are so much richer, and funnier, too!

My last piece of advice? Be thankful, and laugh, for laughter is good medicine!

Be well!
Dr Mari

A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.
Proverbs 17:22

For more inspiration, read Today, I Am Thankful - Again!

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Thank you to Dannah Gresh and Secret Keeper Girls!

I've had a tremendous week, and it's about to get even better!

I had the privilege of mentoring young girls at the Girls Going Places entrepreneurship conference and had a blast! These girls are creative, smart, and full of promise. Being with them made me even more thankful for all the terrific women who have mentored and discipled me over the years. A good mentor is one of God's greatest gifts.

Today, I was blessed by a woman I've admired for a long time. Her name is Dannah Gresh and she has written many books for girls. Her ministry, Secret Keeper Girls, helps girls and moms to navigate the many challenges with which our culture constantly bombards all women. I love that her ministry is out of State College, where I lived during my college years. Looking back now that I'm a wife and mother, I'm (frankly!) amazed I survived the culture there. I'm glad to know all those Nittany Lion girls are hearing Truth through Dannah's ministry.

My heartfelt thanks to Dannah for sponsoring a giveaway of my book, The Ultimate Girls' Body Book, today! What a blessing to partner with such a wonderful ministry! Dannah asked moms and daughters to post their awkward puberty questions, and the list is awesome. Check it out here!

As I head out for a girls' weekend with four high school sisters (yes, we're still BFFs more than thirty years later!), my heart is full of gratitude. What would we girls do without one another?

Dr Mari

A friend loves at all times.
Proverbs 17:17

Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity.
1 Timothy 4:12 

 One who loves a pure heart and who speaks with grace will have the king for a friend.
Proverbs 22:11

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Our Future is in Good Hands!

"I learned that we all have to start somewhere."

     "I learned that I have gifts for a reason ... I need to use them!"

          "I learned that math is really important, and I learned that ...  I can do it!"

These were some of the comments I heard from tween and teen girls at yesterday's Girls Going Places Entrepreneurship conference. I was blessed to be a mentor and table leader at the inaugural event in Orlando, FL. How I wish I'd had an opportunity like this one when I was a teenager!

As I observed the girls' confidence grow before my eyes, I thought of my mom, aunts, grandmothers, teachers and neighbors who served as my role models. How blessed I was to have them, especially my mother! (For a tribute to her, follow this link.)

As the girls shared what they learned from their mentors, my heart was full of gratitude and joy for the experience. When a fourteen year-old asked me why I took the day off to spend it with them, I smiled. And I told her a story.

When I was about fourteen, I saw my mom address a large group of reporters at a press conference. I remember a room full of people, cameras, and lights. Toward the end of her speech, I saw mom search for me with her eyes and turn my way. She held my eyes for what felt like forever and said,

"Our young people are the future of our land. They are our future. 
And I believe in them."

I could sense mom's loving gaze from years ago as I addressed the bright-eyed young lady who hadn't grasped why I'd choose to spend my day with a bunch of girls I'd never met.

And I said,

"I'm here because of you, and for you. You are the future of our land. 
I'm here because I believe in you like my mom believed in me."

Her warm smile filled her face and many others. It was a beautiful moment. A moment of sharing life-giving words to impart hope. Made me think of one of my favorite verses,

"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)

I pray for each of the girls that I was blessed to meet yesterday. 

Lord, their future is in Your hands. I pray that You will bring the right people to speak Life into their young hearts so they will have hope. I pray that they will believe in their abilities, discover and develop their gifts, and ultimately live to bring glory to You, their Maker and their God.

Still Going Places! (Thank you, Mami.)
Dr Mari

Learn about my book for girls here

 * For a chance to win a FREE COPY of The Ultimate Girls' Body Book, follow this link on Wednesday, May 7th (8am - 5pm ET)! Dannah Gresh (of Secret Keeper Girls) is giving away five copies! Share this post to spread the word! *

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