Splenda, Hardee’s commercials, and things that sneak in…

I don’t trust artificial sweeteners. I know people think sugar is the bad guy, but I would rather have something in my body that is pure than something brought about by a chemical process, no matter how many calories come with it. That said, I was shocked to realize that in spite of my good intentions, artificial sweeteners had managed to sneak their way into my house.

My realization came when I noticed sucralose in the ingredient list on a box of granola bars in my house. (Sucralose is the artificial sweetener most commonly known as Splenda.) I had been buying these granola bars for months. Sure, I knew they advertised containing 25% less sugar. I just didn’t stop to think about what that meant. I felt horrible. I should have looked into it more closely when I began buying them. Instead I saw that these granola bars had three times as much fiber as the other bars, and that sounded good and healthy to me. I didn’t bother to look more closely. You see, I somewhat investigated what I was giving my children, but that wasn’t good enough. The artificial sweetener was able to sneak in.

I know many people like artificial sweeteners, and that’s fine, but there is something else that was able to sneak its way into my house last week that’s not fine. Not for anyone trying to live a holy life. It was the latest Hardee’s commercial.

If you know my family, then you know that we don’t really watch television. We watch some movies here and there, and some sports for my youngest child and her father, but that’s about it. Television is not what we want our family feeding their souls on daily. I made an exception last week. I decided that I would watch the opening ceremony of the Olympics. Do you see that? decided. I wanted to see the Olympics, so I brought it into my house and fed it to my children.

The Olympics in general aren’t the problem. The problem was the latest Hardee’s commercial that appeared right in the middle of the opening ceremony. Now I haven’t stepped foot in a Hardee’s since they began using sexually explicit commercials in their advertising. I can’t support anything that so openly promotes ideas that God hates. When that commercial came on, I sat frozen for a few seconds. When you don’t watch television, you are shocked when you are reminded of what has become accepted in our culture. (If you haven’t seen it, please don’t go watch it. It’s just Hardee’s usual motif of using sex to sell hamburgers.) After the initial shock, I grabbed the remote and turned it off. It disgusted me, and I wanted it out of my house.

After that night, we put the NBC app on my computer, and we’ve been watching the Olympics that way ever since. No commercials. My youngest daughter can watch all the Olympics she wants without us having to worry about that commercial trying to sneak in.

Guess what, though? I hadn’t learned my lesson. Just two nights ago, my oldest daughter wanted to borrow my computer so that she could work on a story she’s writing. I really wanted to watch the Olympic swimming that night. No problem. I’ll just watch it on television, and she can have the computer. I told myself it would be fine. Surely that commercial won’t sneak in again.

Wrong. The commercial appeared again. I wasn’t even being diligent to watch for it. I had my head down working on a jigsaw puzzle. It was my husband who saw it and turned it off this time. (I’m so thankful for him and his willingness to do that!)

Being diligent in keeping our children’s hearts pure (and our own!) can be tiresome. Sometimes we just want to rest, work a puzzle, and watch swimming. That’s when Satan will sneak in. When we choose to see the fiber in the granola bars instead of the Splenda, when we tell ourselves It will be fine when we know a threat exists, that’s when the unholy will sneak into our lives.

My goal is to be as David writes in Psalm 101:3-4:

I will walk within my house in the integrity of my heart. I will set no worthless thing before my eyes.

I know that my children will be faced with ungodly images in their lives. When you live in the world, there is just no avoiding it altogether. But it won’t be in my house. I will set no worthless, ungodly thing before my eyes or my family’s – just like I won’t intentionally feed them artificial sweeteners. I want to grow my family on what is pure. They’ll consume foods with artificial sweeteners, and they will see things that are unholy, but they won’t come from me. I will not feed my children’s souls, or mine, on thoughts and images that are impure and unholy. That is not who we are called to be.

But like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves also in all your behavior; because it is written, “YOU SHALL BE HOLY, FOR I AM HOLY.” 1 Peter 1:15-16

We’ve all heard the saying You are what you eat. How true this is especially when it comes to what we feed our souls! Let us be diligent to clean the worthless, ungodly things from our homes. Let us closely examine what we feed our children. Their souls depend on it.

Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things. Philippians 4:8

What she’s NOT drinking

LA_6_20_16My oldest child is running again, and this time it’s not with me. She’s been training with the school cross country team the past couple of weeks (and loving it!), but it’s a lot tougher than running with Mom. Plus, it’s pretty hot these days. That means she needs lots and lots of water. She has a 32 oz. water bottle that I tell her to fill up and drink twice during the day, and then she drinks another full bottle in the evenings when she runs. She’s headed off to a summer science program tomorrow, and I will send her with warnings about what to drink while she’s gone. She’ll be offered soda at lunch, and I know that’s what she will really want to drink. I love a good Coca Cola classic myself, so I feel sort of bad telling her not to get one. I know it would taste really good to her on a hot summer day.  And it’s not that a Coke would be that bad for her. She certainly will run off the calories that evening. The problem in this case is what she’s not drinking.

The problem is that if she chooses to drink a soda at lunch, then she will automatically choose not to drink water, and water is what her body really needs. She needs something that will hydrate her body and help her finish her run that evening.

I talk to my children all the time about the choices we have to make in life. There’s just not time for everything, and sometimes we have to make tough choices. Sometimes we have to give up things that we enjoy in order to fill our lives with what we need.

I have to be careful that my family doesn’t spend so much time consuming earthly things that we don’t have time to fill ourselves with spiritual water.

But whoever drinks of the water that I will give him shall never thirst; but the water that I will give him will become in him a well of water springing up to eternal life.  John 4:14.

There are things in life, like that soda, that taste good and don’t hurt anything, but they fill us up to the point that we don’t want what our spiritual bodies really need. On the other hand, if we fill our spirits with the living water of Jesus and His words, we are so full of Him that the earthly things aren’t even appealing. After my daughter drinks her two 32oz. bottles of water in a day, she doesn’t want anything else to drink. Her little body can only handle so much.

I want to make sure that what’s going in is what will help her finish her run – physically, yes, but oh so much more, spiritually.

Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things. Philippians 4:8

You are not weak and weary

Usually once a week I attend a class at the YMCA called BodyPump. I only go once a week because that’s all I can handle – it’s tough! Recently in that class, after doing what felt like 1,000 squats, the instructor just kept going. More squats. I was thinking to myself, I really don’t want to be doing this anymore. 

It was like the instructor read my mind.

Just then she encouraged us all by saying “You can do this. You are NOT weak and weary.”

Oh yes I am, I thought to myself. However, her encouragement made me smile.

I smiled because of course the instructor knew we were feeling weary. That’s why she encouraged us. She encouraged us at the moment we needed it the most. She wasn’t really telling us that we weren’t tired. What she was really telling us was “I know you’re tired, but don’t give in. Don’t quit.”

I love that the Bible does exactly the same thing.

When I’m feeling spiritually weary, I smile when I come across verses like these:

Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary.  Galatians 6:9

But as for you, brethren, do not grow weary of doing good. 2 Thessalonians 3:13

These verses remind me that God knows there will be times I will feel weary. It’s like He is telling me, “Yes, I know you’re tired, but don’t give in. Don’t quit.”

For consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.  Hebrews 12:3

God doesn’t want us to lose heart. He wants us to stay strong.

Be on the alert, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong. 1 Corinthians 16:13

He acknowledges that what we’re doing is not always easy. There will be times we are tired. If not, we wouldn’t need all those verses encouraging us to keep going.

At the moments I most need it, when I’m thinking I really don’t want to be doing this anymore, God encourages me with those same words the BodyPump instructor used.

You are NOT weak and weary. 

And, of course, that acknowledgment and encouragement is exactly what I need to keep going.

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might.  Ephesians 6:10