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Time for a Change?

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Jane Johnson Struck
If you're anything like me, you probably feel overwhelmed by all the changes you'd like to see in your lifeespecially around the New Year, when change is the "thing" to do.

I already know what I need to improvemy fitness level, availability to friends, amount of quality time with God. But sometimes, the more I resolve to change, the more I feel as though I've failed when my "to do" list of goals ends up a crumpled piece of paper in a dark corner of my deskand in my mind.

That's why, this year, I decided to take the opposite approach to make some positive changes in my mental, spiritual, and physical health. No fifty-two-weeks-a-year-or-bust self-improvement plan for me! Instead of adding more to my life, I'm seeing what I can delete from it for a manageable, unintimidating span of timea week. And I'm discovering that the benefits I gain from these "fasts" are surprisingly healthful. Give them a try; you'll benefit, too.

Fast from Worry

When my husband had to undergo biopsies for cancer, I was anxious. But once he completed radiation treatments and life went on, I really fell into the worry trap. After all, since we weren't doing anything "proactive" anymore, strangely life seemed less in control. I found myself worrying inordinately about our future, about doctors' visits, even about my own health and the health of our kids. Needless to say, my mindset wreaked havoc on my mental and physical stateI became sluggish, depressed, filled with aches and pains. I knew I had to change.

So I hit on the idea of "fasting" from worryno easy feat when you're a self-proclaimed "worry wart." But I remembered some advice I'd given my daughter Sarah when she was in grade school. Every year when her school held "Fire Safety Week," Sarah would lie awake at night worrying about our house catching on fire. "Mom, I can't sleep," she'd moan. "I'm worried about a fire, and I can't get it out of my mind."

"Sarah," I'd tell her, "pretend your mind's a television set, and you're switching the channel. Now watch something happy, like family vacation memories!"

As with anything in parenting, sometimes my advice worked, sometimes it didn't. But years later, it was time to taste my own medicine. So each time I found worries swallowing up my thought life, I forced myself to change the channel. I'd intentionally focus on something concrete and pleasantcardinals perched on the feeder, the winter sunset tinting the sky a frigid crimsonto blot out my preoccupation with "what ifs." Or I'd repeat a favorite Scripture such as Psalm 94:19 (TLB): "Lord, when doubts fill my mind, when my heart is in turmoil, quiet me and give me renewed hope and cheer." I determinedly tried to "take captive" every negative thought "to make it obedient to Christ" (2 Cor. 10:5).

If someone told me to just stop worrying, I'd say impossible. But I decided to try it for a weekwith the help of God's Spirit and his Word. While I didn't become perfectly peaceful, for those seven days I felt healthier and more optimistic than I had for quite a while. This is one fast I've repeated when certain situations start feeding my fretful nature.

If worry's something you'd like to change about your life, try switching stations for a week. It will transform the way you feel.

Fast from Sale Ads

I admit it, I love to shopnot so much for myself, but for my family and especially for my house. I can talk myself into needing new towels or a set of queen-sized sheetsespecially if they're on sale. I mean, what if they never go on sale again?

Did you catch the irony in that statement? As Ecclesiates 1:9 says, "There is nothing new under the sun." I might add, there's nothing on sale now that won't be on sale again. My trouble is avoiding temptation!

Last summer, for example, I spied a sales insert for beach chairs, something I'd never had any interest in owning before. But since we were going to the beach for vacation, I was convinced we needed to shell out bucks right away because of their low, low price. Fortunately, I hadn't crossed the threshold with our credit cards before my husband, Rich, talked some sense into me: "Jane, why on earth spend money on chairs we'll probably only use once, then they'll end up cluttering our garage?"

Rich had a point. And my point is, sales supplements are meant to entice. But chucking those Sunday inserts without so much as a peek won't kill youand may even save you some cash. I've found that when I toss them, I don't incite buying fantasies and am better able to resist the impulse sales that eat away our income.

So fast from ad supplements for a week, and you'll improve your financial health.

Jane Johnson Struck

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