While writing the recent book, “The Front 9, Making Your Shots Count,” a concept taught to me by my mother my entire life was validated! We have all been told, “Don’t judge a book by its cover!” While I know this is great advice….I recently was told by someone who has written over three hundred books and published thousands that IF the cover isn’t “attractive,” people won’t pick it up!

My mother was always stressing first impressions. As I have gone through the process of writing and now publishing a book, and editing a second book, I have learned so much by “stepping up” and “stepping out”. Some lessons have been brand new to me. Some were taught to me by my parents but have been renewed and retaught to me in the Back 9. I’d like to share with you today one of the many lessons I’ve learned: balance and taking care of yourself.

Valuing yourself is vitally important. There is only one you! And while none of us want to be judged solely on a first look or a first meeting (we all have bad days), we cannot discount that “first impressions” matter. How we present ourselves opens or shuts doors. We only have one life and we have been given only one body, what the Bible calls our “temple”. It is our personal job to take care of ourselves and, when we choose to do this not only does our ability to make positive first impressions improve but it improves our second and third impressions as well.

If you stop and think about it, not taking care of yourself can be a very selfish thing to do. Taking the stance that you don’t need to think of yourself but need to think and take care of others and always putting yourself on the back burner can be a dangerous and detrimental approach to life. God’s desire is never for us to be self-absorbed but His desire is for us to value our bodies and take care of ourselves.

Just stop and think about this….if we don’t take care of ourselves, we cannot take care of others. If we let ourselves go and get run down, at the expense of others, then we will have to be taken care of by someone else eventually.

Balance is key. Guarding against going overboard in either direction is key as well.

There is a danger that I fell into in my late 20’s….. related to working out. Exercising became an obsession…I ran for miles….and felt guilty when I didn’t run a certain distance every week or teach a certain number of exercise classes….Satan can tie you up and deceive you, especially when you think you are doing something good. This same principle holds true with regard to letting yourself go…. ignoring your own personal health…while taking care of others–children, spouse, aging parents, friends–you fill in the blank! Satan can take guilt and spin it a hundred different ways.

I find in the Back 9 it is a good thing to take a step back and examine the BALANCE in your life often. Realize that guilt is never from God, only conviction! Taking a look in your personal mirror and at your personal calendar is never a bad thing. Learning when to say “yes” and when to say “no” is a very healthy thing. I now recommend, and have learned the hard way, to “filter” everything through the hands of God through prayer. Offering to Him all things and allowing Him to direct my path. It has taken some attention, discipline and allotted time, but it is one of the most valuable things I adopted in my late 40’s. Something I wish I had done in my 20’s. That is why I have chosen to write about it….IF I can help one person, it will be worth it!

Busy is a good thing….idle is not. Proverbs 18:9, “Whoever is slack in his work is a brother to him who destroys.” But balance is the best thing….Balance in how you spend your time can bring about fruit in your spiritual life, your appearance and your health, both physically and emotionally. When this happens… not only will your first impression improve but your life will take a turn for the better not just in looks but in attitude, self-respect, and your ability to help others INCREASES. I see it every day, especially since our kids are all in their twenties now…..I have more time to take care of myself…and more time to reflect…..on a mistake I made when they were little. I see more clearly now that I needed just a little more time for myself and needed to spend more time seeking a healthy balance and appropriate priorities….even if that meant they had to sacrifice something.

Idols come in all shapes and sizes. They don’t have to be inanimate objects. Idols can take the shape of seeking the praise and approval of man–saying yes to every committee and volunteer position. Idols can look a lot like over-indulgence of exercise (like me in my 20’s); or allowing yourself to become the dumping ground for someone else’s problems. Maybe your idol is that of being “super mom”. The mothering capsule that bursts inside of you when you have kids can be so powerful, consuming and captivating that it clouds and distorts …..the balance…..that God has designed for your life.

If you are a young mother and you are reading this….it is going to take some honesty and self-reflection to look hard at this and…..make the time to take care of yourself. Wearing a “cape” and being “super mom” can be exhilarating for a while, but it can put you in a “dark hole” where it is hard to see…..that you are running on fumes…what I like to call “you are a frog in a boiling pot of water” and you don’t realize you are “boiling!”

There are some simple but powerful steps to take…

  • the first being getting still and quiet before God. Psalm 46:10, “Be still and know that I am God.”
  • Seeking God and asking Him to show you areas that are out of balance. He won’t play hide and seek with you and make you guess. He will show you!
  • You have heard it said, especially about dieting and exercise, you need willpower, determination and discipline…..step back and understand that God is the source…Zechariah 4:6, “Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit says the Lord of hosts.” God is the source and will give you the strength to say yes and to say NO… all things.
  • WE have to turn and look to HIM. God wants us to include Him in on everything not just some things….John 15:5, “Apart from Me you can do nothing.”

Back 9 Ministries was founded on the scripture in Proverbs 4:23, “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.” Taking the time to apply this simple and short scripture to your life is a key in allowing God to be first and foremost in your heart and life…..and the priorities and balance He has for your life. When you “drop your hands” and allow a HOLY GOD to be the LEADER, SOURCE and DIRECTOR of your life…. not only will there be BALANCE….BUT…there will be Great fruit from a FIRST IMPRESSION and all other impressions….

God does amazing things when we give Him our focus, our first fruits, and complete control of ourselves…..He can take our HEARTS…and transform our lives into…Hearts…that attract others but also attracts our own Self-worth and how we see ourselves. Don’t be deceived by the “whispers of the enemy when your life is out of balance!” Make a course correction… getting still and quiet before God and ask Him to show you how to “GUARD YOUR HEART.” I can honestly say when you do this….HE WILL show you how… willing to LISTEN and OBEY.

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