Brain Byte: Put Your Smartphone Down and Look Around

Photo Credit: Meme Binge on Flickr

Photo Credit: Meme Binge on Flickr

My husband has not worn a watch in the 30 years that I have known him, yet he can tell you the time within minutes. He seems to have an innate sense of time. He can also drive me almost anywhere within our state without using a GPS. In fact, he says, “Turn that thing off!” If I enlist the help of the friendly Navigator App on my smartphone. He has a keen picture in his mind of where he is going; keeps his sense of direction and navigates more by his internal compass than actual road names. He knows if he goes about 20 miles east, 4 miles south, takes a turn west at the destination road, that he will soon arrive where he set out to be.

He is also aware of the environment around him: he watches the clouds, feels the air, and smells a storm a mile away. According to the “world’s smartest person” Marilyn Vos Savant in her book, Brain Building in Just 12 Weeks, my husband is doing the work of a genius.

Ms. Vos Savant suggests in Brain Builders #44 that we stop wearing a watch or looking at a clock for one week and instead start tuning into time. She points to the fact that animals have body clocks and so do humans. However, we are losing touch with our natural rhythms of time due to the reliance of technology and not using our brain as our time tool. Think about the migration of birds and the movement of certain fish, like salmon returning to the same spawning hole each year at the same time.

Think about what you are thinking about or NOT thinking about.  How much are you relying on technology?  How much of the time are you relying on your own built in senses and bio-computer?  The more you do the later, the smarter and more equipped you become to respond to your changing environment.  I am afraid it is true: “Smartphones are making us dumb.”

My Brain Byte challenge to you this week: Put down the Smartphone and look around! Now go out there and get smarter.


Wood, Stone, and Fire: Beauty, Brawn, and Blazes – Reflections of Worship

“Then have them make a sanctuary for me, and I will dwell among them. Make this tabernacle and all its furnishings exactly like the pattern I will show you.” Exodus 25:8-9

As we study Exodus chapter 25 through 30, we see that God is the Master Planner. In this case, God gives Israel the exact specifications to build the Temple where He will “dwell” among his people  The incredible part of this documentation is that it took place 2000 years prior to the birth of Jesus and each element and requirement laid forth by God, points perfectly to His ultimate sacrifice.  Whether you believe, or not, that Jesus truly lived and died for you – will you read Exodus 25-30 along with 1 Chronicles 21:24; Romans 12:1; 2 Corinthians 8:2; Matthew 1:23; John 1:14; Ephesians 2:19-22.  This reading could change your life. Forever.

The Tabernacle prepared for God’s presence. He provided the stone, the fire, the wood, and the precious gems to make this Tabernacle beautiful and worthy of His presence among his people.

Fireplace 2014

I am so thankful today for the joy I have gazing at the beauty of God’s creation.

I have an unusual love for stones [BEAUTY]. I delight in the colors, shapes, and original designs of nearly every stone I spy. It is a common sight to see me stopping on a walk to bend down and collect yet another rock from the dirt path.

God is the Master Planner and the Master Provider of all the materials and the skilled craftsman of the original Temple.  As I consider this,  I am especially grateful at the place I find myself worshipping God in my home. Here at the foot of my beautifully crafted split stone wall; the work [BRAWN] of my skilled and artistic brother-in-law; and near the warm wood fire, installed by the hardworking hands of my husband, who also laid the slate hearth and chops the wood for us. This place combines many things that are precious to me.  It is a reminder of God’s Master Design in Creation (stone, wood, fire) and God’s provision of family, love, and the warmth of fire [BLAZES].  As we seek Him and worship Him we know that He will show us the perfect plan for our day and give us wisdom (Daniel 2:21, James 1:5) for decisions that affect our future.

And your fame spread among the nations on account of your beauty, because the splendor I had given you made your beauty perfect, declares the Sovereign LORD. Ezekiel 16:14 NIV [BEAUTY]

The LORD is their strength, and he is the saving strength of his anointed. Psalm 28:8 KJV [BRAWN]

Your word is a lamp to guide my feet and a light for my path. Psalm 119:105 NLT [BLAZES]

Wise Wednesday Brain Byte: Non-Conscious Mind

Research shows that 90 percent of what takes place in your mind is metacognitive, or at your sub-conscious level.  This leaves only ten percent of conscious activity of the mind.

 brain scan

According to Neuroscientist, Dr. Caroline Leaf, the non-conscious metacognitive level is where your unique metacognitive mix comes in, giving your individuality.  This is where memory building and all its electrochemical and electomagnetic reactions actually occur.

Dr. Leaf goes on to say, “your individuality implies and carries with it the taking of responsibility for your actions; you must consciously force the metacognitive and cognitive levels to interact.  You can do this by consciously thinking about what is in your mind which allows you literally to access the psychosomatic (body-mind) network where the memories are stored and redirect it.

She gives an example of detoxing your old, negative memories by recalling them and then creating a new positive thought pattern (memories) ‘over’ the old. This is Detox Step #4 – Take Responsibility and Take Control – in her book Who Switched Off My Brain.

In other words, think of an unhealthy habit: this brings it to your conscious mind.  Next, think upon a new and WISER choice; take action based on what you believe to be right, using God’s Word as your guide. What does God say about this unhealthy habit and what thinking should replace it?  You may need the help of a trained Counselor, prayer partner, Pastor, or trustworthy friend – all depending on the depth and destruction of the negative thought pattern.

“As for you, my son Solomon, know the God of your father, and serve Him with a loyal heart and with a willing mind; for the LORD searches all hearts and understands all the intent of the thoughts. If you seek Him, He will be found by you; but if you forsake Him, He will cast you off forever. (‭I Chronicles‬ ‭28‬:‭9‬ NKJV)


Crazy Calendar? Lysa TerKeurst to the Rescue!

Lysa's Best Yes Webcast Party Image

When your calendar is so full there is absolutely no white space to squeeze in an unexpected friend in crisis or your husband coming home early……”Houston, we have a problem!”

Unrush me Lord……

Do you live with the stress of an overwhelmed schedule and ache with the sadness of an underwhelmed soul? Are there times you dread saying yes but feel powerless to say no? You are not alone!

Hey friend, are you with in driving distance of  Mid-Michigan? If so, I would love to have you join me at my home church August 12th for a viewing party of the live webcast for New York Times best-selling author Lysa TerKeurst’s upcoming book The Best Yes.  {The event is free but you must RSVP. Details below}

Lysa is learning that there is a big difference between saying yes to everyone and saying yes to God. That is why she wrote this latest book. Join us for The Best Yes Webcast Viewing Party as together we learn to live the unrushed life, making wise decisions in the midst of endless demands. {Check out more}


(1) To view at your home or with your girlfriends online; visit Lysa’s website and click to register at the top of the page


(2) The Best Yes Webcast Viewing Party at Northpointe Community Church

505 E. Webb Drive, DeWitt, MI (Just north of Lansing)

Tuesday, August 12th. Doors open at 5:45 pm.

Live one-hour webcast begins at 6:15 pm

Door Prizes         Light Refreshments        Coffee and Chocolate              

Live Webcast    Details on The Best Yes Bible study coming soon


To RSVP email Amy at Please put “The Best Yes” in the subject line.

Wise-up Wednesday: Spatial Intelligence

colorful brain clipartIntelligence varies by both scale and type.  Howard Gardner, a psychologist and professor at Harvard University, developed his theory of multiple intelligences, which describes different kinds of identifiable intelligence.  In addition to verbal or linguistic intelligence, another measure is visual or spatial intelligence, which is the ability to visualize dimensions in space, arrange objects and develop images internally.

Brain Location:

Right hemisphere


Careers that require strong spatial intelligence:

Sculptors, airline pilots, architects, theoretical physicists


What it’s good for

The spatial domain performs the primary operations of correct perception of objects and the ability to transform and rotate objects in the mind. Pablo Picasso dramatically displayed his spatial abilities in his art forms.  At its most basic level, spatial ability is the ability to move from one location to another and return to start.  People who are really gifted seem to possess an internal GPS system that tells them precisely where they are in the world at all times.  Those who are weak at spatial intelligence may be dubbed “lost”. 🙂


Rx for improvement

Look for puzzles that ask you to envision how a piece of paper with patterns on it will look when folded to form a box.

Wise-up Wednesday: Food as Medicine


“Let food be thy medicine, and medicine be thy food.” – Hippocrates

Unlike in Hippocrates’ day,  in today’s world the food’s nutrients are severely reduced, and sometimes depleted, before harvest because the ground is overworked and undernourished itself.  In addition, more nutrients are lost during processing and the removal of the protective coatings that prevent spoiling.

The general rule given by today’s nutritionists and holistic doctors is to stick with whole and organic foods in as much as possible.  There are good supplements on the market today if you are depleted or unable to get what you need through natural sources. As always, you should consult your physician for your specific needs.

Wise-up Wednesday: Why Should I Mind Map 2014 Goals?

Base Goal Map

Base Goal Map

About half of the adult population makes some type of new year’s resolution.  And according to statistics, less than ten percent of those resolutions are maintained.

Change is hard.  Change requires motivation. Change requires setting aspiring goals.

In this post by Michael Hyatt,, he gives compelling reasons to have a visual representation of your goals.  Number two is that it will motivate you to take action.  My top learning style is visual, so I know the power of seeing my thoughts on paper to tap into this brain-eye coordination.

There are several reasons your brain is more likely to engage in success when you write out your goals in Mind Map style:

Adding Details

Adding Details

1)  You create one more review when you write out your thoughts (5 reviews = long term memory)

2)  Color = WAKES up your brain

3)  Colors help your brain associate data for order, focus, and future recall

4) Only KEY words are included, therefore it is fast and effective to review and engage

5) A picture is worth a thousand words

6) Maps are flexible. Quickly add detail as it comes to you mind: now or later.

I have included a simple base map with the four main life dimensions, plus some areas of inspiration to me: Travel and Purchases.  As I progress I will add sub topics to Purchases: Investments; Needs; Desires.

Additional Base Goal Maps:

  • Main Life Relationships/Roles [Spouse; Parent; Son or Daughter; Friend; Community Member; Employer or Employer; Committee Member]
  • Project Goal Map [list all current and projected projects like home remodeling or business expansion plans]
  • Travel
  • Career
  • Parenting/Family Goals
  • Make individual Mind Maps for each life dimension [Physical; Social/Emotional; Spiritual; Mental]
  • Family Goal Map – ask each family member his/her goals for the year in each life dimension.  Ask for two main accomplishments in 2014 [family ski trip to Colorado or ‘build my own computer’ or ‘get all A’s in school]

If you have been one of the statistics who have fallen off the goal-setting map or have started-stopped-started again-etc. Perhaps you will try this new method.  I cannot guarantee 100 percent success-that is up to your inspiration and perspiration, however, I can guarantee that most of you will have more fun creating your goals than you ever have before.  Research shows that when we have fun we create positive emotional association to an event, which makes us more likely to want to return.

My wish for you in 2014 is that you will be filled with Peace, Power, Patience, and Prosperity

so that you may overflow with Love and Grace.

Happy New Year!

Wise-up Wednesday: Barriers to Creativity

Most of us long to be more creative.  And most of us have no idea what is holding us back from being more creative! Today we will address a few common creativity barriers.

Robert Epstein (1996) insists that no idea is new.  Well, even that idea is old since King Solomon said it thousands of years ago [Eccl 1:9]!  Epstein goes on to say all ideas build on previous knowledge.  He believes (as I do) that everyone can be creative and has outlined 4 reasons for most of our blocked creativity:

1)  Lack of method or habit for capturing creative ideas when they occur

2)  Reticence about taking on challenging, creative tasks that seem impossible or overwhelming

3)  Failure to learn any significantly new subject matter

4)  Living and working in environments that do not inspire

If you have been reading these posts for a while you may be making some correlations to ways of overcoming these obstacles.  But no worries if you have not kept up, next Wednesday we’ll take a look at these barriers and some possible solutions to get the creative juices flowing.

Shouldn’t it Truly Be Red Friday?

November 2013 055

Black Friday in the USA is a day that many Americans go with little to no sleep in the name of ‘getting the deal’.

My husband brought home the newspaper on the eve of Black Friday.  As a matter of perspective, the usual day’s newspaper has about 4 sections, is about one half inch thick and weighs a few ounces. However, on the day before BLACK Friday: the paper is about one  foot tall and about 5 pounds, okay this may be a slight exaggeration, but the contrast is not.  The advertisements outnumbered the news by 100 to 1, perhaps 1000 to 1.  So why is the day called Black Friday when the majority of participants are going from already “red” bank accounts to profusely bleeding?

Theoretically it is a day for retailers to turn from financial losses to gains. Put in accounting terms it is turning from red ink to black in their financial ledgers, and well, by the looks of things they will.  I mean with the advent of opening their businesses on Thanksgiving day for those sad customers who do not already have enough to be thankful for– to go out and gather more things to get their gratitude juices flowing.

I just wonder what happens when the reality hits though, when the bills come due for all those things we thought we really needed, but are now already consumed or sitting on the storage room shelf because we didn’t really need it but couldn’t pass up the “deal.”

Surely there are major days of Cognitive Dissonance taking place in the USA and no one is calling attention to it. Where are all the reporters?  Are they so depressed because of their own poor choices on Black Friday or Turkey-Stuffed-Thursday that they are not getting the “Rest of the Story”?  I mean those ads are BEAUTIFUL, they catch the eye of even the most determined fiscally-fit person.  They call to you while you are sitting around with the family making small talk.  They say, “open me!” and when you do:  all of the sudden you start ‘needing’ things you didn’t even know existed before you opened the ad!  You think, well, that is such a good deal, ‘perhaps I’ll just go for this one item.’ AHA!  They have you: because of course now you will see all sorts of other “great deals” and you will have a list to your elbows in a matter of minutes; and you decide you have about 5 stops to make; and then of course you will be thinking of setting your alarm to get up before dawn, or maybe even deciding you may as well just stay up and go at midnight and get there before the goods are gone.

Let’s see, Christmas is 3 weeks from now.  Last I remember it began as a day to celebrate the general birth of Christ (since no one is certain of the exact day) and well intended persons, like Saint Nick, decided it would be fun to bless others on this significant day to give gifts Yes, Christmas used to be a day that we looked forward to GIVING.  But now we have BLACK Friday, a day to look forward to GETTING.  And getting, and getting and getting and perhaps we might find a few things to give, but since the deals are so good we have more money to “GET” more.  You get the idea.

I have so much to write on this matter because I have been caught on both sides of the issue:  I am a fiscal conservative who has been lured out on Black Friday in the name of buying Christmas gifts, only to come home with more things for me than others. [However I note: I am still holding firm to stay home on Thanksgiving in hopes the retailers will concede and give their employees the day off to celebrate in gratitude with their family and friends].

Driving home from Grandmas on Black Friday Eve, we did a cost-benefit analysis for the one family member who thinks he “needs” to go shopping on this wondrous advertisers day.  Those listening to his responses as to ‘why’ he wanted the proposed new item, were quick to glean that truly the item was a desired luxury and not even close to being a need!  His current product was doing all, and more, of what he currently needed.  So we hope that he awakes this morning understanding that the cost of the desired item is more than its projected benefit.  Otherwise, mom may be in trouble! As I am the one who promised to take him shopping and I know full well the temptations that are in store for me if I do go.  And if Dad goes, I will be equally concerned.  You see the things I gather are smaller and usually less expensive than the male decision makers in our household.  And by the way, did I mention we are on a spending FREEZE for the time being to remain in the “black”.  Oh my.

Are you one who can relate more to the Red Friday than the Black?

When will it end?

It truly is up to you and to me.

Today I am grateful for so many things, including you, my reader, for being on this journey with me. I would love to hear your take on this thing we call Black Friday. Thank you! 

May you end your day in the “black” :-).

“Don’t store up treasures here on earth, where moths eat them and rust destroys them, and where thieves break in and steal. Store your treasures in heaven, where moths and rust cannot destroy, and thieves do not break in and steal. Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be.” Matthew 6:19-21


When I was a little girl, girls told secrets. “Don’t tell Debbie.”  And Debbie would say, “Don’t tell Renee!”  Oh the dilemma, both girls were my friends and I knew the very fact that I knew something that I did not share with one of my friends would cause hurt feelings to the one in the dark.  I felt like a betrayer no matter what I chose to do because if I did not tell I was hurting the one, if I did tell I was betraying the other.  Secrets have a way of becoming a messy, tangled mess among friends.

Do you ever feel that way?  Do you have knowledge that would help someone but for some reason there is something keeping you from sharing what you know?  How does it make you feel?  What is holding you back from sharing?  If you do share the information, what are the consequences: positive and negative?

Life is a series of choices.  Like the hallway in this picture, there are several pathways you could take, but if you take the wrong path you may end up lost or in a place you did not want to be.  The best approach is to have a map of the halls before you begin your journey that way you can make informed decisions on your turns.  The same is true with the choice of what you communicate.  It is important to have discernment when it comes to sharing or withholding important information.

A gossip goes around telling secrets, so don’t hang around with chatterers. Proverbs 20:19 NLT

Whoever goes about slandering reveals secrets, but he who is trustworthy in spirit keeps a thing covered. Proverbs 11:13 ESV

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