Are They Here Yet?

"They went on their way, and the star they had seen in the east went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was." — Matthew 2:9

Read: Matthew 9

This week, many of you will arrive at the home of family and friends to celebrate Christmas. Do you have "going home" traditions? We do too. One tradition my parents actually started during my college years was hanging a "Welcome Home, Jimmy!" sign at the house. When I got married, they added "& Loretta". But if you happened to read yesterday's post, you know by now that my parents are coming to our home for Christmas for the first time; our turn to hold up the sign.

Beyond a doubt right now, celebration plans are almost ready in homes such as yours and of those you love. All the decorations have been hung, everyone's favorite dishes are being prepared and front room curtains are being impatiently pulled back to see if "they're here yet."

You know, I've often wondered if the star in the east was as much God's way to honor His son, as it was our way to find Him. Even though Jesus' time on earth was short, God knew how He'd be rejected, and of the cross that awaited him. So perhaps it was God's way to say, "I love you, Son" and in doing so said to us, "Here He is."

He loves us that much. And if we look forward to seeing loved ones, how much more does He? Because you see, someday God will send for us. And I like to think that after spreading the table for the great celebration and hanging the welcome-home banner across the door, the angels will pull back the curtain, peeking to see...are they here yet?

--Jimmy Peña

PRAYFIT NUTRITION: PREP FOR THE FEAST Knowing what to do before the first course is served can keep you from overindulging

A few people on our boards have expressed concern at the nutritional temptation that comes along with holidays like Christmas. After all, no one wants to completely erase the hard work they've been putting in at the gym, or to slide deeper into a quagmire of bad health. Here are four simple steps you can take to ensure that your feast is truly "fit" for a King.

1 Exercise early Before people start dishing up the ham, eggs and roast beast (thank you, Dr. Seuss), you can minimize the damage of the caloric tsunami by grabbing a quick workout. One of the best ways to do that is to sneak in a power workout. This will create a caloric deficit and a great window for muscle repair. This way, most of the calories to come are used to your benefit. Since travel time is usually a concern today, we suggest a quick bodyweight workout and a high-intensity interval cardio session. Try doing one round of bodyweight squats, push-ups and sit-ups, doing each exercise to failure (the point at which you can no longer complete any more reps). Then, immediately head into your interval workout, sprinting 20 seconds and walking or jogging for a minute, for a total of 10-15 minutes -- after a 1-2 minute speed walk. (Or try our new DVD).

2 Fill up on fiber & protein There's a lot to be said for satiety during the holidays. It can literally make or break you before the big get-together. Before the family meal, try filling up on high-fiber, calorie-friendly fruits and veggies and take in 20-40 grams of protein from a high-quality source like turkey breast or a whey protein shake. This will keep you fuller longer, helping you to avoid a second -- or third or fourth -- trip back to the dessert table.

3 Hydrate Drinking water -- lots of it -- will help you get a head start on leveling out your sodium levels. Most holiday food -- from the glazed ham to the turkey gravy -- are loaded with sodium. This can force you to retain water and add pounds to the scale that will cause alarm with some people. Strangely, one of the best ways to avoid water retention from sodium is to drink water. Try to get about 1/3 to 1/2 of your bodyweight in ounces per day to keep your body in balance.