Posted in food, Grace, Growth, Healing, Health, Hope, Intentional Self, My Journey, Prayer, The Journey, Uncategorized, wellness

The Journey Continues…

With 2017 comes a renewed sense of hope and a journey to better health.  For several years now I’ve been doing more wellness things and have seen a great change in myself and my life. As I begin the new year I realize that the journey has really just begun. I didn’t get unhealthy overnight and I won’t get healthy overnight. So,  as my journey begins (or continues), I’m more hopeful than ever that it will bring lasting changes so I can live out the next 30-40+ years of my life healthy and whole!

I love food. I love to eat. I eat when I’m happy, sad, angry, frustrated, anxious… the list goes on! Last year I read through a book that was very powerful and helped me begin to look at food differently. The book is called Thin Within – A Grace-Oriented Approach to Lasting Weight Loss by Judy and Arthur Halliday. It is a grace-based approach to food and weight management. It does not involve diets or pills or quick fixes. It’s meant to change me from the inside out. Over the years I’ve lost weight and then found it again!  Obviously I did not get to the root of the issue as to why I eat. I have often prayed and asked God for help. This is a book full of tools and God’s Word to help me on my journey.

I mentioned above that I’ve already read this book. Yep, it was great and I was looking at things differently… until one day. I can’t even pinpoint that moment in time when I threw it all out the window. I think it happened gradually over time. So, as the new year begins, I’m committing to walk this journey again and would like to share it along the way with you! Perhaps you have food issues… or maybe you don’t. It’s still solid biblical ideas that help us to put food in it’s correct place.

As I read Chapter 1 this morning, here are the nuggets of truth that I came away with that are very encouraging to me at the start of my journey…

  • You will find yourself drawn closer to God, the lover of your soul and the designer of your body, the one who purchased your liberty. He longs for you to see His handiwork displayed in a most miraculous masterpiece – YOU. 

(Wow! I’m His most miraculous masterpiece… and so are you!)

  • God is crazy about us! God loves us exactly the way we are! 
  • God is able and willing to lead us to freedom from food and to the abundant life!
  • I want to “release” weight… not lose it. When you lose something you are always hoping to get it back!  (I don’t want it back!)
  • I am ready for my heart to be set free! 

There are some simple keys to conscious eating which include only eating when my body (not my heart) is truly hungry and stopping when I am satisfied… not full but satisfied. That is NOT the way I was raised and have lived most of my 53 years! Next is to eat in a calm environment and reduce distractions… like social media and TV. Eat when sitting down! Eat when my body and mind are relaxed… invite the Lord into the meal. Eat and drink things I enjoy… no guilt while listening to what my body craves. Pay attention to what I’m eating… eat slowly, actually enjoying the taste of the food I’m eating, and STOP before my body is FULL.

Sadly, these are counterintuitive to the way I was raised. We ate three times a day (and many snacks in between) whether we needed it our not. We ate at specific times each day. We ate everything on our plate because there were starving children in Ethiopia. As a teenager dealing with my parent’s divorce, I ate to heal a broken heart and never even paid attention to any sort of hunger.  I don’t think I was ever actually hungry. I lived to eat instead of eating to live. I also have strange ideas about what a meal must include. I grew up in a large family and learned to eat quickly in order to get seconds.  As a teacher, I also eat quickly to get on with the business of teaching! I have always eaten beyond the meal… food sitting on the table as we visit, putting it away and even as I prepped the meal. I’ve consumed WAY more food than my body has or ever will need!

I know that these keys to conscious eating are powerful and work… when I use them and make them a part of my day. So, here’s to round 2 of this grace-based way of thinking about food! I’m worth it and have a very grace-filled Papa on my side who has designed this plan for my benefit, to give me a future and a hope. (Jeremiah 29:11)

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It’s a new day and the sun is shinning!

And my windows are very dirty!

Posted in Circle of Life, Experiences, Gifts, Grace, Growth, Healing, Hope, Intentional Self, Lessons Learned, life happens..., love, My Journey, Prayer, Seasons, Standing in the Gap, Struggles, The Journey, Uncategorized

2016… What a Year!

2016… oh what a year! It’s one that will go down in history for so many reasons. I’ve managed to NOT let the stress of things of the world get me down.  I’ve felt sad about the losses of well-known people who have passed away… people I’ve grown up with. I’ve managed to keep my emotions out of the presidential election. All I can do is pray for the days to come. I have no control of the worldly events of the past year.

All I can really control is the events of my life… and even those are not always controllable.  I can think about the past year but can’t change a thing that has already happened.  The story is written and published.  All I can do it reflect on the words on each page, take what I can that will propel me positively into the new year and then close the book, placing it carefully on the shelf with the other 53 books.

2016 was a year. A year of hard work, new relationships, loss, struggle, new memories, career challenges, laughter, tears, loving, choosing to love, growth, new beginnings, dreams lost and dreams being realized…

There are some definite things I can take away from 2016. While I’d like to take away only the positive, I realize that it’s some of the tough things that will change me and motivate me in the coming year.

Here are my take-aways from 2016:

  • I have infinite worth! Enough said!
  • I am the only one that can determine how my day will unfold. It’s not the responsibility of my husband, friends or co-workers… it’s mine.  I choose my attitude towards the day.
  • If I don’t include God in my day things tend to go south. Unfortunately I’ve allowed this to happen one too many times.
  • Everyday is a gift – wrapped with a beautiful bow. I get to choose how I open it and what I do with it.  Some gifts can be large and fancy, while others might be little and seemingly unimportant. It’s up to me to look at each gift and cherish what it brings… not wishing and hoping for more or different. Gifts are all around us and sometimes we miss them. It’s the tiniest things that can bring the greatest joy!
  • Just when you think you’ve loved something so much and losing it will leave you empty forever… think again! Be bold and risk loving again!
  • Two kittens are better than one! Just saying!  sleeping-kittens-12-31-16

As we move into 2017, my prayer for everyone is that we will all believe in our infinite worth and value.  I pray our lives will reflect that.  For me that means taking better care of myself… believing that I’m worth investing in.  Even when that investment is difficult but necessary. I pray we all have others in our lives to share the journey. I pray that we can all do the two simple things that God asks of us… love God and love people. This feels more important than ever with the coming months and changes in our nation.

May 2017 bring abundant love, grace and passion in each of our lives. I leave you with this prayer.

“And now may the courage of early morning’s dawning,

And the strength of eternal hills at noontime,

And the peace of open spaces at evening’s ending,

And the love of God abide in your hearts now and forever.” Amen.

                 – Harry K. Zeller, from the BRETHREN HYMNAL

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Posted in Circle of Life, Gifts, Grace, Growth, Healing, Hope, Intentional Self, Lessons Learned, life happens..., Loss, My Journey, Prayer, Questions to Ponder, Seasons, Struggles, The Journey, Uncategorized

today, tomorrow & every day…

I recently received a very beautiful book from a friend.

today, tomorrow & every day                                                                                                                      THOUGHTS ON LIVING A BRAVE AND REAL AND GORGEOUS LIFE.                                                 Written by M.H. Clark and illustrated by Jill Labieniec.

Aside from the powerful content of the writing, the book itself is beautiful, filled with illustrations and photographs.  It is put together in the most amazing way visually.  I read the words on the pages and was brought to tears.  This book is speaking to the very place I am in my life and the direction I am heading.

I decided to share it with you… a little bit at a time accompanied by my personal reflections.  You will get to experience the words, but will have to envision the pictures as your heart and mind see them.

It starts like this…

One day she stepped back and took a look at her life.                                                                                        A long, close look. As though it were a city she loved and she was flying high above it,                         so high that she could see the whole thing. 

And she realized something:                                                                                                                                   She liked what she saw.                                                                                                                                           She liked where she had been.                                                                                                                                     She liked where she was going. 

When I read these first two pages, I paused and didn’t really want to turn the page.  These words were rich and powerful. I closed my eyes and imagined looking at my life.  I was overwhelmed. My mind went to more negative thoughts at first, but I was able to change my perspective. I “flew higher” and looked at the whole big picture. I was not completely sold on “liking” what I saw… thus the negative perspective. I realized that I have some work to do! I want to like what I see.  I want to like where I’ve been. And I really want to like where I’m going.

And so the journey began!  I didn’t realize until I opened the pages of this book that I am right here on this journey… at age 53, longing to live a brave and real and gorgeous life… today, tomorrow and every day.  I don’t want to wish away days until something better comes along or changes. I want to be real and courageous today!  I want to live out this life well.

As I unravel years and look closely at my life, I hope by the end I WILL like what I see, where I’ve been and where I’m going. This journey won’t be possible without Jesus, my family and amazing friends.  I have all of those and I’m blessed.

Come along on this journey with me and begin today by stepping back and taking a look at your life.  What do you see?  Do you like it?

Posted in Gifts, Grace, Growth, Humor, Intentional Self, Lessons Learned, life happens..., My Journey, Prayers, Questions to Ponder, Random Saturday, Seasons, Struggles, The Journey

Entering the Throne Room…

“In the morning, Lord, you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait expectantly.”    -Psalm 5:3

It’s so easy… yet so hard. I’m up early before leaving for work. I can’t just get up and go.  I need time to prepare for the day. I need coffee and quiet time. I’ve got all of the tools necessary. Quiet and comfortable location (several options), coffee, journal and favorite pen, bible (several) and time.

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GO!

Good morning, Lord…

Suddenly a million distractions come my way.

Oh wait! I need to find a good worship song (on my iPad!).

Now that scripture would be great to put on a photograph… and then I can put it on Instagram!

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Hmmm, I wonder if anyone has commented on the one I put on yesterday?  I’ll just check real quick…

Oh ya, my bible plan… back to business. 

Lord, thank you for this new day. Please give me strength to get through this day and…

Wait! What time is it?  Shoot, I need to be in the shower in 5 minutes! 

I wonder if anyone commented on the photo album I put on FB last night?  I’ll just do a quick check before jumping in the shower!

And that it how it plays out more mornings than I care to admit.  To quote a great movie, “Squirrel!” 

Some mornings are much better and my time is spent indulging in the sacredness of my Heavenly Papa.

While I’m confessing my innate ability to botch my morning quiet time with Jesus, some mornings don’t have any quiet time at all, although that is rare. I’ve tried to exercise first thing and that has been a disaster! I’ll save that for later in the day… if I get to it!  Oh my, that is another blog for another day!

The other evening I was reading Abba’s Child  by Brennan Manning. In the summer of 1992 he spent time alone in a cabin in the Colorado Rockies without TV, radio or any reading material. After reading about his experience I began to ponder what that would be like.  Time alone with God with nothing else. No distractions but our own demons that keep us from that sweet time with the Lord. How long would it take before I could truly “be still and know”? (Psalm 46:10)

I wonder what I’m missing by letting the things of the world get in my way? What sacred indulgence does God have for me that I’ve missed because I’m too busy getting my sanctuary ready to be with Him?

What am I afraid of? Why is it difficult to go to the throne room without my coffee and journal and bible (AKA my iPad full of distractions)…?

Lord,   Show me how to simply come before You and be in Your presence… uninterrupted so that I may partake of Your sacred indulgences awaiting me.   In Jesus’ name… let it be done, let it be so…

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Posted in Growth, Healing, Hope, Intentional Self, My Journey

Journey to Find Me…

For one year now I’ve been on a journey with a life-coach. Every three weeks we speak on the phone for 30 minutes.  During that time we recap the previous three-week period and set some goals for the coming weeks.

Coaching is different from counseling.  We don’t spend time hashing out all of my past and dirty laundry.  We speak in the here and now with the goal of moving forward and growing.

At the beginning of this journey I was tasked with creating a vision/mission/purpose for my life… something I’ve never done.  It was challenging.  I’ve spent my entire life putting others first, never really thinking about what I wanted.  Now it was time I became my number one priority.

My Vision/Purpose:
My life is a good/healthy balance between giving myself to others and taking time for me.
Giving myself to others encompasses my job/career (even doing work in the summer), personal time spent taking care of the people in my life (family, friends) and saying yes to things people ask of me.
Taking time for me encompasses doing things that nurture my passion, creativity and soul, and that are good for me.
Both of these involve surrounding myself with healthy people and being able to reach out and ask for help if needed.

The journey has been very positive and also challenging at the same time.  Some conversations were easy to have and encouraging.  Others, difficult and seemed to last forever.  Occasionally I’d start out almost dreading our time and hang up refreshed and encouraged; ready to tackle a new day!

My coach is real and honest – something I really appreciate, even in the difficult conversations.  She challenges me on many levels – spiritual, personal, emotional, relational and physical.  She does not mince words or sugar-coat.  She speaks with truth and asks hard questions, while at the same time encouraging and affirming the work I am doing.  She challenges me with spiritual tasks as well as everyday practical tasks.  She helps me balance the areas of my life that are unevenly weighted.  We both pray before our sessions and God always shows up.

Mid-way through this past year, I did an analysis of “My Intentional Self.”  I listed what was successful and what still needed time and work.  To my surprise, I was far more successful than I thought I’d been with nurturing and growing my intentional self… ME!  When I shared those things that I felt were in-progress, she gave me suggestions on how to carry on and see change.  She gave me hope along the journey.

Winter into spring brought challenges that seemed daunting.  She helped me see God in them and gave me hope and tools to press through them.

At that point I really couldn’t see the forest for the trees.  The sessions seems to be getting harder.  One night in March, I was feeling very flat and it seemed that I was falling into a hole of isolation. During our conversation she stopped and said with conviction,

“You are strong – really really strong!”

I was stopped in my tracks and totally taken aback.  I am?  Really?
I had moved so far into feeling tired and discouraged that I was missing monumental changes surfacing in me and my life.  What a gift to receive on that cold March evening, for it was that strength and encouragement I needed to get through the last three months of school.  For in those months, I operated more in keeping my head above water and surviving.  I was extremely tired and that made for a more difficult journey.

So, here I am a year later.  As I look back over the past year I am encouraged.  I’m different.  I’m stronger.  I look at my life through a different lens than I had 12 months prior.  A better, stronger, more positive lens.  It’s one that says I matter… I’m worth it… I’m valued.  It’s one that says “I can do this – no matter what difficulties are thrown my way.”  I am stronger even though I’m exhausted and ready for a summer break to rest and rejuvenate.

I’m once again brought back to my vision and purpose.  I’m not going to just survive… I’m going to thrive!  My summer is filled with things I WANT to do, not just need to do.  I’m taking ownership of what I value in my life, not what I think I should do or what I think people expect of me.  At our session last night I set a reasonable goal for the next three weeks and I’m off!  In the meantime, I’m going to take a nap… because it’s what I want to do!

Having someone to coach and guide and be that outside perspective is powerful.  I have an accountability that pushes me, but is filled with grace.  I wish for everyone to have that someone in their lives that can take them on a journey to find their purpose and live intentionally… one day at a time.