Expectations · Experiences · Grace · Hope · Intentional Self · love · My Journey · Prayer · Seasons · Struggles · The Journey · The New Year · Uncategorized

2018… A New Year

Last day of 2017.

I’d be lying if I said I’m sad to see this year end and a new year begin.

I know it’s just a day on a calendar but there is something about anticipating a fresh start… a do-over of sorts.

I don’t want to dwell on 2017… in less than 16 hours it’s over! Bye bye!

This morning I’m up early reflecting on the past year… things that happened and did not happen. I made health and fitness “resolutions” last year and… well,  here is sit older and in worse physical shape than I’ve ever been. Hmmmm….

I made a resolution to”be closer to God” yet I spent most of the year staying away from church and keeping God at a  stones throw. Thankfully that has been restored… and rekindled.

So, in 2018, I’m resolving to not make resolutions… you know that list you make. The list that is full of things that are all about being a better person… usually on the outside. I’ve got journals full of them! If I lined them up they would probably all look the same!

2018… it’s weird to say and hard to believe. 18 years into the 21st century. 55 years after the year I was born. What does it bring?

2018 promises this…

365 days

52.18 weeks

8,765.82 hours

535,949.2 minutes

31,556952 seconds

What we do with that time is up to us. What will we fill our days, weeks, hours, minutes and seconds  with?

Here’s what I hope to fill my time with…

Love more… judge less

            Listen more… talk less

               Pray more… grumble less

                   Move more… eat less

                        Sleep more… worry less

                              Serve more…sit less

                                  Play more… strive less

                                      Connect more… hide less

                                           Encourage more… complain less

                                                 Live more… enjoy the moment… 

                                                      Love who I am and where I am right now. 

I’ll leave you with a few words to encourage as we embark on 2018.  It’s like getting a brand new journal – never been written in!  Ready for a new story!

“So, let’s take heart, keep on, fight the good fight, pray continuously, and do not grow weary.  There is nothing better than giving up everything and stepping into a passionate love relationship with God, the God of the universe who made galaxies, leaves, laughter, and me and you.”                              -Francis Chan

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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Advent · Christmas · Expectations · Gifts · Healing · Hope · love · Seasons · Struggles · The Journey · Uncategorized

Expectations…

Expectations. We all have them.  We all have them imposed upon us.

Webster says that an expectation is a strong belief that something will happen or be the case in the future. Yep… my life has been full of expectations.

My biggest expectations come around the holidays. I tend to have a little Norman Rockwell in me and I imagine perfect family gatherings… like the ones you see on TV commercials and in the movies. Fabulous food (all hot at the same time!) around a beautifully set table (that fits everyone) and conversation that is bright and cheery, reminiscing days gone by.

Like I said… expectations… and this does not happen in my world.

Nine times out of ten I’m disappointed when all is said and done, along with exhausted from trying to make it happen.

My rose colored glasses have gotten in the way of expectations in marriage. In gaining a family after getting married.

Christmas is the most difficult for unmet expectations.  Every year I say I’m not going to get my hopes up and every year I have feelings of disappointment. I imagined starting some Christmas traditions which never materialized.  Some of the expectations I have are not worth sharing, as they are a bit shallow. They have actually been an expectation since I was a child and they have wandered their way into my adult life. Every year I promise myself I won’t let them get me down.

As I read Ann Voskamp’s The Greatest Gift one morning recently, I came across these words…

                         Expectations can come steal the gifts. 

I’ve come to realize that I set an agenda for God each Christmas. Ann Voskamp says that when we have an agenda for God, we can’t see the gifts from Him. I am missing out on so much because I have MY idea of what I want to happen. As I’ve pondered this truth this past week, I’m praying that I can finally shake my years of expectations and settle in to all that God has in store for me and for my family. This year I’m open to receive His gifts and leave my expectations at the door. Oh the anticipation!

I am more sinful and flawed than I ever dared believe, more loved and welcomed than I ever dared hope.                             -Elyse M. Fitzpatrick

 

Advent · Gifts · Grace · Hope · love · My Journey · Quiet Pleasures · Random Saturday · Seasons · The Journey · Uncategorized

The Anticipation of Advent…

For a second you catch a whiff in the air of some fragrance that reminds you of a place you’ve never been and a time you have no words for. You are aware of the beating of your heart. The extraordinary thing that is about to happen is matched only by the extraordinary moment just before it happens. Advent is the name of that moment. (Frederick Buechner)

As I child, I couldn’t wait for the toy catalog to come in the mail! It was big and the pages were shiny and filled with toys! We would sit for hours pouring over the pages and marking things we wanted. If there would have been brightly colored sticky notes back in the day it would have looked like a flower with all of the colorful petals sticking out of the sides!

Oh how we dreamed of the coming days of fun…more fun than we could ever imagine.  If only we could have all of the things we dreamed of. This  went on for weeks and we would leave the catalog out in obvious places for mom and dad to see.  We mentioned them in conversations around the dinner table, in our Santa letters and to Santa himself when we sat on his lap. The anticipation of Christmas morning and getting something from those magical pages… there was nothing else like it!

This year, the beginning of Advent reminds me of this. I’m beginning 25 days of reading through my favorite book by Ann Voskamp called The Greatest Gift – Unwrapping the Full Love Story of Christmas. This will be my 5th Advent reading through it and I have more anticipation and excitement than ever before. I’ve let the negativity of the world and all that is happening right now get me down. I’ve let social media wear down my soul as I’ve spent countless hours reading and seeing all that others have that I don’t and all of the negative things that are making people feel anxious and angry. I’ve spent hours and hours looking out and not allowing God in.

So, today I’m giving myself a gift.  The gift of Advent. Do you need to give yourself this gift as well?

So now we pause.  Still.  Ponder.  Hush.  Wait.  Each day of Advent, He gives you the gift of time, so you have the time to be still and wait.  

                                                                                                     (A. Voskamp, The Greatest Gift) 

Battles · Death · Experiences · Grace · Healing · Hope · life happens... · Loss · love · My Journey · Prayer · Seasons · Standing in the Gap · Struggles · The Journey · Uncategorized

The Battle Belongs to Him…

Life feels hard right now. Nationwide, people are angry. People are afraid. People are confused. The next four years feel very unsettled. Social media has exploded with all of these feelings and emotions pouring out everyday. I’ve tried hard not to let myself get too caught up in emotion.

Then there is the next layer of heartache.

For some life is hard right now because of very personal battles they are fighting. Their own battles or battles of loved ones. Some are being fought and some battles have been lost. Some are in limbo… waiting. Illness, relationships, death.

These past few weeks I’ve found myself standing in the gap on behalf of many… most I know and a handful I don’t know but have committed to pray for them. I asked God to break my heart for the things that break His. He came through. Daily I’m on my knees interceding for friends and loved ones and strangers… calling on Jesus to bring each one of these precious people just what they need at just the right moment. Peace. Comfort. Healing. Strength. Closure. Grace. Hope. Tears. Laughter. Memories.

At times I’ve felt so helpless, wishing I could do more. Wishing I could be there to give them a hug or sit and listen. I’ve prayed for them to be able to praise the heavens amidst the storm. I’ve prayed for their memories of their loved one to be sweet and comforting. I’ve prayed for healing. I’ve prayed for the stakeholders in the lives of the suffering, for those people also feel the affects of the heartache. Many times all I can do is pray for God’s will in the situation.

As I’ve been interceding on behalf of others, I’ve been reminded of the battles I’ve fought over the years. Difficult battles. Life-changing battles. Lost battles. Battles of loss.

A few of those battles felt as if I’d never recover. Life would never be the same. I would never have joy again. For when I am in the middle of a battle it is easy to lose sight of the other side. I forget that it is being fought by the greatest Warrior of all.

The battle is already won. Is it the outcome I want? Perhaps not. But the God of Hope will be our warrior and bring us the peace and comfort needed to sustain us as we venture on this earthly journey. The older I get and the more battles I see, the more excited I get for eternity. For this life is temporary and heaven is eternal. One day none of this will matter.

But in the meantime… we need to hold on to the hope of Christ.  No matter if our struggles and fears are for the state of our nation or closer to home… there is hope and the battle belongs to the Lord.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

Jeremiah 29:11

 

 

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!

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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Circle of Life · Experiences · Gifts · Grace · Growth · Healing · Hope · Lessons Learned · life happens... · Loss · love · marriage · Miracles · Struggles · The Journey · Uncategorized

Just Another Day…

August 2, 1997.  It was just another day for most. It was a big day for me. Happiest day of my life… or so they say. For 7 years it was a day that was celebrated. Today, 19 years later, it’s just another day.  One day closer to summer being over and getting back to work.

Today I find myself filled with emotion. I’m sure it’s not all about that day 19 years ago, but that is a part of it. The part of me that came and went in 7 short years.  That is not what I envisioned on that sunny day in San Luis Obispo. It was a whirlwind relationship that happened fast. He was taken by my “worship girl” lifestyle and I with his wild side and in love with being in love. Some of his first words to me were, “you are perfect the way you are.”  That should have been a red flag, but it only fueled my desire to be loved and love.

Over the last 19 years I’ve loved and lost. I’ve laughed and cried. I’ve had my heart filled and emptied. I’ve had dreams come true and dreams shattered. I’ve come and gone. I’ve hurt and and been hurt. I’ve loved and been loved… and reloved.

Life gets so busy that sometimes I forget to stop and remember. I am a “date remembering” girl, but this far out, today would have been just another day had I not heard the date on the morning news.

August 2…

Emotions came flooding back. I think that I now have a storehouse of memories that the Lord wants me to keep in a special place.  They no longer contain anger or hurt or regret. They are sweet and part of who I am today. Had I not journeyed on that short path with the amazing man that “fell in love with me” I might not be sitting where I am today… living the life I have now. It’s funny how one life decision can determine the days to come.

I have some wonderful take aways from that seven year union 19 years ago.  My first kiss… and so on and so forth!! (insert blush)  A beautiful bonus daughter who is now a mother of a sweet little guy. Family that will always hold a special place in my heart. Seven years of adventures with my “Marlboro Man!”

It’s not what I thought would happen. But it did. Things ended and ten years ago I decided to move away from the memories and at the time, the pain. Of course I was swayed by a tall handsome Irish boy from my past.

Several major life changes later and here I sit. I left a wonderful state I had lived in for 20 years and came home. Quit a really good job… got a new one… thankfully another really good one! Sold a home, bought a home, sold a home and bought another one! Rekindled old friendships and started new ones. Left love behind and had the great blessing of getting to relove and marry my first. I said goodbye to a wonderful bonus daughter and now have three more amazing bonus children. Life is good.

Yes, one simple date on the calendar and oh how the memories and emotions appear.  Bittersweet. I am confidently thankful that my Father in Heaven has my journey all mapped out.  On that sweet day 19 years ago, I never in a million years would have thought for a second my life would be what it is now. As wonderful as it is, it would not have made sense then. I’m so glad that we don’t get to see our future.  Just one day at a time… living well and loving God and loving people.