"My story is important not because it is mine, God knows, but because if I tell it right, the chances are you will recognize that in many ways it is also yours. Maybe nothing is more important than that we keep track, you and I,of these stories of who we are and where we have come from and the people we have met along the way because it is precisely through these stories, in all their particularity,as I have long believed and often said, that God makes himself known to each of us most powerfully and personally." -Frederick Buechner

Friday, September 30, 2011

Unthinkable Circumstances - Relinquishing

So week two is here in our journey of the reality of "unthinkable circumstances" in our life.  If you missed it for 8 or 9 weeks I will be posting on Fridays relating to the Bible Study, "When I Lay My Issac Down" by Carol Kent.  Some brave women are joining me on Wednesday nights for a "live" discussion and others are joining us via the Internet and this blog. Everyone is welcome and encouraged to join in with their thoughts and experiences. We can all learn and receive hope from each other whether you are officially doing the Bible Study or not.

"Unthinkable circumstances = circumstances that derail our carefully thought-out plans for our future."One of the questions that usually comes up is, "why Lord?" I never really struggled with that one personally. In fact I really didn't ask alot of questions. My reaction was to talk to God alot like this, "okay God. I've told everyone that knows me that YOU are a BIG LOVING God. I need YOU to show up here are PROVE IT!  I need YOU to take care of my family, NOW! (yes, you do hear attitude there)  Others ask why or why now.  It helped me to remember that this situation was not a surprise to God. One of God's many names is El Roi (Genesis 16:13-14) The God who sees me.  He is watching me. He knows all about everything that is going on.

Now with that in mind the main point of this weeks time is to learn to relinquish our situation to God. Carol says, " relinquishment means giving up my rights to control the person, dream, expectation, or preferred outcome of the object of my concern."  What are you trying to control? In the midst of my circumstances I desperately tried to keep some sort of  "normalcy" in my families life. I didn't want our life to be completely focused on our situation.  That really was pretty ridiculous. There was just too much going on at once for anything else to try to pretend it wasn't happening.  Other gals told me they tried to control the other person involved.  "If I'm just more attentive and always look my best they will love me" Or "I'll just work harder. That will "fix" this." Or "I'll give them a little more time and they will come back."

Again quoting Carol Kent, "When we release our grasp, our relinquishment puts a stop to our manipulation of other people and releases the Holy Spirit to do the supernatural through the power of prayer."  After some time had passed I could see this clearly.  I, personally tried everything I could think of to "help" my husband handle his life.  However, in the end, the crash came, harder and longer than it really needed to be. It's a hard question to ask yourself, but it's time to ask. Could I be interfering with something the Lord is trying to accomplish?

Carol uses the story of Abraham being willing to sacrifice Issac as our main theme. The story is found in Genesis 22:1-18.  She points out that in verse 3 it says, "early the next morning" Abraham arose and started out. Really? She says she thinks she would have stayed in bed till noon hoping that God would change His mind.  Abraham was so...obedient and trusting of God.  So as the group of us talked about this some shared of having "moments" of trusting God with their situation.  We shared ways to remind us that God is there, caring for us even when we don't see it right away. Journaling, telling a friend, some little reminder "rock" that can be seen by you in your everyday life. A reminder of one time that you can identify that God came through for you and you know it. Build on that memory.  We also talked about the fact that this is a process, a journey. Rarely does anyone "lay their Isaac down" and never pick him back up again. But every time you do, you allow God to do "His thing".

In the original text of the Bible the word for "lay" actually means to "lift up".  By laying our "Isaac" down we are actually lifting our sacrifice to the Lord in an act of worship. We are acknowledging that God is God and everything belongs in His hands. Will you "lay your Isaac down?" (even just for a moment?)

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Wellness Wednesday

Wellness Wednesday nearly got away from me!  Do you ever have days like that? You just don't know what happened but all of the sudden it's evening! :)  Anyway, I just want to say I was amazed today when I actually measured out how many ounces of water my current favorite water bottle held and found I only need to drink 5 1/2 to meet my daily water intake goal. Yeah!  I haven't done very well this week when I was trying to drink 10-11 glasses of water. Somehow 5 1/2 water bottles has been easy today.  If you are having trouble meeting one of your goals maybe it's time for you to try it a different way.  Could you try walking in the morning instead of the evening? Or lift weights while watching the news?  What goal are you struggling with? Why don't you share it with us and maybe someone else will have a good idea to help you "get over the hump."  That's what life is about - relationships - doing it together!

I'm also wondering what you are currently doing for yourself to gain or maintain a "healthy" you.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

A Couple of Keys to Communication

As I continue to ponder and experienced the quagmire of communication both at home and at work there are a couple of truths that have risen to the top of the heap for me.

1.  You've got to do it. You can't avoid it forever. You can't always eat in front of the TV or have "work" to do right up until bedtime.  Texting I love you won't cut it as the only "communication" 2 or more days in a row.  You need to take time to talk to those in your immediate family (the ones who live in your home) daily.  It's best if this can be done before you are half asleep and not while you are "zipping" through your favorite show via the wonders of DVR.  A really "novel" idea would be to eat supper together and talk about your day! Or Gary and Barb Rosberg of America's Family Coaches call it "Two Chair Time". You set aside 20 minutes to talk without phones or the TV or the kids. Touch base on what's going on and then go on with your day. (I can hear you saying I don't have 20 minutes to spare. You'd be surprised how much time you save if you actually talk and know what's going on  around you and what is on the calendar before it actually happens!)

2. Here's the other thing. We need to really listen to one another. My husband and I have a bad habit of jumping in on each others thoughts. Sometimes we're right - we know where they are going. But lots of times we just think we know what they are trying to say.  When you are the listener that is your entire job - listening.(period) Don't jump ahead to the "solution" or to your own defense, just listen. It sounds so simple as I write it here. However real life proves differently. Often we listen with our own agenda. I'll listen to him because then he'll have to listen to me. Or  I listen for a minute and then I'm mentally preparing my rebuttal and I miss all the rest of what he said. Really listening is harder than it sounds. I'm convinced it's caused by a couple of things: we are always looking out for ourselves and we're in too big of a hurry.

So today let's try to really listen to the people around us.  Seriously spend one day actively listening to the people in your world. Listen to understand what they are saying. If you don't understand then ask questions until you do! I'd love to hear your thoughts after you have had a day of listening. Share them with us and encourage someone else to give it a try!

Monday, September 26, 2011

Communication - The Name of the Game

Communication really is "the name of the game."  You can't have a relationship with anyone if you don't communicate. I'm a little afraid of what cell phones and texting is doing to our ability to communicate. We are living in a world that expects everything instantly and conveniently.  If I want to tell you something I can e-mail it or text so as not to "interrupt" your day but not forget to tell you. However there is no real discussion. No seeing the other persons body language or hear the inflection in their voice. We can't see or hear those extra pieces of your communication that sometimes say way more than your words do.

You would think that after 30 years of marriage we would have communication figured out between the two of us. But this weekend we proved again that communication is something you just have to keep working at.  If you put your arms out in front of you. Imagine your hands as communication arrows. Now bend your arms at the elbow so your hands cross over one on top of the other one, but your arms do not touch each other. Now you have our scenario Saturday. One hand of communication is me and one is my husband.  We both talked and we both listened but we didn't "communicate."  We didn't really listen beyond the surface.  We certainly did not ask questions to clarify what the other was really meaning. We just assumed.  Plans got messed up and we were both frustrated and a little hurt.
AFTER the plans for the day were done (not in their original form) we talked. Late is better than not talking at all. It was really a very simple mis-understaning but we had to listen to one another setting our own agenda aside while the other person was talking.  I had to ask him what he really wanted to do and why versus just assuming I understood.  I also needed to let him know when he says things to me I really do listen and I make plans around what he tells me he is working on or wants to do. That means if he changes his mind or something comes up he needs to let me know that as well.

We (my husband and I) have the awesome privilege of having parents who have both been married 40 years, having been married 30 years ourselves, being in a small group of married couples who purposefully study marriage relationship stuff  and working with Marriage Matters which gives us opportunities to meet many other married couples. So as I said earlier you would think we should have this communication thing down pat, but we don't. Communication is the foundation of a good relationship, any relationship. You should never quit working on it. Do you struggle with good communication? What are some things that have helped you have clear communication?

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Peace in Hard Times

I just haven't been able to shake thinking about my friend who told her story. A few years ago she lost her house to foreclosure. Neither she nor her husband understood the whole process and during this time one of their daughters got married. Obviously she had a lot to think about.  She said they moved out but were not able to do a full move all at once.  One day she came back with her car to get another load of their possessions and everything was gone!  Everything. The house had been sold and the new owners thought what was left had been "dumped" so they had it hauled away as trash. My friend commented that her husband was a guy who kept everything and that the garage was full when they last left.  So there are "things" from their life that are just plain gone. (period) No getting them back.  What a shock/loss! However, she said she is currently living in a place roughly a third of the size of that house and has never been more peace-filled. Her countenance backs up that statement.

I thought of her as I read something van Gogh said when referring to a painful season of his life, "As molting time - when they change their feathers - is for birds, so adversity or misfortune is the difficult time for us human beings.  One can stay in it - in that time of molting - one can also emerge renewed." Suffering is not abnormal. It is not to be avoided in this life. It is an aspect of God's grace to be accepted. To sacrifice your immediate desire is often how to fulfill your ultimate desire. Jesus endured the suffering of the cross because His ultimate goal was to obey His Father and save us from our sins, which brings Him great joy.

For me in a much less dramatic part of my life, choosing to go exercise when I'd really rather be reading or watching a movie is a minor "sacrifice" of my immediate comfort/pleasure for a long term health that I desire to have.  My friend chose to focus on what is long term important in her life rather than on the tangible things she lost. She has learned that God truly is her provider and she doesn't need as many "things" as she thought in order to be happy. God teaches us to give up things with only a "little" value to gain things of eternal value. We learn this through the pain of "trials" - things we don't choose but they happen and "discipline", things we do choose.

Dallas Willard writes: "It is absolutely essential to our growth into the "mind" of Jesus that we accept the "trials" of ordinary existence as the place where we are to experience and find the reign of God-with-us as actual reality. We are not to try to get in a position to avoid trials. And we are not to "catastrophize" and declare the "end of the world" when things happen." (emphasis mine)

When I relax and realize that God is walking with me through my circumstance I begin to watch for what He wants me to experience and learn.  The hurt doesn't necessarily go completely away but I will say the sting is much less. I know God loves me and ultimately if I will cooperate with Him I will come out of this season of hurt stronger.  What about you? Have you experienced this or are you experiencing this now? Are you in the midst of a season that you just can't "settle" with? Tell us, but more importantly tell God. Hang in there, you are not alone.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Unthinkable Circumstances

Elisa Morgan says, "There are moments when God makes utter and complete sense to us, and then suddenly life changes and he seems a foreign remnant of a childhood force fed faith...."(Lord), give us eyes to see your coming and going ears to hear your voice and your silence, hands to hold your presence and your absence, and faith to trust your unchanging nature in all seasons." It's those times of change, especially the ones that you weren't expecting that we are going to talk about on Fridays for the next 8 or 9 weeks.  There is a group of about a dozen women meeting on Wednesday nights in West Des Moines, Iowa to learn whatever truths we can glean together.  If you live in the area and would like to join us you are more than welcome. Leave me a comment and I'll get you the details. However there were a few women who couldn't come at that time so we are going to "blog study" together and we are inviting you to join us.

Carol Kent wrote a book called "When I Lay my Isaac Down" (our discussion book) in which she uses the term "unthinkable circumstances - circumstances that derail our carefully thought-out plans for our future." Wednesday night our group of 12 divided into 2 groups to share what our personal unthinkable circumstances were. In my group I was amazed at the diversity of situations. We had home foreclosure with loss of many of their personal possessions in the house, inability to bear a child, death of a husband and soon after a 19 year old son, divorce, job loss, moving across the country to a strange place and one quiet woman who said, "I'm not comfortable sharing my situation yet. It's not quite over..."  I just wanted to hug her with all my might. If that's you - something is happening but you'd rather not talk about it yet. That's okay. Walk along with us and if you are ever ready, speak up but don't feel obligated to share your personal story. Be strengthened by understanding that there are people all around you with questions about what is going on in their life.

Every woman there had tried to figure out "why" there situation was happening. They told of their "wild youth" or not taking their child to church while he was growing up or that they were always trying to "fix" things - everything, long before the "unthinkable" happened. I think it's important that we recognize these thoughts. I would encourage you to write them down in your journal. If you are not journaling your way through this season I would encourage that you start. It helped me sort things out when I wrote it down, plus I've learned so much by being able to go back and see where we were and where we are now. After you have written down your thoughts about how you got where you are ask the Lord and a friend if you are willing to help you see what part of those thoughts are lies.  See Satan likes to make us believe everything is our fault. It's just not true. Believing lies makes everything worse.  Philippians 4:8 says, "Summing it all up, friends, I'd say you'll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious - the best, not the worst, the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse." (The Message)  I can just hear some of you right now, "yeah right. That's a "PollyAnna" type mentality. I'm really hurting and confused here."  If you are, that's ok. We are all at different places in our walk. At this point, I just am praying that you will take the time to recognize that you are being attacked and it STINKS! In amongst that attack are firey darts of lies from the devil. We need the truth to help us navigate through this tough season.

Will you join us on this journey? Leave a comment letting us know that you are in or have been through an "unthinkable circumstance."  Share as much or as little as you'd like. You do not even have to leave your name. If someone you know came to mind when you read this encourage them to join us on Fridays. Read Carol's book, "When I Lay My Isaac Down" and let us know what you hear when you listen for God's voice in your life.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

What are You Asking for?

I'm reading a book by an acquaintance of mine, Skye Jethani.  In it he tells a story of he and his father walking down the streets of New Delhi with a skinny,young, handicapped boy with "huge calluses on his knees" from waddling on them staying just ahead of them in their line of sight. He was dressed only in "tattered blue shorts." He was shouting "one rupee, please! One rupee!" Skye says that he and his father kept walking ignoring the boys shouts but finally his father realized the boy wasn't going to give up so he stopped. He looked the boy in the eye and asked him, "what do you want?" "One rupee, sir," the boy answered while bowing his head. Skye's father replied "How about I give you five rupees?" Do you know what the boys response was? Not one of immediate joy and thanksgiving. Instead he became immediately defiant. "He retracted his hand and sneered at us. He thought my father was joking, having a laugh at his expense. After all, no one would willingly give five rupees." The boy actually started to leave! Skye's father reached into his pocket and rattled his coins. When the boy heard the coins he stopped and looked back. He approached the boy, gave him the coin and then Skye and his father proceeded on their way. A moment later the shouting started again. This time the boy was yelling, "Thank you! Thank you,sir! Bless you!  Then Skye wraps up this story with these stunning words; "This, I imagine, is how our God sees us - as miserable creatures in desperate need of his help. But rather than asking for what we truly need, rather than desiring what he is able and willing to give, we settle for lesser things. And when God graciously says "no" to our misled desires and instead offers us more, we reject him. We turn away, cursing him under our breath. We simply cannot imagine a God who would give five rupees when all we desire is one."  "The Divine Commodity"

My husband was a seminar teaching on worship leading a couple of weeks ago. As he was telling me about it one statement stuck in my mind. He said they were told "most of the people sitting in the audience WANT you to SUCCEED."  But speaking from experience that is not always what you feel. You focus on some time from the past that you failed in some way and embarrassed yourself. Or you see that "crabby face" in the audience and you are immediately frightened. 

God wants us to succeed. His Word says He has a plan for us to prosper. This doesn't necessarily refer to money and status but it does refer to our life and all the things that really count. Are you like the little boy, only focused on what you need for the next minute or two rather than looking to God who can care for you for your lifetime?

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Wellness Wednesday - What Would Happen If...?

I had a very interesting conversation with a couple of friends on the patio of Panera Monday afternoon. It was a gorgeous fall day and we enjoyed ourselves immensely.  One person there was a new friend so we were attempting to get to know each other better through our conversation. It wasn't long into our time when I realized I was sitting with a "maven".  That's a word I learned when my husband and I read a book entitled "The Tipping Point".  A maven is a collector of information. He is interested in lots of things and collects information like a magnet collects metal. Amazing to me is the fact that they can pull these facts out when the appropriate topic comes up. 

We began to discuss health issues in our lives. As we attempted to share personal struggles and goals, he shared information. He knew names of people, places and things. He referred to things done or tried years ago. He nodded in agreement with things we said. All of these things were true and he was enthused and sincere about them.  He made me think of me. I'm a nurse. I know many facts about health. I witness on a nearly daily basis people dealing (or not dealing) with their health issues. I see the consequences.  It begs the question what would happen if we all implemented 2 or 3 of the "facts" that we already know.  Why don't we try it for a week, just one week, that's all I'm asking? Choose 2 or 3 things you already know, for example: 
you should drink at least 8 glasses of water daily
a meat portion is the size of the palm of your hand or a deck of cards
you need 7-8 hours of sleep on a regular basis (most nights)
desserts are a treat not a staple in your diet

The list could go on and on. Let me know what you choose to do for one week. Come on, join me! Who knows you might encourage someone else!

Monday, September 19, 2011


I'm sure you pray for your spouse and family.  I know I do. Like today, I know that my daughter is out of town alone. So I'm praying for safety amongst other things. My daughter-in-law has been working a good "temp" job for months now.  She would like to be hired by the company. I'm praying God's will be done and of course mentioning that we think this seems like a good place to work for her. (smile) Over this past weekend while my husband was gone with a friend ministering to men in NW Iowa I prayed repeatedly for their obedience to God's promptings, for protection and peace and the list went on and on.But do you pray for your husband just because he is someone you love and care about? Do you thank God for him on a daily basis? Men, don't tune out here - we women would love you to be praying for us on a daily basis.

Years ago someone introduced me to Stormie Omartian's book, The Power of a Praying Wife. This paperback book is tattered, torn and spilled on but most days of the week I pray for my husband using this as a prompt or a focus. There are 30 chapters - one for each day of the week, all of them ending with a prayer based on scripture.  I don't read the whole chapter any more but I do use the prayers to help me focus on different aspects of Mark's life instead of just asking for strength and healing of his aching knees every day!  This month a group of women agreed to pray for their husbands daily. It's not too late for you to join us. If you'd like some suggestions you can go to http://www.reviveourhearts.com/articles/31-days-of-praying-for-your-husband/
There is a book for husbands regarding praying for your wife by the Omartians too. You are not off the hook guys!

I truly believe this is the single most healthy thing I have done for my marriage. If you read my last post you know that our life is as normal as yours. It has ups and downs and all the places in-between. However, as we learn to trust God with our lives He orchestrates them into a beautiful work of music. It's not just a song of unison but it is filled with wonderful harmonies. Pray for your spouse today and ask God to help you hear the music He is creating.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Seven Years Later

Our broken lives are not lost or useless. God's love is still working. He comes in and takes the calamity and uses it victoriously, working out his wonderful plan of love. -- Eric Liddell

Today is a significant day in our life. Not to say every day isn't important, they are. But today seems really special to me.  In the Scriptures the number 7 signifies completion.  7 1/2 years ago, January 2004 I started a new journal that Mark gave me as a Christmas present. Part of the first entry reads like this:
It's been a contemplative year of change. (We became "empty-nesters".) New Years's Eve was spent at the Expo Center in Spirit Lake with many friends and all 3 of our kids. Our entire family worshipped publicly. Seth and Amber standing right next to Mark and Mark Hoftyzer taking photos. It brought tears to my eyes. After briefly reviewing some mental struggles over our perception of what was expected of Mark at work. I go on to say this. I believe I need to grow my faith by depending on God to take care of my family (Mark in particular). I'm always striving to come up with a plan to make life "better" - more peaceful - less frustration. I'm realizing I was trying too hard, too much. I need to trust God.  I have choosen the following prayer as a "theme" prayer for my family for 2004.  The following prayer was adapted from one of the Prayers That Avail Much  books by Word Ministries, Inc. These prayers are all based on Scripture.
Thank you that before we were even born You knew us & had a plan for our lives. You have placed Your anointing upon our lives. I'm asking You to burn Your call into our hearts. Let it be a fire shut up in our bones so we cannot hold it in.  I pray a hedge of protection over my family so that no man, woman, or enemy will squelch what You have in store for us. You are equipping us with all things that pertain to life and godliness so that we have an abundance for every good deed. Confirm Your call on our lives by Your Holy Spirit and make our paths like the first gleam of dawn shining ever brighter as we follow our callings. Let multitudes of lives be touched by Your anointing which is flowing through us. When we enter Your kingdom You will say, "well done good and faithful servant." 
January 13, 2004 I write, As I read this (my journal) I feel confirmation that it is true. I'd have to admit I work to fix everything. God help me to trust. Help me to learn Your word and trust You to handle my family...

Little did I know that a month later we would receive a phone call from our brother-in-law telling us that our sister had tried to kill herself. He called asking what to do. They have 5 children. That began years of our extended family walking an unknown path of learning to trust and heal. I couldn't fix this. 

Then 4 months later our son-in-law (age 21) began seeing double which led us down a path of discovering Thymic Carcinoid Carcinoma, an incurable cancer. I couldn't fix this.

 And within a month of the diagnosis my beloved husband crashed, physically, mentally and emotionally. I couldn't fix this either. Over the course of 2004 everything in our life changed, except God.

By September 16th, 2004  (seven years ago today) my sister-in-law was struggling with depression and an unhealthy marriage but she was dealing with it. Our son-in-law was finding as much medical help as was offered and moving to the Twin Cities for a new job he thought he could do longer "if he got really sick".  And Mark, my husband had survived a month of being completely incapacitated, recognized his need for help and was willing to receive it. We were packing our bags and on September 17th left for Marble Retreat in Marble, Colorado. An intensive counseling time for couples in ministry. (Finding that place and getting to go is a God-story all of it's own)

Fast forward to today, 7 years later. I'm helping Mark pack again. This time it's for a return trip to the place we lived at the time of "the crash".  7 years to the day later of a tangible step of faith towards healing Mark will be ministering to men in a way he did not do prior to the crash. He will be completely transparent with them. How or Why? Because God has taught him that keeping secrets makes you sick and hurts all those around you.

What about me? I could never have imagined how God was going to teach me to really trust Him with my family. It was a painful, scary at times journey. It has been simple, trust God. But I didn't say it's been easy. It has not. We are all much healthier now. I "fix" less and "trust" more. I don't do it perfectly nor will I till I meet Jesus face to face. I live enjoying the moments more and I'm learning that's a great way to live! I'm here 7 years later to testify to God's faithfulness in loving and protecting my family through some pretty tough times.  This week I begin leading a Bible Study called "When I Lay My Issac Down" by Carol Kent. It's all about trusting God through "unthinkable circumstances." I couldn't have done this 7 years ago.
I'm also here declaring this particular season of brokeness and healing COMPLETE.  How good is our God who seven years later will call us to share our life with others so that Lord willing they can learn from God's word and our experiences. Will you join me in praising God for all that He has done and pray that the men Mark will be sharing with will receive whatever God has for them?

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Last night I went to a meeting with some of my fellow nurses. The topic was Fibromyalgia and the presenter (a doctor) was sponsored by a pharmaceutical company. I was very impressed.  There was actually surprisingly little talk of their drug and lots of talk regarding the care of the patient.  It was great!
The doctor used a fictious example of a patient, Mrs. C. and from start to finish she discussed all the different aspects of Mrs. C's life that are effected when Mrs. C was discovered to have Fibromyalgia. This malady can cause aching/pain all over your body, fatigue, and the blues just to name a few of the more prominent symptoms. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out how that could effect your everyday life. What a drain, a constant drain to be exact.  The impressive part was not only did this doctor acknowledge how this disease could effect more than just the patient's physical feelings, it could effect her relationships, mental status and ability to participate in life. She very clearly stated and backed up with research that we as caregivers need to acknowledge and help with  the whole person.  Medical science proves that we are multi-faceted beings and all of our "parts" are intertwined.
So this Wellness Wednesday I'd just like you to think about the area of your life that you are most concerned with. The most common concern I hear is weight and anxiety/stress. Whatever your concern is, name it.  Then take a few minutes to sit down and think. Is this area of concern effecting your everyday life? Be honest. Ask yourself questions.  Did you not go for a walk with your neighbor or co-worker because you were afraid you couldn't keep up? Did you ever go swimming this summer or were you afraid to be seen in your swimsuit? Do you ever do anything in the evenings or do you just sleep in front of the TV until you go to bed because you just don't have the energy? How do your answers to these questions effect your family?
If you have just identified the fact that some area of your life is adversely effecting your daily "living" then you just taken a step towards health. Here's the next step, realize there are many layers in getting stronger. Pick one layer to start with.  People with Fibromyalgia often struggle with sleeping. If they can consistently get more restful sleep then they can deal with the other aspects of life better. What aspect would you like to start with?  If you need help, ask for it. If you are not sure where to start or who to ask, ask your friends via this blog. We'd love to help plus your being honest might encourage someone else.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

It's the Little Things

Have you ever thought about how you got to where you are?  As I was running yesterday it occurred to me that 1 1/2 - 2 years ago I would not have believed you if you told me that running would be a part of my regular exercise routine.  I've always loved to walk as I love being outdoors. I love seeing the colors in nature, hearing the sounds and watching people.  Then one day I noticed that the numbers on the scale were creeping upwards. I realized if I didn't do something they would just keep going that way. (little thing #1)Shortly thereafter one of my great sister-in-laws whom I admire for her great sense of discipline gave me a sack of her cast-off clothes. (Huge benefit to having sisters is getting hand-me-downs. I didn't have sisters growing up so I love this!)  So as I eagerly went through the sack I found multiple pair of running shorts. Great, as my exercise wardrobe was pretty slim seeing as how I didn't use it regularly. (little thing #2)  Meanwhile my friend and accountability partner says you need to start small, try walking at least 3 times weekly. Did you catch the accountability part? We meet nearly weekly - she will ask me about this. (little thing #4) So I walk. Sometimes I listen to music on a MP3 player I inherited from my daughter and son-in-law. I hear music I've never heard before. Fun! So I anticipate enjoying the music. (little thing #5) My friend/accountability partner steps up her personal wellness disciplines and shares her learning with me. (little thing #6) My husband decides he is going to lose that last 10-15 pounds that he's wanted to take off for years. So he starts limiting his evening snacking and riding his bike even more. Encouragement. (little thing #7)  One day on a slight downhill slope with a great upbeat song playing I can't help myself. I just pick up the pace to a "trot". Wow, that was kind of rewarding even though I didn't do it long. So I try it again using landmarks to see how far I can trot. And so a little competition with myself begins to see if I can trot further today than yesterday. Competitiveness? This is a new thing for me in regard to exercise. (little thing #8)  I begin to walk/run (so I called it "rocking") consistently.  After a very few months of this my husband rewards me with a new pair of "running" shoes. (little thing #9) I measure the distance I'm going and start keeping time. Again competition with myself. (little thing #10)  Yesterday I nearly ran the whole distance, 2.2 miles. There were very few and they were short walking breaks. As I did this I thought to myself I am "running."  It's a slow pace in comparison to those who do it for competition but it is my pace and it meets the definition of: run |rən|
verb ( running ; past ran |ran|; past part. run )
1 [ intrans. ] move at a speed faster than a walk, never having both or all the feet on the ground at the same time
A change in mindset for me. (little thing #11)I can say"run" for exercise.

But did you see how I got there? It was a series of little steps. Small thoughts, actions by others and actions by myself.  I didn't wake up one morning and start running 2 miles. It took time.

My current personal life verses are from Ephesians 3:14-21 and Philippians 3:14. The last one is the one I'm thinking about this weekend. The Amplified Version of the Bible says it this way, "(For my determined purpose is) that I may know Him (that I may progressively become more deeply and intimately acquainted with Him. perceiving and recognizing and understanding the wonders of His person more strongly and more clearly) and that I may in that same way come to know the power outflowing from His resurrection (which it exerts over believers). and that I may so share His sufferings as to be continually transformed (in spirit into His likeness even) to His death." emphasis mine.  Did you see those words? "progressively" then "perceiving and recognizing and understanding".  Those words indicate progression.  With the goal of knowing God it takes time and is a progression.  You gain perceptions of who He is as you spend time with Him. Then after some time the perceptions change into recognition of the truth of who He is and as He allows you begin to understand in the depth of your being pieces of who He is.

Be encouraged my friends. Getting to know Christ is a process. Enjoy the journey!  What little things have effected your life? Stop for a few minutes and think about it. Thank God for "little things"!

Friday, September 9, 2011

Changing It Up - From the Outside or Inside?

I'm reading a book (well actually I'm reading several books) that uses the term "consumerism culture".  I've thought about our desire to have more, be more, look a certain way at times. I've had a few discussions but then easily move on and just keep shopping, moving piles of belongings and occasionally sorting things our to sell or share with others.  This book is actually making me think about how consumerism effects us beyond our piles of stuff.  Today I read this "Through the influence of our consumer culture we've come to believe that transformation is attained through external experiences." (Skye Jethani, The Divine Commodity)   That made me think about "changing it up" as I talked about yesterday.  I talked about my knowing that if I keep "doing" the same things the same way I will get the same result.  Each time I start over on something I think this time I'll...but if my thoughts never settle into a commitment, a resolution it just won't happen.  I want the ache in my neck to go away so I go to a chiropractor. He does an adjustment and I want it to be gone, no exercises or applying heat/ice etc, just gone. (and immediate relief would be great, thank you very much)  However, the truth is the only way to get lasting relief is to participate in my own care. I need to stretch my muscles, then strengthen them so that they won't allow my spine to get out of alignment as easily.

The same is true in our spiritual life.  In this day and age there is information at every turn. We want to listen and read what others say about God to fill our own spirits.  We go to church and want to experience some encouragement.  Now don't get me wrong these things are good things and should be a part of our life.  But that's it, they should just be a part of our life.  If I am dependent on my Sunday Morning (or whenever) church time for my main source of nourishment I'm going to be weak before the next Sunday rolls around. When we are weak and tired we make poor decisions and often become sick. But, if I go to church as just one part of my nourishment, say a protein drink, my daily meals will keep me going and Sunday church will give me a boost!  An added benefit too is that we won't be so needy and critical of the church service itself. If it is just supplement to our diet a taste we don't like one week won't send us looking for another place to worship. We will be full enough to sustain until the next time when the flavor might be different.

Consumerism culture, wanting something out of everything.  How has it effected your life?

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Wellness Wednesday - Maybe It's Time to "Change It Up"

I felt tired all day yesterday. It might have to do with working outside the whole day before helping our parents with some projects. Then I filled in for someone at work yesterday so there is an extra day of my "day job." Any way you look at it I was tired when I got home from work. I remember thinking on the way home, if Mark didn't go for his bike ride I'll just make us some spaghetti for supper,  read for awhile and go to bed early. But as that garage door went up I could see his bike was gone. No excuses. I had a decision to make, go for my run or curl up in a chair and read a book.  I knew if I sat down I'd never get up again and it was gorgeous outside. I love being outside each day. I had worked INside all day....okay, okay. I changed my clothes and went for my run.  I started out thinking I feel some sore muscles from crawling around transplanting plants yesterday.  I'll walk quickly but if I don't run today that will be okay. Maybe I won't do the whole 2.2 miles - even though it's time to add some more distance, maybe I'll just do 1.2 miles. As I rounded the corner where the "warm up walking" usually stops and the "running" (barely faster than a walk) begins my feet just moved.  Mark and I had just talked about this the day before. Running was NOT something I did as a kid. I tried track for about 1 week as a 7th grader. It was obvious this was NOT my sport. I wasn't fast. I wasn't competitive. I didn't care.  However over the past couple of years I have continued to struggle with fatigue, some weight gain and some very minor health issues.  When I look at the symptoms logically and with my "nurse brain" I can see that much of it relates to poor eating habits and poor exercise habits. I've got reasons and excuses for each of these things. If you want to hear them let me know and I'll easily recite them to you. But I don't think you really want to hear my excuses. That's all they are, poor attempts to make myself feel better about NOT doing something I should be doing.   It's time for a change.

I could start for the umpteenth time a certain program or promise to do this or that. But I realized that if I start again something I've done before with little or no success and expect to succeed, that's just crazy. I've heard that's the definition of insanity. I can believe it. So July 9th I started fresh.  I had been sporadically walking/running for some time. I decided to try to run at least 4 times weekly and to keep track of my time. I was just curious how fast I really did walk.  Along with that for the first time ever I decided to cut all sweet treats out of my diet for 3 weeks. My plan was to get the sweet tooth cleaned out a bit.  I was a bit short on the number of times running in those 3 weeks but I was faithful on the sweet treats and I did much better drinking enough water daily.  I lost the first 5 of 15 pounds I'd like to lose. The best thing is my attitude is MUCH improved. I've proven to myself  that I can make healthy choices consistently.  I allowed myself to eat some treats again but now I'm at a plateau. I, again, have choices to make. This time however, I know I can do it.

As I was running last night I thought about all of this and realized that there are many things in life that we sometimes have to choose to "change it up". We can't always do the same things the same way and get different results.  I have a friend who is a bit older than me, single and about a year ago lost her best friend/companion.  She is lonely, single and lives in a small to medium sized midwestern town. If she keeps all of her old habits, going to the same places at the same times she may never meet someone new to do things with. BUT, if she would sit in a new place at church, swim at a different time at the pool or take a class at the community college she just might meet a new friend.

Is there an area in your life where it's time to "change it up?" I'd love to hear about it!

Monday, September 5, 2011

One Good Thing

It's Monday, a holiday Monday which means many of us have the day off.  We're planning to spend the day helping our parents with a couple of "fix-it" projects around their homes.  At this stage of life spending time with our parents is a great reminder of what marriage and love really is.

So many days I catch myself being critical or just having a selfish attitude as I go through my day at home. When my husband asks me to help him by bringing him something I think about how it is an interruption in whatever I'm doing. Or I catch myself thinking why can't he__________ (fill in the blank with your favorite (or should I say least favorite) task)?

Marriage isn't about who does what. It's about your relationship. Sure in your relationship you each have things you may be responsible for but the motivation is your love, your relationship. If it's not, it's time for an attitude adjustment.  This month I've joined a group of women on-line. We are choosing to honor our husbands by telling them one something we appreciate about them everyday. Look for it. Recognize it. Thank God for it.  Guys, this doesn't need to exclude you. You can do the same thing for your wife.  It's amazing what being purposeful about this can do for your attitude!

I think about this today because I know that the daily-ness of parents caring for each other as they age is more often than not, not fun. We are so honored to have parents who truly love one another.  Our fathers both care for our mothers with such respect. It's a great example to us.

So do you want to join the challenge?  You will be alot more committed to it if you tell someone you are doing it. Why don't you tell me?  Leave a comment letting me know you've joined us on the month of September "at least one good thing" a day challenge.

Friday, September 2, 2011

September 2, I can hardly believe it. Where did summer go? But it is another change of season, a time of fresh starts.  Some of us are resistant to change.  I received our women's ministry newsletter yesterday and my friend, Emily summed it all up. She graciously said I could share it with you. I will say, Emily is the real deal. She is a woman after God's own heart but she is very honest about the ups, downs and arounds in the daily living it out. We've had the privilege of walking with them since the beginning of this new adventure in the their life. We've seen their hearts.

Change. Just the word alone makes me cringe. I often think of change as the opposite of security. Security is what is familiar to me. Security is 
predictability. It is routine. It is comfort. It is control. I guess when it comes down to it, security to me is the absence of change. The problem is, change is inevitable.
Change is always marked by the end of one thing and the beginning of something new. This time of year generates a lot of change for most people. It's the end of vacation time and the beginning of schedules, school, and new projects. It's the end of swimming suits and tank tops, and the beginning of jackets and jeans. It's the end of iced tea and lemonade and the beginning of cappuccinos and hot chocolates. The end of flip-flops and the beginning of Uggs. The end of sprinklers and lawn mowers, and the beginning of rakes and shovels. The end of the air conditioning, and the beginning of warm fireplaces and space-heaters. Some changes we dread and some we look forward to.
Throughout the past year, my mind has been consumed with a very big change that will be happening to my family just a few short weeks from now. One chapter is ending, and a new one is beginning. We are pulling up the roots that have grown deep into the soil of familiarity here in Des Moines, Iowa and replanting them in the soil of unfamiliarity, unpredictability, and discomfort in Nairobi, Kenya. When the Lord first started nudging our hearts to be missionaries in Africa, the fear of change overwhelmed me. Even now, so close to our departure date, I still have plenty of days when fear threatens to overpower me.
As we are preparing for Africa, I've been thinking a lot about my personal attitude towards change and how the LORD might be challenging me to see it from His eternal perspective. Watching beloved pieces of furniture and other meaningful objects be hauled out of our home, sent off to Goodwill or sold on the driveway, I've had to make a decision every day...sometimes every minute: What am I going to put my hope and trust in? Familiarity? Comfort? Routine? Predictability? Or will my hope be in the Unchangeable, Unshakeable, Loving, All-powerful, Sovereign God?
I've found that my fear of change is most overwhelming when I start thinking too much about me. If I base my attitude solely on my own abilities or inabilities to cope with change, I should be afraid! I know I can't do it. If I spend too much time thinking about how unqualified I am and how hard this change is going to be, my fears would paralyze me. And if I forget about the power that is in me through Christ and His limitless abilities to help me, protect me and guide me though all the unknowns, I would not cooperate with this change at all. I'd fight it, and desperately try to cling to my "content", routine, predictable life and miss a whole lot of great things that God could teach me when I am outside of my comfort zone.
But God says, "Forget the former things! Do not dwell on the past! See, I am doing a new thing!" (Isaiah 43:18-19) The question for all of us is this: Will we embrace His new beginning for our lives, or will we run from it?
It's when we're outside our comfort zones, living beyond ourselves, and trusting Him with each new step of the way that we can quit focusing on our own weaknesses and begin living in His strength and power. To know Him like that.....now that's my kind of new beginning!

Emily HolmertzEmily and PJ Holmertz along with their two children begin the adventure of a lifetime as they head to Africa at the end of this month.  You can follow them on their blog.http://holmertzadventures.aimsites.org/