"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

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Standing On the Promises of God

"The Lord is good, a refuge in times of trouble. He cares for those who trust in him," Nahum 1:7  
Those are the words I heard Friday afternoon from my mom's mouth.  Now admittedly this time she stumbled a bit on the final words but those are the words I have heard come from her mouth many times in the last few years.  I first noticed it neatly written on an index card and tacked to the bulletin board above her kitchen sink a long time ago.  No frills, no big deal. It was just there in the center with the appointment reminder cards and missionary prayer cards all around it.  I noticed but I didn't think too much about it. Now I'm thinking that I am so glad Mom took the time to memorize that verse.  She needs to really know that truth deep down in her heart and I believe she does. Like most all of us she has seen her share of "trouble" in this world. Her mom died when she was 11 and Grandpa didn't remarry until she was an adult. She married young the first time and that marriage did not last. The pain of adultery and "shame" (her word, not mine) of being the first divorced person in her immediate family was hard. But Mom has known for most of her life that God is with her each day, walking her through whatever comes her way.  She needs that now more than ever.

Friday afternoon when I heard those words Mom was lying in a hospital bed. To our knowledge nothing "life threatening" was going on but she collapsed twice in the previous two days. The second time she was definitely unconscious for a bit so the ambulance came and took her to the local hospital to get checked out.  The biggest problem is my mom has Alzheimer's Disease.  She is not completely "gone." She has moments of lucid thinking. She still recognizes all of us in the immediate family and remembers her siblings etc.  The thing about people with Alzheimer's (and many other forms of dementia) is that when they are taken out of their normal surroundings they typically become very confused and/or frightened.  I witnessed both as I sat with Mom at the hospital more vividly than I ever have.  She knew me when we got there a few hours after they had arrived at the hospital. She was pleased I was there which allowed my husband to go with my Dad to get him something to eat and pick up Mom's medicine.  In amongst the time alone with her she asked me repeatedly where she was and told me she was sure she could go home.  When I would explain that she had collapsed not once, but twice and we were trying to figure out why she would just shake her head or shrug her shoulders with a very puzzled look on her face. She would then resign herself to what I told her for a few minutes and then we would start all over. Out of the blue in the middle of the afternoon she quote Nahum 1:7.  I believe that even though physically she is at a state that most of what she knows is just trapped somewhere in her brain her spirit knows God. I believe her spirit connects with The Holy Spirit of God. That's important because Scripture promises us that He will help us in our time of need. Mom needs the security of God caring for her when she doesn't understand what is going on around her.  Besides that, it was also comforting for me to know that she had that piece of truth embedded deep in her heart.

I had never seen my Mom quite so frightened/panicked.  She depends on my father for everything and he has risen to the challenge of caring for the woman he loves even as he watches her disappear before his eyes. I am witnessing love "in sickness and in health." He continues to very respectfully speak to her and about her. He does not want to "worry" her about anything. This time both he and I had to speak calmly but very firmly that she needed"The Lord is good, a refuge in times of trouble. He cares for those who trust in him," Nahum 1:7  
My Dad is living with this truth in his heart as well.  Again, I was comforted knowing he is trusting in our Lord to get us through this season of life.

This weekend has taught me alot and reminded me of the importance of memorizing scripture.  We need God's word in our heart and mind to guide us when nothing else can.  I have a friend who started a blog to encourage her friends to memorize scripture. We all share what verse(s) we are working on twice a month. I think it's time I take this a bit more seriously. What about you?  Have you ever witnessed someone knowing just the right passage of scripture when they needed it? 

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Wellness Wednesday - Caring for Yourself

As my "season" of extra hours at my part-time job continues I am continuing to learn how to take care of myself through, not just after the season is over.  I don't know about you but usually when the "unexpected" or even the expected interruptions (holidays, vacations etc) come into my life my personal care goes out the window. I don't want to become a self-centered dictator type person that ignores everything that doesn't benefit me but ignoring me doesn't work either. So this time I'm taking a bit different approach.  The first week I did quite well at continuing with my "rocking" (running slowly/walking) then that fell off for 2 weeks.  However, rather than giving up entirely I started back Sunday. I took a long brisk walk with a friend combining my time for exercise with my friend that I haven't been able to spend much time with. It worked for both of us!  I've rocked the past 2 evenings after work. I must admit I felt satisfaction with myself last night that I did not let exercise completely escape my life.

Meanwhile in amongst the busy-ness I'm really working on drinking the necessary amount of water for me.  I'm drinking at least one 8 ounce glass of water before I leave for work. Then I'm filling a fun (orange), cheap plastic 72 ounce bottle with water and taking it to work. It has attracted a bit of attention and now others are talking about what they can do too! That's just bonus support! As of yet I have not gotten through the whole bottle but I'm working on it.

Lastly I have prioritized the daily chores around the house and only tried to accomplish the top of the list. Every day I've done some housework but not everything that could/should be done. Then I've taken time nearly every day to just relax a bit before bed time. I usually read or watch TV.

I have some female friends who live near a lake. Several of them go Kayaking in the mornings. This gives them exercise and a quiet time to recharge spiritually. I think anytime you can do something in nature it gives you an extra boost.  We don't take seriously how taxing the noise all around us is to our minds.

What do you do to take care of yourself in a busy season or do you even try? The Bible says our bodies are the "temple of God". God's Spirit lives within us. I don't want His home to be falling apart at the seams just because I wouldn't take the time. It's really not attractive to anyone for anything if you are constantly tired, unkempt and whiney. So I ask again what are you doing to take care of yourself?

Monday, October 24, 2011

Marrriage Monday - A Comfortable Weekend

This weekend was very comfortable for me.  I've been working extra hours for 3 weeks now. I can let that drive me crazy with the "what about getting______ done" but I've determined this is the current season I am in. I'm going to accept it for what it is. So when my husband asked me if I would take a mini  road trip to check out some bikes on Saturday (knowing we had tickets to a concert that night) I said, "yes!"  See in my past I would have said, I don't have time - house to clean, laundry to do, dishes to wash - you know the drill. And I probably would have been inwardly upset that he even asked..."couldn't he see all that I have to do? He could offer to help. Then at the end of the weekend when I sat down to watch one TV show "to relax" I would think, "where has the weekend gone? I'm not ready to go back to work yet. quiet grumble"  Why would I push myself like that?  Expectations.  Mostly my own possibly a few by others but really, truly mostly my own. 

I often do things because I believe someone else expects me to. The truth is if we trust God with our lives we should be doing things - every thing- out of love not our own expectations or guilt or for attention. There have been times in our marriage that I have chosen to do things out of fear of disappointing or upsetting my husband if I didn't. That is not the way a healthy relationship works. This weekend was so comfortable because I knew that Mark knew I'd been working alot. It was a beautiful day and there is nothing I like better than being outside after I've worked inside all day. There was something he wanted to check out AND he knew I'd be "happier" if I could enjoy some of the great weather we've been having and probably more productive.  He was right on both fronts.  In the past I would have said no, that I had too much to do around the house before going back to work on Monday. My mind would not have gotten a break and I wouldn't be in a good mood, ready to work again this morning. I'd be wishing I had enjoyed the weekend more and hoping that the clean pile of clothes and well swept floors would make my husband happy.  Well his clothes are clean. The house is reasonably clean and I'm recharged for this week.

What did we do to get to this point?  We just keep talking, praying and trusting God. God says "true love casts out fear." I'm not afraid to ask Mark what he really needs/wants from me today AND I'm willing to let some of my own expectations away. We talked about this "busy season" at work. We both realize it won't last forever. It's all about relationship which involves doing life together, trusting each other and God with outcomes.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Unthinkable Circumstances and Hope?

Find rest, O m soul, in God alone, my hope come from him. He alone is my rock and my salvation; He is my fortress, I will not be shaken. My salvation and my honor depend on God; he is my mighty rock, my refuge.  Psalm 62: 5-7

Yahweh Tsure (yah-WEH tsu-REE) The Lord My Rock - representing God's permanence, protection, and enduring faithfulness.

Gabriel Marcel defines hope as "a memory of the future." I had to stop and think about that one. To me it means that we are not "stuck" where we are at the present time. "This" is not all there is.  A very small example would be normally I work a half-time position, job sharing with another nurse. We have a set schedule but are free to trade days with one another, giving us great flexibility. However, for the past 3 weeks and at least one more we are all working full-time+ to make a huge transition in our office.  Right now I'm living with the hope that the future will be as it was in the past - part-time!  Obviously this example is not a major life event but the same thought process can work for us when it is.If we know that the Lord is My Rock - steady, permanent, solid in our lives we have reason to have hope.  Just because the circumstances of our life at this moment are chaotic and appear to be something we have to go "through" and not around does not mean I have to "give up."  I can have hope because my God is a "rock."  He has a plan for me. One of my favorite authors, Henry Blackaby asks this in his book about Abraham entitled, Created to Be God's Friend: How God Shapes Those He Loves.
"Have you ever felt the magnitude of God's encounter with you? Have you so sensed His eternal purpose through you that you have radically and thoroughly released your will to His will, and your heart to His Heart? Have you been progressively experiencing God's shaping your character to match His assignment in your life?...Every Christian is ...called by God to be on a mission with Him in His world." 
That thought can fill us with hope. Even in your current circumstances which can feel trapping, overwhelming, stifiling God is shaping me because He loves me. He created me with a purpose.  We have a "memory of the future" - a future that God planned, eternity with Him! That will never change. Hold on to your hope - hope in Christ.

I love this story of a 12 year boy who was having a nightmare that recurred several times in a month. In his dream whenever he focused on an object it would suddenly shrink and then start spinning counterclockwise at ever-increasing speeds. The experience was so unnerving that when he woke up, he saw objects in his bedroom growing smaller and smaller and then beginning to spin uncontrollably, just like in his nightmare. Finally one night the dream changed. "I was having the dream, " Christopher explained, "when suddenly a slab of stone appeared right in front of my face so I couldn't see anything else. It looked like it was some kind of marble and had handles on either side and writing on it. As soon as I saw it I grabbed on to the handles. When I looked closer, I realized the inscription read: "Jesus Is the Rock." It blocked out all the stuff that had been scaring me, and I never had the dream again."  When he looked at the stone, he couldn't see anything else.

Can you focus on our "Rock"? When we focus on God it totally changes our perspective. What are you looking at today?

Friday, October 21, 2011

Unthinkable Circumstances - Stretcher Bearers Part 2

Before we rush onto Chapter 5 (check back tomorrow) I want to think about "stretcher bearers" a bit more. When I met with the gals Wednesday night one of them commented she had never heard that term before.  It's something we have probably all experienced in our life in some way whether we called it that or not.  Now you have a title for those people who just won't let you do it alone.

Here's another story explaining the role of stretcher bearers. http://www.lifelovegreen.com/2011/10/blogger-bible-study-when-i-lay-my-isaac-down-ch-4/comment-page-1/#comment-3684  The part that stuck out to me the most was this:
Wow, we had an amazing bunch of stretcher barriers during and even after our fight with cancer. People inviting me over to their house for family dinners so I could eat with someone, 4 families in particular keep me social. I would say honestly without them keeping me going I don’t think my heart would have been ready for Mac when I met him, but because of these four families it was.  Did you catch that? 4 families - one for each corner of the mat as they lifted my daughter (and her husband before his death) up to Jesus. How did they do it?  They invited her into their families. They did not allow her to be alone.  Once again I am reminded that God created us for relationships.  We all need quiet times, times alone to settle and focus on the Lord. HOWEVER, we were not created to live life without other people "in" our life.  By "in" I mean allowing someone to really get to know us.  When we keep all of our thoughts in our head they spin around and around and how or where they come out no one can predict.  One thing I can tell you is that those thoughts are usually very distorted and do not often really help us in any way. In fact they (the thoughts) usually cause us more trouble.

Think back, tell me a time when you were thinking one thing and then someone shared with you and let you know it really was not at all like you were thinking.  Or share a specific time when you were lifted up by your stretcher bearers.  Have you ever thanked them?

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Wellness Wednesday - Where Did It Go?

Whoops, what happened to yesterday? You've had those kind of days. The ones that start when you wake up with about 25 things on your mind that you believe need done today! Yesterday was one of those days.  Right now I am on week three of full-time+ working at the medical office where I am normally 1/2 time.  We are taking on a new system and it is truly "all hands on deck."  For the most part it is going well but it is very intense and there is no clear leader for the team I work most closely with.  It's stressful for me because something I deal with on a regular basis is feeling responsible for "everything" I see.  However in this case, I am NOT the boss so I'm trying really hard to just take care of me and help others when appropriate.  I'm really starting to "feel" the stress of not being home to get the other things in my life taken care of in a timely way.  I'm not alone. The statistics prove that stress is one of the top health issues in America.

Time Magazine

Time magazine's June 6, 1983 cover story called stress "The Epidemic of the Eighties" and referred to it as our leading health problem; there can be little doubt that the situation has progressively worsened since then. Numerous surveys confirm that adult Americans perceive they are under much more stress than a decade or two ago.  A 1996 Prevention magazine survey found that almost 75% feel they have "great stress" one day a week with one out of three indicating they feel this way more than twice a week. In the same 1983 survey only 55% said they felt under great stress on a weekly basis. It has been estimated that 75 - 90 percent of all visits to primary care physicians are for stress related problems. Job Stress is far and away the leading source of stress for adults but stress levels have also escalated in children, teenagers, college students and the elderly for other reasons, including:  increased crime, violence and other threats to personal safety; pernicious peer pressures that lead to substance abuse and other unhealthy life style habits; social isolation and loneliness; the erosion of family and religious values and ties; the loss of other strong sources of social support that are powerful stress busters.(Taken from this web site. Check it outhttp://www.stress.org/americas.htm)

Why do we allow ourselves to get so stressed out?  I did great week one. I simplified life at home as much as possible. Easy meals, all the laundry caught up the weekend before but I only expected the extended schedule to last 2 weeks. Now I know it could go on for a  month or so.  I need to "reset" my brain. I need to ask the Lord to show me what really needs done and how to do it and then trust that He will do so.  As I often say, none of what is currently going on is a surprise to God. He has my life in His hands. I just need to allow Him to lead.

What role does stress play in your life?  How do you handle it?

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Unthinkable Circumstances - What Will You Lay Down?

It's important that we say again not everyone has the shocking circumstance of having a family member shoot another person. Your unthinkable circumstance is as individual as you are. It's not important that your circumstance is like mine. It's your life. If it's "unthinkable" to you, then that is what it is.

I'm sharing my daughter's blog entry again. I think it's important that we get thoughts from others. I'm convinced anytime we separate ourselves from others for any length of time we get ourselves in more trouble. http://www.lifelovegreen.com/2011/10/blogger-bible-study-when-i-lay-my-isac-down-ch-3/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+life-love-green+%28Life%2C+Love%2C+Green%29

Share some of your story of "laying your Isaac down". You are not unusual, uncommon or alone.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Unthinkable Circumstances - Stretcher Bearers

As we continue along this journey of dealing with "unthinkable circumstances" in our lives and in the lives of those around us today I'd like to focus on the "those around us" part.  Carol Kent sums it up well in chapter 4 of her book "When I Lay My Isaac Down" using the term "stretcher bearers."  It's taken from a story told twice in the gospels, in Mark and in Luke 5:17-26.  The very short version is there is a paralyzed man who can't get to Jesus for any kind of help because of his paralysis. However, some friends come and carry him on his stretcher into Jesus presence. It wasn't easy to move him through the crowds - in fact they carried him to the roof of the house where Jesus was and lowered him through the roof to Jesus.

There are times when our unthinkable circumstances can "paralyze" us.  We then need our friends to help us through those times.  We need to allow them to help us. Often our pride gets in the way.  I remember sitting at my table one evening very early in our story of "unthinkable circumstances." Overwhelmed with thoughts, wondering what to do next. I was trying to keep up with "business as usual" type activities and deal with the new chaos in our life.  I answered the telephone to hear a friend, a casual friend - not even one of my "best buddies" say, "Jody, you need to allow us to help you. Don't worry about the children's ministry. We will take care of it. Let us do this."  The Lord had laid it on her heart that I was struggling, not wanting to let anything go.  She obeyed.  The kids were taken care of and I was relieved of some pressure.

The paralyzed man in scripture faced a big obstacle. The crowd was so big he couldn't get through. His friends saw his need and they worked together to help him get to Jesus. Jesus then took care of him.  That's a lesson for everyone involved. The paralyzed man was healed because he allowed others to help him get to Jesus. The friends saw the power of listening to the call (in their hearts) for help and obeying. I'm sure their faith grew as they watched the miracle happen. God was glorified in every step of this act.

Are you allowing others to help you when they offer?  Are you helping others? Are you listening to the prompts of the Holy Spirit in your heart and reaching out?  Can you share a time when you have been on either side of this type of act to encourage others to do the same?

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Wellness Wednesday - Take Some Time

One of the hardest things for me to remember to do is to take care of me.  You know, the day gets going and there is work to be done, people to talk to, notes to write and music to learn/discover.  This doesn't even count the time to physically get ready for the day and make the meals.  Then my spouse or kids or friend or co-worker looks at me and says, "I need help" and off I go again.  Generally speaking this is life. However, if I don't take care of myself there will be a time I can't help them. 

I first witnessed this in action when I was a hospice director. Often the caregiver gave and gave and gave some more. You can understand why perfectly. Their time with their loved one is obviously limited. But when the caregiver doesn't rest or get a break - even just an hour or two a day they end up so tired that they often get sick. What happens to the patient then? The sick caregiver shouldn't be around them. It takes longer than an hour or two to get over being sick so they are actually separated much longer.  The same principle is true in all of life.  If we don't take care of ourselves we can't help others or do all that we want to do for that matter.

So today I'm encouraging you to take a little time for yourself. It really should be daily but at least every couple of days.  We are working through a major change at my workplace which requires we all be there every day, all day for a couple of weeks. (even though I'm normally 1/2 time) There is even over-time involved in that and then my husband and I took a class all day Saturday, went to a volleyball game that night and helped in church all Sunday morning.  Monday night after work I went to the beauty shop and got my hair washed and cut and got pampered a bit.  Yep, there were things to do at home. Yep, some of them are still waiting to be done but I felt so much better. Other days it's just time to read a bit, or look for new recipes. Every day I should exercise.  I want to be strong to live this life fully for a long time.

What are your ways to take care of yourself?  Let's share some ideas and help each other think outside the box. I'm not only giving you permission but a prescription to take care of yourself.  Take some time!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Can you "see"?

I've been thinking about the story in II Kings 6: 8-23. In it the prophet Elisha warns the King of Israel multiple times when enemies are lurking about ready to attack. Eventually someone tells the King of Aram (a bad guy) that it's Elisha that is causing him all this difficulty.  He orders his people to find out where Elisha is so he can "send someone and capture him."  It' s pretty clear plan. Send a spy, report the intel and implement a capture. We've seen it in movies and TV shows a hundred times.  So will Gibbs (NCIS) and his gang save the day?  The story moves on. The report comes back. "He's in Dotham." It says the King dispatched horses and chariots, "an impressive fighting force." (The Message) They came in at night and surrounded the city. Early that morning the "man of God" who assisted Elisha got up and saw their plight. They were completely surrounded. For two non-soldier types this could be really bad. "O Master, what shall we do?" the man cried.  I love Elisha's reply.  He didn't hesitate. He knew who was really in charge, who always had and who would continue taking care of them. He says, "Don't be afraid," the prophet answered. "Those who are with us are more than those who are with them."  Then Elisha does something amazing to me. He prays "Lord open his eyes so he may see."  He doesn't pray "hell fire and brimstone" as the saying goes. He doesn't rally the local guards and/or army. He doesn't send a messenger to the King of Israel.  He prays for his partner to see what he already knows is there.  Then the Lord opens the man's eyes and he sees that "hills are full of horses and chariots around Elisha."  As the enemy came closer Elisha prays again, this time for blindness of the enemy. They become blind and he (Elisha) leads them into the city to be captured.

Elisha knew that God was protecting him. I mean he really knew it. When a threatening time came he did not panic or melt into a puddle of tears to become the sacrificial lamb. He stood on what he knew to be true. God would handle it. He even believed God could do it in an unconventional way.

How many times (maybe daily) have I allowed my thoughts to scare me right into a corner?  "O Lord, I'm surrounded. There is no way out." and then I give up in defeat or allow myself to "think" myself right into some sort of defensive action. After all I need to stand up for myself, right? I'm in charge of me. I shouldn't let others control me...you know the lingo. However as children of God we don't have to defend ourselves. That's a reaction that Satan likes to take and use against us because it seems so "right" in many cases. Our God is our best defense. He has our back - really. We are surrounded by God's "horses and chariots". Today someone I care about deeply believes she is in a corner with only one way out, to defend herself. In that mentality her choices seem limited. She can't imagine any other way.  I'm praying to our Lord that He might "open her eyes to see." I believe that when she "sees" the truth that God "has her back" she will allow God to do what He does, take care of us.  Are you feeling cornered today? Remember God has you surrounded. He loves you. Ask Him to show you His defense for you. I believe He will do it.

Please read this post and the story in it's entirety.  I'm not telling anyone to ly down like a rug and get walked on. I'm saying ask God to show you His defense. Then do what He asks you to do, if He asks you to do something.  Elisha led the enemy into the city and eventually they were sent on their way. He didn't just throw up his arms and surrender. What I'm saying is God knows your situation and has a plan. Allow God to work His plan in your life for you.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Unthinkable Circumstances - Being Present

In Carol Kent's book, When I Lay My Issac Down, chapter 3 she acknowledges the "power of presence". She is referring to the power of someone being there for you.  Someone who is not expecting conversation, does not need to be overtly positive and busy doing something. They are just quietly there to support you.

When my husband completely crashed after our son-in-law was diagnosed with terminal cancer I was overwhelmed with the responsibilities of every day life plus my hurting family members.  My husband wanted me around 24/7 at that point in time. I remember feeling guilty when I needed some time to just do "regular" things like laundry and paying bills etc. Very early in that time period great friends Jeff and Dave would come and just sit in the room with my husband.  They didn't force conversation. They didn't insist on "doing" something. They didn't even audibly pray although I'm pretty sure that is what they were doing as they sat there so quietly.  They were present. It was a HUGE gift to us. We (my husband and I) both needed it.  I know that if I had asked them to do something (and sometimes I did) they would have but just being there was what we really needed.  To me that is a perfect picture of the love of Christ.  He is "there" for us. He is "present" in our lives.  He is waiting for us to acknowledge His love, His presence, His ability to help us.  Sometimes I forget this in the midst of life's circumstances. I forget that Christ is seated in the room with me, quietly watching and waiting for me to let Him help.  Sometimes His presence is all I need - a reminder that I'm not alone. Other times I need His help which he is more than willing to give.

Where-ever you are in your life circumstances remember that God is there with you. If you are on the other side of life right now but one of your friend or family is suffering maybe it's your time to go and be "present."  What are some other ways God has showed you His presence?

Friday, October 7, 2011

Unthinkable Circumstances - Joining in

As I prepared to write today I just wondered where to start and then I noticed a post by my daughter and as I teared up I knew where to start.  No matter where you are in life today there is a truth from scripture that shows up in individual verses but even more than that is a principal taught in all of scripture. Life is a "we" situation. We were not meant to do this life alone.  First we need out relationship with the Lord. If we really get to know the Lord then we can trust Him, be honest with Him, cry out to Him, laugh with Him and just plain live with Him.

After our relationship with God is established then we need to realize that we need relationships, real honest relationships. Too often we have "friends" but we keep them at an "arms length" away.  At that distance they can't hug us. They can't really touch us, look us in the eye and tell us they care enough to tell us the truth. We think about everything and decide for ourselves what is supposed to happen or what they are thinking or will think. Then we try to "take care of it." At that point we are "playing God." We are trying to control everything.  To sum this up I'd love for you to go to my daughters blog and here what she has to say. She sums it up well. http://www.lifelovegreen.com/2011/10/when-i-lay-my-isac-down-ch-1/  It really is worth the read.  I'll expand on all of this more tomorrow.

There is more we have to talk about for this week. Do you believe? Do you have times of unbelief? Are you just unsure of what is what? It's a part of the process. If you come back and/or "do" this with others we (you with others) can walk through this together.  It's the being alone in your thinking that causes problems.  In your mind you can perceive anything to be the truth. If you don't let others in it can be very dangerous. Decisions that get made alone are often ones that prolong our situation or cause more heartache. I would encourage you if you are making decisions about your life to pray, read your Bible and consult with others you care about and respect. You might find they have a perspective you haven't thought of or don't really want what you think they do.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Wellness Wednesday - Healthier Eating

7 Steps to Healthier Eating 
Is mealtime frustrating at your house? Well, it doesn't have to be. By initiating these few tips you can build your relationship with God and your family, spend quality time together, eat healthier, save money and maybe even lose some weight.

1. Eat together as a family. Take time every day to eat together at the table. Give everyone an opportunity to bond and connect. Spend a few minutes sharing information and news of the day. Spend time modeling good table manners and teaching new social skills. Strive to eat together as a family at least 4 or more times a week. Research indicates that teenagers of families who eat more meals together are 3 times less likely to try marijuana, 2.5 times less likely to smoke cigarettes and 1.5 times less likely to try alcohol. Eating more meals together also helps kids improve their grades and gives them a more positive outlook. 

2. Pray for the food God provides. Praying is a privilege and thanking God in prayer for your food reminds your family that He is the source of everything you have, including your food. Prayers of thanksgiving help your family to be good witnesses to Christians and non-Christians alike. When you go to a restaurant, tell the server that you are going to pray for your meal and ask him/her if there is anything you can pray for them. You will be a powerful witness and may be surprised at the types of prayer requests you receive. (Just remember to leave a generous tip.) 

3. Chew your way to better health. The more you chew your food, the easier it is for it to be digested. Chewing your food well helps your body distribute the nutrients from your food throughout your body. It also tricks your mind into thinking you are full thus you may eat less and lose weight. Chewing well may also prevent gastric illnesses such as acid reflux or IBS. 

4. Dine in a relaxed environment. Reduce stress by getting everyone involved in meal planning and preparation so no one person is totally responsible for the meal. Create fun games, tell stories and be humorous at mealtime. Focus on each other's accomplishments and celebrate them. 

5. Eat mindfully. Turn off the television, music, cell phones and computers. Use the freshest whole foods possible and savor each bite. Be aware of your surroundings in mind, body and spirit. Reduce your expectations and keep things simple. 

6. Prepare and eat more meals at home. Eating out costs 2 to 4 times more money than eating at home. You also have more control over portion size and types of food, consequently making healthier choices. 

7. Be creative at mealtime. Use smaller plates and bowls to control portion sizes. Vary your table linens and decorations. Play fruit basket upset and switch places with family members at the table.  

Enjoy life-long memories and experience good health by creating a fun and relaxing atmosphere to enjoy your food and family.

Shari HudsonShari Hudson is a professional organizer and owner of Organized by Design in West Des Moines, IA. She is currently enrolled in the Global College of Natural Medicine studying holistic health and nutrition.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Laughter Doeth Good Like a Medicine!

Some days you just need to laugh. Today as I put out our fall decorations I was reminded of that.  One day several years ago now when our son-in-law was still alive suffering with cancer my daughter and I made a run to Michaels craft store.  As we left this is what we saw:
It made us laugh out loud.  And as I remember that day, we needed to laugh.  To my surprise that Christmas I opened a large but lightweight package marked To Mom, From Amber.  Yep, you guessed it. She went back another day and got all the supplies and made me a silly pumpkin.  I LOVE IT! It makes me laugh every year when I get it out.  Is is a gorgeous, sophisticated craft? No!  Was it super detailed and intricate? No!  Is is something that makes me smile and/or laugh every single time I see it.
We all need to laugh, lighten up and realize the blessings around us.

So enjoy my silly pumpkin and LAUGH!

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Control - A Simple Word

"Control" - It's such a simple word. It's not hard to pronounce or even to spell. But it IS so deceiving. We all think we want it, even need it. I often justify my need for control.  I love my family Lord, just let me help them, I think to myself. After all, I know what they need.

This weeks less on "relinquishment" goes far beyond "unthinkable circumstances". It deals with every day life for most if not all of us.  As I sit here this morning I can think of at least 3 situations in my life I'd love to "take care of"...however, (deep sigh) I know that I am not in charge. Nor do I need to be. God loves those I'm thinking of more than I do. He knows the number of the hairs on their heads. He created them and he'll take care of them. I need to "relinquish" them and their situations. I need to "give up my rights to control the person, dream, expectation, or preferred outcome of the object of my concern."  As a mother (yes, even of adult children) I sometimes think I could save my children so much heartache if they would just listen to me. I could tell them what they should be doing. Then they should do it and life would be great, less hurt, more joy.  However, if you have lived life at all we all know that they lessons we learn ourselves, decisions we make ourselves sink deeper into our souls then lessons we were "served on a silver platter."

When Mark and I were training to be marriage mentors two of the best lessons I learned were:
1.  It's ALWAYS better if you wait and allow the mentorees to say the answer themselves. Even when you know it and it seems so obvious but they aren't coming up with it. Let them think. Ask lots of questions but let them answer.
2. It's their marriage (life).  We can present the truth. We can offer to support them. We can pray. BUT it is their life.  It is their choice. It is not mine.

These lessons apply to all of life. As I said earlier there are at least 3 situations in the lives of people I love that I would like to "fix." I can't. But I can "relinquish" them to God who loves them more than I do. I can pray for them, for their protection in the process, for their ability to see and choose truth. After that, it's all up to God!  Will you join me? Take a minute to pray right now and give God the people,dream, expectation, or preferred outcome you are holding on to.