"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, December 30, 2011

Goal Setting

It's December 30th. We will be leaving shortly to head to the wedding of a dear friend but in the meantime it's one of my favorite times of the year. It's the end of this year and the start of another. A time of reflection and dreaming of the future, making plans, and exploring possibilities.  I really like this time.  I like looking back in my journal and being reminded of all that has gone on in the past year(s).  Not just the "big" stuff - I can remember that without my journal but the little things, the details of the big stuff that might otherwise get forgotten/missed and the personal little things that often develop into something significant in my life. It's a time of celebration of what has happened and looking forward.  I strongly believe in journaling but if that terminology intimidates you or just doesn't appeal to you at the very least I would encourage you to do this:

1. Make a list of all the things you can think of that happened this past year that you are thankful for.  Don't let the little things slip by - like being home when a friend you haven't seen in years stopped by.

2. Make a list of some goals for 2012. I'd suggest one thing for your physical well being, one thing for your spirit and one that's good for your soul - something to enrich your individual life.  Why write them down? Because if you don't you will lose track of them and possibly never accomplish them.  After you've written them up, mark your calendar quarterly for the next year. Mark a day to review your goals. (You don't have to take a whole day - just review them on this day) This will help to keep you focused and on the road to accomplishing your goals.  Now, does this guarantee that you will accomplish all of your goals? No. I've missed more than I've made but I've gotten alot further for taking the time to figure out where I'm headed and what I need to do to get there.  Remember this is a grace-filled life. God's mercies are "new every morning." So if you miss your goal, you just start again!

My husband and I revise our "spending plan" each and every year based on past expenses, known upcoming expenses and our goals for that year.  Last year we set it knowing we had some medical bills and we chose to do some work on our house.  We achieved our goals of paying off all of those bills. However, in the past 6 months we quit paying close attention to some of the smaller things coming our way, some of the "little details". End result, we have to really buckle down the purse-strings for the next few months. For the time being this canceled our vacation. RATS. Good lesson with very little actual "pain".  We are very blessed to be able to pay all of the bills we had and have way more "things" than many, many people. We're fine - in fact we're more than fine. This little bump caused us to talk, again about what is really important to us and re-focus on what we want to do with our life.  I share this little piece of our life to encourage you to write down your goals AND to review them on a regular basis.  Keep the "main thing the main thing"!

Anybody else want to share a goal setting story, success or failure??

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Wellness Wednesday - Take Some Time

Today's wellness thought is not involved but it's not always easy.  Take some time to be quiet. Yes, that is what I said, quiet.  Shut off the TV and the music.  Find a corner away from the rest of the family.  That may mean you need to go somewhere outside your home, or maybe just to the basement and shut the door.  I suggest beginning by taking time to be thankful for all you have and the people in in your life. Then just ask God what He wants to tell you and then, be quiet.  It's hard but just let your mind think through it's thoughts. The pace will eventually slow and you may or may not "land" on a thought that you just can't "shake" off.  Write that thought down and really ponder it. (Ponder, isn't that a great word) Soak in that thought.  If you are lead look up a verse that seems to tie to your thought but don't rush to do an involved, all-inclusive study of the all the verses connected to the original one. Just stay put.  Your time may not be enough to "finish" the thought. That's okay.  When you have to physically move on you still have your note to yourself.  Return to that note in the days to come until you feel that you have worked it all the way through and come to a conclusion, conviction or plan. Record that outcome -and date it.  You may need to come back to it in the upcoming year to remind yourself what the Lord told you.

This kind of time keeps up from being swayed by everything that comes into or by our lives. Some of them very good ideas but they might not be for you at this point in your life. We are happier, more content and peace-filled when we know who God is, who we are, and where we are headed.  We may not know all the details of any of those areas but that's where faith comes in!

Would you share where you go or how you "get quiet"?  You just might encourage someone else to try.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Simplicity is a "popular" word right now.  Many of our younger adult friends are into living "simple", getting "back to the basics" etc. etc.  We think (and rightfully so on many counts) it's because our world is so busy. While I do agree that our world is busy and noisy I'm not sure that this is a new thing at all.  I think we are very a very easily distracted people.  We can be perfectly happy one minute and then we hear a new song on the radio (or Pandora or Spotify) and all of the sudden our music collection is way out of date. So we're "off" hunting the latest download. Oops, what was it we were doing before we heard that song?  It's just that simple.  This morning I stumbled across this devotional thought from a couple weeks ago by one of my new favorite authors, Gary Thomas.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Simple Things: A Devotion for Advent

“So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David.  He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child.  While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son.  She wrapped him in strips of cloth and placed him in a manger, because there was no room in the inn.”  Luke 2:4-7

            The storming of the Bastille was the seminal event that unleashed the tumultuous French revolution; Europe would never be the same.  And yet, astonishingly, King Louis XVI’s diary entry for that day was “14/7 1789: Nothing”.
            Sometimes the greatest historical events are missed by contemporary observers, and that was certainly the case with the birth of Jesus. A relatively poor husband, a soon-to-be mother, and an unborn child stood poised to change the course not just of history, but of eternity, yet there was nothing to mark the grand occasion--no parades, no banners, no reporters, not even the most basic comforts.             Martin Luther writes, “Behold how very ordinary and common things are to us that transpire on earth, and yet how high they are regarded in heaven. On earth it occurs in this wise: Here is a poor young woman, Mary of Nazareth, not highly esteemed, but of the humblest citizens of the village.  No one is conscious of the great wonder she bears, she is silent, keeps her own counsel, and regards herself as the lowliest in the town….  Imagine how she was despised at the inns and stopping places on the way, although worthy to ride in state in a chariot of gold.”             If you were writing People magazine during the first century, there would be thousands of couples you’d include before you would mention this one.  Mary was from the segment of the population that would never be featured in People magazine.  Luther goes on, “There were, no doubt, many wives and daughters of prominent men at that time, who lived in fine apartments and great splendor, while the mother of God takes a journey in mid-winter under most trying circumstances.”             How much we miss when our eyes follow glamour instead of substance, and romance instead of love!  “They were the most insignificant and despised, so that they had to make way for others until they were obliged to take refuge in a stable, to share with the cattle, lodging, table, bedchamber and bed, while many a wicked man sat at the head in the hotels and was honored as lord.  No one noticed or was conscious of what God was doing in that stable… See how God shows that he utterly disregards what the world is, has or desires; and furthermore, that the world shows how little it knows or notices what God is, has and does.”             This Christmas season, let’s remind ourselves that the values of God’s Kingdom bear little resemblance to this world’s.  This ignored baby would one day teach His disciples, “the first shall be last, and the last shall be first.”  But even at His birth He demonstrated, as Luther writes, “the world’s greatest wisdom is foolishness, her best actions are wrong and her greatest treasures are misfortunes.”              As followers of this humble baby, we are called to notice those whom a world lusting after glamor often ignores. We are to prize character over immodesty, generosity over affluence, and humility over power.  We are not to value people because they have fine clothes, expensive cars, or famous faces—God’s greatest heroes are often nondescript, anonymous, and less than pleasing to the eye.             Luther reminds us, “Behold how very richly God honors those who are despised of men…  The angels [couldn’t] find princes or valiant men to whom to communicate the good news; but only unlearned laymen, the most humble people upon earth… See how utterly God overthrows that which is lofty!  And yet we rage and rant for nothing but this empty honor, as if we had no honor to seek in heaven.”             This advent, what do you find yourself seeking--approval from the world, success in society’s eyes, or obedience to the King of Kings?              If God has placed you in a high place, good for you—be faithful where you are.  If God has called you to an entry level position, or one of utter anonymity, concern yourself with the applause of heaven, not being mentioned in The Huffington Post, The New York Times, or USA Today.  What I love about worshipping at Second Baptist in Houston is that a CEO sits next to the receptionist; a business owner passes the communion plate to a customer; the banker studies Scripture with the mortgage holder.              What binds us isn’t our status in the world, but our union in Christ.  Those who seek glamor and fame would have missed Jesus while panting at the feet of Herod.  May we not make such a foolish mistake.

Let's take a few minutes to consider Gary's words. Where are you?

You can check out more of what he has to say at http://askgarythomas.blogspot.com/   if you are interested.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Our Foundation

Over this holiday weekend we choose to go to my parents church with them. It has been a very long time since we have been there. This is the church I grew up in. A small, simple church filled with generations of families that have been worshipping there for years. There are not many frills in it's building's structure nor the service. No flashy videos or back drops to the speaker. No bands or choirs but lots of Bibles, hymnals and people. People who notice when you come and haven't been there for a long time. They even know who you "go with".  We didn't need to tell anyone we were Howard and Carol's kids. They knew.  They notice when my parents aren't there. They pray for and keep track of each other as much as you will let them. When our son-in-law was ill with cancer, they prayed and supported my parents as grandparents of a young man with terminal cancer. We didn't have much energy to give them but their church family did. 

I sat in the pew and sang Christmas carols led only by the piano played by an accomplished pianist who humbly gives her time on a weekly basis. As I sat there I realized the simplicity of the church I was raised in gave me a very strong foundation to weather the changing seasons of life. My family's church is not perfect, none of them are. But it's strength is it is based on the Bible, God's word. It's not dependent on one pastor or music, sports or after school programs.  Those things can be good and I have participated in, led and taken my family to all of those kinds of programs over the years. But what I realized this weekend is, I can do that because I learned to trust in God, first. As a kid I was taught that the Bible told us about God and that God wanted to have a relationship with us.  I, like Abraham in Romans 4:19 am "fully persuaded that God has power to do what He has promised." In fact there is a hymn that uses that verse for lyrics and I learned that at church as a kid. I can still hum the melody.

That belief has carried me through each "adventure" in my life, the good, the bad and the ugly.  We're bumping up against some circumstances that aren't "fun" right now.  But, as in the other times in my life, I know that God has promised to care for me, to teach me, and to protect me in the process. He didn't promise to magically remove all difficulties in this life. He did promise to never leave me or forsake me. I am "fully persuaded that he is able to do all that He promised.  Knowing that makes all the difference. It allows me to not give up on relationships, or circumstances even when I can't see how it is all going to work out. That has served me well in my lifetime.

As 2011 comes to a close it's a good time to reflect on your core beliefs. To give thanks for lessons learned that you can build your life on. Can you name one person or circumstance that you recognize today as something that helped you build your foundation?

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Wellness Wednesday

I was struck this morning with the simplicity of doing the right thing.  We make this wellness thing so hard.  We need lots of tests and books and exercise equipment and kitchen tools. Special food bought from special "health" stores not to mention calming candles, soothing music, lights...well you get the idea.  This morning I was reading in 2 Timothy 3:10-17.  I suggest you read it for yourself in your favorite version of the Bible or maybe even in several versions. I love doing that to try to discover some different perspectives on what the words mean. Now, with wellness in mind listen to these words:

 You, however, know all about my teaching, my way of life, 
my purpose, faith, patience, love, endurance, persecutions, sufferings 
- what kinds of things happened to me in Antioch...
Yet the Lord rescued me from all of them.
In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted...
But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of,
because you know those from whom you learned it...

Please note I do not have any kind of educational degree in Biblical interpretation but here is my take on this.  Paul is basically saying you know and see my life. You know that my purpose is faith, patience, love  which sounds like a stellar Christian life so far. He continues including endurance, persecutions and sufferings.  To a certain extent if you've been around the Christian faith very long you know that some suffering and persecution is a part of the package. However did you notice that word,  endurance. Hmmm, he is noting that we need to have endurance as a part of our life.  I can't think of a better way in this life to learn endurance than in your favorite exercise of choice.  In order for it to benefit you have to stick with it! Walking one day or even for a week or two is a great start but you won't reap much benefit if you don't keep it up.

Let's move on for a minute, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of.
We have all heard or read what we need to do for exercise and food intake.  There are many, many articles written and published every day on this topic. We just need to do what we know to be true. What I believe may be different than what you believe - but you have to do it, consistently, or what was that word? Endure. You need to endure doing the right thing.  I believe that we are better off the more we eat what I call "real food."  I have come to the conclusion that I would rather eat food made from scratch than from a powder in a box.  I would rather have food without sugar substitutes made by man and just have a smaller portion than more of one full of chemicals.  Now, will you find a macaroni and cheese box mix in my cupboard? Yep, and you will find frozen pizzas in the freezer. Sometimes you just need something easy and fast. (I know there are healthy ways to eat easy and fast too) What I am saying is I just need to live each day making decisions that are consistent with what I believe. Can their be exceptions? Yes and without guilt and condemnation!  In all the thousands of articles regarding health research, the consistent theme is you have to eat equal or less calories than you burn in a day to maintain or lose weight. This decreases your chances of developing many major diseases. (period)  No fancy words. No high priced plans. No complicated schedules. Simple. Eat food with nutritional value in reasonable amounts.  Can you have a treat? Sure. Just let it be what it is - a treat, not a regular occurance. 
By the way, this same simple principle applies to exercise.  We just need to do it on a regular basis. It needs to be a part of our life just like work and eating. It is necessary to keep you active and healthy.

I'd love to hear one thing that you "have learned and become convinced of" in your life. Don't be shy. Others might need to hear what you have learned to reinforce what they are considering.  If you have a question why don't you ask that as well. Someone may have the answer!  This is all about living life in community.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Putting the Christmas Crazies to Rest

As I sit here on a beautiful Saturday morning 1 week before Christmas I want to encourage you.  No, I want to CHALLENGE you to put the Christmas Crazies to rest.  STOP for 5 minutes, just 5 minutes.  Take a deep breath and say this prayer with me. Lord, show me how to celebrate your birthday with my family and friends. Amen. Now grab a piece of paper and a pencil if necessary to write down what really has to happen in the next week. Having been married for 30 years and having grown kids I've been through this a few more times than some of you. Looking back this week the times I am remembering are the simple times. So let me make some suggestions for you to think about as you make your holiday choices.
1. This season is about celebrating the birth of Christ so talk about that with your family. I had a book that had simple family friendly ideas for the whole month of December. It even suggested when to do your holiday baking etc so you didn't forget things. Maybe you could use a book to help you. If it's too late for this year shop at your local Christian bookstore after Christmas for next year!

2. I remember turning down the regular lights to better enjoy the Christmas lights and drinking hot chocolate after the kids were in bed to calm down and do a little Christmas time reflection.

3. Making Christmas cookies with the kids involved was a must. Yep, it's a mess, but then I'm a mess in the kitchen no matter what so who cares?  One year I even made them matching aprons.  We made "gingerbread houses" out of graham crackers more than one year.  As they got older we made real gingerbread houses. Frosting cut out cookies is always way more fun when you do it together.

4. Gifts - DO NOT LET THIS STRESS YOU OUT OR CAUSE YOU TO GO INTO DEBT. For our family we kept it pretty simple but fun. We always gave the kids a book to encourage reading and an item of clothing that they actually needed. (It's way more fun to get something wrapped up and unwrap it as a surprise than it is to go buy new pj's) Then we'd get them a couple of fun presents. One of the Christmas' we all remember the most we collected big boxes for a week or two before Christmas. Then we made them do a treasure hunt which led to the basement play room full of big boxes.  It was March before those boxes were all gone. They made a maze, a train, forts and that's not all but it's all I can remember right now. Another trick is wrap EVERYTHING. You know, the batteries separate from the game. The pj top separate from the bottoms - everything! It draws out the unwrapping and can make for a lot of laughter.  Several years we gave each of the kids two homemade gift certificates to stop at a toy store on the way to Grandma's Christmas Eve day and pick out their own new toys.  Sounds dangerous but we learned that they had far simpler taste than we did.  We did tell them that we had $ limits but never were burdened with it. This was a huge help to our budget! AND the shopping was a big part of the gift. Just being allowed to look at all the possibilities in the store and then pick out what they wanted. (Note to grown ups, you can not rush this process. Be patient. That is your biggest gift to them. Let them enjoy it.)

5. Go caroling somewhere and don't forget to watch for all the fun Christmas lights in your town as you go.

Done.  See I don't remember fancy dinners and just the "perfect" outfit for me or for our kids. Parties bigger than the neighbors or gifts for everyone at work or on the block. I remember smiles and giggles and being together with the kids. (and extended family) My husband's family all crowd into his parent's too small for all of us house and play card games and eat snacks after the kids open their presents. We love it! Being together celebrating the birth of Christ is what it is all about. Keep it simple.

For some great ideas for the Christmas school break time why don't you visit my friend, Cindy's blog http://cindybultema.blogspot.com/2011/12/surviving-thriving-on-christmas.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+ReflectionsOfHisBeauty+%28She+Sparkles%29

Friday, December 16, 2011

Opportunities to Make a Difference

This morning I've just been pondering the power of our thoughts. One author was encouraging me to keep an "eternal perspective."  He meant that in each situation that comes into my day to remember that it is not just about the moment. It's about eternity. It's not about whether I get my way or credit for the work I just finished. It's about getting the work done right, people cared for and thereby sharing the love of Christ. God knows what we are and are not doing, being, thinking....  Sometimes I make this waaaaay to hard.  I think living for Christ involves becoming a missionary or other vocational ministry worker. WRONG.  It means being you where-ever you are. (period)  My friend Arlin said it this way this morning.  (He is finishing up some business meetings in Chicago I think.)

Last night we headed across the street to Gibson’s Steakhouse.  That was an experience in eating.  The meal started with a show of the steaks and seafood – tableside with an explanation of the Gibson FDA meat certification.  They are the only restaurant in the US with their own grade.  The filet was extremely good and the side dishes were fabulous as well.   Here are a few pictures of the food we had there.  The meat was amazing, but the desserts were crazy.  The table split two desserts and couldn’t finish them – not by a long ways.  The Turtle Pie had one gallon of ice cream and the carrot cake was a quarter of a four layer cake.  I have to admit besides being very full, I felt a little guilty about the amount of food that was wasted and the cost of our time together there.  It certainly wasn’t the most expensive meal I have ever been part of by a long shot – the prices were actually pretty decent.  But we had talked earlier in the day about a trip to Africa that one of the members was making and the attempt to raise money to help schools across the ocean just have enough power to run some notebook computers.  I find myself more and more thinking about the wasteful spending of money as people are suffering.  Anyone else struggle with that reality – that we Americans are spoiled and could use our money in a lot better ways.
My little patch has plenty of opportunities to make a difference for people.  This week as I have been involved in groups talking life and legacy plans – I have heard the words – I want to make a difference – on many reports and discussions.  I have been convicted that life is not about making a difference – it is about being a difference.  That little change of words – from make to be – is a significant change in responsibility.  God convicted me that I can make a difference without really doing all that much myself.  It is a matter of getting others focused and managing their output.  If we are going to be a difference – we have to do something.  That is what God desires – for us to go and do things in order to be a difference.  We need to follow God’s lead to help us truly change people’s lives by being what God desires.  Are you ready to be?  Another day of Masterminds before we head home tomorrow.  God is so good.  (Emphasis mine)

Everyday, where-ever you are is the world you live in and the opportunities God has given YOU to live for and with Him.  Is that the attitude you have today? If not, give it a shot and see if it makes a difference in your day. Then share about your day with us! We'd love to hear what you do or do not notice.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Wellness Wednesday - Tuning Up Your Instrument

I can't tell you exactly when but sometime over the past nearly 6 years now my friend, Shari and I, began to learn what had only been words to me up till that point: Our physical health effects our spiritual health which effects our emotional health.  Now don't get me wrong. I'm a woman. I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that my physical health effected my emotions.  If I'm tired, look out! I could explode or melt down at the drop of a hat as the old saying goes.  I, like many,  am learning That we have spent most of our lives, "growing our souls, not always realizing that lack of physical discipline can undercut and even erode spiritual growth." as Gary Thomas says in his new book, "Every Body Matters".  I have totally used the line of thinking that our spiritual health and maturity is much more important than our physical health. What that boils down to however is an excuse to not exercise on a regular basis when time is tight. Seriously, it's basically just another excuse in my long line of excuses.   While I still believe that my relationship with God is or should be my number one priority there is much to be learned from physical discipline. Physical and spiritual discipline are not mutually exclusive, even if I would like them to be at times.

Gary Thomas does a good job of reminding us of all the times that the Bible talks of the silver-making process as a metaphor of personal refinement. Psalm 66:10-12 says,
For you, God, tested us;
you refined us like silver.
You brought us into prison
and laid burdens on our backs.
You let people ride over our heads;
we went through fire and water,
but you brought us to a place of abundance.
A silversmith doesn't gently massage silver into being. He doesn't talk it into shape. He puts it through the fire. He hammers it until it becomes what he has designed it to be.  God refers to his people like this on several occasions. Here's one: "He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver; he will purify the Levites and refine them like gold and silver."  Malachi 3:3.

I think one reason my excuse of needing to spend my time on spiritual fitness over physical fitness if I can only do one or the other is encouraged by today's way out of control emphasis on the perfect physical body. Women never appear to age, with shining non-grey hair and small waistlines. Men who's muscles bulge...well you know what I mean. Being the wonderfully mature christian woman that I am, I do not want to allow "vanity" into my life. (cough, cough - I'm nearly chocking on my humility)However, common sense will tell you if I'm too tired to exercise, I'm going to be too tired to go visit my neighbor who needs help. If I'm overweight and out of shape it's going to be really hard to stand and serve food at the homeless shelter or chase those young kids in Sunday school. If I really have given my life to Christ to use as He chooses, and I have, then doesn't that mean being prepared to do whatever He asks me to?  In 2 Timothy it says, "In a large house there are articles not only of gold and silver, but also of wood and clay; some are for special purposes and some for common use. Those who cleanse themselves from the latter will be instruments for special purposes, made holy, useful to the Master and prepared to do any good work." (emphasis mine)  So there is a reason to want to be in good physical shape. It is to be ready to be an instrument for special purpose, made holy and useful for God. This means stopping our treatment of our bodies as if it is extra-cirricular - just a side note. Our bodies are the tools God created for us to use for Him.

Now don't get me wrong on this.  I am NOT saying that God cannot use us for His work if we are overweight or out of shape. He can and does, daily. Just look around. I'm saying that it is possible we could do things more easily or more completely if we were in shape.  We would probably be more effective as well. As a nurse I've always hated it when an overweight doctor starts talking to his patient about needing to lose weight.Who knows, we'd probably even enjoy it more!

So think about it. How are you going to tune up the instrument God created you to be?

Monday, December 12, 2011

The Marriage Mirror

One of the best wedding gifts God gave you was a full-length mirror called your spouse. Had there been a card attached, it would have said, "Here's to helping you discover what you are really like."
Gary and Betsy Ricucci
 Wow, I've never thought of it quite like that before but it is so true, if we're willing to admit it. My husband had an outpatient surgery last Wednesday.  This was a scheduled event. Actually it was the 3rd year in a row that he has had some sort of surgery in December after the really physical part of his work is done for the year. The few days following surgery are a mixed blessing for me.  I have to admit, I love that I have a legitimate reason to say "no" to everything. My husband needs me you know. So as in years past we came home and settled him into his recliner with a couple of movies ready to be played. Pain meds, check, water, check, blankets, check...well you get the idea. Once he was settled (and after I took a nap - it was a very early morning) I started in on some of the household chores I had been putting off, being quiet of course and checking on him often.  That lasted through the night of setting the alarm every 4 hours for pain meds and resettling him in the recliner the next day. Then reality began to hit.  The Christmas shopping isn't done. Oh well, we can do some of that by internet and make a plan for the local shopping. Maybe he'll feel like going out in a couple of days. Oh and there's that budget report I need to do for Treasure Chest Ministries. I can't finish it without his input. And last but not least, the clinic where I work is still a bit short staffed AND we switched to electronic medical records in October. That means we have inputting to do which requires extra time. Guess what? Those of us who are not full-time are expected to fill in these gaps. 2 1/2 months later...I'm really tired of this expectation. I get anxious about my responsibilities at work...and at home. I get crabby. I start thinking. I start fussing. I start getting short-tempered. Notice anything?  All of the sudden life is ALL ABOUT ME!  Instead of serving my husband who could really use the help I'm wanting him to take care of himself AND help me figure out what to do and when to do it. Wow, that turned around in a hurry. Hmmm, back to the top. Marriage can be a mirror to show us what we are really like.  I don't like what I see in this circumstance. I became very self-centered very quickly. That caused my attitude to change from servant to take care of yourself, from patient to not patient, from kind to well let's just say not as kind. Nasty. I didn't like who I saw when I took the time to look. 

The good news is that marriage is for a lifetime. My husband loves me and is my best friend. I apologized and asked for his forgiveness. He was so gracious to even allow some talk time to figure out what the root of my anxiousness actually is instead of just leaving it at surface value. You know what? Looking in the mirror this morning I see a more peace-filled woman. Thanks God. Thanks Mark.

What about you? Have you ever thought about your marriage or significant relationships as a chance to look in the mirror?

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Wellness Wednesday...On Thursday!

Hello! It's been awhile. I apologize. Our Thanksgiving holiday was spent with our kids and lasted until the Monday following Thanksgiving.  Our children are both married and spend either Thanksgiving or Christmas with us and the other with their in-laws.  We thoroughly enjoy them and like to make the most of the time they are with us. We love that they enjoy their families too so we fully support them in spending dedicated time with their in-laws as well.

Over the past two weeks I've had repeated occasions to think about health.  My mother has Alzheimers and has recently taken another step of decline. My mother-in-law has a very healthy mind but her body is failing. My husband was told by his doctor at his pre-hernia operation physical that he has very healthy organs (heart, lungs etc) but his body (joints etc) are his weak link. I struggle with losing the 10-15 pounds I've put on over the past 10 years which causes fatigue. My extremely physically fit niece struggles with celiac disease to the point that it "benches" her from playing college volleyball.

I am more convinced than ever that God created us body, mind and soul, totally integrated.  One does not operate without the other. Thus when one part is out of balance or has any kind of problem, every part of your being is effected in some way. As I visit with others about this I am finding that most people say they agree. However, I'm finding most of us (yes, including me) don't live like it.  Most anyone you talk to would tell you that consuming alcohol or illegal drugs in large quantities on a regular basis is a problem and will cause trouble. My brother who has smoked since he was a young teenager will tell you that smoking cigarettes is a problem and they aren't illegal.  He'll tell you they take money from your budget as well as only cause problems physically. There are no "pluses" for smoking and that comes from a seasoned veteran of smoking - not me. But what about being addicted to carbs or caffeine or choosing comfort foods to console or reward yourself on a regular basis.  What about sitting down and staring at the TV night in and night out with no form of physical exercise on your calendar? Often I don't even think about it. I just start planning what "treat" I can have when I get home or while I'm running errands. After all I've "worked hard all day" or I'm doing "this" all by myself. I deserve a "reward/treat".  However rewards or treats are supposed to be occasional, something to really look forward too, not an everyday occurrence.

I'm reading a great, but very convicting book by Gary Thomas, "Every Body Matters".  You can check it out here http://www.garythomas.com/home  In it, he refers to a Christian physician, Dr. Scott VanLue who became convinced that he needed to stop simply treating the symptoms and start addressing the underlying problems in his patients' lives. After nearly a decade of practicing traditional medicine, in which he saw thirty to forty patients a day, Scott came to the conclusion, "I'm not really helping anybody here; I'm just giving out meds."  Soon after that the author says one thing that particularly grieved Dr. VanLue is "seeing people gradually grow comfortable with their poor state of health, even when they can do something about it." Okay, now he is stepping on my toes...maybe my whole foot.  I turned 50 this year and while in good health I have put on approximately 15 pounds over the past 10 years,  allowed a known neck problem to grow to a painful state before doing anything about it, (repeatedly) and tried to deal with intermittent bouts of IBS with meds rather than finding the root cause. Most all of us want to feel better, be a little slimmer or in better shape but we want to do it without too much work or inconvenience. We just don't have time to take care of ourselves. Hmmm, what's wrong with that statement?  I can already hear you.  "I don't have time because I have a job, kids or parents to care for, church work to do, classes to take...need I go on?  I can say all of most of those things myself BUT maybe it's time we really settle down and look at the scriptures.  As Christians we are members of the Body of Christ. We are a part of the Body, not the whole Body.  We need to be obedient to do our part. Then we need to stop and let others do their part.It's hard because we see the needs and we perceive that if we see the need, it is our job to fill the need. That is sometimes but not always true. The media and society have developed an image that we as individuals take and believe that we are to fulfill. It's thin, muscular, pretty, rich, and able to do all things. The truth is that is we can not expect to be like everyone around us.  We need to live in the bodies God created us with, but we do need to make choices to be the best us we can be, whatever that looks like in our own lives. I'm taller than many women, love people but need my time away from them, love to learn and to teach. That in and of itself makes me different than some of my friends and family.  I shouldn't strive to do be and do like them.  I wonder what would happen if we all took some time to figure out what we need to do to get ourselves in good physical, emotional and spiritual health and then did it.  I'm going to spend some time exploring this. Want to join me?