"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

Saturday, June 2, 2012


Well, I've been "limping" along at best these past couple of months when it comes to this blog and our print ministry of our life as Treasures. For that I truly apologize. At first it just got away from me due to some pretty major changes in life. As I did share earlier my family made the decision to move my mother to a nursing home. It has been  much more involved and time consuming for me than I ever imagined. Also there have been some great things happening with Treasure Chest Ministries and some changes again at my "day job." Thus the lack of blogging. HOWEVER, with that in mind I'm officially letting you know there will be a slight break here and this little musing about life spot will come back REFRESHED AND REVIVED!  Watch for the announcement on Facebook. I'm guessing it will be about 2-3 weeks. This month marks the 4th anniversary of the start of Treasure Chest Ministries. Much has been learned and we will move forward with an even better focus. Your continued prayers for God's will to be done are always appreciated. See you soon!

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Welllness Wednesday - Relationships and Wellness

It's Wellness Wednesday AND it's our 31st wedding anniversary. When I speak of wellness these days I'm thinking of what I call wholeness. It encompasses all of life. Life is about living. That sounds so silly, so obvious. Our family would call that a "dah" statement. However what I mean is life is about every aspect of who you are and what you do. You cannot ignore any piece of yourself. You are physical, emotional and spiritual. You have intelligence and feelings and they are both a valid part of your life.  And all of the parts of your life are connected.  So, as we celebrate 31 years of marriage I recognize that a large part of my health is due to the love that we have nurtured and grown over the years. Like tending a garden, the yields are directly related to the effort involved. When we had seasons of not paying too close attention to our relationship we had more weeds and less crop. When we consistently tend to it we have high yields and MUCH satisfaction.

I've been married quite a bit longer than I was single and it is totally worth the work involved. My best advice? Decide, yes make a decision, to invest in your marriage. What do I mean by "invest"? I mean purposefully decide to study your mate. Learn who they really are. Ask questions and really listen to the answers don't immediately turn the conversation back to yourself. Encourage them verbally and publicly. Give them the time and/or tools they need to do what they need to do.

I am a stronger, deeper, more honest and healthy person because I'm married to someone who invests in  me but loves me. (period) So as I sit here in my workout clothes because he challenges me to be healthy physically I want to say thank you to my husband. YOU are the BEST for me!

Are you investing in the relationships in your life? How do you do that?

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

It Pays to Persevere

At first I was taking some time to "put my thoughts together"...then I thought we would be announcing our newly remodeled web site/blog soon so I could just wait...but I don't want you to forget that life is worth Treasuring. So for this Wellness Wednesday I'm going to do just that.

1.  Perseverance does pay off. Since our daughter asked us sometime before Christmas to join her as a relay team for a Duathalon the first weekend in May I have exercised with that in mind. It did keep me going better than normal for the winter season. 10 days ago WE DID IT! I ran a 5k. Mark biked 20 miles and Amber ran the last 5k. Did we win? Nope, but that was not our goal. Our goal was to do it and do it together. That we did. Outcome - satisfaction and some great memories. (More lessons from this experience later)
2. Perseverance does pay off. Not only have we exercised this winter but Mark and I have changed quite a few of our eating habits. We are both trying to consistently eat smaller portions and have healthy snacks. I have seriously cut down on the sweet treats. Did I lose weight? Well at the start, like with most of us, I lost the water weight and got myself back to what I call my "stuck" weight which is about 12 pounds from my ultimate goal but losing even 7 pounds would make be very happy. I didn't give up even when I was "stuck" again. Perseverance. For the past 10 days I've been 2 pounds less than my "stuck" weight.  Yeah! Another break through.
3. Things have been in a constant state of change at my workplace for one entire year now. One of the doctors I work for had not one but two immediate family life and death health crisis. Of course that took him out of the office which causes chaos. More than one person has quit and it has taken longer than expected to fill each of those positions AND we started electronic medical records last October.  Everyone has worked overtime and gotten tired. However, some of us have chosen to "hang in there" and really fought to keep a good attitude. The outcome? We have actually developed much more of a team approach. We are all learning and there is far less complaining and negative attitudes overall.
4.  Actually my list could go on and on. Most of my life has been an example of "hanging in there." I'm not one of those people who start something and it quickly becomes a big deal. I have big visions but they start very small and come to reality over time - most often a very long time. So this is my encouragement to you today. Hang in there! Whatever you are trying to learn or do, don't stop. Even when you can't seem to "see" the progress, don't stop. Often there are things happening "behind the scenes" that we can't see.  As Joshua said, "Be strong and courageous. Do not be discouraged, for the Lord you God will be with you wherever you go." (Joshua 1:9 NIV)

What are you persevering in right now?

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Wellness Wednesday - The Gift of a Mental Health Day

Yesterday was my birthday (the start of many in our family). Just to prove it in case you are doubting...

I got this beautiful Hydrangea and card from our son and daughter-in-law. She made the card and the flames glitter! It makes me smile just looking at the photo!

My husband gave me the gift of the day. We are just like all the rest of you. There is always plenty to do in a day but this day he encouraged me to do what I wanted to do and he said he, personally, had no expectations of me. What a gift!  Probably the biggest thing was that he acknowledged out loud, to me that he was not expecting anything out of me for the entire day. Why? Because he and I are quite a bit alike. When there is work to be done, there is work to be done and it's hard to not do it. However, we all need breaks, personal brain breaks. I needed one and I took it. What did I do? Nothing remarkable to anyone but me. I loved my day! I didn't rush through anything. I lingered in my quiet time and read a few blogs written by friends. I did an odd job from my list that had been bugging me for almost 9 months...yep, 9 months, but it's DONE now! (smile) I took a walk with a friend I haven't seen in awhile over the lunch hour. I scouted for jeans but also looked through the store a bit seeing what else they had around for summer. I purchased a replacement plant for our patio area with my birthday money from Dad and then I came home and worked on my patio area! It was great! While I was out there working I received the plant and card from the kids and they stayed and visited a bit. It's too early in the season to see all that is going on in my area but here is it's start.
A place to relax
I took out a couple of too big Hostas (and transplanted them elsewhere), added my new Clematis in front of the iron in the corner and put some training nails in for the vine on the wall. The little fire pit is cleaned out and ready for use. It was a great day. I feel calmer today. My brain had a chance to rest - not make any big decisions. Do you take time to rest?

"In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength"  Isaiah 30:15

Monday, April 30, 2012

Marriage Monday - Good Relationships are Possible

It's Marriage Monday and I'm unexpectedly off to work at my job as a nurse today. I really had a bad attitude about having to fill in, but it is necessary. Why do I tell you that? Because my husband has been great.  He allowed me to be disappointed that my plans had to change without guilt. Then he helped me move on. As he would say, "it is what it is."

That's life. Stuff happens and you deal with it. It is much easier as a team. You have a broader perspective. You have support. You have encouragement to try something new or hang in there when your tired or even just somebody to relax with when you're really tired. We did that yesterday afternoon. We had our weekend of ministry and then drove home intending to take a nap and get a little work done since today was kidnapped by my nursing job. Instead we ended up watching some TV together, laughing, reading the newspaper, making some chilli and yes, we did do a little work but it was just a little. We relaxed together.

To all of you out there with tough relationships I want to encourage you. It is possible to have a good relationship. To be able to be yourself with your spouse and not worry about what he is thinking all the time. God is able. Our relationship is proof. If you want to know more of our story, ask me. We tell it where-ever appropriate. We love to encourage others.

Have a great day. Enjoy your spouse today!

Thursday, April 26, 2012

What ARE you focusing on?

These thoughts intrigue me. "If your idea is big enough you only have room for one." And, "The trouble with us is that the passion for variety puts God in list with other things." (G. Campbell Morgan) I was thinking about this. What difference does it make if we have lots of variety in our life?  I would say in lots of ways variety describes my life. Variety because I like to try new things. I like to learn. However I can honestly say that the  old saying "Jack of all trades, master of none" pretty much sums me up.  I can cook but I'm not a chef. I can do a few athletic type things but only at a mediocre level. I can sing but I'm not really a soloist. I can play piano but again not really a lead or soloist type. The list could go on but you get my drift. Now I'm not complaining for example that I'm not a chef. I've never wanted to be one. The point is in order to "feed" all of my interests (there are MANY more) I don't spend a lot of time going deep into any of them. Some things are for a season of life. That's okay. But right now I can tell you have not scrapbooked in over a year. Why? Because there are so many other things in my life I felt like I needed to do first. Other things take priority. You may not think that is a great loss but I sort of do. Scrapbooking is another way to journal and I totally believe in journaling.

Recently Mark and I have taken on an assignment at a church to help them grow their worship, specifically through their music. This has caused me to shuffle my priorities and focus more on music than I have in years. I'm listening much more attentively. I've gotten out some old learning materials to remind myself of some good old theory. I've actually sat and practiced music at the piano. I got out my keyboard AND it's manual! :) Since this is taking up more of my time, something else had to go. I chose not to take another counseling class for a couple of months. We hired a college student to help with cleaning the house. Adjustments had to be made. When I watch TV, listen to my co-workers and read magazines I hear the "I can conquer all" mentality. If I really pay attention to that I could feel bad that I can't take care of my own house - especially since our kids are grown and it's only me and my husband at home. In fact, I did feel that way for years. Now I know better. In order to do something well you have to give it time and energy. You can't do that with everything in your life. You have to make choices - focus.

Why is this important? Back to the beginning thought, if your idea is big enough there is only room for one. In my life a main focus is learning to live daily with an infinite God, God with no limits. Because of that I'm willing to do crazy things like drive an hour and a half to another church to help them grow their worship and set aside for a season a few other things in my life. I'm excitedly watching to see what my infinite God will do, and when He will do it, and even how He will do it. What are you choosing to focus on right now?

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Wellness Wednesday - Continuing a Focus Theme

I seem to have a theme going in my life right now. Focus. Focus on what matters and our health matters. I have chosen to focus on eating 5-6 times daily in small amounts with protein more purposefully included and sugar/white flour type stuff cut way back.  With that I am purposefully making sure to exercise at least 3-4 times weekly and most weeks am getting 4-5 times. This is mostly aerobic exercise. When I feel like this is really implanted in my way of life I know I need to add/exchange some exercise time with core strength training but that will come. I cannot do it all at once and I'm more interested in getting and staying healthy for a life time than marking something off my list. 

Focusing means making choices and not being able to do everything. Our culture encourages that we try and do anything and everything we want to. For the most part it also says, "do it now!"  I've found that when I cram too many things in my life I don't really get to enjoy them - I just get to do them. One simplifying blog post I read was talking about "stuff" in your home and asked if you don't have to have it to survive and you don't love it, why do you have it?  I thought that question could apply to a lot of things in our life.  Why don't you ask yourself that question once a day about something for the next week? I'm challenging you. Share your stories. What are you discovering that you are doing and/or keeping in your life that you really don't need or love? Why? Is it just because everyone else has it? Are you worried what the neighbors might think if they see you wearing the same outfit each week? What is your story?

Simplifying or focusing takes some stress out of your life and stress is the number one killer of our lives. I'm choosing to focus.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Marriage Monday - Where is Your Focus?

It's fun to look through "blogland" and see that marriage is a pretty common topic of discussion. (especially on Mondays it appears) That is encouraging to me because I (we) have learned through practical experience that marriages don't just bloom and grow automatically.  Mark and I read a devotion on our way home from our weekly road trip that brought up a simple observation.  A man who works with marriages alot compared asking an engaged woman and a married woman about their man.  He stated that when he asks an engaged gal she can easily go on for 10 minutes telling him all the great traits and abilities of her fiancee'. He said that most often when he asks a married woman she tells him of all the things her husband isn't or does not do.  How sad is that?

I know this is an accurate observation from our experience mentoring. Pre-marital mentoring is full of smiles and giggles, dreams and goals. We are starting a new couple this week. It will be fun. Marriage mentoring is a whole different experience. If there is not complete uncontrolled anger, then there is hurt and fear with much more caution in the words. Sometimes there is just this lost look. They are unsure what to say and where to start.  What happens?  Well there is no one answer that can answer that however I do have a thought that seems pretty universal. We allow "life" to get in the way. We become distracted.  We gradually get sucked into the mentality that what everyone else thinks is really important in our life. We think we need to be working harder to get the next promotion at work. We need to be home room mom for all of our kids at least every other year. We need to be a part of that hobby group and then there is always the church activities.  Teaching Sunday school isn't enough we need to help with the women's ministry and fix food for every funeral or birth that happens. Men, you  aren't off the hook. You do the same thing with different activities. What happens to your relationships, marriage in particular? The answer? They get very little of your "first" energy, time or attention.  I don't know about you but when I'm tired my patience, enthusiasm, creativity...well about anything good is not at it's best and my tongue tends to be very short and sharp. Why? Because life becomes all about "me." I am busy. I need to get this or that done. I need...and you are interrupting my plan or maybe even adding something to my list. Sound familiar?

This past week I was a bit overwhelmed with life, mostly mentally. Mark and I have come a long ways in our nearly 31 years. I didn't express my feelings through anger or tears. I did think a couple of times, "he can't know where I'm at if I don't tell him." So without making a huge issue I mentioned that I was "swimming mentally". He got it. He "took care of himself" more than normal last week. He allowed me to be quiet.  I worked hard to  see what really needed to be done and do that and not worry too much about the rest of my "list."  Our weekend ended with our ministry in another town letting us know there was a community event happening at 2:30 that we "could stay for..." Mark very graciously looked at me and said, while he was sure we would enjoy it we needed to go home. His wife needed a break before starting the week all over again. Perfect! There was a time in our life when we both would have thought we had to stay, totally because of other people's expectations. No more. We will serve them better when we stay focused and rested. What about you? How do you put your marriage relationship at the top of the priority list? Do you, personally realize that you can't do everything? This is a lesson we need to be talking about to help each other and ourselves learn because it is counter-cultural right now.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

What Good is Knowledge?

"...whenever there is intellectual assent without corresponding action, there is spiritual dullness. God intellectually accepted without response in obedience, fades away from the immediateness of consciousness." G. Campbell Morgan

What that says to me is we can "learn" things. Accept them into our mind - sometimes I call it being "book smart" but if we never put it into practice what does it matter?  I believe this pertains to all of life. I thought of this quote as I ran yesterday after work. I was tired and had a long list of things that needed done. However I had not run the day before and it's only 2 1/2 weeks till my first 5K so it's no time to let up.  I felt like a slug. That's the exact thought that went through my head as I "ran". It felt more like plowing through mud. My feet were heavy and I was sure I wasn't moving any faster than a turtle. However between the music in my ears I just kept rehearsing every thing I know about exercise being good for you. In my conversation with myself I thought I needed to put in to practice what I know to be true medically. Exercise on a regular basis strengthens you and generally helps you avoid illness. I'd like to say since I've been exercising pretty regularly over the winter I've lost a ton of weight and inches. The truth is, I have not. I lost the initial bit of weight I put on that put me in a panic. That's good. I also have not gained the insidious 2-3 pounds most of us put on every year. That is also good. The at least 5 and really 10 pounds I'd like to lose, I have not. But I wonder where I would be if I wasn't trying. Probably in a larger pant size.  The moral to this story - my knowledge of exercise and health when put to practice is keeping me from gaining weight. That is a good thing.

The "other" moral to this story is knowledge in and of itself doesn't really help anything unless we put it into practice. What knowledge do you have that you are not using in your own life?

Monday, April 16, 2012

Marriage Monday - Learning and Soaking in the Moments

You may have noticed less postings in the past few weeks. It's one of those special times, a change of seasons in our home. Almost a month ago now we moved my mother to a local nursing home due to her Alzheimer's disease.  This was a very difficult weekend. My brother, Dad, husband and I were together for the weekend and it took all of us to get this job done. As you can imagine, it wasn't "done" by just physically getting her there. There are many details to attend to which predominately show up as care of our hearts. Each of us is grieving a loss of the wife or mom we knew. However, we are very fortunate to have each other to talk to and work with to make decisions as well as share memories. I've learned more about my parents and their relationship in the past month than in most of my lifetime. Dad's mind and heart is full of memories and a strong desire to continue to care for my mother.  This experience has reinforced to me again the value of fully soaking the in the moment we are in right now, especially in our marriages.

As it happens, at the very same time we were helping my parents make this major change in their life we were entering a new season as well. Treasure Chest Ministries is seeing a dream come true. We are working along side a church in Harlan, Iowa to deepen their worship and build their teams for worship through music. The heart of Treasure Chest Ministries is to be a catalyst for the Body of Christ by matching people's passions to needs. Most often we are placing other people. This time, this need met the passion of my husband's heart. Why do I bring this up on "Marriage Monday?" Because we are a team. We prayed about this. We talked to our family and a few trusted friends. We met people from Harlan and talked and prayed some more. Is this my passion? No, not specifically worship but yes, helping people recognize who they are in Christ and going deeper in that relationship is.  That said, as a couple we have had to do a lot of talking and have made a few adjustments to "life" as we know it. We still have our "day jobs." So we agreed to not assume pretty much anything. We have done this type of ministry before and not handled our time well. It wasn't healthy and didn't end well in that regard. This time we talked with the leadership of the church involved. We have some preset boundaries with them. That's a great start.

Secondly, we are talking about stuff as it comes up. We have an agreement not to "stuff" things till "later" and then let it all come exploding out at some inappropriate moment. (yep, that's me) That's growth in our relationship. It's based on a growth in our trust.

Thirdly we are intentionally trying to soak in the moments and listen to what God is teaching us. My number one lesson so far is what a different person my husband is than he was years ago. He is much stronger and focused. It is so much fun to see his creative side come out again.

Last night we had a "moment" together as we soaked in the realization that God has allowed us to meet so many amazing people. Some of them are "recognizable" names, many are not. Yesterday in Harlan we met up with a man we knew more than 30 years ago. He experienced a horrible accident which left his legs paralyzed as a young adult man. We haven't seen him in probably 20 years. There was an instant connection when we met. Why? Because he loves God and through this accident he has moved even deeper in to his relationship with God. The result of that is he cares more about God and people than himself. He generously gave his home community a gift of love and music last night. As Mark and I sat and listened we knew this was a moment we needed to fully absorb and not take lightly.  One of the quotes Scott used was from C.S. Lewis (I think) "We do not have a soul. We are a soul. We have a body."  Scott's body has not been "healed." His legs remain paralyzed. But his soul is healed. He has dug deeper into his relationship with the God of this universe and sees life with a different perspective than before his accident. He is honest and open about his life. He does not claim it is "all good" or that he never "complains" or misses walking and running. He does say he has learned so much and that he wouldn't trade for anything. Mark and I say the same thing regarding our marriage. Going on 8 years ago now our life took a huge hit. It hurt. It was hard and it has taken a long time for our souls to heal. But we have. We are together. We are in a covenant relationship and we are learning to soak in the moments as individuals and together. Have you taken time to appreciate the "moments" in your life and relationships?

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Wellness Wednesday - Real Life, Healthy Food

Today I am taking an easy route for health. I'm learning from others. I have discovered a blog of a young mom who has been extremely gluten intolerant for years. However, she has not become a victim. She has made life a life of discovery! She creates food that tastes good and is good for you. She has quite a variety and I'm on the way to the kitchen now to try her Lentil Soup.  Check it out!

This gal is a sister of a woman I work with. I have tried a few of the foods through her and they were very good. So I'm motivated to try a few more! Why don't you let me know if you try any of these or have a favorite healthy recipe to share.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Marriage Monday - So Much More

This Monday has me thinking about marriage and the interesting position we live out as married couples. We are two individuals melded into one. We are a couple. Why? I've come to believe we are a much deeper, more well rounded person when we allow ourselves to become one with our mate. We experience things with a broader or different perspective than if we did it alone. We try things when we are with them that we probably wouldn't try if we were alone.  Mark and I always think of the time we went to Europe with several other couples. We got lost nearly every day but it wasn't a scary, bad thing. We laughed and it became the day's adventure. Why? Because there was a group of us. We knew we would be okay.  We were not alone! Many times since then Mark and I have had things happen leaving us feeling lost. However, we knew from past experience that being lost could be an adventure if we would let it. More importantly, it could be an adventure if we didn't let fear take over.

Over the past two weeks I have spent more time with my parents than I have in years. I've learned alot about both of them. After 48 years of marriage, Mom, even with her Alzheimer's filled mind, knows my Dad and she knows that she would like to be with him. At first she talked of going home and she still does at times but the main thing she talks of is being with Dad. She doesn't care if he stays with her or she goes with him. She just wants to be together. Why? Because he represents love and security to her. And Dad, well his heart breaks every time he walks out the door and leaves her there. He tells me how special she is to him and how he just wants her to be happy. Why? Because she represents a full life to him. He tells me how she showed him determination and exposed him to art and beauty in a way he had not seen it before. He makes sure that I notice that even now she always wants to share whatever she has and tells me that she is always that way. Together their life is richer, fuller, full of love.

This is a great example for me. Who am I in my marriage? Do I fully appreciate all that my husband has brought to my life?  I have always said life with Mark has brought me "higher highs and lower lows" than I could have imagined. That is a true statement, and there is so much more. His ability to think "outside the box" has helped me try things I know I would not have without him! What have you experienced in your life that you might not have if your spouse had not been a part of your life?

Friday, April 6, 2012


Yesterday at work I was working near by as a couple of my Catholic co-workers were talking. One of them was trying to remember what the mass would be that evening and she was getting confused. They were giggling like little girls as they worked together to remember which service was on what day of this "Holy Week." I admit it made me smile as I heard them talk and the thought even went through my head that it was a bit sad that they didn't know as they were both adult women and one of them stated clearly that she went to Catholic school as a child. This morning however, it strikes me that although I am not Catholic I am in much of the "same boat."  I have had the privilege of growing up with Christ in my life. I accepted Him as my Savior at the ripe old age of 6 and have never looked back. The church I grew up in did not really make a "big deal" of Christmas and Easter but always told the story and explained it's meaning in our life today. However in my adult life I have participated in many a "production" for these holidays. I have to admit it has at times been more of a time of doing something for someone else than a time of reflection and appreciation for myself. Today will be a bit different. We have a new experience going on in our life. I'll explain it all at some other time, but it means we are going to a different church this year. Tonight we will attend their Good Friday Service which we had no part in arranging. I'm believing I will be more attentive and will very likely "see things" in a fresh way.

That thought was already going through my head when I read from a book that I've been using in my quiet times lately. The book is not written around the theme of Easter but today my reading time took me to John 13 where the story of Jesus washing the disciples feet is. The author made this comment, "Jesus is about to let flesh be broken with nail, heart be broken with rejection,  the chains be broken with bleeding love. And in His last hours before His earthly end, He doesn't run out to buy something or catch a flight to go see something, but He wraps a towel around his waist and kneels low to take the feet of His forsakers gently in hand and wash away the grime between their toes." -Ann Voskamp, "One Thousand Gifts" He breaks bread with His disciples. He serves them by washing their feet. He doesn't ask for them to serve him, give him his favorite food or a massage or even play his favorite music. He is very present with them. He loves them and tells them what is going to happen, for their sake.

Isn't it amazing? The God of the universe became man. He lived on earth and he died on earth. As he prepared to die he served man. He did take quiet prayer time following that act of service. Why? To talk to his Father, God. To ask his Father if this was for sure the right thing to do. He was very deliberate in every action saying "not my will, but thine be done."  It encourages me to be intentional. To serve and to take time to confirm that I am "on the right path." To pray to my Father God, being honest, telling Him what I think I would like but asking that His will be done. That means I have to trust Him enough to be willing to do His will and the truth is I have no reason not to trust Him. So today my goal is to be more aware of God's sacrifice through His son Jesus. To dwell on the fact that He served man until his very last breath and to ask the Lord to help me be a good servant in my life. What about you? What does this make you think about?

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Wellness Wednesday - Don't Do It Alone!

In the past week I read an article in "Real Simple" magazine about a study on women and time that they did. There was an accompanying article that talked about a woman who is a pulitzer prize winner, a wife, and a mom. Good reality check. Those people we read about doing "great things" are just people too. One thing she does is go to a schedule exercise class with people she knows. This requires getting up early in the morning several times a week to get this done. She says it is her time. She feels better for doing it and therefore it is on her calendar. The time is reserved. That time is not "lost" or "wasted" it was carefully looked for and found. She needs a way to help her stay healthy to take care of her family and work. Evidently this works for her.

Several months ago my daughter asked if I wanted to do a 5K with her. I'll admit, I laughed out loud. I am not a runner - never have been. However over the past several years I have become an avid walker. I have long legs and I walk with a purpose. I love fresh air. Sometimes I wear head phones and listen to great music. Sometimes it makes me want to dance! Sometimes, actually quite often, I pray while walking. After some time, quite some time passed by I found myself want to increase my pace. I started to "trot" a bit, then a little more and a little more. I can now do 2.5 miles with only very brief periods of walking, mostly to catch my breath. I have done 3.1 miles which is 5K a few times now as an intermittent walk/run.  While I was out yesterday I was thinking about my journey to learn to live healthy and all of you, my friends.  I needed my daughter to challenge me. I needed to have a goal in early May so that I wouldn't quit over the winter when I can't run outside like I usually do.  I need to hear stories like the one of the pulitzer prize winning wife and mom who sets time aside to exercise and still accomplishes much. I need the freedom given by my husband to take the time to do what I need to be healthy. We are lucky, you and I. We have each other. You contact me and tell me what you are learning in your life. However, very few of you ever comment publicly on this blog. You call or message me privately. I appreciate it. I learn from it. Thank you.  Now I'm challenging you to share your journey publicly. There are lots of people like me, real people who want to do better with their lifestyle habits. We need to know it's possible to live healthy and still live.  And I'm sure there are many of you, like me, who need a goal and someone to know about your goal so that you will keep getting out there. This is a place where you can do that.  Share your goal here and/or on my Facebook page. Who knows, you just might accomplish more than you know you can do and you might help someone else in the process!

"Now unto Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to Him be the glory...." Ephesians 3:20-21a NIV

Monday, April 2, 2012

Marriage Monday - Do you have Boundaries?

So as the beautiful, filled up morning unfolds I am struck with a question. Where are the boundaries in marriage?  Are there boundaries in marriage? I believe there are. Why should there be when "the two become one"? I mean if we are truly "one" then isn't everything in our lives overlapping, shared by both?
My answer is yes and no. Yes, we have become one. We should have unlimited access in the form of trust and care and love. Because of that trust and care and love we are here to serve each other. Helping each other fully live life should be one of our top goals. Helping each other means telling the truth out of love, not always complying just to "keep him happy." But honestly helping your spouse because you love them - sometimes that includes saying no. Why are they asking you to help them with their project? Do they really need help or have they taken on too much again and they are drowning? If they are it's your job to determine how to best help them. Do you actually help them get it done while reserving a time to talk about not always saying "yes" to everything that is asked of you or do you say no, because you've talked about this several times and they need to walk through the consequences of their choices? Then think about your side. Why do you want to say "no?" Are you mad at them for getting into this "too busy" position? Are they "interrupting" your plans? Do you know how to help?

Do you have "boundaries" in your marriage? Are there things that are totally yours to take care of and things that are your spouse's? How does that work for you? Do you think there is one right way?

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Why Daily Stress?

So continuing on with the "lack of time" theme, I've been pondering thoughts from the book we are studying with our small group, "Love Focused" and another book I'm reading, "One Thousand Gifts." Stress often shows itself in our everyday lives through lack of patience, indigestion, short sometimes hurtful words or even the simple comments like "I don't have time to...." Ann Voskamp, author of "One Thousand Gifts" says this, "Stress isn't only a joy stealer. The way we respond to it can be a sin....Stress stands in direct opposition to what He directly, tenderly commands: Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me." John 14:1" She also comments, "And stressed, this pitched word that punctuates every conversation, is it really my attempt to prove how indispensable I am? Or is it more? Maybe disguising my deep fears as stress seems braver somehow."

This challenges me. Do I allow myself to live worrying and "stressed out" in an attempt to control my life? I love Ann's definition of control - "pseudopower from the pit". Fake power. We attempt to control our circumstances and the people around us. Why? That's where the "Love Focused" book comes in. Authors Bob and Judy Hughes remind us that we all have "personal agendas".  "Our personal agenda is the plan we develop apart from God to get the world to solve the problem of our neediness." "We think we can manage all the people in our lives to get them to love us and never hurt us. It is important to understand that there is nothing wrong with desiring others to love and accept us and to experience a minimum amount of hurt in life. It is normal and healthy to want to be loved and to be emotionally happy. The problem occurs when our agenda puts the focus on the world rather than God to solve our neediness." (emphasis mine) Maybe I want to feel needed, wanted or even indispensable.

We literally wear ourselves out daily trying to control the people and circumstances in our life. Why? I believe it is because we are afraid, afraid of being hurt or alone/abandoned. Ann Voskamp says, "Fear keeps life small." I agree. Why? Because when I am afraid, life is all about me. My vision is very limited. Everything is viewed with the perspective of me. How will this effect me? Will I like it? Will I be hurt? Will this help me? Again, stress is directly opposite of what Jesus softly commands, "Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me." John 14:1  "Jesus replied, This is the work that God asks of you that you believe in the One whom He has sent." John 6:29  We trust God for our salvation from hell when we die. Do we trust Him with our daily life? Can I trust Him to love me and walk me through whatever this day holds so that I don't have to control each moment in it?

What do you think? Am I striking a nerve in your life? Do you understand what these authors are trying to say or do you think they are missing it?  If you want to read more about living a love focused life you can find more information and/or the book here:

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Wellness Wednesday on Thursday - Not Enough Time?

So "Wellness Wednesday" got abandoned until today, Thursday. Why? Because I just did not have enough time or energy.  Funny isn't it? Most of us don't feel we have enough time. Why is that? We all have 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.  The April 2012 edition of "Real Simple" magazine did a survey regarding women and time.  The results? About 1/2 of America women say they don't have enough time. 46% said, what time they have is interrupted constantly.  Quoting page 58 of this magazine and article:
never-ending to-do lists aren't bad just for our psyches (and our relationships) but also for our physical health. The stress hormone cortisol has a strong diurnal patter - it peaks shortly after waking and drops throughout the day. The steeper the decline from afternoon to evening, the healthier and less stressed you are, since elevated end-of-day cortisol levels have been linked to burn out, depression, and earlier mortality.... "Our bodies need to recover physiologically after work," says Darby Saxbe, one of the study's coauthors and a postdoctoral fellow in psychology at the University of Southern California, in Los Angeles. " These couples were returning to homes where dinner needed to be cooked, laundry needed folding. Instead of unwinding, these couples took on more work."  

Later in the same magazine it compares the way we do life to a marathon. We think we just have to keep on moving until the end - way down the road. It suggests it might be healthier to live like we are doing weight training. Work out, then rest. A popular way of training these days is called interval training. You work hard and fast and then you slow the pace for a bit. Any way you look at it we were created to have time to work and time to rest. Anything short of that is cheating our self. The Bible admonishes us to have a sabbath, a day of rest. Most statistics show that we are actually more productive if we have a regular time of rest.

So what do you say? Do you realize your need of rest or do you ignore it and just keep going?

Monday, March 26, 2012

Marriage Monday - Growing?

Over the weekend through very stressful circumstances that were beyond our control we had a breakdown in communication. That's never good. Basically I was very tired and emotionally needy. I wanted my husband to be right beside me, even though there was really nothing he could do at the moment. I wanted him to "feel" how sad I was (and truthfully, I probably wanted him to "make it better"). Mostly I just wanted to tangibly, physically supported. Was he doing that? Overall, yes. Did he know that I wanted that, that exact moment? No, I hadn't told him.  I just wanted him to know.  

By the time he actually got to me, I had thought the thought, "Jody you didn't tell him what you wanted so how could he know." Now just thinking that did not stop me from pouting a bit BUT it did slow me down enough to be able to talk with him, pretty reasonably. (I had a very emotional weekend overall, so some tears came anyway.)  He responded with little defense, realizing that there were two sides to every story. He told me a bit more about what kept him from me then we moved on to how can we avoid this in the future. Guess what? It's all about honest communication. I had not clearly told him what I wanted or needed. He assumed because I knew where he was I was okay with it. We set a goal to be clear about what we expect, especially in emotional situations.  End result? We're fine and actually, we both feel pretty good about the way we handled this. In the past, I would have stuffed my hurt and discontent with his actions and eventually it would have "exploded" all over both of us causing much more difficulty.
I think we've "grown up a bit."  How about you? Do you see signs of growing in your relationship?

Friday, March 23, 2012

Grandma's Gold Bag

One week ago I went to my parent's home in attempt to sort out my mom's clothes to make it easier for her to get dressed. She has Alzheimer's Disease and making decisions is just plain hard for her these days. While working in her closet I came across this big, metallic gold bag. Instantly memories of mom coming to visit us when we lived in Waverly came to mind. She would walk in grinning as she hugged the kids and they would giggle and grin back. Soon after arrival (or sometimes after we left if they were babysitting) she would pull out the bag with "surprises" in it for the kids.  These "surprises" were simple things, a color book, a puzzle book, cookies or maybe some Avon roll-on colored soap for bath time. She loved spending time with her grandkids, all 4 of them. In fact, I learned alot about my parents by watching them with the kids. I don't remember them being so animated and willing to play games when I was a kid.  I'm told grandkids do that to a person.

Today I leave to go their house for the last time with Mom living there. We are going to move her to a local nursing home with a "memory unit". Then we are going to take Dad back home to begin a season of living alone. To my knowledge Dad has never lived alone. Oldest of 5 kids, he lived on the farm until he went to the Korean war, then back to the farm with parents until he married my Mom. Life changes.

As I looked at the gold bag last week the memories of faces and laughter instantly came to mind. It struck me that it's those kinds of memories that are important. While I've loved having my parents be around for the kid's "big events" like school plays, graduation, and weddings it's more important to me that we all have memories of every day things. The kids played with frogs and kittens on the farm. Grandma let them get good and dirty. Grandma let them help make cookies and crafts for holidays. They came for Grandparent's day at school even though it was 4 hours away! :)

My memories of Mom are of things like her many faithful customers that came to her beauty shop on the farm every week at the same time. She cared about them all and prayed for them. I remember her fixing not only my hair but my friend's hair for our junior prom. I remember going to a local nursing home to decorate a big bulletin board every month. She loved to read and shared that love with me. I can't remember a time when there were not books in our house. She loved to learn and be creative which I think came out more the older she got. She retired from doing hair to learn to arrange flowers and then opened her own shop to do that. Amber learned to run a cash register and count change there. She even took painting lessons in the last 20 years!

These memories challenge me to ask what I am doing to personally touch the lives of those I love. I don't think it has to be "big," "flashy" or cost lots of money. I believe the meaningful times come when you "do life" with those you love, taking the time to share yourself.  Think about it. What first comes to mind when you think of your parents, grandparents, or other important people in your life?

Thursday, March 22, 2012

How Healthy are Your Parents?

Dad "supervising"
So recently I opened the door to talk about the season of life where we, as adult children, become intimately involved in caring for our parents. I had no idea last week that the changes would come so fast. I spent last Saturday at my parents home. We "spring cleaned" my parents closet and dresser. I've said several times since then "who knew my Mom was such a clothes horse?" Okay, so I did know she loved shopping and clothes but I hadn't realized what she had accumulated!  Shoes too! I should have taken photos, it might have helped my case next time I want to go shopping.  Anyway, I brought a chair in and had Mom sit there just outside the closet so I could try her shoes on her and figure out what she really needed. I called her Cinderella and we laughed together.  She was soon distracted by the jewelry sitting on her dresser next to her. That's where she spent the rest of the afternoon, sorting jewelry. Meanwhile I sorted and cleaned the closet.  By the time we got through that project it was time for supper. As I cooked I took the junk mail out of the spice drawer and threw it away. I found yeast dated 2005 in the cupboard with some seasoning I was going to use. It was then that I realized that my mother's mind and been disintegrating for longer than I had imagined.  As I shared, in the beginning we didn't know if it was hearing loss or loss of mental capacity. Nobody really wanted to say anything. It might offend someone. We did the best we could once we made up our mind that it needed to be looked into. Dad was actually relieved to have someone help him care for Mom.

I would encourage you if you are an adult child with questions regarding your parent's health to ask them. It can be done. One way to approach it is to tell them that you love them and you want them to have the best quality of life for as long as possible. In order to do that we need to be as pro-active or preventative as we can be. So annual check ups, hearing exams, exercise and good eating habits are top of the list. How can you encourage them in these things? One way is to be an example. Another is to ask them about it, talk about these things and the time to start is now! Start while your parents are young enough to do something about their habits.  In America we over-indulge ourselves daily. Our portions of food are too big. We finish something and we treat ourselves to a big dessert. We sit too long in front of the TV. And the biggest over-indulgence in my book is we try to cram too much into one day, every day. Who says we have to do "everything"? Start building that "healthy" relationship with your parents today!

Are you aware of your parents health challenges? How have you learned to talk about them? This is something the majority of us will face in our life time. Let's talk about it.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Wellness Wednesday - Do you take your health seriously?

This life is not for the faint-hearted, literally or figuratively! Yesterday I was a puddle of emotions and my brain was spinning fast. There were decisions to be made, laundry to be done, meals to be fixed, a letter to be written, music sets to work on...well you get the picture. Most people's days are like that, full very full. If you do not have the right "fuel" in your tank you will not last the day. What happens then?  Some of your work doesn't get done. You feel bad and it's just a downward spiral from there.

It doesn't have to be that way we can make choices. I was very glad that I got my workout in first thing in the morning. Then when my day changed due to a phone call I didn't have the (self-imposed) guilt of not getting any exercise. What did I learn? Make exercise a priority and get it done. There is no reason I cannot learn to be disciplined and exercise at least 4 times weekly. I need to in order to take off the 10 pounds I need to lose. I've been eating better for at least 3 weeks now with virtually no weight loss so it's time to step it up a bit. I'll watch my portions closer and exercise at least 4 times weekly versus 2-3.  On his death bed Dwight Moody said, "If God be your partner, let your plans be large."  He was speaking of life. I've always had a philosophy like that and in order to truly live like that you need to be as healthy as you can be.  Notice how I said that, as healthy as you can be. Don't compare yourselves to movie stars or pro-athletes. Just be the best you, you can be so that you can fully live and fully enjoy life. If you don't you are cheating yourself and all those around you.

In his book Every Body Matters Gary Thomas says this, "Christians who don't take their health seriously dont' take their mission seriously." What do you think about that?  Here's another question that caught my attention (from the same book and author) "How might viewing our bodies as instruments (instead of ornaments) change our motivations to get in shape?"

Monday, March 19, 2012

Marriage Monday - Personalities

This morning as I think about marriage relationships I'm thinking about personalities. Have you and your spouse ever done one of those inventories where you answer questions and they "diagnose" your personality?  We've done two in the 30+ years of our marriage and Mark did another one for work one time. I just looked at them.  They were pretty accurate from my point of view. They did change a bit over the years but only a little.  I observed my parents as I helped them over the weekend.  My "quiet, steady" father is still generally "quiet and steady" but the wear and tear of constant care for my mother shows. He is bolder and more assertive with her than I've ever seen. It's totally appropriate in their case as Mom's Alzheimers has left her in a more child-like state.  Then I was visiting with a couple yesterday. During the course of the conversation the gentleman said, "See I'm a Lion. I like lists. I wake up in the morning knowing what I intend to do. She is not. (referring to his wife) It takes her a long time to make decisions..."

Your personality really does effect your relationships. That's pretty obvious. However, I think we forget that simple point at times. We know how we like things but we might forget that they way we like things effects those around us. For example, if I'm working on a project and have to stop before it is done, I would rather leave it all out so I can easily start again. Not so for my husband. He likes things put away where you can't see them lying around. It's a distraction for him to see stuff laying out. To me it's a reminder of what is left to do and a quicker way to get started again. He's the kind of guy who likes those built in covers for storing your counter top appliances. I like them out where you can grab them and get started. The thing is "stuff" is really a distraction for him. Once I learned that I've have tried harder to keep the "stuff" at a minimum around our house. The compromise is I have an area that I call "mine". The purpose is so I can work on my projects without bothering him. Now and then when he pokes his head in, he still rolls his eyes. My counter still has too much stuff "out" for his taste, but I don't worry about it. It's my space!

So I'm asking today, have you and your spouse ever done personality quizzes? If so, what did you learn?  I've talked before about the 5 Love Languages. They are a similar deal. Do you know what your "love language" is? I'd like to hear if either of these tools has helped your relationships. Personality and language does not only effect your marriage but all your relationships. It's helpful to know these things for understanding work styles too.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Seasons of Life - When Your Parents Need Help

So today I broach a common topic "parenting parents" some call it. I just know it's a new season of life. I've actually been in this season for some time now but it has come gradually. Well to be completely honest, I don't know that it has come gradually - I've only allowed it to come gradually. It is a sensitive topic as everyone's relationship with their parents are different so there is no "cookie cutter" approach. However, as I continue through this season and talk with others I am realizing there is a lot of things that are very common. So I'm hoping to open up a safe place to talk, to ask questions  and hopefully share information.

Our journey began about 6 years ago when my family began to question whether Mom was really losing her hearing or if "something else was going on." One day at a graduation reception I ran into a good friend of my parents. She visited a bit and then very cautiously, kindly said, "Jody have you talked with your Dad? We've noticed a lot of changes in your Mom?"  That was just what I needed to hear. I talked with my brother and then with Dad. We decided to take her to a doctor that specializes in in health care for Seniors.  He did an evaluation and then recommended an appointment with a neuro-psychologist to help us determine where we were at with things.  My Mom has Restless Leg Syndrome and has doctored everywhere within a driving distance of her home. She took these appointments as more opportunity to talk about her legs. We explained it was a "full physical". She focused on her legs. She was started on medication for Alzheimer's Disease. Two drugs to "slow the progression." She was also given more advice on Restless Legs Syndrome. That made her happy, even though it didn't help much.

Fast forward to today. We're leaving in a couple hours to head to their house. Mom has continued to decline mentally, which is now causing "spells" physically. Dad is doing a great job of taking care of Mom but he is so anxious about everything that I believe it will ruin his health. They don't "qualify" for Medicare assistance in the home. Dad has chosen to pay for help once a week so he knows that he can get away for a couple of hours every week. Today we officially begin to "spring clean" the closets as a start of going through the whole house. I believe Mom will be moving to a local nursing home soon, as soon as Dad is ready. There are and have been so many questions along the way. When do you offer your opinion? Or when do you say, if ever, this is what we need to do?  How do you know what services are available in your area?  How do you talk with your parents about end of life decisions and finances etc.  My Dad has always been very private about all of these things. I give him great credit that he has chosen to ask for help in the last few years and we are learning together.  I know it doesn't always work that way.  I met with a step-daughter and mother duo at work last week. The mother was not cooperative at all. The step-daughter really believes her parents are in need of assistance. They are missing medications and meals by her observation.

Ephesians 6 reminds us that we are to honor our parents. Let's share information in order to encourage each other to do this as we walk through this season. I am taking this approach, "Dad, I've never done this before but we will figure it out together."  The Lord gave me those words when our son-in-law was diagnosed with cancer and we were wanting to support them. It is the truth and it helped us there so I'm using the same theory now. How have you approached your parents when difficult decisions need to be made?

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Wellness Wednesday - Instant Cures

I am bothered by the fact that we all want "quick fixes" - me included.  I've been eating much better (meaning far less sugar and carbs in general) for 3 weeks. I've lost 2-3 pounds depending on the day and that was weight that I considered "water weight". I was really hoping to have at least 1 more pound off by now - real weight loss.  I see this phenomenon of wanting instant help for health issues every day that I work in the medical office. People call constantly wanting a medication to make them feel better, NOW! (or at least by tomorrow)  There is an astounding number of people taking anti-anxiety, anti-depressants and sleep aides.  Just that fact alone speaks to me. People are upset. They are stressed. I believe they are rushing around with absolutely no time to relax.  Consumer Reports magazine, "On Health" Volume 24 Number 4 from April 2012 (yeah I just got it Monday) says this, "Prescriptions for newer sleeping pills jumped substantially between 1997 and 2007."  Their graph indicates from approximately 2 million in 1997 to 16 million in 2007. That's CRAZY!

When people are sleep deprived, which means they do not get the proper quantity or quality of sleep, they have difficulty concentrating. That can effect every area of their life.  I know when I don't get enough sleep I am way more emotional.  What do we need to do? Treat the cause, not mask the symptoms. Do you get up in the night to go to the bathroom? Don't drink much in the 2-3 hours prior to going to bed. Do you have heartburn? Don't eat just prior to going to bed. (amongst many other helpful possible changes. See your doctor for more suggestions.) Will your mind not "shut off?"  Try shutting off the TV an hour before you want to go to sleep and reading a book just for pleasure or taking a warm bath. Develop a calming routine for going to bed and stick to it as much as possible.  Keep your bedroom dark, quiet and cool to encourage more restful sleeping.

Remember our bodies are very connected and fluid. We are not robots. We cannot program ourselves to go 100 mph all day and then in 5 minutes expect to fall asleep with no bridge between the two.  Give yourself the gift of good rest by taking some time to slow down before you try to go to sleep.  I am not saying that sleeping pills are never appropriate. What I am saying is that there is a trend to ask for a pill to fix our problems without investigating what might be the real source first. What helps you get to sleep?

Monday, March 12, 2012

Marriage Monday - Clarifying Communication

So I tried writing my blog early and "scheduling it" for posting. There should have been a post on Thursday last week. It didn't work so obviously I've got a bit more to learn. :) Oh well, it's good for our brains to be challenged!

Anyway, I want to talk a bit more about communication. The more I purposefully observed communication happening this past week two things kept "coming to the top for me."

#1. Our mindset or life experiences GREATLY color the way we hear things.  For example, I was involved in a staff meeting last week. We were told of a change that will be taking place this week that will effect the way we do one thing at work. We all do this thing. Everyone must change.  One of the team leaders is making our changes slower than the rest. We all know this. It is how it has been working since October. Our boss made reference to an adjustment his team would have to do until he is fully "on board" with the changes. The meeting went on.  Later, I found out that one of his team members heard that talk as a direct assignment for her and that she must "get the job done" no matter what. Yet overtime is not approved right now, so she was upset thinking she didn't know how she could take on more responsibility and not have overtime.  She cried she was so upset.  I did not hear that message in the meeting at all. This team member has a long history of tough stuff in her life where lots of things have been dumped in her lap. She has also repeatedly been told she is not "smart".  I believe her history colored what she heard and made her come to a different conclusion than what our boss intended. Can you think of a time that happened to you?

#2.  We just hurry too much. We don't ask enough questions. A friend of mine made a comment in a conversation this week. My mind took off like a race horse. I assumed that the comment meant something and that something was going to change my plans for the next day.  I didn't want my plans changed. I was tired. I wanted to do what I wanted to do. This change might offend someone else I might have to meet. Or if I kept that obligation then my friend would have to be alone for awhile...that's not polite when you have a guest.  Can you hear my mind? It instantly began chasing possible scenarios, worrying, feeling tired and stressed.  This happens all the time in everyday conversations. If I had just asked for clarification during that conversation I would not have spent the next 16 hours stewing only to find out my assumption was totally wrong. There was absolutely no need for any of my plans to change.

This happens all the time in marriage (really in all relationships/conversations). I think we need to SLOW DOWN. Listen, ask questions. "What does that mean?"  Stating back what you believe you heard is another great way to clarify and understand what was just really said.  "I heard you say that I need to come straight home after work. Is that right?" Then listen to the answer. You will be amazed at how many times what you heard and what the speaker meant is not the same.  I challenge you to try this at least twice this week. Tell us what happens. Did you hear accurately or did you need to be corrected? Were you surprised?  This is a great tool at work as well as in a marriage. It saves headaches all the way around!

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Wellness Wednesday!

"Fitness becomes even more important as we age. Dr. Cooper, speaking to women, puts it this way: "Physical protection against cardiovascular diseases is an act of God for women over fifty. What he means is that, prior to menopause, a woman's body seems to naturally fight much of the causes of early cardiovascular disease, but after menopause, when estrogen levels plummet, a woman must pay closer attention to diet, exercise, and other preventive strategies to ward off heart disease and other threats to health." Every Body Matters: Strengthening You Body to Strengthen Your Spirit by Gary Thomas

It is as simple as that. We cannot let up. We must develop good habits. Breaking habits is harder than learning proper ones. So by developing good habits and encouraging those around you, primarily your own family you can save them from some difficulties.  I've been told on numerous occasions that it takes 21 days to develop a new habit. See if that's true for you. Choose a good habit and keep it in place for 21 days.  I've also been told you can have "holidays" from your habits but it is suggested never more than twice in a week. That third time often puts you back into old habits.  So if you decide not to eat after supper, I would suggest doing it for at least 21 days before you decide if it works for you. Then if you want to have "treats" now and then, fine but not more than twice weekly. 

Give it a try. Pick a new habit you are developing. Tell us about it and then strive to keep it for at least 21 days before you make up your mind if it is working. We will want to hear from you in 3 weeks too!

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Continuing to Communicate!

Communication really is the basis of relationships, all relationships, your friends, neighbors, co-workers and of course your family. It is essential. So I'm going to continue to share some wisdom regarding communication. It's not my wisdom. It's straight from my favorite book of the Bible, Ephesians.  Today I'm looking at the Amplified addition. Read these words and see if you aren't challenged!

I therefore the prisoner for the Lord, appeal to you and beg you to walk (lead a life) worthy of the divine calling to which you have been called (with behavior that is a credit to the summons to God's service, living as becomes you) with patience, bearing with one another and making allowances because you love one another. Be eager and strive earnestly to guard and keep the harmony and oneness of (and produced by) the Spirit in the binding power of peace...Strip yourselves of your former nature (put off and discard you old unrenewed self) which characterized your previous manner of life and becomes corrupt through lusts and desires that spring from delusion; And be constantly renewed in the spirit of your mind (having a fresh mental and spiritual attitude), And put on the new nature (the regenerate self) created in God's image, (Godlike) in true righteousness and holiness. Therefore, rejecting all falsity and being done now with it, let everyone express the truth with his neighbor, for we are all parts of one body and members one of another...Let no foul or polluting language, nor evil word not unwholesome or worthless talk (ever)come out of your mouth, but only such (speech) as is good and beneficial to the spiritual progress of others, as is fitting to the need and the occasion that it may be a blessing and give grace (God's favor) to those who hear it.... Ephesians 4:1-3, 25, 29

Challenged! Paul begs us to walk "worthy" of our calling as children of God. That is walking in harmony. My husband has been studying this lately and we've learned so much.  Harmony, not unity which allows us to be ourselves. Singing the part that we sing, not what our neighbor's part, but singing the same song. Our song as children of God should glorify God all day, every day. God will renew our minds and spirit and then we can communicate with honesty and respect. Speech that is "good and beneficial" to the recipient.  Again for myself anyway, the first step in doing this is to slow down and think before I speak. Is what I'm about to say going to help this person and/or the situation? Is it necessary? Is this the right time? If so, do. If not, wait.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Marriage Monday - Communication

Marriage Monday isn't over yet. Sorry for the late posting. I was sitting down to write when my father called from the emergency room telling me he had called an ambulance for my mother. Needless to say the computer got left and my parents got my attention. They are home and all is well for now so I will return to my thoughts of this  morning.

Mark and I spent the past weekend with couples from Minnesota investing in their marriage relationships.  We got to talk to lots of couples most of whom participated in our weekend but others just were a part of the church body we were hosted by.  It was a great reminder to me again that the single most frustrating and rewarding thing in a relationship is communication. Communication is key. It is essential. It is the groundwork for everything! So why is it universally such a problem?  I think the problem is we just go too fast and expect too much out of our spouse. Actually this is true in all our relationships, with siblings, friends, co-workers etc. We just blast into a conversation using terminology that we understand, suggesting things but really hoping they understand that it's not a suggestion and sometimes we even purposefully leave things out. We wouldn't want to "hurt their feelings" you know.

On our way home Mark and I took a break from our driving and walked through an outlet store.  As we rounded the corner of one display we saw a set of metal stairs on wheels with a chain across the bottom complete with a sign that said not to stand on the stairs. They were for employees to stock shelves. I'm sure you've seen the type. Standing at the very top was a darling little girl with curly black hair.  After asking the only other customer in sight if this was her daughter we began talking to the little girl. "Could we help you down?" We (Mark first and then me) held up our arm for her to take our hand. "Can you hold my hand? I'll help you find your mom." She did not move nor say one word. She just stood there looking at us, frozen in her spot. Within minutes I heard the other customer calling around a near by display. "Are you looking for your child? She's over here."  Just then a pretty lady poked her head around the corner, gasped as she looked at the little girl standing at the very top of these stairs and began talking to her as she rushed over. The little girl smiled and leaned into her mother's arms when she was close enough. The thing is the mother talked to her little girl in another language.  We were communicating to her in a language we fully understood but she didn't.  It can be just like that with your spouse. You are talking but they just aren't getting it. It's frustrating.  If this sounds like things in your house I have a suggestion to start with - slow down. Think about what you really want to say before you say it. Be sure you have your spouse's attention BEFORE you begin. That alone will save a lot of time and frustration. Chances are you won't have to repeat yourself so many times.

Also, take some time to learn how your spouse communicates best. Some people call this their "love language" or learning style is another way to refer to it. Do they like audible communication, or is written and read a better way for them to learn? Do they need to "see" what you are talking about or have a "hands on" experience to really solidify what you are saying?  Mark and I just reviewed this and were reminded that I like to read to learn but I like to hear positive affirmation from him. He is a hands on learner but also likes verbal affirmation. That reminded us of some ways to communicate that could cut down on the frustration level for both of us.  We're working on some new projects together. As I'm learning via reading I've also made an appointment for us to meet with an Apple tech to teach us how to "do" what we want to do on our computer. Just reading instructions won't work the best for Mark. He will learn it quicker than me when he does it, so I need to read the instructions first and then watch. Together we will learn it.  What about you? Do you know how your spouse "listens" or "learns" best?

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Marriage is a Good Thing

As I launched into another day I read a discouraging statistic. According to a recent Pew Study www.pewsocialtrends.org  anywhere from 32-44% of our population believe marriage is becoming obsolete. That just makes me sad. Why? While I am fully aware of other statistics like since 1960 the number of cohabitating couples has increased fifteen-fold in the United States. www.virginia.edu/marriageproject/(December 2010) I do not believe we need to just sit around and say that is just the way it is in our nation.  I’m not here to judge where, exactly when, or why we are where we are. I do not believe being single is a bad thing. I am here to say that if you choose to have a relationship I can testify that life-long marriage is a good thing. Yes, I am a Christian and my values are based on the Bible as I believe it is the Word of God. But don’t let that stop you from reading what I have observed and experienced.

I am a stronger, more well-rounded person because I am married. My husband and I do not think alike on all fronts. We have different styles of doing things. He appreciates things that I really have very little interest in. Because I married him and have stayed with him for over 30 years now I have traveled places, met people, and been exposed to businesses that I would not have if I had stayed single. I have learned to share space and possessions which has helped me share with those less fortunate than me over the years. I have learned to laugh at spontaneous songs and take care of myself by exercising because of his example. I have had someone to share my love of our children as well as other children with over the years. He has encouraged me to be open to new experiences. I can be quoted as saying because I married Mark I have experienced “higher highs and lower lows than I ever would have had I remained single.”  It is a true statement I’m sure as I was raised in a very reserved emotional environment but that has not been true of our home. We laugh hard, cry hard, get excited about lots of things and get angry over injustice. We are very verbal!

My co-workers are predominately female and 50% are single. All but one of these single women have children. None of them have been married. All of them are great people. I enjoy them. They are intelligent, kind, and hard working. I have nothing negative to say of them. I just feel bad for them. They are always trying to figure out how to have a “social life” and how to make sure they have money for the next bill. They don’t have a consistent person to talk things over with, help them make decisions, support them in their quest to better themselves, or suggest new things to try. In fact a couple of them are struggling with their self-esteem due to the lack of respect their ex-partner showed them.

I believe marriage is a relationship to help us mature, building character. It helps us not stay stuck in who we think we are but forces us into exploring new ways of thinking and situations. The end result is we are better educated and less selfish. We make the world around us better. I could give you all of the Biblical reasons I believe in marriage and there are many, but for today I just want to concentrate on my observations from life and facts others have gathered. As I said I do not believe everyone has to get married. However, if you do marry, I believe staying married is better than divorce with a few exceptions. I say that as a daughter of a divorced mother who remarried, the sister of a twice divorced sibling and one of my best friends has been married 3 times. I am well acquainted with divorce and genuinely love many divorced people.

I’ll finish with a few statistics, non-emotional facts.
Over 25% of divorced women end up in poverty following their divorce. The average cost for a divorce is $30,000.00
Increased taxpayer expenditures associated with divorce and unwed childbearing include anti-poverty, criminal justice programs, costs for welfare subsidies, additional child support collection costs, foster care and child protection services, health insurance costs and education programs.
Parental divorce increases the odds that adult children will also divorce.
Both men and women who are married enjoy better health on average than do single, cohabitating, or divorced individuals. (My personal opinion is that is tied directly to stress levels.)
Cohabitating before marriage does not increase your chance of staying together, in fact you are more likely to get a divorce.
80-90% of married couples who stay together do so because they have fun together. So if you are married, enjoy it!

Being and staying married isn’t always easy but it is simple. You have to make a choice to be married for life. In my experience it has enriched my life greatly. What do you think? Let’s talk.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Slow Down?

It's Wellness Wednesday again. You know, there really is "nothing new under the sun." The problem is we are always looking for that magic trick to make us "feel better, less frazzled,  lose weight or be in shape." Well the truth is there is no "magic trick" to make us be healthy. There is only good choices. I have an opinion on what I believe could be the best choice. It is just my opinion. I have no survey or statistics to prove my point.  It is this: SLOW DOWN. You do NOT have to:
1. Drive all the neighborhood kids to school every day and provide a traveling breakfast.
2. Be the first one to finish your current work project
3. Have all the laundry done every day
4. Have all the dishes done before going to bed every day
5. Clean the bathroom every night before bed (I about died when one of my friends told me she did this)
6. Exercise each and every day, no matter what
7. Less than 3 fix-it projects on the list at all times
8. Volunteer for school, community and church projects every time they present themselves
9. Be involved in every sporting, drama, debate or speech event in the school
10. Take lessons for everything

Do you get the idea? I am saying you CAN make choices? What do you really like to do? How clean does your house have to be for you and your family to be comfortable? Ask these questions for or with your children if you have them? Help your family realize that they do not have to do everything their friends do and they can still be friends. Everyone needs some "down time" on a regular basis. Personally I like to read or watch a TV show that is just for fun, not to "teach" me anything. For some people this is time to exercise. That's great if it is something you enjoy not just a "duty."

You do not have to nor can you be "all things to all people." (period) It is not possible. So choose your priorities. While I cannot and should not choose for you I'd like to strongly suggest that the best thing you can do for yourself and for your family is to take care of yourself body, mind and spirit. Then you will be ready, willing and able to fully live helping those you love and enjoying life.

Share one thing that you are willing to try to "relax" a bit on.  If you need help read the list given above for starters.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Taking in the Moments

Yesterday it reached 50 degrees and I decided to take the opportunity to get out for an overdue "run". It has been awhile. I've exercised but not run for a couple of weeks at least. Wow, I could tell. Breathing was harder and I had to do more intervals than the last time I had run.  I managed to keep my time on pace but barely. While I was running (which is really just a fast walk) I was discussing with God on how to handle the next bit of time in my life.  I have taken one class for Biblical Counseling and loved it. The next one starts again next week. I have already skipped it once as we were anticipating a new adventure starting for Mark this month. While this adventure is for Mark it will involve both of us. We're a team you know! Turns out it is not going to start until April 1st but there is preparation to be done between now and then. My classes last 5 weeks a piece. Perfect window of opportunity to get one more done before the new adventure officially begins...but I was dragging my feet.

Towards the end of my run I saw an elderly gentleman out for a walk. He was using a cane and his head was down. You've seen elderly people like this before. Their spine is curved and it takes great effort to straighten out.  Just behind him ran up a young child with his mother following. The child was full of energy and dancing circles enjoying the fresh air. The gentleman did not see the child until he was almost literally under his nose. I got to see the whole scene.  All of the sudden the debate in my head stopped. I don't want to get so busy that I have to "keep my head down watching only my path".  I want to be able to watch and see what God is doing in my husband's life at the start of this new adventure. I want to take in what He has for me. I don't want people to have to walk into my path and say hey, I'm here look at me.  Yes, it means delaying my classes for a bit but that's okay. I'm married. I'm a part of a team and our team has a new game. I intend to be fully "there."

What about you? Do you have so much going on in your life that you are only minimally involved in your spouse's life? Don't get me wrong. We each have and should have things that are ours as individuals. Mark bowls. I read or scrapbook. But if I add so many things at once into my life that I have to "keep my head down" - allocating every moment to be sure that everything gets done. I don't get to look around and enjoy what is going on all around me. I'm choosing to set a boundary right now. I will limit new things to fully live in the current things. It's a trust issue with me. I have to trust that God can and will speak to me, use me and grow me even without a formal "class." I have to trust that my husband will support me when it is time for me to return to those studies. Hmmm, there's a growing experience right there.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Thinking about Friends

This morning I've got so many thoughts running through my mind and heart but top of the list is true friendship. Proverbs 17:17 says "A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity." "Loves at all times" what does that mean? That they are always "warm and fuzzy" telling you how wonderful you are? Not really, in fact the people in my life that tend to always say what I want to hear are usually the same ones that are talking behind my back. True friends "have your back." They tell you the truth because they love you.  I've read one definition of love as "seeing the need in your friend and meeting that need". The true need - not all there wishes. For most of us one of our biggest needs is the ability to be ourselves without worry of judgement. True friends can disagree and still totally love one another. In fact, if you totally agree on everything why do you need each other?

We had the opportunity to do some traveling over the past week. Some old friends allowed us to stay with them for a few nights. I LOVED it. We were able to have great visits over breakfast in our robes. Of course we just got caught up on family but we also asked each other about life lessons, exchanged book titles and prayer requests. I have no qualms that anything I said will be the "talk of the town". My friend will keep our conversations confidential. They are still our friends even though they have seen our "warts". While we have similar approaches and goals for doing life we encourage each other to do it our own way. We don't expect each other to think exactly like us.  I learn so much every time we are together.

What is your idea of true friendship? Who comes to mind in your life? Without names why don't you share the characteristics of that true friend(s) in your life in the comment section. Let's learn what being a true friend is together.

For more thoughts on true friendship visit my friend Cindy. http://cindybultema.blogspot.com/
She and her high school senior hockey player son have been learning about friends.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Wellness Wednesday - True Confessions

First I apologize for my unannounced silence. We had a wonderful week of seeing old friends and ministry since I've last blogged. The time was rich with friends, old and new but allowed me to do what I do with exercise and healthy habits. I think "oh, we are doing something different/special today. I won't worry about it until later or tomorrow." Then later or tomorrow comes and I haven't done anything. The only thing good about this is I'm beginning to recognize this weakness sooner and sooner and not allowing it to go on for as long as it used to.  That said, I've allowed the winter to slow some of my healthy activities and thus have put on a few pounds again. UGH. I hate this cycle that I go through.

The good news is my husband came to me Monday and said that he had put on a few pounds too and he wants to stop that and lose them ASAP so they don't multiply. Yeah, a direct, close contact support and accountability person in my life! So we talked and are going back to what we know to be true.
1. Lots of water. I'm told we are to drink 1/2 our body weight in ounces of water per day. Yep, I was running to the bathroom all evening.
2.  Planned eating, including mid-morning and afternoon snacks, smaller amounts each time.
3.  Smaller amounts - wow, isn't that an original thought.
4.  No snacking after the evening meal with the exception of Mark's great popcorn now and then for a movie treat! :) His popcorn makes me smile.

That's what we are doing to get ourselves back on track.  What do you do when you realize you've been "slipping" on your healthy habits? Don't limit this to eating. What do you do when you realize you've been skipping exercising or getting good rest?

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

One Last Date

We've been talking about dating over the past couple of weeks and I can think of no better day than Valentines Day to share one last story from a friend.

A favorite date~there have been many as Mark & I will be married 35 years this Valentine's Day! So we are truly Valentine sweethearts. We were married on my grandparents 43rd anniversary so a very special date for 2 generations there. One of the many dates that stand out to me is the night we got engaged. We had only dated a month, yes a month and we got engaged. It was a very simple date, as Mark picked me up at my parents home. We went to Mastebergen's jewlery in Sheldon and in the parking lot , the ring was placed on my finger. I remember dropping the jewelry cleaner on the ground and it breaking & being stinky. We were very excited, but when my parents found out it wasn't exactly exciting for them. Many suggestions & advice were shared that night, but we remained engaged. God had it in His plans. Mark was a very solid follower of Christ and at the time I was just a religious church attender. After going to church with Mark I realized I had never surrendered my life to Christ. So that date was just one of the very important steps in my life that led me to where we are today. Thankfully I found the Lover of my soul, and a man who loves me with all his heart as well.

While you may think of Valentines Day as a "Hallmark get your money day" - it doesn't have to be. Use this day to appreciate your spouse or significant other. While your at it what about appreciating your parents or another older couple in your life who have set a good example for you.  And remember all the candy goes on sale tomorrow! This doesn't have to be just a one day thing! Have FUN!

Friday, February 10, 2012

Dating - This One is for the Guys

Okay guys, you are not off the hook on this one. Dating can be fun for you too!  Sometimes it takes a bit of homework. I mean sure your girl loves you and she's willing (and maybe even likes) that ball game you take her to but not for every date!

An old friend of mine just celebrated her 32 wedding anniversary. They live in a smaller town in Iowa so her husband took her to a near by city for an afternoon of shopping and dinner. He says he's learned to enjoy these shopping dates. He learns about his wife!

Another gentleman friend said this:
Our favorite dates are the simple ones.  Not expensive or difficult, but quiet and alone.  For years I spent time trying to do the big stuff often with a lot of other people involved.  While there is a place for that, I have finally learned that what is most valued is time to just be quiet and together.  Whether it is simply watching a movie together quietly in our living room or at the theater, or spending an evening together on the road over dinner and a walk, it isn’t the production that matters but the time.

The key for my bride is time.  She desires it at a slow pace and low key atmosphere.  That is not my normal style but I’m learning.

I do know from our early years that making the arrangements for childcare – and good quality arrangements – was one of the most cherished things I did.  It didn’t really matter what we did as long as the kids were cared for and I took care of the arrangements and babysitters.  That was a gift that went for miles.

The key is to do as Nike says, "just do it!"  Let's hear from more of you guys. What are your favorite dates?

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Wellness Wednesday - A Little Laughter Please

Humor is a wonderful way to prevent a hardening of the attitudes! - Joel Goodman

Having a good laugh with a friend is one of the healthiest things you can do for yourself. It's a proven fact.  Doctors and psychologist agree it's good for your mind, body and soul.  We shouldn't be surprised Proverbs 17:22 says "Laughter doeth good like a medicine" in the King James Version.  The NIV says it like this "A cheerful heart is good medicine; but a crushed spirit dries up the bones."

So call a friend today. Share a smile. Play a board game. Sing out loud. Read a comic strip or watch a cartoon! What's stopping you? It's good for you!

Oh and in keeping with my current dating theme here's a link suggesting some "healthy" dates. These dates are ones you can have with any friend or your spouse/significant other. Enjoy! 

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

More Dates...

I don't want you to have any excuses for not taking some time out for you and your spouse.  I have more stories to share. Remember the point is not to feel pressure to copy anyone but to get ideas.

Personally I remember walking through a furniture store and showing each other what we liked for "someday" when we had a "real" house. Our son and daughter-in-law sometimes go to a local bookstore and sit and read magazines or browse books with a cup of hot chocolate.

Here's another story from a friend:
We were out visiting my husband's family in Wyoming and it was a normal day like any other or so I thought until Nathan surprised me after breakfast in front of his whole family, grandma, aunts, uncles, and cousins that I needed to get my shoes on because we were going to be going somewhere, he found a sitter and everything. "Which wasn't hard because of all the family" but I loved it anyway. We got in the car and he drove to some places nearby, he took me on the 1880 train and we went and looked at a nearby cave, we also experienced the cosmos and few other area attractions. I just loved the spontaneity of the whole day and one surprise after another. It truly was a wonderful day.

Have you ever gone sledding or taken a walk at night? It's funny how the same old landscape can look different at night. Or is there a place you like to go that you should go at least once a season to see how it looks different? Take pictures or draw your rendition of what it looks like. Go out ahead of time and make a scavenger hunt for your spouse. Take a picnic. Take a good book and read a chapter out loud together. (Mark your place and go somewhere different to read the next chapter)

See it doesn't "have to be" elaborate.  If you will notice the common denominator in the stories is that one of the people planned. Yes, thought ahead of time what they could do. That makes the other person feel cared for and that is a good thing!

Monday, February 6, 2012

Marriage Monday - Date Time!

It's Marriage Monday 8 days before Valentines Day. Some of you are still being Valentines Day "Scrooge" and others have plans in the works.  As I said before my mother used to tell me "if you don't clean your house before company comes, when will you clean it?"  If you don't plan something for your spouse at Valentine's Day, when will you?  Statistics prove that couples who have fun together stay together longer and enjoy life more. That seems so reasonable, so obvious when you see it in print. However the truth is the longer most couples are together the less true recreational time they take together. Sure you go to family events or your workplace holiday party but what about fun for just the sake of fun?

So what if you and your spouse are opposites when it comes to recreation? Maybe he loves sports and you love music, take turns! Plan times for both. Maybe you just don't understand Hockey. That's okay, learn the name of his favorite team. Over dinner before the game ask him to tell you who his favorite player is and what his number is. Then watch for the favorite player. Watch the people around you. Learn something new!  Somewhere down the road do something you really love to do and you tell your spouse what you love most about it.

It doesn't always have to be a going out kind of date. Start an ongoing cribbage challenge for the winter. We play once a week or so and are keeping track of wins and losses. (I won this week by the way. That doesn't happen often so it's worth noting.)  We're going to be traveling on Valentine's Day evening so I'm thinking about making some homemade chocolate dipped strawberries just for fun. (Our official Valentines Day date is tomorrow night)  Maybe you both like to cook, plan a night to try a new recipe together!

However when you do want to go out it can be as simple or elaborate as this: (I asked a few of my friends to share a date they enjoyed)

From a gal:
Darrin and I have been married for 16 years and we have 3 kids...just now they are old enough to not need a baby sitter - but we love to take drives. We'll have coffee and drive around the local lake. Sometimes we take a small picnic and just go out and sit on a blanket next to the lake, eat, talk and enjoy being together. Pretty simple and in expensive, but it's been a great way for us to have a little time to connect without spending a lot! Love date nights And...just lately we've found 2 other couples who like to go out to eat - and we have found some unique places to all go together and then back to one of the homes for dessert. Love that, too.
 From a guy:
I made a reservation at a nice restaurant that we both liked and we agreed to meet there after work. We were both dressed up as that was the attire of the establishment. Cindy arrived first and was seated at the bar enjoying a glass of wine when I arrived. I approached her and introduced myself using a made-up name and she took the bait and played along. All evening we spoke to one another as if we had never met before that night, asking scores of questions and hearing the answers afresh, as if for the first time. We had a wonderful time getting acquainted. After a few hours of dialog and great food, we left the restaurant and walked through the attached hotel looking at its beautiful amenities. As we walked down one hall, I reached into my pocket, pulled out a room key and we slipped into a room. I had been there earlier in the day to check-in, had packed an overnight back for both of us and had candles burning, champagne chilling and music playing. I'll let the public story end there.
From both:
After 19 years of marriage & 4 children, we find it difficult to get time alone. For this reason, we enjoy slipping away for lunch dates which seem to be easier on our family schedule than an evening away from home. It allows us to connect on what is going on at work and home without the distractions of every day life. We also believe in the value of couple's retreats, whether it be a programmed marriage retreat or a mini vacation. We are currently on a little escape to Walt Disney World and our kids are a bit jealous. We explained to them the importance of parents having time away for themselves, knowing that truly the best gift we can give our kids is the love and security that comes from a healthy marriage.

Need more ideas? Go to http://www.havegreatdates.net/

Share your plans! Give other people some ideas!