"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

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!

Friday, February 3, 2012

Simple or Complicated?

So today finds me nearing the end of our "staycation".  This is not the vacation we originally planned. That one involved beach, sun, ocean and warm temperatures in a far away place. However, this one is good. That's what I'm learning. (yes, you can learn on vacation.)

We just plain make things too complicated or hard.  It doesn't take spending lots of money or going far away to take a break, to have fun and get some rest. First we marked this week off on our calendar. That means no appointments. (We broke this rule once) Then we shut off the alarm clock. We made a list of things we'd like to do and we've been doing them. However, we are also spontaneously choosing to do things that come up as each day presents itself. After all how many times in January and early February in Iowa can you do this:

Riding our Trikes

We played Cribbage by the fire on our patio in January! (I won!)
 Life is not easy but it does NOT have to be complicated. Attitude plays a huge part of it. We decided we are going to enjoy our time even though we are not on a beach. We are. It's that simple.  What are you complicating today? Will choose to simplify?

P.S. It's supposed to rain and possibly change to snow later today. That's okay. We have some indoor fun things to do that we didn't do earlier in the week when we were outside.  See how this works out!

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Wellness Wednesday - Lighten Up

Sometimes I think the best thing I can do for myself is to "lighten up."  I tend to be overly "responsible" and often it is to my own demise.  While there is more than enough hard stuff and heartache in this world there is also alot of wonderful things. We just need to slow down enough to be aware of them. That means we need to make some choices.  So here are a few choices that I have made or am making now to enJOY life a bit more.

 - Phone a long distance friend weekly.  This is something I do to stay connected with some of the great people in our life. We've moved a couple of times but I don't want to lose connection with some really great people.
 - Look around and appreciate the beauty in my own world meaning my immediate neighborhood. Right now in Iowa it's brown and rather drab for color on the ground but the sky has been a beautiful bright blue with fluffy clouds.   There are more ducks and geese than I remember in the past. One of our neighbors has put up a nice yard fence and we have a new puppy across the street!
 - Set your alarm to go off with music whether it's your Ipod or a radio station. Music can really lift your spirits. Sing through out the day!  My family is known (amongst ourselves) for "breaking into spontaneous songs!" (It's a whole different story. Ask me some time. Thanks Treasure Village!)
 - Take time to do something you enjoy for a bit each day. That might mean just being quiet and drinking a cup of tea, or exercising, or watching a favorite TV show or reading....whatever!
 - Be present in the moment at hand. You cannot change your past. You do not know what tomorrow will bring but you can fully engage in now!

A few simple decisions can really change the course of your day which can change the course of your life. I am so grateful for my life. I don't want to miss one thing God has for me...yes, even the hard stuff. I can bring glory to God by trusting Him through the hard stuff. Then I don't have to worry, or try to "fix it". I can trust Him which "lightens my load". Yes, it's time to "lighten up!"

How will you "lighten up" a bit today?