Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Healthy Me

Well, I'm thankful to say that my knee is feeling so much better.  I guess I can chalk up last week's pain to having strained it.  I was so worried that I had torn something.  But, now I'm really appreciating how important healthy knees are!

In fact, I'm appreciating how important healthy bodies are.  I mentioned in my previous post that I had a complete blood workup done after my last physical.  I also recently had my mammogram.  And, the good news is that all those results came back great.  I am healthy overall.  But, what I've also realized is that if I want to STAY healthy...and if I truly want to THRIVE...then I need to take better care of myself.

What a gift our health is.  And frankly I have been treating that gift very poorly & taking it for granted.  I know that this is a result of many, many deeply ingrained bad habits.  And, changing these habits & patterns is going to mean changing my mindset.

Of course, I've made that realization before and have tried before and have found myself back in this same spot again of NEEDING to make changes.  But, so help me.  I will keep trying and keep working at this.  I will not give up.

I was recently reading  Eating for Life by Joel Fuhrman.  In it he talked about how our neural pathways are essentially formed by repeating the same behavior over & over.  They become the 'easy route' in our brain.  Feeling depressed or bored?  Well, if the repeated behavior has been to eat something unhealthy for a quick boost, then that becomes our brain's go-to each time we feel that way.

We CAN create new paths.  But, they take time.  As I was reading that section, the visual image I got is of when my boys go sledding in deep snow.  The first pass or two, they don't get very far as they are plowing through that snow & trying to create that path.  But, as they keep going again & again their path goes farther & easier until they are flying down that path.

And that's where the different mindset comes in.  I have always wanted the path to be clear & easy from the start.  I wanted to fly down the hill & didn't want the hard work of pushing away the snow in the way.  When I hit those barriers it's been so much easier to pick up my sled & go back to those easier bad habit pathways.  So, basically I need to keep pushing through even when it feels like to much work.

Anyway, I'm hoping to start that new path and not give up.  I already feel better because I've been getting a lot more sleep this last week.  It started out that I was going to bed earlier because my knee hurt & I was exhausted from hobbling around on it & I knew I needed to rest it.  But, now, 8:30 or 9 rolls around & I feel like going to bed.  And, I'm waking up earlier.  But, I'm also waking up rested.  I haven't felt rested in a very long time.

The other good part about going to bed earlier is that it eliminates the chance for night-time snacking.  Night time snacking has been one of my biggest downfalls.  I think not eating before bed probably also contributes to a better sleep.

I'm still weighing what changes I want to take in regard to my diet.  I've done a vegan fast before & it's really good for feeling better & losing weight.  I also don't find it sustainable over a long period of time.  I definitely want to cut back on empty carbs, sugars, and animal products & beef up on fruits & veggies.  I also need to start incorporating exercise.

For now, step by step, inch by inch I'm going to create my new pathway.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Happy Thanksgiving and More.

Happy Thanksgiving.  I have sorely neglected my blog.  But, I need an outlet for writing down my thoughts again.  And, so I'm coming back to my old friend to do just that.

First of all, I hope you all have a very blessed Thanksgiving.  I'm enjoying a quiet moment right now.  My children have disappeared down the hill to Grandma & Grandpa's house to 'help' get things ready for dinner.  I'm sitting on the couch resting my knee because I somehow hurt myself yesterday & I'm hobbling around in pain.  I need to get started on the food that I'm making soon.  But, right now I'm just having a moment or two to myself.

I am definitely feeling blessed.  I've been so aware of how fortunate I am to have my family, our health, our home & security.  I'm keenly aware of how blessed we are to be living in relative peace & lack of turmoil and in a country where we have our freedom.

I've also been saddened by things going on in the world around me.  Close to me there are friends whose loved ones are fighting for their lives against cancer.  There are friends & family who are struggling in their marriages or other relationships.  There's a family member who desperately wants children of her own someday, but for the sake of her health, may have to make the decision to have a hysterectomy.

And, when I look at the world around me there are wars & rumors of wars, as well as so much conflict & tension within our own country.  And this past election seemed to bring out the worst in everyone.  There are tragedies that we hear about on the news.  This week is was a school bus crash that killed 5 precious children and seriously injured many more.

It's all so heavy sometimes.  I feel things deeply.  And, it's just a lot.  I feel so helpless in the face of so much sadness & suffering.  I don't know what difference I can make.

I know that it starts at ground level.  It starts with how I interact with people each day - my husband & children, friends, even strangers at the grocery store.  And yet, even there I fail often.

It's hard to feel a lack of control over circumstances.

So where am I headed with all this?  Well, I guess I've been feeling challenged to take control of & be a good steward of the things that I am able to.  I've been challenged to exercise self-control.  So, for me this would boil down to two major areas - My home and my health.

Those might not seem like big things in the scope of all that I listed above.  But, these are two areas that if they are disjointed or chaotic it seems to spill over into the rest of life & the attitudes and feelings that I have regarding many things.

My home:  We are messies.  With four boys & a husband who are all outdoorsy, hands-on kinds of guys...who value function over cosmetics....it reflects in the very lived in state of our home.  But, I also struggle to keep up with things that need done in our home.  I dislike cleaning & it can all seem very overwhelming.  So, I just watch the mess grow & grow until I can't stand it & try to do a whirlwind of straightening up.

It's not a good cycle.  And, it's one that we can change.  I need to better involve my children in the upkeep of our home.  And, I need to dig in to the tasks that need done & tackle them one by one.

My health:  I had a physical recently.  I wanted to talk to the doctor about pain in my knee as well as my weight gain & exhaustion.  She ordered some bloodwork and an xray of my knee to check for arthritis.  The good news is that all of my blood work came back very good.  So, I am healthy & there aren't any contributing factors to my weight gain.  The xray showed some bone spurs but nothing overly concerning.

So what does that mean?   Pretty much what I already knew.  I need to take better care of myself.  I have nothing to blame my weight gain on other than my poor eating habits & lack of exercise.  But, here's the other thing...if I continue on this path I can't continue to count on having good health.  So, it's time to get myself back on track...for real.

Taking control of my home & my health.  That's my goal.  And, I will be using my blog again to help document my progress.  Here we go!

Monday, April 18, 2016

Do You Know?

Do you know that Jesus loves you?

Not just as an oft-repeated religious saying.  Not just as some pleasant, generic phrase with no power.

He loves you!  Profoundly.  Deeply.

In a soul altering way.

His eye is upon you.  He sees you.  He knows you.

He wants you to experience his presence & truly know Him.

All pretenses, all striving is shattered.

Yet we put His name on bumper stickers.  We water down what is the greatest Truth of all time.  That Jesus loves you.

He longs for you to draw near to Him.  He offers life.  Abundant, full, overflowing life!

He offers water that will quench your thirst.

The fire of longing that drives you to seek comfort in things and in people....that longing can only be fulfilled in Jesus.

He loves you.  He knows you.  You are His.  He knew you before time began.

And He will not stop pursuing you.

Nothing you do, nothing you say, nothing can take away His love for you.

To some He was just a good teacher.  To some - a myth.  'What does this Jesus offer that we can't find elsewhere?'

The Truth is - He offers EVERYTHING.  He offers Himself.  It is done.  No other 'god' has sacrificed himself for the love of humanity.... to remove the separation between us & have relationship with us.

There is no writing Him off as a nice guy.  There is no shelving Him with the story books.

Lives are changed.  Hearts are released at a glance.  Bodies healed with a touch.  Only One has this Power.

There is Power in the name of Jesus.

Demons shudder at the thought of His name.  (James 2:19)

The same One that spoke life into the vast nothingness before time is the One who yearns to be near you.

His breath is in each of us - whether we recognize it or not.  (Job 33:4)

He has set eternity in our hearts.  (Ecclesiastes 3:11)

He knows you.  Every ache.  Every dream.  Every part of yourself that you can't even express.  He knows.

And He loves you.

Do you know that Jesus loves you?

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

The Most Powerful Weapon

I jotted this down in my notebook a couple weeks ago when I was reflecting on how much anger there is surrounding us today - even among the Christian community...
"The most powerful weapon we have is not our anger or our indignation - but our love".
I had a confirmation of that this morning. John had breakfast with a group of local businessmen. One of them was the defense lawyer for one of the men who killed Ms. Mathewson (my son's teacher). As soon as John told me that I felt emotion rising in me. How could anyone defend someone like that?
But John went one to say that this lawyer is a Christian, and even though he works with people who are guilty of what they are accused, they still need a lawyer. And, he sees this as an opportunity to minister Christ's love to even the most wretched among us.
I asked John if he had said anything about Ms. Mathewson's case....knowing that he is bound to certain confidentiality.
But apparently the lawyer did say this man that he had to stand beside in court was an extremely hardened individual. It wasn't until Ms. Mathewson's family & friends were given the opportunity to speak to him - and instead of anger they showered him with Christ's love & forgiveness - did he begin to crack.
Love IS more powerful than anger. Forgiveness IS more powerful than indignation. I don't exactly know how to put that into practice in my daily life. When we are hurt & wronged - anger is our go to response. It seems the natural response. The response we have a right to. I can't imagine standing in front of the killer of a loved one, especially a killer who showed absolutely no remorse, and react with love & forgiveness instead of hate. I can't imagine it, because it is humanly impossible. But it is only through Christ who strengthens me that such love is possible. Am I seeking him in the little things? In the small offenses? When I feel misunderstood by my husband or unappreciated by my children. When someone says something to me that hurts my feelings. Goodness, am I able to insert love & forgiveness in place of the go to response of anger when someone cuts me off while I'm driving? I know I fail repeatedly at this. We all do. But, I'm learning that putting on the mind of Christ is not something that just automatically comes when we become a Christian. It's an ongoing work of the Holy Spirit in our hearts & minds. It takes practice and perseverance....and failure. But, we have new mercies every morning to keep going, to keep learning, and growing.

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Open Doors

I felt this impressed upon my heart this morning as I was praying.

I was led to this scripture in Revelation 3: 7,8
"These are the words of him who is holy and true, who holds the key of David.  What he opens no one can shut, and what he shuts not one can open.  I know your deeds.  See, I have placed before you an open door that no one can shut.  I know that you have little strength, yet you have kept my word & have not denied my name"

I felt like God was saying that He is opening new doors across our country even now in this moment
 - Doors of opportunity for change
 - Doors of hearts & minds that have previously been closed
 - Doors of ears - that people might hear God's Word & have understanding of it for the first time

I felt like God was saying that He is shutting doors to the enemy.  Where the enemy previously had inroads and paths for deception and his own influence....God is shutting them.  And, the enemy can not get through.  His efforts will be frustrated.  God is blocking his way.

And, I was encouraged by the reminder that he knows we have little strength - but he is renewing his people with increased boldness and energy.  He is planting a zeal for His Word and His Truth and a heart for those around us who are living in darkness.  Where there has been apathy & discouragement, he is giving supernatural strength & motivation.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Discovering a purpose

So it's going to get a little deep here.
But, I had a moment today. Can I share?
I've been in a major funk this week...walking about in a fog, depressed for no real reason. Maybe it's the winter blahs, maybe it's hormones. Who knows.

Anyway, I have a lot of people who stop at my house to pick up items they are buying. Some of them are here & gone. Others end up chatting a bit. Actually quite a few end up chatting a bit.
A lady who stopped this afternoon told me her husband died of brain cancer 2 years ago. I guess he'd been in the hospital for a while & then she brought him home to live out the rest of his days. Her living room became his room...his hospital bed, medical equipment, etc.

The furniture they'd originally had she had just put out along the side of the road for free to make room for her husband. She didn't have the time or energy to do anything else with it.

Now, that he's gone she's slowly rebuilding her living room...making it a new space with new things. The coffee table she bought from me will be one of those things.

And, it struck me after she left what a gift I've been given. Yes, I love vintage things - finding and selling treasures. But, the greatest part? The people. Even though I'm an introvert, I love hearing people's stories. I love listening and figuring out who they are. Why they think and feel the way they do. What they've experienced.

A bit of light broke through the fog I've been walking in. You see, I've been feeling purposeless, useless, really unimportant. I've been asking God to give me some sense of purpose, And, suddenly I realized what an opportunity I've been given.

I can be a listener, an encourager. And, I hope as I grow bolder, I would remember that I can offer to pray with people. It might not seem like much. But, maybe this is my role right now.

Monday, February 8, 2016

Getting What We Deserve

One of the young men who murdered my son's sixth grade teacher last year finally faced sentencing this past week.  To avoid facing a trial where the death penalty would be pursued he accepted a plea bargain.  He pled guilty and was sentenced to life plus 20 years with no chance for appeals.  In other words, he will never get out of prison.

I hope that this begins to bring some closure and healing for Ms. Mathewson's family and friends.  She was loved by so many.  She was a woman of great faith and her love for God spilled over into how she related to others.  Although our local newspaper (sadly) didn't focus too much on this aspect of the hearing....many of her loved ones, when given the chance to speak directly to her killer, offered forgiveness, and spoke of God's love for him.

What a contrast that was to the comments left in reaction to the online article reporting his sentencing...

-"Why on earth does this country allow people to live if they plea guilty, so taxpayers have to pay for this scumbags crime by keeping him for life. I think with DNA evidence murderers should be killed within 48 hrs."
-"Killing him would have been letting him off easy, now he will sit in jail for the rest of his life wishing that he was dead."
-"I hope he gets a shiv in the back while in prison."
-"Why is his life being spared and the tax payers will pay for him for the rest of his pathetic life???? Thats why these scum bags do as they please to who ever they please, the justice system isnt fair and prisons are over crowded"
-"Death would have been too easy. Where he is going for the rest of his worthless life will be like hell on earth ."

These are the mild reactions.  There were comments made that I cannot repeat here.  People were angry.  I get that.  I'm angry too that they took the life of this precious woman who was so full of love and enthusiasm.  And, yet reading the hate filled comments didn't make me feel any better, it just made me feel sick.

There were a couple of her loved ones...those who had the most right to be angry...who tried to re-focus the discussion

* "I was proud to be a friend of Nicole today. Her life was honored by the testimony of her friends in the courtroom, offering forgiveness in place of justice. Grace in place of anger. Love in place of hate.
Everybody needs compassion

A love that's never failing
Let mercy fall on me
Everybody needs forgiveness
A kindness of a Savior
The Hope of nations"

* " I completely understand the response of the public, and as a close friend of Nicole's I feel similar emotions. But she would not approve of this hatred. It was against the very core of who she was: overcome evil with good. Read the transcript of this hearing - and you'll see what an amazing person nicole was by hearing from her family and close friends. This is where the rubber meets the road for Christians - to show God's grace in the face of extreme evil.

Today I was more proud than I've ever been to be a Christian and see the love of Christ triumph over absolute evil."

But their voices were barely heard through the continued noise of voices hungry for retribution and blood.

I've noticed a trend on social media.  It's a trend of judgement.  There is no mercy.  People should get what they deserve and then some.

I think it's in our nature to react this way.  A sense of justice is good...of wanting wrongs to be righted and situations to be redeemed.  Yes, God is a God of justice.  But our sinful nature causes this desire for justice to cross over into hatred, anger, bitterness, and a thirst for revenge.

God is also a God of mercy and compassion.  Not just for those who are 'good'.  But, for the worst of the worst among us.  He does not desire that ANY should perish.  Yes, even for the men who killed an innocent woman in her own home...who tortured her & did unspeakable things to her.  He longs for them to turn away from the wickedness that has entered their souls and to seek Him.  He longs for them to come to Him in repentance.  He longs to bring even them into his arms as cherished sons.

If God's love and mercy was only big enough to cover what we consider minor infractions....if his forgiveness was big enough only to cover those things...what power were there be in that??  It would be feeble & frail.  It would be unworthy of any notice.

The fact that God's love and mercy is big enough to cover IT ALL is a reflection of the vastness of His capacity to forgive and compassion.  It is deep and wide.  It is unending.  THAT is a God worthy of our worship.

We took communion this Sunday at church...a time of remembering the sacrifice that Jesus made willingly for US.  He stood innocent before judgement and accepted our guilt, our sin, our filth.  It was UNFAIR.  It was UNJUST.  And as a result WE were the recipients of mercy and grace.

I thought to myself, "Thank God I didn't get what I deserved.  God knows I deserved punishment and shame."  And, as I looked at my family I felt so humbled.  I did NOTHING to deserve the good things that I have in my life.

I am not saying that it is easy to forgive.  In fact, on our own it is impossible. And,  I'm not saying that we don't have to face the earthly consequences of our actions.

But, what I am saying is that we serve a God who is so mighty, so good, so perfect that it is beyond our comprehension.  And, if we seek to honor him here on earth, if we believe that he took our sins to the cross, then that should change forever how we look at other human beings....even those who 'deserve' our disgust.

We should remember..always remember...that thanks to the Grace of God we ourselves did not get what we deserve.

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