Saturday, December 8, 2012

Fit for a Princess


With the desire to get in shape, I have not wanted to purchase any new clothes, but I am going someplace special tomorrow night. None of my dressy tops fit me as they are too small these days. My dresses have not fit for a while, nor have my skirts. So, since I am going to a Christmas show, I long to wear something feminine and fashionable. Maybe it is a girl thing, but is it wrong to want to feel pretty? Since I have gained so much weight over the years, I feel frumpy and well...ugly and not the least bit feminine at all. With this mindset, it is difficult for me to muster up the will to go above and beyond... presentable.
As I said at the beginning of this post, I am going to a Christmas show, but not just any show, it is a yuletide celebration featuring our city’s symphony. An extravagnza, really. Maybe it is selfish, but perhaps it is my feminine spirit wanting to wear the best I have. Only, my best is not fitting yet. With the desire to wear something pretty tomorrow night, I knew I had a window of opportunity to shop this afternoon. Well, on the way home from a birthday party, I decided it wouldn’t hurt to look.  A good friend of mine gave me a promotional gift card from Kohl's that she got in the mail and was not going to use. It expires today, so...I decided to fight the holiday hustle and bustle and went to Kohl's, just check things out. Even though I had the gift card, my cash flow is low, but I thought maybe I could find something fairly nice on my shoestring budget.

And I did, but I found even more…here is the story:
There it was, hanging up on the wall, a blouse fit for a PRINCESS! The recessed lighting above shone down on the textile marvel and I think I heard the singing of a distant choir. With bated breath, I reached up to see if there would be one for me. And there was! Unable to contain my little gasps of joy, I carefully freed the blouse from the display arm. Holding it out front of me, I admired the colors found only in deep forests and the pattern created by a genius imagination. Delight and elation consumed me as the price captured my vision. It was too good to be true! With haste, I made my way through the maze of garment racks to the price check machine. The sale price was $14.70!? Minus the $10.00 card, my Princess blouse cost me $4.70! I could just cry! The most beautiful princess blouse in the whole entire world is hanging in my bedroom. It is a rare find, a treasure indeed. What a blessing!

I know I bought my current size, but finding this beautiful blouse is more incentive for me to keep on keepin’ on!  I’m tired of feeling frumpy instead of feminine. Since there are more clothes to choose from in the smaller sizes, I hope my inner fashionista rises up, to help motivate me in my weight loss endeavors! As I shrink in size, I hope to have more shopping experiences that turn out to be adventures like today instead of a perfunctory chore.  With God’s help, I can do it!  I want to do it!  Not for the clothes, I want to be the me God intended me to be: healthy and feminine.





Sunday, December 2, 2012

If the blouse fits...wear it!



 
Day 2 of my journey to better health.  I am trying to come up with a clever name, but in due time.  So, before I set out on my journey, I was preparing by beginning to track what I ate and the exercise I was doing.  Knowing I had been putting in some effort, I tried on a blouse I purchased a while ago but never wore, but then, I got too big to wear it.  However, whoo hoo!  I tried it on today day and it fits!!!  And when I put on my jeans, I didn’t have to suck it in.  Joy!!!

Before I get too excited, this morning, I could not resist ordering French toast for breakfast.  I knew I would have to pay the piper later, but I am still paying… I already walked for 40 minutes. After tracking my calories and exercise, I still need to make up 228 calories.  So, I need to do some aerobics tonight before bed. So, I guess I will finish up this blog, work on my final paper for class a bit, do some aerobics, read my Bible, pray, and go to bed.
Though I am thrilled by the blouse discovery, I know the journey is just beginning. Looking back on today, I realize I cannot continue to make bad breakfast decisions like I did this morning. The excess calories in the French toast caused a ripple effect into my day.  Lesson learned.  I am not going to beat myself up for it, but I am going to think twice about French toast because the blouse fit today!  I want to wear it and keep wearing it until the blouse is too big for me! J

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Changing Focus


June…the last time I wrote in my blog was June?  Oh boy!  I knew it had been awhile, but six months?  Whoa…  Well, there have been some transitions in my life lately, the kind that take some extra struggle and effort to push through in order to stay on course.  So, since it has been awhile, I suppose now is a great time to change the focus of my blog. 

When I wrote in the past, it was usual randomness, but as of today, December 1, 2012 I have decided to make major changes in my life as the result of the struggles over the past year or so. For most of my life, I’ve not sought direction for my life’s journey.  I’ve kind of wandered…letting life just happen to me.  However, this past year has been a time of recalibration resulting from encouragement and admonishments from a variety of people, a journey to the other side of the world, and taking a class called Perspectives.
The combination of all these things culminated in a decision to make changes because I have growing clarity of not so much where I am going, but who I am following.  That is the person of Jesus Christ. Before you roll your eyes and click out of this blog, let me assure you I am not going to beat you over the head with religion or religious mumbo jumbo.  Rather, I am going to share what is happening in my life right now and how my faith in God has been the catalyst.  It has nothing to do with religion, but has everything to do with finally seeing the truth of the ultimate purpose of my life… that is to glorify God in what I say and do. 

The big question is am I bringing glory to God in my life? Honestly, perhaps some but not to the degree of my potential! God gave me a creative mind, a sense of humor, a flair for writing, a love of words, a capacity to love, an ability to help, the need to collaborate, the enjoyment of entertaining, an interest in other cultures, a heart consoled by music, a passion for purpose which is the desire to have my life count for something…something that matters…something that lasts.  A legacy that is eternal.  Not for me, but for God.  But…I’ve settled. 
Up until the past couple of years, I had settled for less than God’s best for me, sometimes realizing it, sometimes not. Then for a couple years glimmers of changes and glimpses of “maybe if’s” would pop up, but they would not last.  Then, I started working as a homeland missionary.  I had no idea how my first year would be so challenging to literally everything in my life. In addressing those challenges, I found many were interconnected and weaved into my psyche and not so surprisingly into my constant battle with weight issues.  It seems to me the challenge I need to address first is my weight.  There is so much I could write about which is why I am changing the focus of this blog. 

My unhealthiness is as much of a spiritual problem as it is an emotional and physical one. So, my blog is intended to document my weight loss endeavor. By chronicling the spiritual, emotional, and physical battles, my hope is to inspire and encourage others.  Addressing the spiritual problems head-on, I believe I can win the war against my weight. Bringing God into it only makes sense because I already mentioned I want my life to bring glory to God.  Right now, I do not do that by being unhealthy…very unhealthy. Getting real with God is best way to get real about my weight. 
So, my weight loss plan begins with God and prayer. When I pray for help in losing weight, God does not reply with eat right and exercise.  He takes me to places in my life that are painful and difficult. God is revealing the spiritual nature of my battle by taking me into my pain. If I do not address the pain in my life, I will not achieve life-long transformation as I so desire. So it starts with prayer…then eating right and exercise.

As far as diets and exercise programs, there are tons of them and there is a ton of advice.  The advice is as varied as the humans seeking it.  So, I am not following or promoting any particular plan or program for eating or exercise. 

This is my plan:
Pray…talk to God! The best counselor and physician I know of.

Pray…Thank God for my healthy food and eat it with a grateful heart

Pray before and if possible during exercise.  Thank Him for protecting my heart and lungs despite my destructive behavior so I am able to exercise now

Track it all… thank God for successes and failures. Treat failures as learning opportunities. 

Drink plenty of water…thank God I have clean drinking water

Sleep 7-8 hours at night…thank God that I have a bed to sleep on, a pillow for my head, and for a roof over my head.

Read my bible – research what the Bible says on health and poor health.  Thank God that I have the ability to read and to own a Bible.

Find accountability partners willing to be tough and speak truth in love.  Thank God for these people.

Form Online Community – dedicated to prayer!

Pray against the negativity that will come swooping in

Pray against sabotage, direct and indirect

Pray for strength to stand firm in my convictions

Keep my eye on the prize

Pray for the grace to run the race

Defeat negativity by remembering God’s goodness in all things

Seek first the kingdom and His righteousness.  Remember I am doing this for God and not for me.  My improving health is just a by-product of my desire to bring God glory through my life and living it as He intended me to live. 






Friday, June 29, 2012

It's Kind of Like a Dandelion...


The time has just blown by!!  I cannot believe I have not written in my blog since April 25!  My last blog post indicated I needed to start viewing my life in the perspective of a story.  Well... lately my story has certainly been a doozie!

There is no way to detail everything that has happened since April 25, but I can tell you for the first time in my life, I can actually say I love what do for a career.  Loving my career was the result of viewing my life through the perspective of a story, not just any story, though... history.  Everyone has a story to tell, but I was not viewing my daily activities and comings and goings as part of a larger story.  The people I work with every day have their own stories but together, we impact various parts of the world in which we work.  I can bring joy, peace, love, kindness, gentleness into my daily activities or I could choose to bring jealousy, anxiety, judgment, intolerance, or a host of other negative attitudes with me to work everyday.  Believe me, I've been the latter kind of person in a work environment (even this one) and looking back I see what a waste of flesh it was to be that way nearly every day.  I was in a rut or steeped in self-loathing. Or something...

As I have been attempting to take stock of my life and realize what I do every day plays into the bigger story of history, I know I must choose daily what path I will take.  Do I want to give or do I want to take?  Should I invest in this person or that person or both? What if I could make a difference in the world?  What if what I did mattered?  What I have learned from viewing my life in the context of a story is everything we do matters!  Every choice affects another person's story.  Seemingly insignificant choices have the potential to be...a spark ...a catalyst ...a spring board ...an answer to someone's prayer.  They also have the power to be ...a worst nightmare ...a bad day ...the last straw ...the last chance.  We just never know.  

So what does this all mean.  What am I talking about?  Well, I am a follower of Jesus Christ and as follower,  I must be willing to do what He showed us to do in the Gospels.  Love and forgive.  Help and have faith.  Submit to Him and say lead me.  Ask God to reveal himself and listen, live, and love.  What I have yet to mention, though, is the one thing that frightens me the most.  That is the concept of "dying to self".  To be a fully devoted follower of Jesus Christ is to say, not my will be done but yours.  It means giving up what I want to let someone else have it.  What is the best part of "dying to self"?  It means once I die to myself, my dreams are not my own, my life is not my own.  It means I am about to really live the life intended for me to live!

My words are nothing new; the words are ancient.  According to the scriptures, I must "die" to live again!  Not physically, though someday I will, but spiritually, to become part of a bigger picture where I can freely give of myself for a greater cause, something "more than this".  What does this look like?  To me, it is sowing seeds of hope and faith into some other person's life, when all seems lost to them.  It's planting seeds of love and care, when there is no evidence of reciprocation.  It's extending grace when it is undeserved.  Being aware of all the things happening all around allows the Holy Spirit to give flight to my dreams of making a difference in the world around me.  It's kind of like a dandelion...  All it needs is just a little wind to die and live again. 

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Feet Don't Get Cold In Fairy Tale Snow



twilight... wide open spaces, misty meadows, and pristine forests all blanketed with snow...  the unknown... the villain... the hero and heroine... danger... resolve... valor… triumph…*sigh*

Give me a fairy tale and I am whisked away into a world of magic and make-believe, loving every minute of the suspense weaved with adventure and danger.  Fascinated by these stories, I am often left wondering, are these tales intended for entertainment only?  Or could they also be metaphors or parables of how we should view our lives?  Should I have a life story of epic proportions?  I think so, because as I see it, my life is more than just me.  My life has eternal consequences and what is more epic than eternity?

When I view my life as a series of events, most of them seem very routine and, quite frankly, boring.  I’ve made safe choices so the rate of success could be quite high. Not that I figured it out before making the decisions, I believe my sub-conscious steered those.  Yet, when I look at my life through the lens of a fairy tale, it's little wonder why my life is a bit stagnant.  Why I feel like I am stuck in a rut…  Why my soul feels weighted and downcast…

Sure, the essence of life is inherently wonderful, but something is missing in mine.  I think I know what it is, but fear I might be considered insane if I mention it.  But I must take the risk… My life is missing the adventure I was born for!  This is not a novel concept.  I have been reading about this kind of reaction to the perfunctory life.  Perfunctory.  Just uttering the word renders me sleepy with apathy.  Why bother? What’s the point of a routine life? It’s simple and predictable, but God gave me the gift of imagination and the need to create, which is neither simple nor predictable.  It seems as though I have been under some sort of spell and need to fight against the mechanical me and, in triumph, wear the Imago Dei.  To wear the image of God that was intended for me is something to fight for and live for 'til the end!


So my challenge this week is to take the time and view my life through the perspective of a story.  If I look at my life in the context of a fairy tale with the backdrop of the imagery described at the start of this blog, maybe I can break the spell.  I need to see my life in the context of the supernatural to get the full experience of what is really going on, right?   It is in the supernatural realm where the battles are fought according the Bible and I believe I am in a fight for my life right now.  In my mind, the supernatural realm must be kind of like the fairy tale world, where things are not as they appear and some things defy nature, reason, or expectation.  Okay... so... In my imagination, it's twilight...there are wide open spaces, misty meadows, and pristine forests all blanketed with snow... I sense a battle looming... I will stand my ground and fight because feet don't get cold in fairy tale snow. 



Ephesians 6:10-13 "...be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power.  Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes.  For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.  Therefore, put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand."  


Friday, March 23, 2012

Humility - A Most Attractive Feature

Humility is the most attractive feature a man can possess.  It has taken me years to derive at this personal opinion, but watching a chick flick last night with friends confirmed this in my mind.  The leading man in the film we watched was...in a word...dull.  Flat and boring.  Okay, that is three words.  But, he was distracting, but not in a good way.  His presence on the screen made it impossible to watch the gorgeous Italian scenery behind him.  In all fairness, maybe fifteen years ago, I may have thought he was the bees knees, but now at this season in my life...not a chance.  I was rewriting the movie in my mind all the way through and the leading man was no where in my script.

Don't get me wrong, I am not anti-romance and I love the whole chick flick genre, but when the leading man's lines are laced with arrogance, I lose interest.  Much like I would in real life.  Confidence is one thing, arrogance another.  At one time, I may have found the dialogue funny and clever, but last night I found the leading man's comments belittling and insulting.  Perhaps I have been jaded by failed relationships.  Or maybe, just maybe, the recovery from the fallout from failed relationships has made me wiser.  The rose colored glasses have been replaced with a reality of what is really important in building a relationship.  Communication.  


"Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone."  This is what the Bible says in Colossians 4:6.  Salt is more than a seasoning, it is a preservative too.  Additionally, in Matthew 5:13-15, we see the Bible calls us to be the "salt of the earth" and the "light of the earth".  These are the kinds of notions that stir my little romantic heart.  The Bible and romance?  Can it be?  Why not?  It makes perfect sense to me.  


Communication, is the cornerstone of a relationship, at least for me and I am attracted to conversationalists.  Humility, as I mentioned before, is the most attractive trait, but following a close second is a sense of humor.  This is how I break it down and why the verses in the Bible solidify my thoughts on romance.  Humility can engage in conversation.  Arrogance cannot.  Wit is endearing.  Insults are not.  Humility is the light.  Wit may be the salt.  If the communication isn't happening and I am not sincerely laughing, what would be the point of a relationship?  I am to be salt and light to the world...How could I possibly be in a relationship, especially a romance, when the other person isn't already salt and light too?


This view of the world affects how I watch movies, especially the chick flicks.  The leading man cannot be over-the-top rude or arrogant, because that is not the least bit interesting no matter how cute he thinks he is.  There is no substance.  Nothing inspiring nor endearing.  The leading man must be humble and witty for a movie to be remotely plausible to me.  Those traits inspire and create a foundation to build upon.  Humility and wit (salt and light) is the fresh air in which a relationship can breathe and flourish.  
 


Thursday, March 22, 2012

Little Surprise

Tonight, some friends came over to my apartment to watch a chick flick.  Much to my surprise, one of my friends brought me some flowers!  She brought me flowers in place of candy snacks that were brought in for the movie.  I'm not eating sweets right now and so she thought I should have something for the movie.  How delightful!  How thoughtful too :)  The picture is of the flowers given to me.  Aren't they beautiful?    

Little surprises like these are blessings to my life.  I love how God works through others to touch our hearts.  It's awesome!  


Sunday, March 18, 2012

Scenes from a Walk


View of Downtown Indy From Terrace
 Today, one of my niece's and I went for a walk.  We were looking for something to do that was cheap and fun.  Well, a friend of mine seems to always have really cool pictures to share on facebook.  So, I suggested to my niece that we just go someplace and walk around and take pictures of what we see.  We were at White River State Park for close to three hours.  Gorgeous day!  Sunny, warm, breezy...perfect picture taking weather.  The trek and the great outdoors has rendered me tired... good tired.  Because I am so sleepy, I would just like to share some of the images from today.  They are scenes from a walk.  :)


One of the Windows at Indiana State Museum Cafe


Indiana State Museum Entrance Canalside



Clock Outside of Indiana State Museum




One of the County Art Pieces







Statue Outside Eiteljorg Museum - Canal Side





Part of Mural on  South Side of Canal







Bridge Over Canal 





View From Bridge Over Canal









Part of a Mural Painted Along the Canal





Medals of Honor Memorial












Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Urban Family

I cannot take credit for the phrase "urban family" but it best describes some of the people I know.  My peeps, if you will.  The urban family is the singleton's social sanctuary.  The place where logic can be found in the midst of mirth.  Where reason rises from the ridiculous.  My urban family welcomes all facets of my personality, the good, the bad, the ugly, and the unmentionable.  What do I mean by unmentionable?  Not the gutter, if that is what you are thinking.  Maybe some urban families go there, but not me.  


The unmentionables, to me, are those things I would say where most people would respond with "are you out of your mind?" or "I can't believe you would say that!"  My urban family replies to those notions with an enthusiastic "me too!" or empathetic "you have a point".  It is the kind of conversations where divulging the highlights of a really weird dream leads to creative inspiration.  Or, expressions of grief and pain are met with compassion before constructive advice is rendered, if it is given at all.  Freely speaking my mind with kindred spirits, without fear of ridicule or reproach, is priceless, the "pièce de résistance" in the Art of Friendship.



Dining with urban family tonight, brought insight into some of the things I have been struggling with lately.  These friends were the sounding board I needed to talk me back from the edge.  Not a literal edge, but the figurative.  Nonsensical ramblings can be deciphered by these friends, because they know me.  They know "the real me".  The one that doesn't always think or behave "the right way".  Having an appreciation for the human condition comes naturally to them.  My condition isn't always good, especially today, so the timeliness our get-together was a blessing.  


On days like today, I do not know what I would do without my urban family.  Being with a couple of them this evening was an infusion of joy I have needed.  My gratitude is depicted in the photo I found for my blog.  I love this picture!  It's graffiti art and it captures how I feel about my urban family tonight. 


"Oil and perfume rejoice the heart; so does the sweetness of a friend's counsel that comes from the heart"  Proverbs 27:9 (AMP)

Monday, March 12, 2012

Find Myself Lost



LOST is how I have been feeling lately.  I looked up the definition of lost and found it has several different meanings.  I can identify with most of them.  

How do I find my way when all routes are distorted perceptions of clarity?  Turning back would be a crushing defeat.  The challenges and struggles have strengthened me some, although, there was wounding in the process.  I've come too far to turn back, but what do I do now?  

I've been restless and reckless in finding my way.  Maybe there is no clarity because I am supposed to wait for awhile, and while I am waiting, I am to rest.  Rest my mind.  Rest my heart.  Rest in the presence of the Almighty God.  Jehovah.  Jehovah-shalom.  The God of peace.  I need His peace so I can hear Him.  I cannot move forward without a respite to refocus.  My prayer is found in the following scripture from the book of Psalms.  

Psalm 25:4-5 (NKJV)
"Show me Your ways, O Lord;
Teach me Your paths.
Lead me in Your truth and teach me,
For You are the God of my salvation;
On You I wait all the day."

If you think about it, pray for me.  I have been struggling with uncertainty of where I should be and debilitating doubts of my direction.  It is disheartening to me when I find myself lost.  Yet, God is my salvation from myself and in Him I can reclaim hope that He will guide me when the time is right.  

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Food Pantry



A Food Pantry Haiku...
the hungry exist
endless opportunities
need a helping hand


Sometimes, folks just need someone to hold their hand and help them along.  Grace extended brings humility to the soul.  Humility brings freedom from the trappings of pride.  It's not up to me to determine who is worthy and who isn't.  The pressure is off when grace appears.  


My favorite part about helping out at the food pantry tonight was chatting with the folks who needed assistance.  They blessed me immensely.  Observing those who operate the pantry welcome people and see to their needs was humbling, yet inspiring.  It makes me want to go back again and to take a bunch of food with me!


Some of the shelves were empty, which broke my heart.  It created a challenge in me to make the commitment to be intentional with grocery shopping by including a few extra items to donate to the pantry.  Giving to the food pantry is an act of worship.  I had forgotten, but there is no condemnation from this challenge.  Just a subtle reminder to myself to remember those who have less than me.  


A Food Pantry Haiku II...
pantry shelves empty
what about the golden rule?
remember to give


I hope this isn't too preachy... Please know I am writing to myself just as much as I am to anyone reading this.  May God bless you :)

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Retainers Needed Daily

Today, I had the blessing of helping out my sister.  My nephew needed a ride to the orthodontist and so I agreed to take him.  At the end of his visit, the orthodontist's assistant walked into the waiting room with my nephew to talk to me.  Uh...It was like being summoned to the principal's office as I approached them.  The assistant offered her recommendation and advice (warnings) about the retainer for me to pass along to my sister.  He needs to wear it every day.


What she told me isn't the subject of my blog, but the word "retainer" has stuck in my head this afternoon.  A retainer... What is it?  I've seen them, but never had to wear one.  They are kind of creepy looking, aren't they?  They remind me of crustaceans for some reason.  I don't like those either.  But anyway... I looked up on the web what exactly a retainer does.  It keeps teeth from returning to their original place after braces are removed.  Huh...didn't know that.



Straighten Up by Peter Griffin

Knowing what a retainer is and does begs the logical follow-up question (at least in my mind).  What are the spiritual retainers in my life?  What in my life keeps my faith strong and in place when the natural tendency is to drift back to where I was before I had any?  


It really wasn't all that long ago when my faith was pretty much non-existent.  Having faith isn't easy.  Living by faith isn't easy.  Faith takes time to grow and it needs to be exercised in order to strengthen.  Sometimes I waver.  It's true.  However, the bounce back time has become much less than it used to be.  I suppose it has something to do with my spiritual retainers.  My Bible.  My music.  My journal.  My prayers.  


I cannot hide anything from God because He is aware of everything.  When I take the time to talk to God and especially to listen, my faith is reinforced to keep me from falling back into the way I used to be.  Sometimes, my spiritual retainers are difficult.  Sometimes they are painful, especially when there are life lessons to be learned, or conviction needs to be realized.  Yet, I need these corrections in order to build my faith and keep me on the narrow path.  


It would be easier not to utilize my spiritual retainers especially when they are difficult.  Yet, feeling uncomfortable and handling it now sets me up for being able to endure in the future.  I want to reinforce and fortify my faith for the future because I really do not want to slowly slip back to the way I used to be...faithless.  Just like my nephew needs to wear his retainer every day to keep his teeth in place, I need my spiritual retainers every day to keep my faith from wavering. 




(Final Note:  The photo above isn't a dental retainer, but it was hard to find a picture of one on the public domain picture sites.  And pictures of dental retainers aren't so great to look at anyway.  I looked again.  Dental retainers are just not very pretty and I really do not want a picture of one on my blog.  These tree braces are kind of related to the topic, aren't they?)   haha   :)

Link to photo:  "http://www.publicdomainpictures.net/view-image.php?image=11144&picture=straighten-up">Straighten Up</a> by Peter Griffin

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

All the Chicks Are Looking Up

Three Chicks by Petr Kratochvil
When I was thinking about what to write in my blog, I went looking through pictures and saw these two photos.  What would possess a person to line up some man-made chicks and then photograph them?  I dunno, but it is genius, at least to me.  Where's the story here?


All the chicks are looking up.  But why?  What do they see, that I cannot?  Perhaps the full moon or near full moon?  The same moon causing me to write about inanimate objects as if they were real? Are they looking for something?  Hoping they can find it looking up instead of down and around them.





Yellow Chicks by Petr Kratochvil
It makes me think of myself looking up to the sky, searching for answers or searching for a glimpse of heaven.  I'm not exactly sure where heaven is, but I assume it is up.  So I will look.  When I take walks, I look towards the sky because I am so aware of who God is in my life.  His presence and His purpose.  It fills me with wonder.  Psalm 89:6 says, "For who in the skies above can compare with the LORD?  Who is like the LORD among the heavenly beings?"  I suppose I do not have a deep theological reason for looking up, for my faith is pretty simple.  Kind of childlike.  I suppose that's why I find an affinity with these little chicks.  


When I am searching for God or for answers to life's questions, I prefer to do this on my own with Him.  Others tend to trip me up with their theological brains.  Can I just love Jesus and let Him work through me?  Can I just read my Bible and trust God to lead me to the correct conclusions?  Do I have to know all there is to know about all the great spiritual minds out there on the planet?  Do I have to replace the awe and wonder of the Trinity with the ideas, writings, and conclusions of others?  I do not mean to discredit or put down theology, but sometimes I think I can over think things instead of going right to the source. 


When Jesus walked the earth, he had a group of 12 men who traveled with him everywhere.  Of those 12, Jesus had his closest friends Peter, James and John.  Another look at these pictures and I notice the number of birds.  The top picture has 3 birds and the other has 11.  Hmm... could these birds represent the disciples looking for Jesus after his ascension?  Could the disciples just be in awe and wonder for a moment?  When Jesus ascended, He entrusted His kingdom to some normal folks.  They had walked with Jesus and learned from Him.  They were in awe of Him.  Is it okay for me to just walk with Him and learn from Him just as the disciples did?



Link to photos:  
Three Chicks:"http://www.publicdomainpictures.net/view-image.php?image=5747&picture=three-chicks">Three Chicks</a> by Petr Kratochvil
Yellow Chicks: "http://www.publicdomainpictures.net/view-image.php?image=5748&picture=yellow-chicks">Yellow Chicks</a> by Petr Kratochvil


Monday, March 5, 2012

How Could I Not Be Overwhelmed?

This past weekend, I was on the receiving end of a blessing.  Words cannot express how divinely precise the blessing was to me in the moment it was given.  It was an answer to a prayer I had yet to utter.  
I was working in the kitchen at a women's retreat this past weekend, even though I am not gifted with the culinary arts.  The co-chairs did not care about that, as long as I could follow directions, I was in.  It was a blast, but we were extremely busy.  We started prepping on Thursday night, leaving the kitchen around midnight.  Friday morning we started at 6:00am and finished up around 10pm.  As soon as we finished breakfast, we would start on lunch.  Right after lunch, we started on dinner.  It was non-stop! 


A little after 10:00pm, I checked the prayer sign-up sheet to see what time I had committed to pray for the event at the chapel.  Turns out I had signed up for the 4:00am-5:00am prayer coverage.  I let one of the people in charge know that I would pray, but I would pray from home.  He said that would be fine.


Another man who was at the chapel asked me what my time commitment was and I told him.  He said he would take my prayer time and told me to sleep.  He volunteered for the time slot that I myself had signed up for a few weeks prior.  When I began to protest, he said, "You have been up since 5:00 and on your feet all day.  You're tired.  I'll take your prayer time.  You need to rest."  


The man was right.  I was tired and I could barely hold myself up.  However, I was trusting God to give me the strength to pray the following morning.  God honored my efforts and gave me what I needed.  He answered a prayer I had yet to say.  It was Romans 8:26-28 realized in a very tangible way I could understand and appreciate. The scripture says, "...the Spirit helps us in our weakness.  We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit intercedes for us through wordless groans.  And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God's people in accordance with the will of God.  And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose."


As I walked back to my car, I began to cry.  Good tears, though.  I knew God had personally and precisely blessed me and the knowledge of that was overwhelming.  The verse I quoted above went through my mind as I drove home.  The Spirit knew I was struggling and I was physically, emotionally and spiritually weak after giving all I had in the kitchen.  Working in the kitchen doesn't seem "holy enough" to deserve a blessing.  But isn't that thinking a bit prideful?  


The moment that man offered to take my place at the prayer chapel was a holy moment.  I knew it as I walked towards my car, shedding tears of relief and joy.  I had not prayed for someone to take my place, but the Spirit was interceding because he knows me to my very core.  He knew I was not going to be able to do it.  The retreat was counting on 24-hour prayer coverage throughout its entirety.  So for me to let this man pray during my sign-up time was a surrender on my part.  The man was following the Spirit's prompting and offered to help me.  It was the body of Christ working together in that moment.  How could I not be overwhelmed?

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

I Love to Laugh :)

Tonight, I had dinner with friends and we laughed.  I love to laugh.  I love when laughter consumes me and it will not stop.  It's delightful!  Even even when my sides start to hurt, the joy in the moment is priceless.  I love when something funny tickles me and I laugh and laugh to the point where I can barely stand up.  That kind of laughter is soul cleansing.  


For the most part, I have been taking life so seriously in recent days, weeks, and months.  Yet, the changes in my life have warranted a sober thoughtfulness.  Changes in employment and moving to a new home are enough to drive most people a little over the edge.  Adding the spiritual level to the mix gives a whole new dimension and perspective to an already stressful time.  There is a lot to think about and process, and those things often edge out the need for humor in my life.  Somewhere in all the stress and changes, I stopped laughing, or laughing much less than I used to.  I love to laugh...I miss that person in me.


Along the same lines, I pretty much stopped trying to make other people laugh.  Finding ways to cause people to laugh was something I enjoyed doing.  I found so much satisfaction in that ability.  People erupting in laughter at a story or joke told by me was pure elation.  It did my soul good.  Somewhere in the all the stress and changes, I stopped trying to make others laugh.  I love to make others laugh...I miss that person in me.


I must still be in a phase, because when I find myself laughing these days, it is noteworthy.  Maybe not to everyone, but it is to me.  Or maybe I am coming out of a phase because I am blogging about it.  Either way, the truth is still the same... I love to laugh :)

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Gumption Assumption



The Dream Theater must have opened in my mind because last night I had a pretty interesting dream, at least to me.  This time, I wrote it down as soon as I woke up.  I haven't sought dream analysis due to the time of day it is and I am just waiting on the dryer to finish so I can go get the laundry and go to bed.  So exhausted.  Haha...That makes me think of a joke.  It is simply, "I'm so exhausted, I must have dreamed I was a muffler."  Buh dah bum... I'll keep my day job.  


Anyway, I do believe I am dreaming about goals and doubts, but the winds of change are blowing.  In my dream last night, I was in a gymnasium like room being tested on my listening skills.  Someone was going to read to me and that person reading was to ask me questions.  Only someone else started asking the questions.  I began to protest indicating the other person asking questions was different from the instructions.  I was told to just answer the questions.  The other person started asking me questions about things that were not in the reading and then I began getting the answers wrong.  Then the examiner said, "If this were the real world, you would be a failure because you failed the test."  I started to accept this fate, but then I guess I tapped into my backbone because I replied to that, "Hold on. Wait up.  I am not a failure.  I did not fail, you changed the rules and parameters. I am not going to accept that. I am not taking this anymore."  


Afterwords, I was still in this gymnasium type room when other people were coming to me and cheering me on, indicating they saw what happened.  The odd thing was they saying things in whispers, like it was a secret, as if they would get in trouble.  Then someone in charge came out and agreed with me and told me I was clearly in the right and admitted the test had been changed, but the changes were not made known.  I passed the test.  Then people began cheering openly, but that upset me, because the same people who were speaking to me covertly were now overly enthusiastic.


Then I am in a baseball dugout.  Someone I know and admire walked up and said, "I heard what happened to you.  Well done."  I replied, "I know.  I decided I was tired of people always doing stuff like that to me.  I knew I had to stand up for myself. Because that kind of stuff has made me look like this" as I motioned to my body with my hands.  That person sat down on the bench, and I remained standing.  The dream ends there. 


So, I do think I am dreaming about goals and aspirations, because one of the many goals I set for myself was weight loss.  I have dieted and failed too many times to count, so I am very hesitant to tell anyone.  But, maybe I have come to a place in my life where I am no longer afraid of failure and that I have found a way to stand up for myself, at least in my dream.  


I haven't contacted my dream interpreter yet, so I may be wrong.  I just think the little bit I know about dream analysis is enough to tide me over until I can talk to her. I have been seeking God's wisdom and counsel on my weight loss endeavor and that is probably where I get my nerve.  Perhaps gumption has always been there and God is revealing it to me.  Can I make a gumption assumption?  I think so.  Therefore, tonight, I bought a bookmark that contains the perfect verse for me in these days, "I can do all things, through Christ who strengthens me." Philippians 4:13 



Monday, February 27, 2012

A Plane Old Dream

Okay so, what I am about to say is, to me, slightly weird.  Somewhere in the middle of my REM sleep, I had similar dreams over and over.  Dream analysis is fascinating to me and I like to talk about it.  Regarding last night, it seems a bit odd to me to have the same dream theme occur multiple times in one night.  The details, I cannot remember exactly.  


But I dreamed I was in a small plane every time, but not piloting it.  The thing is, it crashed every time, but I survived each crash.  The last dream sequence I recall was that the plane crashed into water and I told someone who came to help that I needed to get out of the water but  I was holding the plane up with my leg.  What in the world?
Flying Plane by Linda Allardice


I'm not disturbed or upset by the dream, more like puzzled.  I've confided in my friend who helps me think through some of the common dream themes.  I do think my dreams last night were significant but not in any way prophetic.  Of course, I still need to pray because my friend has asked me some very sensible and pointed questions about goals and self-doubt.  Goals and self-doubt are things I can take to God in prayer.  Things I want to take to God in prayer because I want His guidance and counsel in my  life.  I believe and trust in this need for Holy Counsel because the Scriptures say in James 1:5 "If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you."  


When it comes to goals and self doubt, I need God and His wisdom.  I have set some pretty big goals for myself the past couple days, some I have prayed about and others, I did not even consider it.  Not that I didn't trust God, but that I didn't think it was necessary because it wasn't a big enough goal to bother Him about.  Oh...How could I forget?  My life is not my own, it is His.  He gave me life. He knows me to the very core of my being.  He knows the significant details and the insignificant.  He also knows how each play into my life.  Perhaps I have been relying on my own knowledge and strength to achieve my goals.  My dreams seem to show me that I need the wisdom of the Almighty to know how to fly and His strength to help me soar.  Maybe it took just a plane old dream to wake me up.  


"http://www.publicdomainpictures.net/view-image.php?image=10928&picture=flying-plane">Flying Plane</a> by Linda Allardice

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Finesse, Flair and Foxtrot

In order to keep my life in balance, tonight I listened to the crooners of today and yesterday.  Michael Buble, Bobby Darin, Dean Martin, Frank Sinatra.  The charm of a crooner is a smooth voice, infused with finesse, that embraces every word yet floats across the notes.  The crooners inspire femininity and simple elegance in this little heart of mine.  No other style of music creates an environment where twirling with flair, in the mode of the foxtrot, across a living room floor or backyard is not only welcomed, but encouraged.  Finesse, flair, and foxtrot...yeah, that's what I think when I think of the crooners.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Saturday Afternoon Jam Sessions

I wish I were a musician and not just one who just  appreciates music.  Intrigued by a friend's post on facebook, I followed a link to the mothership of music, Spotify. Today, I have been cleaning house and jamming out to tunes on Spotify.  Okay, so I have spent a little more time listening to music than cleaning house.  But, I couldn't stop myself from browsing.  Everything my brain could find in its memories of timeless treasures, I found on Spotify.  It's been wonderful!


Many of the songs I listened to today take me back to a time when all I had was my transistor radio and WLS, an old rock station out of Chicago.  It is now a talk radio station.  :(   As a youngster, I spent hours listening to the likes of Led Zeppelin, Rush, The Who, The Allman Brothers Band, Neil Young...just to name a few.  Music was a form of escape for me, but yet more than that, it was vital to my survival of many rough times during my formative years. 


As the years passed, I upgraded the transistor radio for a hi-fi with a turntable and 8-track player.  It was totally awesome!  I used my 4-H earnings from the fair to buy this portal to paradise.  As the technology changed, I traded the hi-fi for a boom box.  Eventually, the boom box was replaced by a stereo system with a CD player.  Now, I have an iPod too.  However, even though I had the hottest technology I could afford, my love for music waxed cold.


As the demands on my life and time increased, my time to savor and enjoy music dwindled to the point where I didn't listen anymore.  Sadly, I barely noticed the atrophy to my musical ears.  However, lately, when I have been more down than up, the instinct to reach for the iPod has increased.  Loaded in my iPod are my favorite songs.  Songs that enhance the meaning to my life.  Songs that soothe my soul.  Songs that lift my soul.  And songs that make me wanna dance!  


Bringing music back into my stream of consciousness has brought me back to my other love, writing.  For me, music and writing go hand in hand.  Music simply inspires and calls to me like the sea to a mariner.  It's beyond words...  

Friday, February 24, 2012

I Went For a Walk

I went for a walk in a cemetery today.  Why?  I needed to find a place to be alone and think...and pray.  Where else is there?  Parks usually have screaming kids.  The walking tracks at community centers have too many people, and usually smell bad.  Sidewalks are next to roads.  Roads have cars.  So, I decided a cemetery would be the best place to be alone.  And I was right.  A couple cars slowly passed by me, but the folks inside were probably minding their own business.  More than likely, they were absorbed by their own pain.  


Was I in pain?  A little bit, emotionally.  Kind of melancholy, but mostly...lost.  I woke up feeling lost in the world.  I am a processor.  A thinker always thinking.  Noodling, as my boss calls it.  There have been so many transitions in my life lately.  Actually, looking back, I feel as though I have always been in some sort of transitional phase.  Never settling down.  Never putting down roots.  Truth is, I don't know how.    



As I walked through the cemetery, I asked God to speak to me.  I was listening.  I asked God for direction, for Jesus to be with me, and for the Spirit to quicken me.  The wind was blowing and, for awhile, that is all I heard.  Then as clear as day, the words came through my mind, "Why are you looking for the living among the dead?"  Great question, I thought.  Scanning the rows of gravestones, I had no answer.  The flowers, statues, pictures, names distracted me from my thoughts.  My thoughts were the reason I was there. 


I prayed for a widow when I saw the marker for her late husband.  Someone I know.  I thanked God for my job and my coworkers.  For my supporters, I thanked God for them as I walked.  I thanked God that my life would not end in a cemetery.   


I kept walking.  Searching.  For what?  Answers?  Clues?  Symbolism?  It was cold.  Blustery, with snow flurries.  I love this kind of weather, but I wasn't in the mood for what I love.  I wanted to keep walking until I was satisfied.  A bit while later, I asked for forgiveness.  I asked God to reveal to me what was hindering me from hearing Him.  I wanted to be rid of it.  Confess it.  So I could hear.  


A bit while later, these words appeared in my mind, "Why are you looking for the living among the dead?"  I stopped walking.  God was making a point.  I know He is not a riddler just messing with my head.  Nope.  There is a reason He spoke these words to me.  These are the same words spoken by an angel in Luke 24:5 to women who were going to the tomb of Jesus on the third day.  So the words impressed on my mind are not a new revelation, but there is a spiritual application for my life in them.  But what?  I cannot rely on my own brains for this one.  He must want me to come to him for the answer to the question for my  life.  I love that about God.