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because life is full of twists and turns

Month: August 2014 (page 1 of 3)

The Week of NO

 

 

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For the past few weeks I’ve said YES to everything.

YES to playdates.  YES to babysitting.  And YES to meals.

And by the end of last week, I was feeling it.  We’d been stretched a bit too thin as a family and I was feeling jittery, impatient and suffocated.  Definitely not the type of presence I want to bring into our home.

All those things I’d said YES to were things that I love to do.  I really love to help out friends if I’m able. And I love getting together to let the kiddos play and the mamas connect.  So I write this fully acknowledging that saying YES to too many things was my own fault.  The people-pleaser in me wants to say yes to everything – even things that no one has requested of me, like making muffins to greet the new neighbors.

Those things are all good.  But too many good things at the same time can be dangerous.

Since the last few weeks have been too draining, I’ve declared this the week of NO.

Really, it’s the week of NO to some things so that I can say YES to other things.

YES to breathing deeply.

YES to enjoying my son.

YES to sitting down at my computer and unlocking the words trapped inside me.

As I’ve gotten older, I’ve realized more and more how important self-care is and how much I flounder when I’m not taking time to recharge.  I could blame the busyness of the past few weeks on other people, but I know that it is up to me to realize my limits and say “No” before I feel like I’m drowning.

On airplanes you are told to put on your own oxygen mask before helping anyone else with theirs.  This is because, no matter how good your intentions are, you will be absolutely helpless if you don’t have a steady flow of oxygen.

My oxygen usually comes from reading, writing, mediating and praying.  And I am learning that I am less-than-helpful if I don’t have a steady stream of those.

It sounds selfish, but here is the truth:  I want to help you.  I’m going to help you.  But only after I’ve taken care of myself first.

p.s.  Don’t forget about the giveaway.  This book is profound and powerful and you’ll want to read it!

 

 

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Currently Reading: A Beautiful Disaster (+ GIVEAWAY)

 The wilderness opens our eyes to the intrinsic value of Christ’s body by stripping us of our independence.  It shows us how dependent we are on the gifts and graces of God.  Most often God infuses these graces into our lives through the lives of other believers.  Among others we can better figure out what is good for us.  With them we can discern what is necessary for our well-being.  We live life together for the good of one another and for the good of all creation.  It is together that we live a robust life in the kingdom of God and bring life to others.  It’s together that we survive in the wilderness.

About six years ago a new Resident Director was hired for my college dormitory.  Her name was Marlena Graves.  Within a few months I was babysitting her sweet daughter and getting to know her and her husband as well.  At the end of that year, I applied to work as a Resident Assistant and spent the next two years working under her leadership.  Since then, Marlena has been a friend, a mentor and a surrogate family member.  Now we’re fellow members of the Redbud Writers Guild.

a beautiful disaster

When I first met Marlena, I’ll never forget her casually saying, “I’m a writer.  I am working on a book.”

Today I’m so thrilled to be reviewing that very book.

A Beautiful Disaster: Finding Hope in the Midst of Brokenness is special to me because it was written by a friend.  But I have found it to be special for more than that.  This book is a treasure field, chock-full of wisdom.  I read it slowly, savoring and pondering its truths.  I am sure that others will find it as life-giving as I did.

Marlena writes about the desert wilderness of the spiritual life.  Dorothy Greco rightly refers to Marlena as a “wilderness guide”, one who has spent time learning the lessons of the desert and now leads others through their own spiritual deserts.

In A Beautiful Disaster Marlena writes powerfully about her dysfunctional childhood.  “I lived in a world of turmoil…. I needed God to show me his path through the desert wilderness of poverty, DUIs, adultery, mental illness, prison, a house fire, the death of loved ones, and my own bad decisions.”  Marlena found God in the wilderness of her childhood and learned lessons there that served her well as she grew.  In her adult life, she encountered more wilderness experiences.  Yet instead of despairing in these deserts, Marlena found God there.  She discovers that “desert land is fertile ground for spiritual activity, transformation, and renewal.”

Rather than being preachy or platitudinous, as many writers tend to be when discussing suffering, Marlena’s tone is consistently gracious and humble.  The book is brimming with wisdom, intertwined with stories, Scripture and quotes.  The result is a thoughtful, serious, and beautiful guide.

After just one reading, my copy of A Beautiful Disaster is marked up with notes and scribbles throughout.  Each chapter seemed better than the last.  I will certainly be revisiting this book many times in the future and will be giving copies away as well.  Out of all the books I’ve read on trials and suffering, this will definitely be the one that I recommend to others.

Finally, it seems impossible that I write any endorsement of A Beautiful Disaster without also endorsing its author.  As I said before, Marlena is a friend and a mentor.  I can attest that Marlena’s life matches her message.  She is sincere in her pursuit of Jesus and is constantly encouraging others towards him.  Marlena reflects Jesus in her writing as well as in her life.

 

 We come out of the desert with a healthy dose of self-forgetfulness and a firm resolve to serve God and others in love.  Like Paul and the other apostles, we resolve to remember the poor and the afflicted.  The desert has made us more compassionate towards those who are suffering, and so we seek to do what we can because we remember what it is like to despair and to feel alone.  Serving God has become our pleasure.  We live for the sake of God and others, for we have experienced the beauty, the brevity, and the fragility of life.

 

Because I believe in this book, I am buying a copy with my own money and giving it away to a reader.  To be entered in the giveaway, please do the following:

1. Share this review with your friends/followers on a social media network

2. Leave a comment below telling me where you shared it!

This giveaway will close on 27 August 2014.  I’ll use a random number generator to choose the winner and will post it on 28 August.  When you comment, please make sure you include a way for me to contact you (email, twitter, etc) in case you’re the winner!

 

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giving up the scale {why i decided to stop weighing myself}

Instead of trying to shrink the number on the scale, I can focus on gaining energy and strength and a clear mind.  {april 2014}

What Will You Gain When You Stop Trying (4)

After just a few weeks of increasing my exercise routine, I was already noticing small changes.

I had increased my endurance and was able to work out longer and harder each day.

My energy was up too.  I was waking up, naturally, earlier each morning and felt less tired throughout the day.  Plus I was more excited about going on a walk in the evening or kicking a ball with my son.

I could tell my body was starting to change, even though the changes were minimal.  I could feel my muscles getting stronger.

For the first time since I developed chronic pain, I had sustained weeks of exercise without wincing in pain afterwards.  I was listening to my body and able to push it to do more, without pushing it over the edge.

And, most surprising for me, I was actually looking forward to working out each day.

That all changed when I stepped on the scale.

The numbers hadn’t changed.  Suddenly all my hard work those past few weeks seemed in vain.  I questioned whether I’d really seen those changes I had noticed before.

When it was time for my workout the next day, I lacked motivation and considered skipping.

It was silly.

The number on the scale meant one thing: the amount of force on my body due to gravity.

That number has nothing to do with my worth.  And it wasn’t even the best indication of my heath.

But the number still bothered me.

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Broken scale by Vernon Chan via Flickr Creative Commons

Since the scale demotivated and discouraged me, I made a decision that day: I was going to continue to work out  each day.  But I was done with the scale.

Now I faithfully work out each day.  I carefully log my workouts, challenging myself to reach new goals each week.  Like before, I enjoy exercising and feeling my body get stronger.

And I’m back to focusing on what is really important.

That number on the scale?  Not so important.

Having  enough energy and strength to run around the yard with my son tonight?  Very important.

Maybe this truth is for you too.

Maybe, like me, you lack motivation to exercise when it feels like the number on the scale is there taunting you.

Instead of looking at the scale to see what you’ve lost, I wonder what you would gain by giving up the scale?

Would you gain confidence in your body, remembering that it is capable of doing awesome things and that it isn’t the enemy?

Would you gain a clear mind, focusing on exercise for happiness?

Perhaps you would gain an eased conscience, knowing that you’re modeling healthy living for your children?

What will you gain when you stop trying to lose?

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