Sunday, December 26, 2010

2010 Year In Review

Well, I look back on my failed attempt to post and journal every day for 40 days... I did 12 days within about 30 and then stopped. CRASH!

But it's not all BAD news. For one thing, I am consistently 10 pounds lighter than I was one year ago. What did I do to change it? Well, as you may remember I tried exercising every day for 40 days. That did not do it. In fact, my exercise has been sporadic and limited all year.

One thing I did that set me up for this 10-pound-less success was join an online weight management group called The Mari Method (see my link on the right). Mari Ann taught me a valuable lesson... fruit can make you fat! I had pretty much figured out the other stuff about empty calories, avoiding sugary drinks and limiting simple carbs like white bread, rice and pasta. Where I was failing, though, was my commitment to 5 servings of fruits a day. I didn't realize I was consuming too much sugar... even the good kind. So, by adopting Mari Method's plan of having one fruit serving a day, and making the other 4 servings veggies, I lost the 10 lbs. This was without exercise... though Mari's brilliant approach to Yometrics (kick butt yoga) is definitely worth the time, I found that I didn't commit to it consistently, so I can't really give that kudos for the permanent weight loss.

I must admit, I still have those last 10 stubborn pounds to go, but I'm super proud of myself that I actually CHANGED a life long habit this year. I've done it day in and day out and I have results. Now, I'm going to try and change just one or two more in the year to come... 64 oz of water daily, and 30 grams of fiber. Oh, and of course I'll keep attempting to exercise... that's a life long journey that I continue to try and improve always. In some seasons I have success and in others I do not. That's the way the ball bounces for me!

So,if with one lifestyle change I lost 10 permanent pounds, I figure if I change my lifestyle just a little bit more, I might find that I spend the next 40 years prancing around in size 4 or 6 jeans. That will make me quite happy. I have never been able to give up the size 4 of my teen years. I don't think I'm being unduly optimistic... I'm a little person with a little frame... I think a size 4 is realistic for me. :)

So, my blog last year was about all of life... not just my size. This blog is titled, "Head, Heart and Hard body". So, I've given you the good news about my hard body... what about my head and my heart?

Well... more good news regarding my "head"... my "noggin"... that thing that I "think" with... I have completed my credential coursework with a 3.913 GPA. WOOT! I have done 8 weeks of my student teaching and I have 8 weeks to go. I have to pass the RICA and I have to get a CPR cert. CPR will be simple... RICA will not be, but I'm going to start studying and take it in February. I have no doubt I will pass it. Oh, and a pesky US Constitution exam is required. Those 3 things along with a "Pass" for my next 8 weeks of student teaching and I will be a certified special education teacher in the state of CA. Educationally speaking, the world will be my oyster. :) I'm pretty sure if you can get credentialed in CA you can work anywhere. And that's another thing... that job piece... but more of that later.

So, I began last year with 2 goals: get all my ducks in a row to become a substitute teacher and complete my credential. And if not for a summer schedule glitch with PLNU I would be done as of now... so that being out of my control, I consider that goal MET. The other goal? Yes... finished up all the testing and jumping through hoops to get my emergency credential and did manage to sub a bit before I started student teaching. So, the "head" part of my journey last year turned out pretty good.

Now for the "heart" part of my journey last year. I don't really know what to say. I am definitely afraid less. That was one of my goals... to have less fear. Though I haven't arrived in this area completely... for example I need to have a procedure done to look in my tummy and see if there is something awful lurking there. Yet, I don't have the courage to go. I need prayer in this area. I cannot survive without Prilosec... when I'm on it, it's as if I'm the picture of health. But if I miss 2 doses I am in such stomach pain that I am miserable. All tests for h-... (whatever that bacteria is that makes ulcers), liver and pancreatic disease were negative. No bleeding ulcer either. So... to a food journal we go to determine if certain foods upset me. But I know the drill... it doesn't matter what I eat. If I don't take the Prilosec I get sick. I really wish one of those tests had answered the mystery b/c if the tummy doesn't heal up soon I'll have to get the test done with the scope and honestly, I'm terrified of that awful word that has killed too many of my young friends the past few years: cancer. So, no... not over all the fear yet (does anyone ever get over ALl fear?). It's actually keeping me from the truth. I know... shallow wimp that I am. I will arrive eventually, though, I believe that. And off I will go for the tummy test and probably my results will be inconclusive and I'll realize my upset stomach is psychosomatic as are 85% of all diseases anyway!

So, that's really the only negative regarding the fear from which I was seeking release. There are lots of other things I've been afraid of for a long time that don't bother me any longer. I spend more time in thoughtful prayer and more time reflecting than I have in years. And, in the past year, I was reminded of an enormous miracle God did for me when I was 22. I won't write about it here, but it was MAJOR... the REAL deal. I'm glad God brought this back to my mind b/c it has bolstered my faith in many ways. I'm grateful for that.

Heart-wise (aka Faith-wise), it has been a more difficult year than I could have imagined. Several things occurred that were beyond our control and they literally took over our lives and held them hostage. The stress load has been, at times, unbearable. But the good news is that Todd & I have never been more allied than we are at the present. This year of trials has brought us closer than we have ever been in our marriage. Yea for that! We talk and communicate better than ever. We've both changed a lot in that way. Good stuff truly does come from the bad if you relax and allow it to do so.

So, here are my goals/prayers/dreams for 2011 (not resolutions b/c you know I do not believe in making resolutions):
1. Get a teaching job (super important... that's why it's #1)
2. Help Quinn become a really great reader (lots of practice!)
3. Grow in my marriage.
4. Nearer, nearer, nearer to my Maker.
5. Work on building residual income (Apriori, yea!)
6. Loose that last 10 lbs.
7. Heal stomach.
8. Drop the fear like a bad habit.

So, I continue on my journey of 40 days of Fit: head, heart and hard body. It's only been 360 days since I started... I'll get there!

Thanks for reading... and I'll try to post more this year than last!

Best wishes for an amazing 2011~


Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Day 12... yet day 42!

"You are as close to God as you choose to be." Rick Warren

"If you want a deeper, more intimate connection with God you must learn to honestly share your feelings with him, trust him when he asks you to do something, learn to care about what he cares about, and desire his friendship more than anything else." The Purpose Driven Life

Hi my friends! It seems I am going longer and longer between posts. I am not tiring out, by any means. In fact, if I could write and blog 24/7 I do believe I would! I think about it all the time. Too bad it doesn't put money in my bank account! :)

Today is day 42 of my 40 day journey. So, let me be honest here. I have not done nearly what I set out to do. Boo-hoo. My goal was exercise my head, heart and body every single day for 40 days. I made a schedule. I created a calendar. I made myself accountable to you through this blog. And I failed. I chuckle as I write that only because I find humor in that my deliberate means of making myself do this did not work. Which only drives home the point we have discussed and I have written about numerous times... it takes so much more than will power to change! It takes a change in the core of one's belief system. As one of you wrote to me, change happens slowly. Take baby steps. You will get there. And I have. Baby steps are much easier than a sprint, that's for sure.

On the positive side, I have definitely changed. For one thing, I can barely let a day go by without exercise. I love it. I feel so good doing it. I can tell my mood is better and my body is healthier. I can jog for a long time without feeling winded. I have definition in my arms I have never seen before. I am a whopping 3 pounds lighter... but several inches overall when I add it all up! I'm not any smaller yet in my jeans size, but that is coming along... I am getting close to my desired size. I am welcoming the slow change to my body because I know this will stick! It's all good.

The Head Part
Well, I cannot be too hard on myself in this regard. Regarding my vocation I am well on my way, though still have a way to go... I can see the end in sight. I have passed all of my exams and as soon as my paperwork comes in the mail I will be set to start substitute teaching. I hope to have my internship (student teaching) going this fall. This is a "timing" issue. So, if i must wait until after the summer to get my own class, that's okay. Quinn & I are planning some great fun for the summer!

I learned something through this process of working toward my credential. That is, that I think entirely too little of myself. I passed each section of the CSET. A few sections I passed "well" and few sections I passed VERY well! I could not believe my scores. All it took was a little effort on my part; that would be studying. Ha-ha! I applied a bit of effort and the reward was amazing. I am so grateful for this experience. It has taught me that I can get things accomplished if I work at it. Sounds so simple... yet for some reason I have been missing it all these years. I've been just skating by in life, doing as little as possible to get by and relying on my natural abilities. Now that I have pushed those abilities beyond their limits and have succeeded, well, I feel inspired. I feel grateful. I feel positive.

The Hard Body Part
As I said in my intro, I have been very successful in making myself more fit. Not so in making myself that much smaller. Smaller was one of the goals, most certainly. Though it was not the "end all". So I continue to work toward that end. I am LOVING the Mari Method. Mari Ann Lisenbe was just what I needed to get over the nutrition hump. And though her program offers much more than just the nutrition piece, the nutrition piece is what has helped me the most. It wasn't until I started following her dietary guidelines that the inches started melting away. This is how I have confidence that I will reach my goal. If you haven't checked out her link to the right of this post, do yourself a favor and check it out. It's such good, practical information. I don't know how anyone could do the program and not succeed!!!!

In light of the fact that I have oh, 28 more chapters of the Purpose Driven Life to complete, I will be still be blogging on my journey to fitness in the area of heart, head and hard body! So, I will continue to share what I am doing with my fitness as well. As the season of Lent is approaching I will be fasting SUGAR, candy, treats, etc. Thank goodness this starts after Valentine's day as I do plan on enjoying my last bit of sugar with the Sees Candy box that Todd always gives me! :) Anyway, I know beyond a doubt that fasting is a great way to not only shed a few unwanted pounds and habits, but to draw closer to God. Which is, of course, the foundation for my journey.

Will you join me a 40 day fast for Lent? Let me know!

Oh, and I did promise in the beginning of this blog that I have before and after pictures as well as all the "skinny" on my weight, measurements, etc. I have not forgotten my promise to post those and I will. As soon as I am at my goal weight of 123 pounds, I will post away!

The Heart Part
This part of the book, The Purpose Driven Life is all about relationship with God. How to do it... how do develop it. Seems simple enough. However, I do know that I sometimes push God out. Why do I do this? His nearness can, at times, make me a bit vulnerable... a bit uncomfortable. Hmmm... I'm just sayin'.

So per Pastor Warren, there are six steps one can do to improve relationship with God. I looked at the first two last week. The others are:
3. Choose to be honest with God
4. Choose to obey God in Faith
5. Choose to value what God values
6. Desire friendship with God more than anything else

Choose to be honest with God.
Well, really, why not? Why not be honest? He knows what I am thinking anyway! He hardly needs a confession, but that's good for my own heart. I love being completely honest with God. It's like in the movie, Bruce Almighty when he says, "Oh? Your God? Well, I've got news for you. YOU SUCK!" God is not saddened, disturbed, or intimidated by Bruce when he dumps this news on him. Instead God looks at him with such compassion and empathy. I think that was well played as an example of how God feels about us. How exactly do you feel about God? Let him know. He can handle it!

From a biblical perspective, Rick Warren suggests that God's friends were completely honest with God, second guessing him, complaining, and being totally honest. He refers to Abraham who talked God into sparing a few lives from Sodom... he... (are you ready for this?)... negotiated with God. He also mentions David, Jeremiah and Job. In fact, God told Job's friends, "You have not been honest either with me or about me- not the way my friend Job has... My friend Job will now pray for you and I will accept his prayer." Did ya hear that?! My FRIEND Job.... Wow!

God wants my frankness. God wants my disclosure. Amazing!

"What may appear as audacity God views as authenticity." RW

I must choose to obey God in faith.
"Every time you trust God's wisdom and do whatever he says, you deepen you friendship with God."RW Jesus instructs us that obedience is a requirement for intimacy with God. John 15:14, "You are my friends if you do what I command."

This is a sticking point for me, truly. I'm seeing that it could very well be the piece that interrupts my spiritual growth. I don't like to submit. I don't like to surrender. I'm afraid it will cost me too much. That's ironic, because in the "end" if I don't surrender I will loose my life anyway. I have never really understood that scripture about loosing your life to find it, and those who hang on to life will loose it. As I say over and over throughout my writing, I'm still working on this submission piece. :)

I must choose to value what God values.
Wow! This is a hard chapter for me! I'm being poked and prodded upon every page turn! The reality? God cares so much about his lost kids, that he sent his son to die a torturous death for them. For us. That is what God cares about most. What do I care about? That I will be liked, loved and accepted. That I will have food when I need it. Medicine when I need it. That my son will be happy. That I will have a house, a car, etc. Basically, on a daily basis I care much more about my needs than I care for the lost souls of those around me. That's a two by four between the eyes right there. Friends of God tell their friends about God. (RW)

I must desire a friendship with God more than anything else.
David wrote, "The thing I seek most of all is meditating in his Temple, living in his presence every day of my life, delighting in his incomparable perfections and glory." How often does the busy-ness and requirement of my day crowd out this desire in me? Often.

I love what Rick Warren writes in this paragraph about Jacob, and I believe it is so true! He writes, "Jacob's passion for God's blessing on his life was so intense that he wrestled in the dirt all night long with God, saying, 'I will not let you go until you bless me.' The amazing part of this story is that God, who is all powerful, let Jacob win! God isn't offended when we "wrestle" with him, because wrestling requires personal contact and brings us close to him! It is also a passionate activity and God loves it when we are passionate with him." Isn't that a relief? Struggling with God? Don't worry. God "gets" it. God "gets" you. God "gets" me.

At this part of the text, The Purpose Driven Life (page 98), Rick Warren gets personal. Here we go. Fasten your seatbelt! "The truth is you are as close to God as you choose to be. Intimate friendship with God is a choice, not an accident. You must intentionally seek it. You may have been passionate about God in the past but you've lost that desire. That was the problem with the church at Ephesus- they had left their first love. They did all the right things, but out of duty, not love. If you've been going through the motions spiritually, don't be surprised when God allows pain in your life. Pain is the fuel of passion- it energizes us with an intensity to change that we don't normally possess." CS. Lewis wrote, "Pain is God's megaphone."

Okay, let me pause a moment. Because this hits the nail on the head for me. Pain is the root of my fear. All the stuff I fear is because I do not want to feel pain. This is very self-defeating. Life is full of pain. I cannot avoid it. It is everywhere. And it terrifies me.

RW goes on to add, "Your problems are not punishment; they are wake up calls from a loving God. God is not mad at you; he's mad about you, and he will do whatever it takes to bring you back into fellowship with him. But there is an easier way to reignite your passion for God. Start by asking god to give it to you, and keep on asking until you have it. Pray this throughout your day, 'Dear Jesus, more than anything else, I want to get to know you intimately.' God told the captives in Babylon,'When you get serious about finding me and want it more than anything else, I'll make sure you won't be disappointed." Jer 29:13. WOW! WOW! WOW! That's all I have to say about that!

I close with James 4:8, "Draw close to God and God will draw close to you." I knew when I started this journey that I had become spiritually bankrupt. Remember my writing early on, "I have a broken spirit" and "I am a pessimist"? Clues to my spiritually bankrupt life have been my inability to rise above crippling fear, my checkbook, and my years of wasted time in a ridiculous job, to name a few. I am far beyond ready to have my spiritual life back on track. I am ready to say to whatever situation that comes, "I am not afraid. Because I know that God is for me." I'm not there yet, but I know I will get there. You see, God is my friend. I know that. I need to get to know my friend better.

Loving you on purpose,


Thursday, January 28, 2010

Day 11!

As I know it is difficult to journal every single day, I am going to count on the fact that one does not have time to read every single day either. Meaning, you most likely have not missed me because you have plenty to do! Ha-ha!

I am 11 days into the book The Purpose Driven Life, but 28 days into my new year's resolution of "Change Me." It's going beautifully!

The 28-day me is more optimistic and has more faith. She feels closer to God now than in a long time. She feels more centered. She is more in touch with her family, her dogs, her friends and her heart. She has taken all of her credentialing exams (and has passed all that have reported to her... one report left to go!). She is up to date on her homework assignments for her teaching and learning theory class. The 28-day me has exercised 24 days out of the last 28. That's a record!

I am not rushing the book. Though I know it is designed to be read a chapter a day, honestly I like to spend more time with the concepts. And as I have been preoccupied with studying, some of my reading has fallen by the wayside on a few days. To this end I continue to attempt improvement. I know if I got up an hour before the rest of my family I would get bible study in every single day. Now that I feel I have the physical fitness piece figured out, I am going to focus more on the spiritual.

Baby Steps.

The Head Part & the Hard Body Part
Okay, so I typically define these steps separately but today they go together. I have so much to share!

First of all, the 28-day me is HEAVIER and her waist is BIGGER. Nope, not kidding. 20 years ago, 24 days of exercise would have MELTED weight off of me! I am not naive. I knew that would not happen here, but can I be honest? I was hopeful!!!! I haven't exercised regularly in so long I really thought that perhaps, just maybe, pretty-please, my body would surprise me. It hasn't it. :(

The day I committed to working out daily for 40 days was the day I also made another, subconsious deal with myself. I've pondered this and I suspect that deal went something like, "Okay, so I'm going to be MAKING myself exercise daily. So, in essence I'll be giving up something... my slovenly ways... a little TV... an extra hour of sleep. And as I am giving up something, then I will also get something. That something will be to eat what I want, in the amount I want, when I want. I deserve it b/c I am sacrificing other things. And I can't just sacrifice anything without getting something in return." In short, I can't SURRENDER without getting something. (Yes, you heard me. Still working on the surrender thing.)

Hmmm... help me purpose-driven readers. What is up with that? Okay, I've analyzed it, but I'd be interested to see if you share in any of this type of thinking.

So, I won't spend too much time on my childhood here, but I must touch on it to sum up what is going on with this give-up-to-get mentality. We were poor. We had food, mostly hand-me-down clothing, and one car. We were not allowed to do anything extra-curricular or social, due to financial and transportation constraints. Most of the time I felt pretty bad about myself and my situation. Yes, it could have been worse, but as a child you can hardly know that. One way my mother showed us love was to bake us amazing treats. There were no food rules in our house. No one made us clean our plate, shoved broccoli down our throats, or limited the amount of soda we drank. Fresh baked cookies and cakes daily filled the "poor" void, and on most depressingly empty summer days I ate myself into oblivion. I must have had an amazing metabolism because I skinny until my early twenties. And so, I suspect that somewhere deep rooted in my desire to belong and be loved is this false life belief, "I feel loved and accepted by eating sweets. When I taste something sweet, I know my parents love me. I know I am worthy. I know I am okay. Even though I am terribly lonely."

Now, that lonely thing is not part of my belief system today. No longer do I live miles away from civilization with my only outlet being the Saturday morning haul to town for groceries! But, letting myself eat with abandon is definitely satisfying a deeply rooted need in me to not just be loved, but to be FREE. It's like I'm saying, "Finally, I am free to be ME!" All those lost opportunities because of our financial status? Those were the most devastating. All those years a talented, social little Natalie was dieing inside, ready to burst and explode with relationships, passion and desire to communicate her thoughts and feelings about life. Most days I sat in my room listening to records, eating potato chips and writing poetry in a journal... wondering if I mattered to anyone, and eating more and more. When I put boundaries around myself I do not feel free, and to compensate I remove boundaries in other ways. Alright... enough of the roots of my psychosis now.

So yes, I love food. I love to eat it when I want and how I want and I don't want anyone telling me I can't have something.

So, what to do? Somewhere around here I have Dr. Phil's book that addresses how to change a belief system. I recall when I read that several years ago that he had some good advice on this matter. I'd like to revisit it.

Also, I have enlisted the help of a friend, Mari Ann Lisenbe of the Mari Method. In this matter, I admit it. I need help!

I joined The Mari Method just today. Upon beginning I did an inventory of weight and measurements and that was when I discovered that I am bigger today than I was 28 days ago. Wow, this help is coming just in time!

The second step was to watch a "brain" video. It was beautiful. As the amazing images scroll across the screen they are supported by heroic, inspiring music, and wonderful "I" statements such as:
  • I choose to honor my body
  • I choose to forgive those who have hurt me
  • I choose to forgive myself
  • I love my life
Wow. Those are powerful words. Seeing them along with the images and hearing them along with the music provided such a positive place for my mind to be. Instantly I believed, "I can do this. I can get control of my eating. I can."

Along with the body inventory and brain video, comes a very easy to follow chart of the foods to seek out and the ones to avoid, along with sample menus and recipes. She literally holds your hand through each and every step. And it's not so much about loosing weight as it is about getting control back of your life. The final step to start is a fitness video hosted by Mari Ann. I haven't done the video yet, but will today. I'll let you know what I think.

I'm feeling GREAT about this step!

Okay- more about the mind/body.

I'm getting older. I'm 42, nearly 43. I see pictures of myself and I wonder... is that me? Because those eyes really don't look like mine. It's true. The eye lids are sagging. The jowels are sagging, too. I know, I know. It's nothing at 42 compared to what it will be at 62! Stop complaining! I am complaining a little bit. I am. But, I also accept that aging happens and I would rather grow old gracefully than have plastic surgery. I would feel very untrue to me (this is just me) if I had plastic surgery. I think of Meg Ryan when I say this. In her youth she had these amazing eyes! And, her eyelids have sagged. When I see her now, i think, "She doesn't have that eye structure she used to" and though I do not know if she has had plastic surgery, she looks different and older than when she played Sally (I'll have what she's having!) and she's still lovely. It does happen... ageing beautifully.

So, I am embarking on one more journey that embraces an important change for me; taking care of my skin. I have often been told that I have great skin. Literally, strangers have said this to me in grocery store lines. I'm not kidding! And this is the girl who washes her face with anything she has laying around in the shower... castille soap, shower gel, or shampoo. And until this past year when the "elevens" became deeper between my eyes (those little vertical lines between my eyebrows) I had almost never used moisturizer. Don't say it, because I already feel ashamed!

One of my unspoken New Year's resolutions regarding "change me" was for me to do something about my skincare and for me to become consistent in combating the signs of aging. Modern technology makes it possible, why not give it a try? As I was just about to post a request on my Facebook account asking who has tried Jane Seymour's product or Heidi Klum's product, my dear friend Janene sent me an offer I could not refuse. As if reading my mind, she offered me a 6 day trial set of her neighbor's new skincare called Cellular Age Advange by Apriori Beauty. Janene's friend has been setting the standard in skincare for many hears. CAA is her new contribution.

CAA noursihes skin from the inside out. Along with 6 days of external products, comes 6 days of internal product; Lifeoxylin Elixir. The ingredient list is long and impressive. I find this dual approach fascinating. I have always believed in drinking water because it hydrates skin from the inside out. With this approach, skin cells are being treated the same way. WOW!

So, I started using the product just today. I am not exaggerating. My "elevens" appear to be nearly gone. Now, I know they will never be gone... they are there after all! But I love that just a few moments after applying the products their appearance diminished. Incredible! Let me know if you want more information!

I'll write more about CAA after I've used it a few more days.

The Heart Part
Oh, I am so liking this section of the book, The Purpose Driven Life! It's all about being a friend of God.

Rick Warren, sighting numerous scriptures, states that God wants to be your best friend. I cannot even imagine. Honestly, I see God as a sovereign ruler... big man... in charge... regardless of how I feel about it. Does that sound harsh? I suspect it is somewhat harsh, but honesty is a big part of my journey here. And honestly, I want to see him more as my friend than anything. What could be more fulfilling than to be "friends" with God?

Jesus said in John 15:15, "I no longer call you servants. I call you friends." Yep. That's what he said about us. Imagine that! And the word he used in this scripture conveys this meaning: close, trusted friend. Can God trust me? Hmm... something to think about.

Here's another "selah" moment, "God planned the universe and each of our lives and history, so we could become his friends." (Acts 17:26 -27)

Per Pastor Warren, there are six secrets to friendship with God. He discusses two in this chapter. They are:
  • Constant Conversation
  • Continual Meditation
I think the constant conversation is something I actually do well, but never realized it was a bonding opportunity with God. He is always on my mind. I do find myself talking to him a lot about just the ordinary stuff in my day. For example, "Hmm... didn't realize we were out of milk. I wish that husband you gave me would tell me when he drinks the last of it. You'd think after 10 years he'd remember to do that." Okay- JOKING! But serious, I could very well say to God, "Hmmm, didn't know I was out of milk." Or I might say, "God, I do not want to do this laundry." There are many things I mention to him throughout my day. Now, I'm going to be more mindful of doing so. If I pause to listen, I do believe he will share in the dialog!

"Friendship with God is built by sharing all of my life experiences with him." RW This is in conversation, everyday activities, problems, thoughts. In essence, "praying without ceasing."

Aha! Alone time with God is important, but more important is this; take God everywhere. It is your act of worship. And remember, that is why we are here... to worship him!

So, changing my attitude toward what I am doing to include (or be mindful of) God will enhance my relationship with him. Imagine if everything I did in a day were done for the glory of God! Eating, bathing, working, relaxing... sounds radical, huh?! I wonder... how would my diet change if I were to consider God before eating something? Would I eat that donut? Probably. It was, after all, just a thought! Okay, I'm only partially joking. This point is something I am willing to consider more deeply. I'll let you know what happens!

Because God is with me all the time, there is no place that is any closer to God than the place I am right now. It's kind of like that saying, "Wherever you go, there you are." If God is in you, where you go, there He is.

Okay, there is, as always, so much more I could share on this matter, but let me get to point number two so I can sum up for today.

A few years ago I was diagnosed with anxiety disorder. Part of my recovery plan (recovered, thank you) was taking self-hypnosis and meditation classes through my health care provider. Frankly, I really loved the medicine! But I didn't need it after just a few weeks of these amazing classes.

The self-hypnosis class was very eye-opening. Self-hypnosis is basically doing what Jesus said to do... "whatsoever things are good and honest and lovely and of good report, think on these things." It's all about renewing your mind. Only, instead of using a visual of the bottom of a pool to renew my mind, I focused on God's glorious creation. And instead of a self-help phrase, I chose a short scripture. Self hypnosis was simply about taking that lie that had been playing over and over in my brain, and replacing it with truth. There's no "checking out" or half-conscious or sub-conscious state of mind or anything. You remain very aware through the whole experience and I found it to be extremely rewarding.

The meditation part was so amazingly scriptural. In meditation you don't "check out" either. Conversely, you become very aware of exactly where you are. The room you are in. The sounds you hear. You become aware of the "here and now" and you accept it for what it is. It simply "is" and there is often nothing you can do to change it. In these moments you meditate on truth. It's exactly as Jesus commanded! Renew your mind with the Word of God.

Pastor Warren adds this interesting twist, "If you know how to worry, you know how to meditate." WOW! I am such a good worrier! To worry is to ruminate on the fear over and over again until it's part of you and frankly, debilitating. So, replace that fear with truth. Ruminate on the truth of God's word instead. "The more you meditate on God's world, the less you will have to worry about." That's good stuff! I can feel optimism practically taking me over!

And a final thought on this fear issue (which, as you know is part of the healing I am seeking in this 40 day journey), when a debilitating thought comes into your mind (often brought up by a bad memory) ask yourself, "Is this true?" And then ask, "Am I absolutely 100% sure it is true?" Then ask, "How do I feel when I think that thought?" Then, "Who would I be without this thought?" Finally, turn the thought around. Replace the worry with truth.

Job said, "I have treasured the words of His mouth more than my daily bread." Job 23:12.

Here's another intesting point from Pastor Warren, "Friends share secrets." Okay, that is SO true! I do love a good intrigue! I love to share secrets with my friends and my husband. But God? I mean, he knows it all! Well, consider that in this friendship God is sharing his secrets with you. Per RW, "God will share his secrets with you if you get in the habit of thinking about his word through your day." I'm very interested to know God's secrets. Don't you think that could just about wipe fear off of the face of your planet?

Ps 25:14, "Friendship with God is reserved for those who reverence him. With them alone He shares the secrets of his promises."

Prayer lets me speak to God.
Meditation lets God speak to me.

In closing, I am very excited about pursuing this BFF friendship with God. Prayer, meditation, doing his will, hearing his voice. What do you do to cultivate your friendship with the creator of the universe? Pretty amazing thought!

Thanks for joining me, as always. I have read ahead and the next chapter that explores the 4 other ways to puruse a friendship with God are SO powerful! I can't wait to share them with you!

Loving you on purpose,


Thursday, January 21, 2010

Day 10, only 21 days in! ha-ha

Hello my Purpose Driven Friends!

I am writing day 10 today and it's the 21st. I know you aren't has hard on me as I am on me, but let me just update you with this good news; I have continued to exercise everyday (except the Sunday "rest" day). My daily bible reading is NOT happening, though I'm not too behind, and though my daily devotional has fallen by the wayside a bit, I haven't stopped completely- in fact, I am loving it! As is typical for me, I am having trouble making the changes in my lifestyle. I do desire to read my bible and pray every single day. I know I will get there. And I'm giving myself a lot of grace.

My New Year's resolution is really more of a prayer, "Change me." I had to admit to God that I had become lazy in all areas of my life; physical, spiritual, mental. And so, I began this journey. The three "highlight" goals were: get fit (a little weightloss), get credentialed and sing more, and heal my broken spirit. That last part is a bit heavy, and so I haven't actually admitted the "broken spirit" thing to you until today. But today, I am ready. And I suspect I am ready because I can feel my spirit beginning to heal, and for some reason now that I am on the road to recovery, I don't feel quite so ashamed to admit, my spirit is broken.

So, why would I feel ashamed of a broken spirit? What, exactly, is a broken spirit, you may be wondering? For several years, about 6 actually, I have felt consumed by fear. This culminated 2 years ago with a full on panic attack. What ensued after that was medication. I also took classes through my healthcare provider to help me heal from the anxiety (by their standards sans God... but of course I take God into every experience I have!) . The classes worked. Truly, knowledge is power! :)

Anyway, that broken spirit thing... sounds scary, huh? It is scary. Anxiety is extremely painful. It's hard on your entire person; spirit, mind and body. It makes your muscles sore, it makes you shake, it makes you sleep, and it keeps you from sleeping! It causes you to have to give up Starbucks (boo-hoo). So, the anxiety was a big part of my broken spirit. In my broken spirit I also experience intense fear of doctors (very new for me), and death-sentence diagnoses (at that time I had said goodbye to too many friends my age who had died of cancer). I'm afraid of surgery and anesthesia. I actually had a dental implant done while awake! CRAZY! All of this stems from my fear of not being "in control." The fear brings on anxiety and this is part of what I believe had broken my spirit.

I use the term "had" because I am spiritually on the mend. Last month in church, my pastor referenced the "broken spirit." And I can't remember his exact words but it was basically describing a person without hope, and the light went on in my head. I had been wondering for a long time why I was so worried all the time about everything. I knew I was becoming unhealthy. And that day, I had a name for it, "broken spirit." It made my life make so much sense!

I suppose a broken spirit comes from years of wanting to trust God, only to not really trust him. Think about that; if the one thing in the world you claim to rely on for everything, continually lets you down, you eventually stop relying, right? And no, God had not let me down continually, but I had not let myself heal from all the disappointments in life. The truth was (and still sometimes is) that I don't really trust God. Trusting God is not easy for me.

So, reading The Purpose Driven Life is bringing about such healing. And my quiet time in prayer and worship to the Lord is also bringing about its own level of comfort. I want to get to the point where I can say and really believe, "Lord, you've got this. Everything is going to be okay." That last statement is actually quite powerful when I consider that "my okay" is not always "his okay." I think that is a big statement!

And perhaps that is why I set The Purpose Driven Life down for a week. The last chapter kicked my behind! It was about surrender. I don't like surrender. I don't like it one bit. I didn't like it when my friend Dan had to surrender his life and leave his darling family behind last year. I didn't like it when my sister surrendered her life and left us 2 years ago. I didn't like it when my friend Tana surrendered her life and left her husband and two teenagers behind. I cringe inside every time I hear about another young parent leaving this world and leaving behind a family that needs him or her. Are you getting a theme here? That's right... that's my big issue. Because every day for 6 years, since I became a mom, I have lived in the fear that God might make me surrender the same thing. Every day with the fear... every day for six years. That's a long time to be afraid at such an intense level. That will break a spirit.

So, you know, I'm a work in progress. :) I'm working through that. I want to believe that if something happened to me, Quinn would be okay. But, he's not a typical little guy. He's amazing- but he has his own life challenges to manage and get through. I'm not sure what his life will look like as a teen or adult; it won't be "typical." I've accepted that. But, with that understanding comes even more passion about how much my little boy needs me. I never want to let go but I do know I need to. Sooner than later, I suspect, if I want this healing I am seeking in my spirit.

Well, there is whole lot that sits beneath that issue I just disclosed. My own childhood, my disappointments in God, my abandonment issues... etc, etc, etc. :) I have discussed these with a therapist and like all the other areas of my life, I 'm working on it one day at a time. So, now you know why a chapter on Surrender had me contemplating for several days. Here's a summary:

"The Heart of Worship is Surrender"

Pastor Warren writes, "Surrendering to God is the heart of worship. It's the natural response to God's amazing love and mercy. Offering yourself to God is what worship is all about."

There are three barriers to surrender:
1. Fear (Really?! Seriously? LOL)
2. Pride
3. Confusion

We don't realize how much God loves us. We want to control our lives and we misunderstand the meaning of surrender."

Obviously, this is the core of my issue. The question, "can I trust God" is the essential element of surrender. If that's the case, then I have some work to do. The more I understand how much God loves me, the easier surrender becomes. That makes sense. I do this dance with Quinn every day. I don't want him to go to bed without brushing his teeth... because I know how horrible cavities and root canals are. I know how painful an impacted tooth is. I never want him to feel that so I wake him up if I have to, in order to brush his teeth at night. He gets so mad at me. He fights me. He cries LOUDLY. And there I am, dragging his little bottom to the bathroom to brush his teeth. Eventually, he surrenders... but not without a fight. It's because I love him that I force him to do that which makes him unhappy and uncomfortable. I do it to spare him future pain.

Why do I have such a hard time surrendering to such love? Love that is so expansive, that Jesus stretched out his arms on a tool of torture and death (the cross) and bled and died for me. Selah.

"God is a lover and a liberator and surrendering to him his freedom, not bondage. " RW.

Okay, so that is one powerful statement that I don't get. But I want to get it. I will get it.

Admit your limitations. We are "creatures"... created beings, not in charge of the universe. We are only in charge of what God gives us control over. Our life-span here on earth? Nope, we aren't in charge of that, either.

I recognize that the desire to have complete control over myself and my future is what causes stress in my life. It's sin (pride). It's basically me telling my creator, that I want to be him... I want to be God. I want control. It's "my" life. And you know what? I will NEVER win that struggle. It's the battle Satan started with God and lost.

Now, I know I don't really want to be God. But, the pride involved in not surrendering is just that. And that is sin. And that is the ugly truth. Ukk. Ukk..

A.W. Tozer wrote, "The reason why many are still troubled, still seeking, still making little forward progress is because they haven't come to the end of themselves. We're still trying to give orders and interfering with God's work within us." Wow, he gets it! Oh, my!

I can accept my humanity cognitively, but not emotionally. When faced with my own limitations I do react, as Pastor Warren suggests, with irritation, anger and resentment.

I want to have it all, do it all, and be it all. I become upset when it doesn't happen and I blame God. Instead of being grateful for all that I have (this life that really isn't mine anyway) I respond to him with ungratefulness, and envy and jealousy of those that do, in my mind, have it all.

Surrendering my life to God means sacrificing my life or suffering in order to change what needs to be changed.

CS Lewis wrote, "The more we let God take us over, the more truly ourselves we bcome, because he made us." Surrender is demonstrated by obedience and trust.

Oops... there's that word AGAIN... trust. And I can be candid here... I'm not that great at obeying either!

There is so much more I could write but this entry is too long now. I do want to add the good news, though. Surrender brings blessing: peace, freedom, and God's power to overcome. Wow- I need all three of those to heal my broken spirit.

After reading the chapter on Surrender and writing pages of notes, I wrote a prayer to God in which I surrendered the following: regret, Quinn, marriage, money, music, health, my time. I started here. I' m sure there is more to surrender, but these areas are the big ones in my life at the moment.

I won't write the prayer here- it's several pages. But, here few statements:

Regret- "... there is no break from the mess I created by that decision to do the very thing you told me not to do. I know you've already forgiven me, and today I forgive myself. This regret I feel is yours... I lay it at your feet. I will probably pick it up again, but when I do, you'll see me here... discarding it once more. I surrender it to you."

Quinn- I give you Quinn, my darling boy and all that he is to me. When I am tempted to make him the center of my life, remind me that he belongs to you.

Music- I surrender my music. Somewhere, some how, it stopped being about worshiping you and started being about me. My voice isn't good enough. I've actually been upset with you about that. I'm sorry. And I've coveted other's gifts as if the one you gave me was inadequate. I don't deserve it... I know that. It's yours....

Well, I do so despise ending on a down note. :) I guess I'll close by asking you, do you have as much to surrender as I do? Pastor Warren writes that we may have to surrender these things to God numerous times a day. That's both a bothersome and refreshing thought. At least I know I'm not alone!

Loving you (on purpose),


Thursday, January 14, 2010

Day 8! 1/8/2010

"You created everything and it is for your pleasure that they exist and were created." Rev. 4:11

Hello friends. Well, as I said in my last entry here I am catching up. Wrong! In my last entry I wrote that I would catch up on days 8 through 11 with a brief summary. And now, three more days have past and here I am, just now writing. "Whatever," I say to myself! :) Meaning, I do not like making commitments that I do not keep. Hey, isn't there a growth opportunity in there somewhere related to the "head" part of this journey? Well, I do believe there is!

The reality is, I do not know how to catch up. :) So, today is Thursday, January 14th. I will update you on the head and hard-body parts of my 40 day journey first as those are the easiest and then I will combine a few chapters of The Purpose Driven Life in this entry and those to come. My point is, I am committing to catch up without a plan. How's that?

On this 40 day journey I committed to exercise by body daily, exercise my heart (spirit) daily and exercise my head daily. The desirable outcomes are; a thinner me, a more peaceful me, and a more successful me (gainfully employed would be nice, but not necessary). So, overall how am I doing? Here is the update, 14 days in!

The "Hard Body" part:
This is going great. I think it's the easiest for me to do. Think about it- though it takes commitment to get moving, the fact is that our bodies were made to move. Every day I find opportunity to exercise even if it is not in a formal way. For example, I walked to Quinn's bus stop the other day and took the dogs. When we got home we ditched the backpack and kept going... the dogs in hand and Quinn on his pedal "go cart". Good, wholesome exercise for one and all. I ended up pushing Quinn up a 3/4 of a mile, very steep hill. I actually sprinted for part of it. It took me the rest of the walk home to catch my breath! Somewhere in the back of my mind is a little voice saying, "When you push your body to change it will rise to the occasion. So push!" (That voice is Marco, one of the Exercisetv trainers, by the way.)

Another fun thing I added to my workout schedule (doing the hard body workout plan) is boot camp. This is a relatively new buzz word in the exercise community! And I'm doing it! Trend setter me! (Actually, I suspect I am a bit behind the trend.)

There is certainly something to be said for partnering with a friend to exercise. I went one time and so thoroughly enjoyed myself, that I signed up for next month, too! The hour flies by with other women with whom to chat, and a fun, inspiring leader who points you in every right direction; "Okay, now let's take a lap... okay... 45 seconds of army crawl... go... okay... let's cool down and stretch!" What? Already time to cool down? COOL! When working out to my TV I always have one eye on the clock and am wondering, when will this torture be over?! When working out with a group of women, much like my fond memories of gym class (yes, I reminisce of gym class with fondness), there's camaraderie, shared experience, shared pain and shared laughter. (And these ladies bring their toddlers and babies... how fun is that? Exercising with all these little cutie pies toddling about?) It's inspiring!

And by the way, regarding gym class, if you struggle with weight when did it start? When you stopped taking gym class? Gym class is brilliant. In my school we were done with gym after our sophomore year. And yes, that is the year the battle with my weight started for me. Think about it... one simple hour (45 minutes, really) of getting the heart rate up a bit and having fun with some friends. FITNESS!!!! What a concept! Gym class, hooray for you!

What's my point? If you have time and can find an affordable and time-convenient boot camp, go for it! I am not one that is fond of the gym. Going solo and hanging out with weight machines and cardio equipment and people I barely know has no appeal for me. Nor does the $30 a month in dues. The classes? I get bored with them. I need change-up in my routine. I get that from picking and choosing video exercise online and on cable TV, from mixing it up with friends for walks and bike rides, taking my family to the park, and doing the boot camp. Find what works for you and do something 30 minutes a day. Take it from me, you'll feel so much better when you do!

Speaking of feeling better, my back pain is nearly gone! Wow!

So... 14 days into daily exercise and am I thinner? No way. In the beginning I lost over a inch, but I suspect now that had to do with me kicking up my water to at least 64 ounces a day. I have not lost weight for what I believe are two reasons: one, easy come, easy go. Water up a day? Water down a day? Body bloated... (thank you for the gift, mother nature)? This is too important a time for me to be weighted down by the scale. The reality is, at 42 my body is not going to change that fast and neither is yours. So, go easy on yourself. I was going to weigh weekly but I am now going to wait a few more weeks. I do think it's important to weigh regularly, to keep tabs on where you are at in your goals, but I don't want to be discouraged right now. If, in 2 weeks (then 4 weeks of daily exercise) I have not lost any weight or inches, I will need an intervention!!!!

And that intervention will be in the area of nutrition. Which is, I know, the other reason for me not loosing an ounce. Yep, nutrition is my "bad" word. I do this terrible, terrible thing. I do! When I exercise I take full license to eat whatever I want (there is yet another "head" journey in that statement). We've discussed this before. No, I haven't worked on it. Oh, I will. I have had seasons of my life where not so much as one molecule of processed white sugar has passed my lips! Extended periods of time... or "hell" more aptly described. Those fad diets worked for me, but they are not my "lifestyle," and I did not enjoy my life while adhering to them. I'm not sure where my healthy, balanced diet lies but I will figure it out. That's the next step on my "small steps" journey. So far, 2 weeks of movement and water and I'm doing great. Nutrition next, and in the very near future. I will not fail!

The "head" part:
On January 9th I took my CSET. This is the test that will enable me to be a teaching intern in the fall. That means I will get paid to student teach, which is something my husband would greatly appreciate! :) It is necessary and so passing the test matters a great deal. However, I underestimated how much would need to be reviewed to prepare adequately. I will not be surprised or disappointed if I did not pass. I have passed 1/2 of this test already, so I am almost there. If I did not pass the math/science section then I will have another try in March. And I will be adequately prepared since now I know exactly what the test looks like. Not passing is "not great" but it isn't horrible either. I'll get there. I have time and I have a plan in place should I need it.

Also, on January 26 I will take my CBEST. Passing this test will allow me to be a substitute teacher. I fully expect to pass. I am taking the practice test on line right now in bits and pieces and it is very easy. No worries. No studying needed here.

There are other parts of my "head" journey to consider and I haven't written much about them. (I know, this entry is getting long... sorry for that... it's what I get when I wait 3 days to write.) I won't go into them here except to list them for my own accountability and to share briefly about my experience with a life coach!

During the next several months, I plan on pursuing the things in life I have always wanted to pursue but have always felt like my full-time-completely-not-in-my-element-really-not-a-fit-job prevented me from purusing. Well, now that I don't have that "FTCNIMEFNAF JOB" I have no excuses. Here are the goals:
1. Perform more vocally (studio work, San Diego Opera chorus (dream BIG), live theater productions)
2. Send out my book proposal (it's written, just not refined or sent)
3. Build my vocal studio

I met with a life coach this week and she gave me the "how to" of SMART goals. More on all of this another time. My point is, I am on my way and life coach Lisa & I are holding each other accountable. Good stuff!

The "Heart" part (chapters 8 & 9 of the book):

Well, as I knew it would be, this Purpose Driven Life book is AMAZING! If you have never read it, please do yourself a favor and get it. If you have read it, read it again. In fact, I think it's one of those books that bears revisiting once a year. It's full of truth and wonderful reminders of our great God and the intimate relationship he seeks with his kids.

I'm going to highlight chapters 8 and 9 in my journaling today. This is in part of an effort to get all caught up.

Chapter 8 of The Purpose Driven Life is titled, "Planned for God's Pleasure."

You were planned for God's pleasure.

God created everything for his pleasure. It's why we exist. It makes him happy. He thought of me before the foundations of the world and he was happy with the thought of me. ME! Not like I see me, but like only he can see me. If I try and imagine God gaining pleasure of looking at me the way I look at me, full of doubt, mistrust, fear, unkind thoughts and selfish desires, then I don't get it. Oh, and if I look and I see me via the "good stuff"... because I do have "good stuff"... it's still not good enough because we all have good stuff, right? The only way it makes sense is to know that God's view of me is so much more whole than my view of me.

Bringing enjoyment to God and living for his pleasure is the first purpose of my life. WOW!

When I finally understand this truth, I will never again have the problem of feeling insignificant. I am so valuable, God wants to keep me for eternity. What greater significance could I have?

Psalm 147:11, "The Lord is pleased only with those who worship him and trust his love." Worship him... worship him... worship him... where have I heard this before?!

Worship is a lifestyle... it's more than just music. It's not for my benefit. It's not part of my life, it is my life (or it should be). Pastor Warren suggests the secret for a lifestyle of worship is to do everything as if you were doing it for Jesus. Sounds radical! I'm going to give it a try!

Something else Pastor Warren writes that causes a light to go on for me is this, "by constantly thinking of Jesus, I am abiding in his love. That's real worship, falling in love with Jesus." I've often wondered, how do I abide in him? What common task am I doing daily that I could start doing for Jesus? That's something to think about!

Chapter 9- What Makes God Smile?

"The smile of God is the goal of your life." Well, Pastor Warren, that's some lofty goal! Holy cow! :) Fortunately, the text goes on to give a perfect example, Noah. Noah pleased God and because of that, human kind was spared during the flood wherein God wiped evil from the face of the earth. If not for Noah pleasing god, you and I would not exist!

Ephesians 5:10, "Figure out what will please God and then do it." Well, that's pretty simple, I'd have to say! And it's complicated. How do I know what pleases God? Turns out, it's in "The Book!"

Pastor Warren writes that the following makes God smile:
1. My trust
2. My love
3. My obedience (uh oh)
4. My praise continually (uh oh- squared)
5. Using my abilities

I can say that I honestly need work in all of these areas, as I suspect many people do. I say I love him, but do I keep his commandments? Jesus did say, "If you love me, you will keep my commandments." I know I am not obedient. I won't elaborate on that today, but just know it's so. I don't praise him continually, rather I complain about most things... to him! Some days nothing he has done for me is quite good enough. And using my abilities for him? Well, I probably waffle on that one but I will add that I'm working on that. Being an educator will allow me to work in a job full time wherein I will be using my God-given abilities daily. I'm so looking forward to that!

So, I haven't talked about trust. This is the BIGGIE for me! My lack of trust in God is, I believe, at the core of my dealing with mild anxiety disorder. Remember my life metaphor? Bouncing around from light to light, running from the shadows that are waiting to swallow me up? Yea, that one. Well, fear is at the core of anxiety. And God's word states clearly, "Prefect love casts out all fear." I've been praying for a long time that God would perfect His love in me, and honestly I don't even know what I am praying. I just keep asking. I know he will reveal it to me. I do trust him for that.

The day I read this part about trust, I had an experience earlier in the day that I believe God used to set me up for this reading. This is where I say, "Wow! God, you are so cool! Why do I ever doubt you?" He had a lesson for me to drive this truth about trust home.

Quinn & I went for a walk after school. He was on his pedal go-cart and I had both dogs in tow (no easy task). We walked for probably 2 miles. About a third of the way on our journey we passed infront of an elementary school. There are apartments across the street. As we walked, a van pulled up infront of us and slowed. It was driven by one man in his mid-thirties or so, and all of the windows had sheets taped over them. My pace quickened as the van slowed down. Then the van turned around and parked opposite us on the street. Out of the corner of my eye I watched to see if someone was going to come from the apartment to get into the van. No one came. I walked quickly past and then at the next available street I turned right. Now, I don't usually see a "Dick Dasterdly" in every creepy looking van, but it bothered me that this guy was just hanging out in front of an elementary school just after school was released. As I went up the next street I began looking for an alternate route home... anything to avoid going by that van again. Unfortunately, all my searching was in vain. My only option was to go to the store nearby and call Todd to come get us (however, I did not have my phone on me and Todd was at work, so not the most convenient choice). So, we started back from whence we came. The whole time I had my eye on the van and I was praying.

As is typcial for my spirited little boy, he was just giving that go-cart heck! He was all over the sidewalk and running into the things, creating a bunch of noise, etc. I zig-zagged through the school parking lot and kept trying to put off the "pass by the van moment" as long as I could... thinking it would hopefully move on. Finally, I told Quinn, "Buddy, I need you to drive straight and when we get to the street, no messing around. Just turn left and I will push you up the hill. In fact, I'll run! Ooh, fun! I'll push you up the hill super fast!" (In my mind, I can see me trying to outrun a mysterious van, going up hill. Yea, right!) Well, Quinn could not hang with that program. He was his typical self. He wanted to do it on his own and he wanted to do it his way! I knew that van wasn't safe. I wanted to protect him from it. In that we had to pass by it, I was doing all I could to get by quickly and not draw attention to us. Quinn wanted the opposite. I was pretty frustrated with him, but so as not to add to the scene, I let him go his way within reason. It was a lot of work to get him where I needed and wanted him to be. And, he had no clue that an unsafe situation had presented itself. I needed him to TRUST me, to trust blindly that I knew what was best, and I needed him to do what I said.

Later as I was thinking through that stressful situation, I realized the parallel. God is guiding me, knowing what is best for me, and asking that I trust him. I am bucking the system, wanting to be ME, wanting life to be about ME, and not wanting to do what he asks, even if it is in my best interest. Why? Because like a self-centered six year old, sometimes I just want what I want. How often does it grieve God as I am going through self-induced pain? How often does he look at me and without malice or arrogance say, "If only you had listened to me."

I'll close with this bright thought. Taken, again, from my text The Purpose Driven Life, "When I live in the light of eternity, my focus changes from "How much am I getting out of life" to "How much pleasure is God getting out of my life?" That's life changing thinking!

And of course, that's the journey that I am on. Change me, Lord. Help me to ask myself, "How much pleasure are you, God, getting out of my life?"

Thanks for checking in today. I so appreciate your spending some time with me. And as always, I value your feedback and thoughts.

Loving you (on purpose),


Monday, January 11, 2010

Day 7- 1/7/2009

Well, my friends. I am now OFFICIALLY behind. It's the 11th and I am just now writing about my experience on the 7th. I am not overly happy about this! Though I have not journaled as I thought, I have been committed to doing the things every day I committed to myself to do. I feel great about that! But, I am disappointed in myself that I am not making this blog effort happen. I have learned that I cannot save the blogging for late in the day; for when the clock strikes 9, my internal "lights" go out and I can do nothing right except for fall asleep... quickly! And if I try and blog in the afternoon/evening when my guys are home; well, forget it. They need me. :) I like that and I don't like being on the computer when they are home as we don't have enough time together as it is!

So, I am picking up here again with Day 7 of my journey through The Purpose Driven Life. Tomorrow I will catch up with a brief summary of days 8 - 11 (on day 9 I took the CSET. HOLY COW! I'll share more tomorrow). And then I will be all caught up.

And, so, on a really fun and "out there" note for me, I am going to a boot camp today! This is my first! A trainer in La Mesa does a boot camp for very little money (pay as you go, and the first week is free... what a deal). I am not sure how I will do at this type of thing. Actually, I have no idea what to expect, but what a better way to start the week? I will be burning calories and hanging with one of my BFF's (I know, should a girl have more than one BFF? Well, I do!). Okay, so truth be told staying home and writing is my first choice, but as far as activities go, sweating with a dear friend is very near a top of the "like" list, so that is getting priority. :)

The "heart" part:

Have you noticed that the "heart" part is typically the first thing I write about? I reflect on the heart all day long. I'm not sure if that is healthy or neurotic, but for now, that's just me. If it's healthy I'll keep doing it. :) If it's neurotic, I'll add it to the list of things to work on! Nonetheless, I find the "heart" part, ie. my soul, is the most important. Because this body will pass away, but my soul will live forever with God in eternity, doing that very thing he created me to do. Life here is just the "dress rehearsal."

Chapter 7 of The Purpose Driven Life, "It's all for him." The Lord has made everything for his own purposes. (Pr 16:4)

"The ultimate goal of the universe is to show the glory of God. It is the reason for everything that exists, including you. God made it all for his glory. Without God's glory there would be nothing." RW

Where is the glory of God? Everywhere! Creation reveals his glory. It's really amazing. As I studied for my CSET and went over how a fetus develops... from a single cell to a full blow person... with a complex heart, brain and nervous system... well, WOW! After reading that I wondered, how can anyone doubt God? The sheer force it takes to make another living soul with a functioning body is phenomenal, and it happens in the safe and secret place of the womb. Incredible!

"We can't add to God's glory, but we are commanded to:
and live for his glory!" RW

In the entire universe, only two things fail to give God his due glory; fallen angels and people. All the rest of creation cries out with it! According to Pastor Warren, all sin, at its root, is failing to give God glory. Hmmm... let's think about that for a minute. Romans 2:23, "All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God."

How do I fail in this daily? When I live for me; and remember, it's not about me. But this is a newly revisited concept for me, so I know I have a long way to go on this matter. Pride & rebellion are at the root of living for pleasing only me, and not moving myself outward to live for God and to serve those around me. Even this morning, I did a attitude eye roll (the eyes didn't move, but the brain thought it) when Todd asked me to take Quinn to the bus stop. I was mildly irritated. This meant I would have to get dressed! I was looking forward to them leaving the house so I could get to what I wanted to do. So, just 30 minutes into my day I had an opportunity to put myself first. :) Now, I'm not a bad person because I had another agenda today, but I want to get to a point where I am delighted to help out my husband and my son at the first opportunity, not after I've had to consider that it is the right thing to do. I want that to flow out of me as naturally as my speech (because you know, I always have something to say). I'd like to be that wife and mother that always has something to give to my family.

So, how can I bring glory to God? With Jesus as my example, I look at John 17:4. Jesus prayed to the Father, "I have brought glory to you here on earth by doing everything you told me to do." Jesus fulfilled his purpose. I want to fulfill mine.

St. Irenaeus said, "The glory of God is a human being fully alive!" God, I want to be fully alive!

Warren suggests these ways to bring glory to God:
1. Worship him- when you use your life for God's glory, everything you do can become an act of worship.
2. Loving other believers- it is your responsibility to learn to love as God does, because God is love, and it honors him. John 13:34 - 35.
3. Becoming Christ like- the more you develop Christ-like character, the more you will bring glory to God.
4. Serving others with our gifts- God didn't give you your abilities for selfish purposes
5. Telling others about him- once we know the truth, expects us to share it with others.

Hmmm... looks like I have my work cut out for me. I seriously fail in all of these areas daily. However, I know that as I am allowing my heart to be changed by God, (God, change me!) I will get better at worshiping God with ALL that I am.

What will you live for?

Loving you (on purpose),


Friday, January 8, 2010

Day 6!

Hello friends!

I am a few days behind in posting! Only 6 days into this and I'm falling back! BUT- I have met all of my goals each day. I just have been cramming for my CSET so I have not been able to write. I'm getting caught up today and tomorrow!

My test is tomorrow from 8:00 to 1:00 PST. If you think of it, can you pray for me? I waited too long to start preparing and had my son home sick from school most of this week. There is SO MUCH science information that I simply cannot retain it all, and much of it I do not understand as it is new information for me. If I had a month to prepare I would feel better! The math is going great- got almost all the practice questions right (with notes... so have to commit those formulas to memory today!) Part 2 of the test is Phys Ed, human development, music & the arts. Haven't read a thing but took the practice tests and scored very well. I think one read through will be fine for that. So really, the science is the issue! Lord, a miracle, please!

I found out that I do not need this test to substitute teach, just to start an internship. And since my fellows students have not been hired as interns (and they have general ed credentials and tons of classroom experience already) I'm fairly certain I won't be in the running for an Internship this semester anyway. So, all that to say, I face this test tomorrow in good spirits. If I fail the science section I will take it again in March and will be much more prepared!!! :)

Okay, the "heart" part of my journey:

In the 6th chapter of The Purpose Driven Life Rick Warren goes into greater detail regarding two of the three life metaphors. Remember that I am seeking to align my life's metaphor (which is such a downer) with God's... I think this will cure the pessimism! :) The first of the three life metaphors is that Life is a Test. Okay, so that really doesn't sound like much fun! And hey, aren't I taking a big "&#*" test tomorrow?

Life is a test.

Great. :) No, really, I mean, GREAT!!!!

Character is both developed and refined by test, and all of life is one. According to Warren, I am always being testing. He suggests that God is constantly watching my response to:

  • people
  • problems
  • success
  • conflict
  • illness
  • disappointment
  • weather - does it mean something that I choose to live in a geographic location where there essential is no "weather?" ha-ha.

And, he says you can predict some tests. In scripture an intentional test that God takes one through is His distance. "God is not near." 2 Chronicles 32:31. I've felt that before! How have I done in that test? I know, always, always, always, that even if I do not feel Him near, He is near. For He will never leave me or forsake me.

But what about those other areas? The matter of me being a pessimist is something I say in "tongue and cheek", but think of what my response to those items listed above might be if I am a pessimist. It ain't pretty! Wow. Lord, change me. I want to repsond to people the way you would, to see them through your eyes and to accept them truly as they are. God, what do you want me to learn about problems? That you will work them all out for my good? I'm not completely sure how to handle them, except that I often handle them incorrectly. And sometimes I just ignore them because I do not know what else to do. And God, let's discuss that conflict. Hmmm... I'm seriously bad at that. I work through it on my own, never giving the other party their opportunity to confront an issue or grow from it. Then I announce to myself, "I'm over it" and I move on okay... or I think I'm okay until the matter comes up again. I'd like to be more like my friend Teri on this subject. She is so good at confronting issues in love and making the other person really feel valuable.

Bottom line- I need to grow in all these ares. Lord, change me.

Now here is the candy in all this test business, "Because all of life is a test, nothing is insignificant in my life." Did you hear that?! WOWZA! Oh my, do I love that!!!! Seriously, in light of that I can confidently say, bring on the test! I have my number 2 pencil all sharpened and I am ready to go! That's the "optimist's" response to "life is a test." In Psalms it reads, "The Lord will perfect all that concerns me." I have always believed that to mean that God is in the details. Nothing is too insignificant for Him. Nothing.

"Everyday is an important day and every second is a growth opportunity to deepen your character, demonstrate love, or to depend on God." Rick Warren

And here is the best news... in I Corinthians 10:13, God promises you the grace to pass the test. For He will never allow you to be tested beyond your ability to endure, but he will always provide the means of escape to a landing place (paraphrased loosely from the Amplified Bible.)

Stand up and take notice! Every time you pass a test, God notices and makes plans to reward you in eternity (rw). Woo-hoo! James 1:2, "Blessed are those who endure when they are tested. When they pass the test they will receive the crown of life god has promised to those who love Him."

I just had a thought... think of how different my life would look if I renewed my mind on these promises every day. (just a side note here)

Okay- second life metaphor: Life is a trust.

I initially thought this to mean, "Yes, I need to trust God." But what Pastor Warren is suggesting is that God has entrusted me. Hmmmm.... that puts it into a new light. I am steward of everything God has given me personally: intelligence, talents, opportunities, resources... my marriage, my husband, my son. That's seriously weighty stuff. How well am I being a steward of the people God has put into my life? How am I treating Todd & Quinn? How much time am I spending with Quinn each day to help him overcome the challenges life that thrown at him at such a young age. Am I giving him the time he needs from me to grow, and to feel valuable and loved? And what about Todd? Does my husband feel wanted and respected? (Not every day, I am ashamed to admit.)

What am I doing with my talents, my opportunities and my money?

If God is entrusting me with all of this then the bottom line is it's not mine.

If I treat everything as a trust, then God promises three rewards in enternity:
1. His affirmation- what could be better?
2. His promotion- when He promotes me, no one can demote me because after all, He is God!
3. His celebration- partying with the creator of the universe? My RSVP is yes!

And here is a little "extra" for free:
How I manage my money determines how much God can trust me with spiritual blessings.

I always think of money and it's rewards in such tangible ways. I know that if I am faithful to God with my tithe and offering he will bless me physically for that in turn. But what about the spiritual blessing? What am I missing out spiritually (and eternally) on when I don't trust him in the area of money? Rhetorical... I'm still working through that.

Okay- life metaphor #3: Life is a temporary assignment. As I have written a lot on metaphors one and two and I have some serious studying to do in the area of science today, I will not elaborate anymore at this time. Bottom line- in light of eternity, my life on earth is like a sigh.

The "hard body" part:

Well, though I have been super busy I have not completely neglected my body and you know what? I feel great! The workouts are becoming more and more liberating for me. My back pain is subsiding quite a bit. And though the scale has not moved (oh yes, I'm still eating everything in sight... remember, nutrition is next week), my muffin top is shrinking. My jeans are fitting better. I have my "skinny" jeans on standby and am going to try them on Monday... as that will be the official "one week" (give or take a few days) of my journey.

The "head" part:

Well, on the head front you are already updated. Cramming for my CSET. All else pales in comparison regarding my "head" goals. I'll be able to move on to goal #2 after tomorrow.

My dear friends, as always THANK YOU for reading my blathering. I love working out my thoughts and feelings through my pen (that's a loose quote from Jane Austin... one of my favorite authors). It's cathartic. And the fact that someone would take the time to read it? BONUS! BLESSING!

Loving you (on purpose),