Accountability: The 7 Experiment

I disclosed in my last post we are doing a book study as a connect group at my church. Remember?? The 7 Experiment by Jen Hatmaker. I’m even more fond of it knowing she’s an Austinite!! Texas Strong!!

For public acknowledgement & accountability purposes, I would like to list my food choices for our 7 day fast. I realize when I fast, I’m not supposed to announce it like a production, mope & groan over it & certainly not draw attention to myself. I follow discretion & the book itself goes into explicit detail concerning fasting.   It’s not about me!! I did, however, have to determine what this fast represents for me personally. There are 6 biblical choices for fasting–Mourning, Inquiry, Repentance, Preparation, Crisis & Worship. I determined, before I even knew the choices, this fast would help me prepare for the next level of commitment, leadership responsibilities & relationships. Also to worship my Daddy God whose thoughts & ways are stratospherically above mine!  Our food fast challenge meant we were to choose 7 foods & eat only those foods for 7 days. Yes 7. Dairy is a million, so my Greek yogurt would be out. Single ingredients only, except we can have whole grain breads. Well forget that Paleo bread I was going to make!! Here’s why! I had some much-needed & long-awaited dental work done forcing me to adhere to a texturally limited diet for a week. Most all of my choices to sustain me while on this limited menu would have been a fail. This would have posed a problem except…… Jen gave us a list of alternatives to follow. Yaaaaaaaaaaaaayyyyyyyy! I’m saying that now, but I’ll definitely have to write a survival post next week!!

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On my desk today!

The alternatives are –>> eliminating 7 certain ingredients from your food choices; giving up 7 comfort foods; no fast or processed food;eating the simple diet of a country you are burdened for; eating the same thing breakfast, lunch & dinner for 7 days, eating from your pantry, fridge/freezer without purchasing anything for a week; reducing the amount of groceries you purchase in a week, etc. I’ve chosen a few from the alternative list.  First choice is that I’m giving up all pleasant foods.  Ice cream was a multi-meal choice after my dental procedure as it helped reduce swelling.  That’s my story & I’m sticking to it!  Must have worked, b/c I had no swelling!  Don’t think this is hard?  My first day back to work was our quarterly birthday party celebration.  Cupcakes, Fruit filled punch, etc.  Did you notice it’s a big day tomorrow?  Yes….Valentines Day & chocolate candy is floating around the building like butterflies migrating to South America.  This also means I can’t eat my Blueberry Belvita Breakfast Biscuits with whipped cream cheese.  OH &…..tonight begins our new DivorceCare Semester & my amazing co-leader is bringing one of my favorite snacks…..Target Scones!  Just this one choice will be a challenge.

My second choice is zero fast or processed foods.  You may know that only on rare occasions do I eat fast foods & am on an anti-processed food regime as a daily practice.  How can this be a fast then?  This means I can’t purchase a rotisserie chicken or eat any of my healthy, preservative free frozen meals.  I’m looking at them as my “fast food” choices. My co-workers & I are treating each other to lunch tomorrow at our favorite Vietnamese Pho Chau Restaurant. I don’t consider this fast food & instead of chowing down on my favorite seafood deluxe pho, I will eat broth & noodles only.   If I want anything, except a few choice frozen veggies, I have to cook it from scratch.  My time factor will prove this to be yet another challenge!

Third choice is to only eat what is already in my pantry, fridge or freezer. I remember my son, Bryce, would stand at the pantry & say, “There’s nothing to eat!”  I’m the mom who could prepare an entire feast from “nothing” & have leftovers to share!  That was when I purchased for a family.  I am an eat-to-live grocery shopper, not live-to-eat. Trust me……making sure I have things for grands to eat is a mental note!   I try to meal plan so I primarily purchase for that.  Meals may be averted if I eat with my kids, so I may have a few things in reserve, but there’s generally not an abundance. When I purchase fruit, I only buy for 3 days.  This guarantees my fruit isn’t ruined & trashed.   Another note……my last shopping trip was to prepare me for my texturally limited diet, so nothing on my regular list was included & my 3 days of bananas are long gone.  I have one lowly mango!  Remember the Paleo bread recipe I was so excited for?  Unless I have the ingredients in my pantry, that will not happen! In addition to only eating from my reserves or excess, I am not eating certain meats like the delicious nitrate & preservative free, uncured bacon or pecan smoked andouille sausage. It’s chicken & fish only!  My condiments will also be reduced & I should confess something.  I’m a real butter & mayo ‘holic.  Everything is better with tons of both.  Oh my geeeeeeeeeee!  What was I thinking?

Here’s the thing………..The 7 Experiment is to Stage Your Own Mutiny Against Excess!  Had I been able to choose 7 foods to eat, I would have had to purchase enough of them for 7 days without really any limit of how much.  I could have gone out to eat as long as the foods were on my list & the things in my pantry would be sitting there. So……I was forced to finally start drinking the Bolthouse Farms Green Goodness that has been in my fridge at home & at work for a month.  I’m forced to cook that fish I couldn’t pass up.  I’m forced to clean out my pantry.  I’m forced to eat those scrumptious green peas that I purchased to use as ice packs for my mouth! Yes…I do use the frozen veggies for that! Shopping from home & using what I already have ought to be interesting. Wait……isn’t this the reason for the book study?

I’ve heard some of my amazing council members already getting tired of chicken.  I have to eat mashed potatoes & other soft or liquid foods.  Yikes! Talk about getting tired!  It isn’t about my individual tolerance.  It’s about realizing how truly fortunate & blessed I am while learning how to pattern my life after this study.  I’m really grateful for this opportunity!

On the other hand……..I’m also glad I have Apple, my pup.  She eats all natural, preservative free canned dog food.  Her Sunday Brunch, Grandmas Casserole or Moms Turkey Dinner varieties may be tempting in 7 days!  LOLOLOL!

Blessings,

g

The 7 Experiment

Sunday began our new Connect Group Semester & honestly I can’t remember when I’ve been challenged this extensively.  I was feeling guilty/convicted for not doing the Daniel fast for the 12th year. Despite receiving phenomenal, clear-cut, precise directions from God every year, I can’t help but wonder if it had become ritualistic??  This is the fast I also use during the year when I need to make important decisions.  I firmly believe the Elevate Church Girlfriends book study of  “7 : An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess” will stretch me beyond my limits & empower me to become who I need to transition into. Initially I just wanted to read the book & not commit to the group. I’m very selfish about my Sunday evenings & wasn’t willing to give them up. I decided at the last-minute on Saturday to do this.  I can already tell relinquishing my next several Sundays will yield an unbelievable reward. The book doesn’t promote the age-old belief that the church needs to operate substandard or in poverty.  It promotes developing a relationship with God that is second to none.  He alone, not our things, will have priority in our lives.  

7What an amazing group we had  & it was only the first night!! Listening to everyone blessed me tremendously!! The study explores  7 areas  & each  requires a fast. Next week we begin the fast involving food. We have to choose 7 single foods & eat only those particular foods for 7 days. We all think we eat the same food over & over until it comes to actually doing so!  What would you choose??  Salt, pepper & olive oil are free!  So far I’m thinking chicken, eggs, spinach, grapefruit, rice, & honey. I’m stuck on #7.  I entertained using bacon for seasoning.  I LOVE bacon & have found some awesome nitrate & preservative free, uncured bacon, but I don’t eat it on a regular basis.  To add this for flavor would almost defeat the purpose of a fast!   I could switch grapefruit for a banana & peanut butter!  I’ve seen some cool recipes for pancakes using bananas & eggs.  Or I could make that Paleo multigrain bread I’ve recently gotten the recipe for &  skip the rice.  Like bacon, I don’t eat bread or rice on a regular basis either!  I can do this!! I’ve done the lemonade fast 3 times!! Decisions!! Decisions!  If these are the type of negotiations I’ll be making with myself over food, can you imagine the clothes fast?  The best part is, within the past several years, I’ve began practicing similar ideas & believe this study will solidify Biblical principles equipping me to more effectively mentor others.

I anticipate the results achieved by a determined group of women intentionally dedicating their minds, bodies, & possessions will be a force to be reckoned with!!

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.-Margaret Mead

This experiment, for me as a leader, is to reach the next level of responsibilities.  One of my fav scriptures comes to mind, “To whom much is given, much is required.” As I step into a new role, I believe God is stirring me to sharpen my skills.  I encourage you to read this book & if you conduct small groups, consider using it as a guide.  You will definitely not be disappointed.

Blessings
g

I think myself happy!

I recently enjoyed a conversation with a beautiful, brilliant, newly divorced friend.  We discussed many things, but the most significant conversation concerned  life & how it seems to be passing by without any joy, satisfaction or making memories.  Mere existence is simply not in my vocabulary!  I am a strong believer that life is what you make it. Granted, I can’t control whether someone runs a red light & crashes into me or a disease process takes it toll on my body.  I can, however, make sure I exercise wisdom, caution, & keen observation while driving.  I can also take care of my body including diet & exercise.

When mentoring, my opinion is humble & although it may not be taken seriously, I attempt to steer clear of it.  In doing so, I generally point to the Bible as my primary point of reference.  If I know a great historical example, I utilize them too.  During the above conversation I was immediately reminded of one of my favorite stories.  The Apostle Paul is one of my heroes next to David, Esther & of course, Jesus.  In this story Paul was captured, chained & tossed in prison.  The day came to stand before the King & what Paul said was profound.  Going back in history, it was prophesied that Paul would stand before Kings.  It didn’t allude to how he would be standing, but God would be glorified.  His statement in Acts 26:2 to King Agrippa was, “I think myself happy, King Agrippa, because today I shall answer for myself before you concerning all the things of which I am accused by the Jews.”  Regardless of his circumstances, Paul took responsibility & when the opportunity arose, he chose to think himself happy.

In our lives, we face circumstances that can steal our joy; render us paralyzed with fear;  & create anxiety by consuming our thoughts whereby dominating such emotions.  I could be wrong, but I haven’t seen anyone literally bound with chains & shackles.  Oh wait……I forgot!  This is exactly what our thoughts become.  See….it isn’t the circumstance that instills fear, but our reaction to the circumstance.  We have a choice.  Here is a simple example.  For years I volunteered as camp nurse at our state campground for  youth retreats or summer camps.  I loved this time &  there were always exciting challenges.  When my son, Bryce, was around two years old he discovered something fun.  Rhino Beetles.  I, on the other hand, was extremely afraid of them.  They were huge, ugly & I had absolutely no idea what their capacity was, but I knew I wanted nothing to do with them.  One day Bryce wanted to show me his catch.  When I saw he was carrying a Rhino Beetle, I immediately wanted to scream & run.  I knew my son well enough that if I showed this type of reaction, I would have Rhino Beetles in my bed!  Regardless of my fear & anxiety, my response, not my reaction,  was cool, calm & collected.  I shuddered after he left!   The beetles, my circumstance, had no idea I was freaking out.  We can respond appropriately or react in fear, anger or anxiety.  Paul had many valid reasons on numerous occasions to forsake his mission, yet he was a man with a determined purpose.

choosing to be happy is healthyEach choice we make requires energy.  We can expend our negative energy on fear, anger, or anxiety OR……we could devote the same amount of positive energy on faith, prayer, gratitude, confidence, hope & belief. Today I used an example from something the Apostle Paul did.  His choices became his legacy & continue to direct people on a daily basis.  YOU are just as valuable & capable of making significant choices.  The mind is the greatest battlefield.  Thoughts can be held captive or left to sabotage our lives. Either way we can direct the battleground. 

 It’s a choice.  In the end….I pray above all things that you think &  choose wisely! 

Blessings,

g

Kids & Self-Entitlement

After Christmas I began seeing quite a few blogs regarding the way we raise our children without creating brats or little humans displaying self-entitlement mentalities.  I found them very interesting & agreed with quite a few suggestions.

I have successfully raised two wonderful kids ages 25 & 36, both of which have children of their own.  When they were young I probably paid them for chores until I realized chores were a part of being a family. Everyone is responsible, pitches in & does their fair share or at least age appropriate fairness!  If there was a particular situation where they needed money for a project such as camp, I would suggest “working” for someone else or I would assign special chores in which I paid them for doing. I divorced when Summer was a senior in High School & Bryce was in first grade.  It was vital  to institute a plan that worked for everyone.   I will never forget when Bryce wanted to make money for something he deemed important & he created his own list.  Each contribution to daily chores were carefully calculated in cent values.  It was priceless!

When it came to gifts, I encouraged my kids to buy for parents, friends, etc.  When Summer was young, many of our gifts were handmade as we were very creative.  Bryce had the luxury of being raised as an only child after Summer married & had privy to all my spare change throughout the year.  He saved diligently & purchased gifts Christmas for friends / family.  Hearing his description of how good it felt to give to others is forever etched in my memories.

We were very involved in church & had many opportunities to sow into the lives of others.  These type of activities didn’t always include monetary donations, but rather time.  At one time, Summer & I were both enrolled in Bible School.  After my graduation I went on staff as the assistant administrator of the Bible School.  One of my duties included being the program director for community outreach & Saturday Sunday School was one of our largest ministries. On Saturday mornings, throughout the city, several student groups would host meetings with children of all ages.  We had praise & worship, played games, performed skits, offered time for them to ask for prayers & salvation.  We fed them lunch & left with indescribable feelings of love & gratitude for having the opportunity to serve such precious kids. I was a clown!  Of course I was! It was the greatest, most uninhibited freedom ever!  Summer was responsible for a group of her own. Every other weekend Bryce accompanied me & participated in every activity.  In addition to Saturday Sunday School, Bryce & I accompanied a group that visited a local Boys & Girls Clubs each week.  Our time was consumed with being others focused. One Saturday we blitzed a neighborhood where we would begin a new group.  Our conversation afterwards, describing his observance of the people we talked to that day, is another etched memory.  You see……we must give our children the chance  to understand how they can make a difference & in doing so they become extremely grateful for what they have.  

The Bible compares our children to arrows in the hands of mighty warriors.  Why do we feel like we are not giving them enough & continue to stress over it?  Arrows pierce.  Our children can & should be the greatest force in the world around them armed with confidence, validation, courage & purpose. Instead…..we allow the world to pierce or wound their little spirits.   ALL THE TIME I hear how people want to give their children things they never had.  Let me ask you some questions?

  • What kind of adult are you?  Responsible?  Irresponsible?  Complacent?
  • Do you work & provide for your family?  Do they have the basic needs – food, clothing & shelter?
  • Are you concerned about their well-being?
  • Are you protective of their associations?

As you ponder these, please think about what was so horrible as a child & what you didn’t have that fuels this drive to over produce for your children.  Going without “things” often creates a sense of determination to succeed & easily recognize the needs of others. Not having adequate supervision often creates a sense of responsibility & concern or protection for others.  The struggles you feel you had as a child could have affected the adult you are now.  I was raised on a farm & we pretty much had to be self-sufficient.  I worked during the summer helping my daddy with the crops.  I couldn’t do any activities until I completed my responsibilities.  My mom sewed our clothes, canned/preserved food for the winter, & we raised our own animals for meat / dairy consumption. When friends stayed over, they helped too.  Please evaluate what was so terrible about your childhood?  Chances are you are extraordinary & I’m confused as to why you won’t allow your children to develop the same amazing qualities.  In providing a hand out to our children instead of a hand up, we alter their ability to discover who they really are & what they’re capable of accomplishing. The result of producing clones mimicking the world around us is very frustrating. How many times have you told your children how ungrateful they are?  Why are they? Don’t get me wrong. I have seen some children who have been given every opportunity to show gratitude & simply won’t.  I was determined to help my kids discover & practice gratitude. Here’s a story!  Once we pulled in a drive through window at Burger King & as soon as Bryce got his kid’s meal he pitched a fit.  Not over the food!  He was mad because he already had the toy he just received in his meal.   At that moment I reminded him his behavior of being ungrateful was unacceptable & has just cost him the privilege of getting kids meals for quite a while.  When I finally allowed him to order them again, he never once pitched another fit!  We created a basket to collect duplicate toys & donated them to toy drives.  Again…..giving to others.

We, as adults, have self entitlement attitudes in in-quantifiable magnitudes.  Remember…..from the second we enter the world as an infant it’s all about us.  We’re hungry & we cry.  We’re wet/dirty & we let the world know.  The world revolves around us because our nature dictates so.  As we grow, we develop a learned behavior that quite possibly there are others who have needs as well.  This is a hard revelation for some!  I won’t begin to list the growing number of adults in our nation who continue to believe the world revolves around them & demand everything. We have a tendency to scold our children for being ungrateful or unappreciative, but in reality……they could be mirror images of who we are.

ImageI encourage you to chart a new course for 2014.  Find community opportunities that will allow you & your children to participate in serving others together.  Before getting new toys, have them give toys away to others. Instead of you throwing them in a trash bag & dropping them in a donation station, have them sort, pack & actively give them away.   Involve them in local seasonal activities such as Angel Tree gifts, back to school, Easter, etc.  Allow them to help you prepare meals.  They learn to appreciate the time & effort spent on your behalf to provide something for them to eat.  Suggest making meals for shut-ins & allow them to help you prepare it & accompany you with the delivery.  They can create the artwork for get well / thank you cards & have them write letters or cards to our military serving away from home.  Perhaps you could participate in a group clothing swap.  Instead of you spending time purchasing teachers gifts, involve them in making gifts from the heart!  When you financially prepare for sending your children to summer camp, provide a scholarship on behalf your child to assist with tuition for another child to go. Be sure to involve you child in making the money to do so!  I’m sure there are unknown hundreds of ways to accomplish your new course. Please feel free to share ideas, projects or technics you practice with your children.

Our children are only in our care for a few short years & the cycle they continue is critical. My childhood responsibilities on the farm has made me very independent & appreciative of my ability to embrace the natural basics of life with minimal transition.  I used to tell Bryce I wasn’t raising just him, but I was raising a father & a husband.  What I did may not have made sense to him at that time, but prayerfully it would later!  Today, I am so very proud that he is an extremely responsible father & husband!  The creativity I used to involve Summer in has paid off with undeniable dividends!  Over the years we have done some unbelievable projects & just spent New Years Eve creating our own whipped body butters, toothpaste, day/night creams, room sprays, shampoo & etc.  She is one of the most giving, talented & resourceful women I know.  As a single mom, I never felt I did enough & I certainly wasn’t a perfect mom.  I felt like a failure on so many levels I can’t even describe them. Somehow….my kids were resilient & are amazing!

At this point in my life, I feel beyond accomplished.  You can’t measure it materialistically, but that isn’t always what counts.  There is one thing you & your children are entitled to…. this feeling & living a life dedicated to serving humanity!

Blessings,

g

Regarding your children. The days might be long, but the years are short. – Andy Stanley

Perspective

The majority of my employed life was spent working in the medical community receiving hourly wages.  I could work for my hospital, a staffing agency,  nursing strike or travel assignments, & Per Diem.  There were always ways to increase my income by trading my time for money. As a single parent,  I did it all.  It was exhausting, stressful & unpredictable.   I am now employed hourly, but there’s only one avenue of making money.  Granted I have zero stress compared to nursing, work only one job, & can pretty much predict my yearly schedule. This was a welcome change.

I work at the divisional level of a well known non-profit organization.  As you can guess, there have been decreases in government funding, donations, etc. which naturally creates challenges.  Each year we have performance reviews, but our raises aren’t based on this.  I used to get frustrated when we received a 4% raise. Then my friends began having their hours cut, placed on furlough, or even lost jobs. I’ve witnessed families suddenly have to learn how to live on one income — what every single parent has endured.  In a sense it’s heartbreaking & at the same time I must applaud my single friends who’ve continued to make tough choices.  This year we received a 2% raise. Funny how perspective changes & instead of frustration, I am thankful for a job.  I realize my faith is not in a J.O.B. & because of recent events, I know all too well I should never be 100% dependent on one.

It is sad that the majority of the people in our nation practices what our government just instituted. The splendid example of raising their debt ceiling by using credit. What was America about to do??? Default on debt? Yea, that makes perfect sense!!

I strongly encourage to do whatever it takes to act your wage, live within your means, get out debt, & develop alternate streams of income. Here are some simple examples to help:

  • For one month save & record every receipt from every purchase.  Yes EVERY one!  Regardless of how small or even if it’s a vending machine purchase, write them down or save them.  At the end of the month, have an open mind, review those purchases  & determine what areas can be cut out.  One of my fav scriptures says, it’s the little foxes that spoil the vine!  My paraphrase of course, but you get the drift!
  •  If you have single parent friends, schedule some time with them & observe what they practice to thrive while others can’t breathe.
  • Participate in a financial class & learn how to reduce monthly expenses, pay off current debt & prepare for unforeseen circumstances.  My church offers Dave Ramsey’s course, Financial Peace University as a Connect Group.  I love hearing the stories of how marriages are restored, debt is eliminated & lives are completely changed by simply obtaining different information.
  • Mentor with someone who is financially stable, allowing them to speak into your life concerning changes, & adhere to their advice.  Adhere is the key word!
  • Teach your children to do the same.  This cyclic behavior pattern of debt has to stop. Changing a nation begins with individual families!
  • Last, but most importantly, follow Biblical examples.  Prepare for a rainy day.  Joseph led the people to prepare in famine & minister to others.   The Hebrew children cast their bread (seeds) on the water that after many days it would come back to them.  What happened?  They wandered & when they came to a certain place there was grain waiting on them to harvest & make into bread.  Quite prophetic, but that happens when we prepare. Why shouldn’t we practice the same principles?

Perspective changes many things around us.   During one of the worst times in my life, I enrolled in a program offered by my workplace. I met bi-monthly with a case manager, attended monthly life skills classes & managed my financial affairs for the first time ever.  I had enrolled in computer school a few months earlier & during our career development course, I had to create a projected yearly budget. Until that time, I’d never created an actual budget.  I realize that can be embarrassing to admit, but I can because I’ve changed!  To date that program is still the most significant discipline I’ve practiced.  After that, I immersed myself in personal development & continued to make necessary changes in every area of my life.

What the enemy intends to destroy us, God will & does ultimately use for our good.  If you are frustrated, I pray you gain a different perspective.  When I changed my attitude, thinking, associations & expectations, things changed around me.

As everyone gears up for ritualistic New Years Resolutions, why not incorporate & practice slight edge principles that will actually resolve problems? Better yet, in doing so YOU can then mentor others!

Blessings,

g

The Reign Is Gone

This has been on my mind for the past couple of days & I know I have to get it on paper! I know it’s not paper, but you know what I mean!  LOL!    In 1999 I left a place of association I had been an integral part of for 13  years.  As I drove away toward home, this song immediately began playing in my mind:

I can see clearly now the rain is gone. I can see all obstacles in my way.Gone are the dark clouds that had me blind.

It’s gonna be a bright (bright) bright (bright) sunshiny day.

Oh yes, I can make it now the pain is gone. All of the bad feelings have disappeared. Here is the rainbow I’ve been praying for.

It’s gonna be a bright (bright) bright (bright) sunshiny day.

Look all around, there’s nothing but blue skies.

Look straight ahead, there’s nothing but blue skies.-Jimmy Cliff

I didn’t understand it at first until I heard a small, still, voice clarifying the difference.  Reign, not rain was the reference.  The reign of man. Unrealistic dedications, impure motives, self-promotion, fear & even sin.  For years I had served selflessly & tirelessly, yet felt like something wasn’t right.  At that moment I realized I was finally free from the lordship / reign of man. The cloud that hindered my true judgement was blown away & over the next several years I respected Christianity as it should be.

ImageWhy is this memory surfacing lately?  In mentoring single adults, I recognize how easily our judgement is impaired / clouded when it comes to wanting to be accepted, affirmed, included & loved.  We allow a person or relationship to exercise an undeserving reign over our conscious decisions & actions.  One day we look in the mirror & suddenly realize we don’t even recognize ourselves, much less how we’ve gotten to this place.  Please understand, all relationships are not like this.  Healthy relationships nurture, protect, provide, serve, heal & constantly bring out the best in one another. I am referencing defiled, volatile, poisonous relationships where the victim is vividly aware things are awry. It’s as if they are looking through a glass as it’s pouring rain & only seeing a blur of  their former selves or what is possible for them to enjoy.

Hopeless? Never!  The steps back may not be the easiest path to take, but they can & will lead to the freedom you so desire. To date, the emotions I felt during that drive home are as real as me sitting in front of my computer blogging!  Once you discover a way out of the fog, you’ll be very discerning & cautious not to allow yourself in becoming ensnared again! Like one of my favorite scriptures, “Christ has set us free to live a free life. So take your stand! Never again let anyone put a harness of slavery (bondage) on you.” – Galatians 5:1

If this resonates even slightly with you, I encourage you to perform a self-evaluation & talk to a mentor.  Necessary changes will probably involve choosing different associations.  Turn around, pack up & walk away as quickly as possible without looking back.  Surround yourself with forward thinking, like-minded individuals who will speak life & wholeness into your future. I promise……..before you know it, you will be that person bringing hope to others.  The only memory you will reflect upon will be the sweet sensationalism of freedom!

I’ll leave you with a scripture from Job. Most of us know what he endured for complete freedom & restoration!  Understand above all else, his restoration was worth the stand he took to attain it.

You’ll take delight in God, the Mighty One,
    and look to Him joyfully, boldly.
You’ll pray to Him and He’ll listen;
    He’ll help you do what you’ve promised.
You’ll decide what you want and it will happen;
    your life will be bathed in light.
To those who feel low you’ll say, ‘Chin up! Be brave!’
    and God will save them.- Job 22:28

Blessings,

g

it’s just a light bulb!

I am so beyond excited for the latest endeavor in the area of ministry involving single adults.  I have started a Divorce Care Program though my amazing church as a Connect Group & community-wide outreach.  When I divorced 19 years ago this type of support group was probably not unheard of, but just not available in my area.  Falling in love with reading & being hungry to learn as much as possible about relationships, dating, etc., has helped me tremendously.  The #1 asset has been counseling other singles.  I learned to minister through my own pain, rejection, & inferiority.  You’ve probably heard the statement that if we wrote our problems on a piece of paper, put them in a stack to trade with others, we would happily take ours back.  Each story I hear reminds me of the redemptive grace of God & makes me realize just how far I’ve come in the season of singleness!  I’ve branded the name of the group journE³y focusing on the goals to encourage, empower & equip single parents.

Recently I sat with a friend who’s in the process of divorce.  It’s fresh, painful, overwhelming & just downright not fair. I am a well-adjusted, single woman, yet I have a personal vendetta against divorce.  While listening (key factor here!), I realized it doesn’t matter how educated, christianated (yes, I know that isn’t a word, but….you get the gist), successful or strong-willed someone is, when the heart & soul (mind, will, emotions) are involved we become vulnerable.

We daily live our lives unconsciously.  There are actions we do & never realize they’re being done until it’s totally our responsibility to perform them all.  Trash, clogged drains, yard maintenance, pool upkeep, & the simplest thing of all, replacing light bulbs.  When a parent has to factor everything that was done as a team to now being done solely by them, the slightest infraction can be the straw that breaks the camels back.  I picture a child afraid of the dark who is lying in their bed envisioning each bedroom accessory coming to life with monstrous teeth & claws hovering to consume the frightened child.  The fear of the unknown is gripping & can paralyze.  One day everything is manageable & the next it brings a flood of tears to our eyes imagining how we will fit this into our schedule.

The maintenance issues can’t even begin to compare to the psychological impairment divorce brings to a child.  Rejection, confusion, insecurity, separation anxiety, uncertainty, &  more. Children are resilient, yet these emotions can scar a child & affect future relationships.

If you’re a single parent, I applaud you with tremendous respect & affirmation.  If you’re a married couple who have single parent friends, step up & offer assistance.  A note of warning, don’t let their stubborn facade of “everything’s fine” stop you.  Our church practices & encourages performing ARK’s.  Acts of Random Kindness have secured new, tremendous friends for me since we’ve promoted it.  Examples could be from something small like changing light bulbs to making sure you invite them to dinner with your family.  I will not regress at the numbers of times I prayed someone, anyone would just invite my son & I to dinner after church that never happened.  I finally stopped praying & began inviting other singles to join me.  While this is awesome to form community, it also creates isolation.  A single parent was once a family unit & sometimes, it just feels good being surrounded by family.  One of our connect groups is family game night.  This was the one I chose to attend last semester & I can’t tell you how much I gained from those amazing weeks of association.  Besides becoming obsessed over the game, Taboo, the relationships are priceless.

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Life isn’t merely a destination, but who you become in the….

Blessings,

g

Buried–Parable of the Talents

There’s some things going on that I’d like to touch base with you about.  Have you ever gotten to a place in life where you’re not really bored, but feel a change is stirring?  I’ve learned to pay attention to these stirrings & entertain what they may entail.  During my years as a nurse, this generally meant I had to learn something involving new skills, areas of expertise or simply a change with the floor I worked on.  Each step brought me increase, not only financially, but in self-confidence & self-esteem.  However, these changes often required being uncomfortable or stepping outside of my comfort zone.  Later on I would mentor, precept & train others through the same processes with great intrinsic satisfaction.  I have a life motto– Never simply learn something for yourself, learn something well enough to teach it!!  Whether it takes devoting 10,000 hours or daily slight edge adjustments, do it!

Within the past few weeks I’m finding myself at the threshold of the familiar feelings.  Restless, indecisive, contemplative.  I admire John Maxwell & his wisdom & I’ve quoted him for years with this:

“People change when they hurt enough that they have to, learn enough that they want to, or receive enough that they are able to.” ~John Maxwell

I’m not sure what it takes for you to change, but any of those examples are amazing catalysts.  I’ve had a particular scripture resonate within my being to the point that I’m afraid I’ll miss the will of God if I miss changing.  Here it is:

Parable of the Talents

14“For it is just like a man about to go on a journey, who called his own slaves and entrusted his possessions to them.15“To one he gave five talents, to another, two, and to another, one, each according to his own ability; and he went on his journey.16“Immediately the one who had received the five talents went and traded with them, and gained five more talents.17“In the same manner the one who had received the two talents gained two more.18“But he who received the one talent went away, and dug a hole in the ground and hid his master’s money.

19“Now after a long time the master of those slaves came and settled accounts with them.20“The one who had received the five talents came up and brought five more talents, saying, ‘Master, you entrusted five talents to me. See, I have gained five more talents.’21“His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful slave. You were faithful with a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.’

22“Also the one who had received the two talents came up and said, ‘Master, you entrusted two talents to me. See, I have gained two more talents.’23“His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful slave. You were faithful with a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.’

24“And the one also who had received the one talent came up and said, ‘Master, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you did not sow and gathering where you scattered no seed.25‘And I was afraid, and went away and hid your talent in the ground. See, you have what is yours.’

26“But his master answered and said to him, ‘You wicked, lazy slave, you knew that I reap where I did not sow and gather where I scattered no seed.27‘Then you ought to have put my money in the bank, and on my arrival I would have received my money back with interest.28‘Therefore take away the talent from him, and give it to the one who has the ten talents.’

29“For to everyone who has, more shall be given, and he will have an abundance; but from the one who does not have, even what he does have shall be taken away.30“Throw out the worthless slave into the outer darkness; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

Worthless! Yikes!  I never want to be referred to as this! He admitted to being afraid & there are probably many more explanations as to why he buried the one talent.   I don’t want to bury what God has carefully orchestrated for me to gain knowledge of!  At this juncture I feel like example #2 in having learned enough to want change. This doesn’t mean I’ve arrived by any stretch of the imagination!  I’m ready to stretch my faith, stack new knowledge on wisdom & embrace the new.  Better still…….multiply the talents entrusted to me!

ImageWhat’s going on in your life?  Are you stuck?  Which of the catalysts for change is screaming your name? YOU  possess more talent than you probably care to admit.  Others could benefit by you exhibiting courage enough to step out & change!   One of my favorite men recently said, “I don’t mind getting stuck in traffic; don’t get stuck in life. – Bob Goff”

Bury the things worthy of forgetting & utterly leaving behind– excuses, self-sabotage, insecurities, fear, doubt, unbelief & others opinions.

Blessings,

g

Lessons Learned

Wow!  I’m so far behind in posts!  I have some notes saved to write, but I chose this to be the first!  In a world of best practices, advice, personal development, & etc., this pretty much sums up what I believe!  I respect this lady immensely!!

We could read & meditate on one daily & start over through the rest of the year!

Always remember lessons are invaluable, but your life is beyond even more that to someone!  YOU make a difference!

Blessings,

g

 

45 Life Lessons & 5 to Grow On by Regina Brett , a columnist for The Plain Dealer, Cleveland, Ohio.

1. Life isn’t fair, but it’s still good.

2. When in doubt, just take the next small step.

3. Life is too short to waste time hating anyone.

4. Don’t take yourself so seriously. No one else does.

5. Pay off your credit cards every month.

6. You don’t have to win every argument. Agree to disagree.

7. Cry with someone. It’s more healing than crying alone.

8. It’s OK to get angry with God. He can take it.

9. Save for retirement starting with your first paycheck.

10. When it comes to chocolate, resistance is futile.

11. Make peace with your past so it won’t screw up the present.

12. It’s OK to let your children see you cry.

13. Don’t compare your life to others’. You have no idea what their journey is all about.

14. If a relationship has to be a secret, you shouldn’t be in it.

15. Everything can change in the blink of an eye. But don’t worry; God never blinks.

16. Life is too short for long pity parties. Get busy living, or get busy dying.

17. You can get through anything if you stay put in today.

18. A writer writes. If you want to be a writer, write.

19. It’s never too late to have a happy childhood. But the second one is up to you and no one else.

20. When it comes to going after what you love in life, don’t take no for an answer.

21. Burn the candles, use the nice sheets, wear the fancy lingerie. Don’t save it for a special occasion. Today is special.

22. Overprepare, then go with the flow.

23. Be eccentric now. Don’t wait for old age to wear purple.

24. The most important sex organ is the brain.

25. No one is in charge of your happiness except you.

26. Frame every so-called disaster with these words: “In five years, will this matter?”

27. Always choose life.

28. Forgive everyone everything.

29. What other people think of you is none of your business.

30. Time heals almost everything. Give time time.

31. However good or bad a situation is, it will change.

32. Your job won’t take care of you when you are sick. Your friends will. Stay in touch.

33. Believe in miracles.

34. God loves you because of who God is, not because of anything you did or didn’t do.

35. Whatever doesn’t kill you really does make you stronger.

36. Growing old beats the alternative – dying young.

37. Your children get only one childhood. Make it memorable.

38. Read the Psalms. They cover every human emotion.

39. Get outside every day. Miracles are waiting everywhere.

40. If we all threw our problems in a pile and saw everyone else’s, we’d grab ours back.

41. Don’t audit life. Show up and make the most of it now.

42. Get rid of anything that isn’t useful, beautiful or joyful.

43. All that truly matters in the end is that you loved.

44. Envy is a waste of time. You already have all you need.

45. The best is yet to come.

46. No matter how you feel, get up, dress up and show up.

47. Take a deep breath. It calms the mind.

48. If you don’t ask, you don’t get.

49. Yield.

50. Life isn’t tied with a bow, but it’s still a gift..

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