07 August 2009

more resolute pt. 2

2. read at least one book every month

so how have i done on this one? well, like most, i started off pretty well and began reading immediately. however, i started reading several books at one time. that didn't work out so well. i didn't feel like i was getting anywhere with them and had a hard time really digging into each one. i had no focus and was not gaining anything from them. so i ended up taking a break, not on purpose but a break nonetheless. i started up reading again a month or two ago. i'm almost finished with my second book. i've learned that keeping a book with me at all times and making specific times to read has really helped. in my current position, i have some "dead" time between clients where i may just be sitting in the car waiting. having a book to read makes me feel like i am using my time productively. i feel like it also helps me focus on my next task by keeping my mind going and alert, even if the book has nothing to do with the job.

i also make time to read something more spiritually fulfilling before bed as part of my quiet time. even if i am tired, i read a few pages at least. it helps me to sleep better by clearing my head of work and worries (as does prayer before bed). so right now i am reading one book at night and something more recreational during the day. i am feeling pretty good about this goal even though i didn't not get off to such a good start. i was able to come up with a better plan and it is becoming habit. yay! it is encouraging to be able to follow through with developing a new habit even if it is only reading books. and really, it is something i am enjoying more and more as i continue. i find myself watching less tv and spending more time exercising my brain because i am hooked on a story or wanting to learn more. it is a good feeling.

so what am i reading now? check out my books to see. i just finished The Giver by Lois Lowry and it was an intriguing read, forcing me to continue thinking about the book long after i was finished reading it.

06 May 2009

more resolute

so it is the beginning of august. the year is officially half over. it has been 7 months since most of us have pledged to reach some sort of goal by the end of the year. i was just thinking that this would be a good time to check in and see how everyone is doing with those. with roughly 5 months left in the year, there is still time to catch up if you have been slacking lately so now is the time to evaluate. have you been working on reaching your goals? if not, why not? did you have a plan? is it working? maybe it is time to change it up a little. is anyone holding you accountable? that is a very important part of meeting goals and if you don't have that, consider this your wake up call and a friend saying, it's time to get back on track.

i set some goals, or "new year's resolutions," for myself at the beginning of the year. some of them were quite ordinary while others were more for fun and possibly enrichment.
  1. lose 15 lbs by eating healthier and working out 3-4x/week
  2. read at least 1 book every month
  3. get out of credit card debt
  4. find a new and satisfying job
  5. become ambidextrous
i'm doing well with some of these and not as well with others and if i'm going to talk about being accountable, i need to share my struggles. so for today, well tackle number 1.

1. i have currently lost almost nothing. that is pretty pathetic after 7 months. i have been at a point where i was close to my goal weight but then it shot up again and i am back to where i started. but it is to be expected since i am not working out. i started off the year being consistent as most people do and then i just let it go. i have been eating healthier but on a very inconsistent basis. i go through phases where i only buy healthy foods and stick to a good plan of moderation. but then, for reasons that range from stress to needing to be cheap, my healthy regimen goes down the drain. i really have given in too much and not been hard enough on myself. or maybe it isn't about being tough on myself but more about being good to myself. when we become unhealthy, we are only hurting ourselves in so many ways. those snacks that we give in to aren't really being easy on ourselves or making us happier than the healthy foods. they make us sluggish and overall, more miserable with ourselves, making it more difficult to get where we want to be. they may be what we are craving in that minute, but later, we feel gross and look in the mirror and don't like what we see. that can either get us motivated to get back on track or hopelessness settles in and we decide we can never make a change. ugh.

so how can we beat the cravings? some say you should let yourself have some of the things you want but in small amounts. i find that if i give in at all i have no control to stop where i should. it needs to not be in the house period. control for me needs to start at the grocery store. we shouldn't buy it for ourselves, for anyone else in the house, or let them buy it for us. accountability with the people we live with is a very important part.

but there is still another part, and that is the work out part. i have not consistently worked out since i was in college. i did then because the gym was free and right out my back door. i also had friends that went with me to keep me motivated. things are a little different now. if you want to go to the gym you have to pay, get in the car and drive over there and back when you are finished. i suppose i was just spoiled. i need to look at it as a matter of life and death. paying money for my health and taking extra time to work on it should be worth it. it should be a priority. and if i want to get really serious about it, it is part of being a good steward and taking care of what God has given me.

so how can i make this goal more attainable? how can i break it down so the plan works? setting more specific objectives for myself would keep me focused. so, my first objective for being a good steward of my health/body is to stick to the list at the grocery store. the second will be to put on my walking/running shoes everyday when i get home from work and get outside. (i'll explore the gym option later.) hopefully this specific plan will yield some results.

but i also can't help but think that all of this is something that truly starts with a change of mindset, a change of heart. it should be something i believe is important. so i think about the things that are important to me...my relationship with God, my family/friends, living a life of love and passion for others... maybe i should start seeing my health in relation to these things. i think we all agree that being healthy is part of being a good steward but what does that really mean? our bodies don't work well when we don't eat well and get exercise. i could go into how nutrition and exercise affect our brain and overall function of the body but to keep it simple, when we don't eat right and do not exercise we become tired, irritable, and even depressed. how can i live my life in a way that is pleasing to Him when i don't even feel like getting out of bed? no matter what is going on in my life, i would be able to see God in the moment if i was healthy and focused rather than clouded with depression. i would be more effective in my job even if i was frustrated with it. i would be more passionate about life and sharing more love with my friends/family.

so, for me, i know being healthy is something that i need to pray about and see it as a direct connection to how i live my life for the Lord. i need to have a desire to be healthy in mind, spirit, AND body. they are all connected to each other. i think that seeing it in this way will help me to be more motivated to reach my goals of attaining a more healthy weight and an overall standard of healthy habits in my life. so my last objective is to pray about my health and continue to be resolute in making connections with my quality of life and relationships and my physical health.

(more thoughts on my resolutions to come...)

02 April 2009

so much more

so i haven't written yet this year. it has been over 3 months since my last post. i was trying to figure out why and decided it was time, as i turn 28 today, to write it out and post it up.

i have been sort of busy over the last several months. not always busy like i was before with work and everything, but busy with life. i have spent a lot of time in front of my computer but no time writing, no time expressing myself or really sharing what i have been experiencing, the good or the bad. i mean, things have been down right awful at times; i've had a relationship end, gone/am going through financial hardship (as many are), been unemployed, totaled my vw (my baby), and my parents are moving to texas. with all of that, there is no reason why i should not have been sharing about God's love, mercy, grace, protection, and provision in my life. i have so much to say. why wasn't i writing about it? it was not like writer's block. i knew what i wanted to say, i just didn't. it was as if i was afraid of something.

so what am i afraid of, what am i not sure of? i think it goes back to what i was writing about in my very first post, about being a bit of a perfectionist. but it is more than that right now. i've had this idea that until i have all my problems figured out, i can't share them with you. why? well, because then i can't be used to help you fix yours. i've felt that i need to have it all together in order for God to be able to use that situation or even me. and that's not true. He uses the messed up, the broken down, the beaten up, the weak and the weary. there is a difference between having it all together and trusting God to keep it together, being a wreck but giving it to Him and moving on.

i think what i've always known and need to remind myself constantly about Him and all of this is that it's not about being perfect or having it together in order to be used. if we waited for that to happen, we would never have a chance to do anything for God. it's about giving it over to Him, giving Him control of the situation and all of your worry, so that you can be open to being used and share your peace with others. when victory comes, we can share that too, but life isn't just about troubles and victories, there is so much more. the difficult part is how you handle the battle and that is what i have neglected to share in some of my most struggling times. i don't need to wait until i have the answer, i can write about my questions, difficulties, and how He is sustaining me, God will use all of that too.

so i have many things to write about looking at the next year of my life; things that God has blessed me with and things that i am still struggling with. i want to write about all of what i am learning and questioning, from relationships to finances, race, spirituality, anything. there is more to all of it than what i know, what i have been dealing with, and what i am searching for. so hopefully, in writing, i will get some feedback as well, knowing that i don't have it all figured out.

"great minds discuss ideas. average minds discuss events. small minds discuss people."
- eleanor roosevelt

16 December 2008

more to Christmas

finale, originally uploaded by sarahleia.

so have you ever had so many thoughts in your head that you just could not get anything out? i feel like that lately, i sound like that lately. i have thoughts about Christmas and what presents to buy, a burning desire for all of us to be more positive and thankful and "green", lingering thoughts about the election and the upcoming inauguration, stress about work, the economy and how to pay the bills, and even thoughts about color and issues of white and black that i face everyday at work. all of these are just running around in my head as if i had to figure them all out at once. i can't even keep them quiet long enough to read a chapter in a book. i suppose that is why i need to blog. perhaps i should not have let it go this long.

so why do we get so busy this time of year? why do things get so out of control, so out of focus? why are we always so stressed? what is really going on? am i stressed about Christmas or is Christmas just one more thing on my list? i went to see the trans siberian orchestra's Christmas concert on sunday evening at the verizon center. it was amazing. there was just something about it when they played their "O Come All Ye Faithful/O Holy Night." it gripped my heart and moved my soul. i know that sounds dramatic but it really was. it moved me as if i was standing there worshiping even though the others around me in the suite were drinking and having a good time and not at all in that mind set. i was able to have the same moment with God there that i had at the Christmas production at church the night before when i watched the wise men bring gifts to Jesus at the manger. the orchestra is amazing. i don't know if they are all born again or living to use their gifts for His glory, but they are only as good as they are because of Him and He will use them even when they are not aware of it. the presence of God can be anywhere, anytime, especially around this holiday season. so whether the lights are flashing, the violinist is flying across the platform, and there is fire shooting out of the stage or if there is only a simple manger with a single star shining above it, God is here and there is more to the message.

so why do we have such a hard time seeing it? why do we get so caught up in all the hustle and bustle if He really is all around and can use anything to speak to us? it is because we are not looking, our eyes and ears are not open. we are too busy worrying about the lights and the fireworks to notice the manger. the lights and the fireworks are great, like i said, He can use it all, He gave it to us. but we have to be able to see the manger beyond them, we can't get caught up in them. we can't get caught up in the shopping or the decorating or even the production at church that is all about Jesus. we have to have an open heart so that when he wants that moment to count, we are open to it. when we least expect it, in the middle of a party or in your car or at the mall, you have to be open to Him. i don't think i went to that concert thinking i would have a worship experience. but as i was feeling the music and began to sing the words in my head and really thought about what they meant to me, my soul swelled and Jesus met me there, just for a moment.

so what is the point, what is the more, what is the message? i hope that we can all know the true Jesus of Christmas this year. the Jesus that meets us where we are, in any moment and brings peace to our stress and provides in our time of need. we are all so busy and stressed with our lives right now, not just about Christmas, and He simply wants to remind us that He came and He is here. i hope that we don't get so caught up in all of Christmas that we forget to see Him in others and share what we have of Him with those that need it. it is a simple message and one that we hear probably every Christmas. but think about it a little differently this year, not as if we are being scolded again for what we did not do, but being reminded to look for more, more that we have been given for Christmas. this is a time when Jesus came to add love, peace, and joy to our lives. it is all around us, He came, He is here, this is Christmas.

23 November 2008

more cheer, more happiness, more hope

so i haven't written in a while. i've been sick and stressed and just so busy trying to keep up with life that has seemed to run away from me. most days i have just been working all day, out in the field and then in front of my computer as soon as i get home until late in the evening and then i am so exhausted i head straight to bed. it is not a very glamorous life. and even more so lately, it seems that things have just been out of my control in almost every aspect of my life. but in the midst of all of that, as i was decorating for christmas yesterday, i found myself being able to be very thankful for the small gifts i am given during the day, not necessarily of monetary value, but just the little things that make me happy, the things that lift my spirits. sometimes they come directly from a friend or they are just something i notice, but God knows the desires of our hearts right down to the little things we enjoy and He knows just when we need a lift. it is from those little things that i get my hope back. not from the gifts themselves, because that would not last, but the brief cheer and happiness they bring is usually enough to bring me out of my stressful state, even just for a moment, long enough to remember the true joy that i have that brings me hope for each new day. He can be seen in those little things no matter how trivial, ordinary, silly, or simple. He knows what we need and sometimes that is only something small to remind us to look to Him. those things are all around us in this world and the people we come in contact with.

so i started this list a very long time ago. it is a list of the things that make me happy and i decided i would share it with you. as you will see, it is about people, His creation, and simple things, all things i enjoy and things that remind me of joy and hope.

  • driving my car, no traffic, especially with other vdubs
  • riding with jeremiah, especially on a nice day, windows down (being driven by someone who knows how after driving myself around in traffic all day/all week long)
  • washing my car, having a clean car
  • laying under the stars
  • hearing the right song at just the right time
  • reading to children
  • finding the perfect gift
  • being at the beach
  • pedicures
  • studying, learning, science and experiments, reading science books, watching Myth Busters
  • graduations (and seeing people reach goals)
  • capturing the perfect photograph, this is fun to play with as well to find other good photos
  • being taken out on a date whether surprised or planned but having him do the decision making, ie. being taken out
  • campfires, toasting marshmallows
  • puppies
  • babies and children laughing
  • shoe shopping
  • breakfast food anytime of the day
  • slowing down with a friend in the middle of a busy day for lunch, coffee, or just a walk/talk
  • soft socks in winter
  • christmas decorations, lights, candles, red ornaments, and holiday smells
  • snow
  • miracles and seeing people doing genuinely nice things, big or small
  • having time with God outside under a tree on a beautiful day
  • naps on a rainy day, laying around watching movies
  • fireworks
  • having a creative project turn out just the way you pictured it in your mind
  • traditions among families
i hope that this helps to remind you of the little things in your life that can bring more happiness and hope to your day.

10 November 2008

more to what we do

i have worked at many jobs since my first position at the Jigger Shop in eleventh grade; everything from giving bra fittings and changing window displays to binding books, folding jeans, serving coffee, and caring for the most precious boys. but none of these jobs have given me the opportunity to touch so many families as my job as a family counselor. it is what i am called to do. it is the purpose i was given. in Romans 12:2 paul says, "don't copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. then you will know what God wants you to do..." this is what we do as counselors. we help families see things differently and then live up to their God given potential.

so i really didn't want to get up and go to work this morning. i don't want to go to work this week. it is going to be a busy one. so often, almost every day, i get discouraged about the paperwork and other little things that i need to do. i begin to think, why do i have to spend so much time doing all of this when i could be out there really helping people? when i get overwhelmed with the paperwork or the time i've wasted sitting in rush hour traffic i lose sight of the purpose of what i am doing. i become burnt out. why do i need to help all of these people when i have trouble in my own heart and pressure in my own life?

the truth is that we are all called to touch lives no matter what our job happens to be. we do this by living our lives with excellence, by doing things as if we are doing them directly for God himself. doing the little things in our jobs that we hate and doing them well is all part of living our lives with excellence. it is our worship. in doing this we can touch others when they see the passion and dedication in our lives, when they see that we do not simply work at a job but live to worship Him in all that we do, when they see that there is more to it.

i am having a hard time finding the right words to express just exactly how i feel. there are no words to express the passion that i feel for living our lives with excellence and passion to touch others, to show them the joy that we have when He has filled our lives. the point is, no matter what we do, whether sweeping floors, selling perfume, changing oil, or counseling families, we should do it, and all that goes with it, as worship to our God. it is up to each of us to figure out how we touch others in each of our jobs.

"for i live in eager expectation and hope that i will never do anything that causes me shame, but that i will always be bold for Christ... and that my life will always honor Christ... for to me living is for Christ..." (Philippians 1:20, 21)

for all of my friends that are feeling overwhelmed, burnt out, and maybe even wishing to be gone from all of this, i am praying for you. it is not always easy to stay calm and motivated every day. sometimes we just need to yell, cry, hit something, or just get away from it all. so do that, get it out with a friend, slack off for a moment, or take a little vacation, look into a new job if you need to, but then remember this...the life God gives is greater than any challenge of the mind or emotions. His strength is more powerful than the demands on our endurance to pull through trials and deserts. we are going to make it with His help and for that we can rejoice in Him in all we are doing in each moment.

24 October 2008

more joy, more purpose

the times I spent with my friends from church during my high school years were some of the best times of my life. i think back and sometimes i wish i could go back to those days when i'm sitting around on a the weekend after a long week of work. things were so much simpler. then again, we thought there was so much drama. it is difficult being a teenager when you are in it. when you grow up, problems like what classes to take or who likes who in the youth group or if you will have a date to prom seem very trivial. at that time, however, they were the world. summers were filled with fun, camps, the beach, car washes, bang ball, pranking, sleepovers, and just hanging out. these days, the summers seem very much like the rest of the year. we may have a week of vacation but all the other days are just regular. we worry about problems like how to pay the bills and if our lives are filled with purpose. and that is just it, that is the "more."

the struggle then is to find ways to enjoy life now, to enjoy the work we do, to see purpose in it, and to be in the will of God, not to get bogged down in all of the problems we face day to day. if we can find the "more," the hidden joy in the things we do or even the little things we haven't been doing that we need to add into our day, we do not have to live off of the joys of the past, which fade away. life can be so good minus the troubles we face. i'm glad that i have the memories of my years in youth group and all of the lessons i learned. i am also glad that i am living my life now surrounded by people that encourage me to fulfill my purpose and to live every moment with fullness.

to CrossPower, i miss you all and hope you are finding your way. thank you rev for guiding and teaching us and giving us a place to be teenagers looking for the real purpose.