Friday, November 27, 2009

I Need A Proper Hug

I go to the movies on rare occasions. Part of it is simply logistics and not wanting to do the solo thing. But every once in awhile I decide a movie looks good enough to go it alone.

Today, I went to see Blindside. It's a major show but is a bit like Facing the Giants. It was excellent. (Cannot believe I'm saying that about a football movie.) But, honestly, it is more than a movie about football. Football is the secondary story line. The first is about a family that makes one decision after another to walk out their faith in very real and practical ways. At one point, a woman says to Leigh Ann (the mom), "You're changing that boy's life." She corrects her. "He's changing mine."

There were lots of lines that struck me. It is probably worth a second viewing. But as I left the theater, I was struck by a line that happened mid way through the movie and was repeated later. The family is celebrating Michael's success. Leigh Ann says, "I need a proper hug."

Through out the movie, whenever Leigh Ann starts to get emotional, she says, "Alright then" and leaves to hide the tears. As she has to part from Michael at the end, she does it again. Michael is perplexed but then follows her to the car. She tries to be brusque, at first refusing to roll down the car window. When she finally does, Michael says, "I need a proper hug."

Good movie that makes you so glad Michael has someone to hug him.


Tuesday, November 24, 2009

I Think I'll Have Pie

Today on my way into work, I heard a discussion about Thanksgiving portions. The information given was correct. The stomach holds about two cups of food without stretching. That is about two handfuls. Hmm. Doesn't sound like a Thanksgiving feast? I could see where this would be a bit anxiety provoking for people who find comfort rituals. Thanksgiving has partly become about an elaborate spread. Partly is the key word.

The other part is the thankful part. That should probably be the biggest part.

Towards the end of last summer, I started taking a class through work called Healthy Weight Healthy You (HWHY). I lost a good hunk of weight. (Click here for info on that.) Erin Kennedy and Kim McClintic (the leaders) suggested starting with a goal of 10% weight loss. While I didn't quite achieve that, I was still pleased.

The last couple of weeks they have started a second session. I am thrilled to announce that today I hit 10%!

I could get a bit obsessive about it and think that come Thursday I really shouldn't eat. But that would just make me feel deprived. So, I am keeping what they have taught us in mind.

  • Don't go starving
  • Select a variety. Veggies are good but it doesn't all have to be veggies.
  • Watch the portion sizes. Just because you only get it once or twice a year doesn't mean you have to go overboard. Take a bit. You can go back for more if that didn't satisfy. But give yourself time to decide that.
  • A pound is about 3,500 calories. You would have to eat a ton and do absolutely nothing to do that much damage in a day. The real battle is more the day to day stuff or the treats between the holidays from Halloween candy to chocolate Easter bunnies. You cannot blow it in one day.
Kim talked about hidden fats and sugars today and ways to figure that out. I'm planning on making an apple pie (real apples that I have to peel and everything). Yes, it has sugar. I could try a substitute but since this is a very few (2-3) times a year treat, I think I'll stick to mom's recipe and enjoy.

All things factored in, 1 piece of pie won't undo my 10%!


Monday, November 23, 2009

So You Are In The Know

Today, I had two conversations about the device to the right. Neither person knew what I was talking about. I thought I'd share with you so that on Nov. 30th you would be in the know.

It is Nook. The management team at the Barnes and Noble where I work is adamant that it is simply "Nook." (To be fair, this is coming from corporate.) It is not a Nook or the Nook, just Nook.

Nook is an e-reader. It's a bit like the Kindle from Amazon. (But the people I talked to today didn't know about that either.) Basically, you wirelessly download books and read them on Nook. It's got a touch screen, nifty covers, over a million titles available, and you can even loan your ebook to other people who have Nook! Sorry, all of that beats Kindle.

It's been interesting listening to the buzz it has created. It doesn't debut in stores until Nov. 30th! Demand has outstripped all expectations without people even having a demo to play with in the stores. (The BN store I work at is leading the district in pre-orders.) On Saturday, I had a chance to pre-order it for a customer. I was a bit nervous. I wanted to make sure I did it all correctly!

I'm sure it is the wave of the future. I'm looking forward to seeing one, though it may take a bit for me to actually get one. Nook isn't in the budget at the moment. (No employee discount -- bummer!) Still, I am curious.

You can check it out at (click the picture -- it's a live link) or go into a store and any bookseller can tell you all about it. Either way, just tell them Amy sent you. Or not. They won't have a clue who I am. (But in case any BN management or corporate types are reading -- notice that I'm talking about it at my day job and not just in store and I'm even talking about it on the web!)

Now, you know. Nook is coming and you even know how to talk about it -- simply Nook.

I bet it makes it in the newest version of the dictionary next year.


Monday, November 16, 2009

I See You, I Hear You, I Love You -- Hope Chronicles 93

Sometimes -- okay, often times -- I struggle with crowds. I do okay if I have a specific task, but just hanging in big groups is so hard for me as it often makes me feel very alone. This even spills over into church at times. I watch people interact and connect and I wonder why I cannot seem to make those connections.

I've noticed lately that this has spilled over in my relationship with God. I've found myself feeling like I am just one in the crowd with God. Intellectually, I know that isn't true. However, sometimes it is so hard to past the feelings.

Alone. Lonely. I hate those words, but I've felt them so acutely the last several months. I've found myself pondering the first few chapters of Genesis. Everything is "good." When God creates Adam, it is "very good." However it then shifts because no suitable helper for Adam is found. God says, "It is not good for man to be alone." It is the only not good. So God creates Eve.

My plea with God has been that it is not good for me to be alone either. I don't mean just in terms of a mate but even in terms of friends and family. Being single, I get up alone, go to bed alone, eat 99% of my meals alone, and rarely have anyone ask, "How was your day?"

I feel unseen, unheard, unloved.

But God. (See this post for more on But God.) God doesn't always respond in our timing or the way we want. The Israelites were in slavery for hundreds of years. But God saw them. He heard the cry of His people. There are 400 years of relative silence between the Old and New Testament time periods. But God never forgot His people. He may have been waiting for just the right moment, but He saw them and heard them and loved them.

Recently I heard about a gathering to learn about orphans around the world put on by Life Song for Orphans. I also heard that one of my favorite people was going to be speaking. Lysa is from North Carolina. I emailed and said that I knew that she and Holly (another of my favorite people) probably had plans and such, but considering that they would only be 45 minutes away, if I could get off of work, I would drive up to hear Lysa speak. I got an email back saying they would love to see me and talked about dinner.

Going up, I tried to keep my expectations in check. Lysa would be busy with people wanting to talk to her after she shared her adoption story. Holly would be busy with Lysa's book table. I packed a book in my bag so I could sit and read.

But I didn't crack my book once! Holly greeted me enthusiastically and invited me to help at the table. Lysa was talking to someone, but as soon as she was done, she came over to greet me and hug me too. I sat with them during the program. I got to spend a bit of time with them at dinner.

The coordinator and two of the volunteers of the event also went to dinner. Lysa introduced me as her friend and briefly told how we had connected. She said, "I just love her to pieces."

I don't see Lysa and Holly much. We don't even connect through email even once every few months. I read Lysa's blog and such, so I keep up with her some. It just meant a lot to be named their friend and have the opportunity to connect.

I feel like God said, "I know you don't feel it at times, but I see you, I hear you, I love you. Now, here are two people to tangibly show you even if it is just a few hours." Never underestimate how much hope a kind word, a hug, or a few hours of fellowship can bring to a soul.

Lysa Terkeurst, me, & Holly Good


Thursday, November 12, 2009

Who Do You Do Life With?

I discovered Grey's Anatomy this summer. Yes, I know it has been on for a few years. I just never tuned in. The summer was perfect time for starting. I've actually found the original episodes and I'm slogging my way through those as well as the current ones.

I was touched by one of the early ones. A mom was giving birth to quints. They were very tiny and fragile. I think they lost at least one. Another was struggling. Meredith had the idea to put one of the weaker babies in the same incubator as one of the stronger ones. She said it was called "co-bedding" and hospitals sometimes did it with twins. No one knows why it helps, but that it does. Perhaps it has something to do with no being alone.

That episode was on awhile ago, but it has stuck with me. What things might get healed if we emotionally "co-bedded?" There must be a better way to say that. What if we got that close to one another so that we could heal from someone's strength.

It has actually had me thinking about the American idea of living as one family or one individual. We want children to grow up and move out of the house. We encourage independence. But what if we are missing something too?

When I lived in IN I lived with a family for three years. It was bit of an unorthodox situation. I paid minimal rent and while I wasn't a nanny, I helped out with the kids whenever I could. I ate with them when I could. If Dana cooked, I cleaned up. If she was cooking, I would take the kids outside to play. I ran errands. I kid sat. I made a weekly time to have "art" (used loosely because I am no artist) with 5 year-old Hannah. When Elizabeth turned 4, she wanted a butterfly birthday theme. I made a butterfly shaped cake with yellow icing and decorated with pastel M & M's by the birthday girl. On Sunday nights after the kids were in bed, Jerry and Dana and I met to talk and pray. We did life together.

Honestly, daily proximity helped. But what if we did life together more intentionally? I wonder what places in our hearts might find peace for a time and maybe healing.

Who do you do life with?


Monday, November 9, 2009

Holiday Spirit

If you are gaga about Christmas, you might not want to read this. You've been warned. But then, if you are gaga about Christmas, you might have some words of wisdom for me.

I'm not big on Christmas. No, I don't think that makes me Scrooge. Actually, I'm fine with everyone else being all Christmas. Generally, I try not to tear it down. I listen to people who are all excited, but I generally try to refrain from commenting. (Yes, this is an exception!)

I just think that the holidays are hard for a lot of people:

  • Maybe there is a loss associated with the holiday
  • Maybe they are lonely
  • Maybe it causes a lot of financial stress
  • Maybe they work retail where the holiday spirit is really more like a feeding frenzy and you ask someone if they want to donate to the holiday book drive and you get snarled at. (Not that anything like that has ever happened to me!)
  • Maybe people are far away from family
  • Maybe 100% Christmas music (30 different renditions of Jingle Bells in one day) just grates.
  • Maybe all the activity makes someone dizzy
  • Maybe things get lost in the shuffle
  • It could be any number of things
I wish I loved the holiday season. I really do. I'd love to be swept away by it. But then, I don't really get swept away by much.

I struggle with the holiday season, but I do love the meaning of it. I love the word Emmanuel, God with us. I learned once that literally it means that God pitched His tent among us. I love that idea. He made His home with us.

And I love that Jesus came in the dark of night. I love that His birth ended 400 years of relative silence from when the Old Testament ends and Jesus is born. I love that Jesus was born in a manger. Some of it is nostalgia from my horse riding days. I know that stables are smelly places, but there is a warmth there too. In terms of the big picture, a stable was a place where even shepherds could go unimpeded. Jesus came to the common man, not just the rich or the kings.

Mostly, I love what I imagine would have been a pause among all creation, when Jesus struggled into the world, and let out that first cry, and then was snuggled close. I love that Jesus knew comfort that way. I love that in the prodigal son, the father ran to hug his son. And though the cross was cruel, I love that Jesus chose to throw open his arms for all eternity because he wants to gather us close and never let go.

I struggle with the holidays for lots of reasons. But I love the meaning behind it. So, I'm praying that the peace of being held close to Jesus would prevail over the chaos and even the anxiety I am already beginning to feel.


Monday, November 2, 2009

But God -- Hope Chronicles 92

Yesterday, I posted "No But's." While there are no but's to God's truth, there is a time when but becomes a word of hope. it is when it is coupled with God. "But God . . . ."

The story that sticks out to me the most is the one of Jonah. It's nice and short, so you could easily give it a quick read. (Hint, hint.) Short version: God called Jonah to go and preach to the the city of Nineveh. Jonah turns and runs the other way. But God sends a storm to wreck havoc on the ship that Jonah is on. The sailors throw Jonah overboard to appease God. I'm sure Jonah thought he was going to die. But the Lord provided a great fish to swallow Jonah. Jonah was in the fish for 3 days. (Yuck!). When the fish spits him onto the shore, Jonah finally goes to preach to Nineveh. However, when the people repent, Jonah is even more angry. He stalks off into the desert. God makes a vine grow up to give him shade. However, the next day, it is eaten by a worm. Jonah is so angry he wants to die. But the Lord replied, "You have been concerned about this vine, though you did not tend it or make it grow. It sprang up overnight and died overnight. But Nineveh has more than a hundred and twenty thousand people who cannot tell their right hand from their left, and many cattle as well. Should I not be concerned about that great city?"

"But God" juxtaposes the difference between man and God. In Jonah it shows Jonah's shallow concerns and God's compassion on 120,000 people.

In other places it shows God's provision:

  • Genesis 45:7 "But God sent me ahead of you to preserve for you a remnant on earth . . . ."
  • Genesis 48:21 "I am about to die, but Godwill be with you."
  • Psalm 118:13 I was pushed back and about to fall, but the Lord helped me."
  • Acts 2:24 in regards to Jesus "But God raised him from the dead, freeing him from the agony of death, because it was impossible for death to keep its hold on him."
  • Acts 7:5 "He gave him no inheritance here, not even a foot of ground. But God promised him that he and his descendants after him would possess the land, even though at the time Abraham had no child."
It shows God's compassion:
  • 2 Samuel 14:14 "Like water spilled on the ground, which cannot be recovered, so we must die. But God does not take away life; instead, he devises ways so that a banished person may not remain estranged from him."
  • 2 Kings 13:23 "But the Lord was gracious to them and had compassion and showed concern for them . . . ."
  • Romans 5:8 "But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us."
  • 2 Cornithians 7: 6 "But God, who comforts the downcast, comforted us by the coming of Titus . . . .
It shows God's protection:
  • Psalm 64:7 "But God will shoot them with arrows; suddenly they will be struck down."
  • Psalm 14:6 "You evildoers frustrate the plans of the poor, but the Lord is their refuge."
  • Exodus 9:4 "But the Lord will make a distinction between the livestock of Israel and that of Egypt, so that no animal belonging to the Israelites will die."
  • Numbers 14:9 "Only do not rebel against the Lord and do not be afraid f the people of the land, because we will swallow them up. Their protection is gone, but the Lord is with us."
It shows that God hears us:
  • Pslam 66:19 "but God has surely listened and heard my voice in prayer."
It shows that God is not always what we expect:

  • 1Kings 19:11-12 Elijah is told to go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the Lord. There is wind, fire, and earthquake. "but the Lord was not in the wind . . . . but the Lord was not in the earthquake . . . . but the Lord was not in the fire." Elijah recognizes the Lord in the gentle whisper.

"But God" -- words of hope.


Sunday, November 1, 2009

No But's -- Hope Chronicles 91

Do you ever have times where you are unconsciously thinking something, where you are not really aware of the conclusion you've come to until it pops out of your mouth? I had that happen about a month ago. I was meeting with my counselor, Julie. It was a tearful session. Part way through, these words slipped out, "Why does God hate me?"

Julie didn't even pause. "What does the Bible say?"

"That God loves me, that Jesus died for me." Big sigh. "But . . . ."

Julie cut me off. "No but's"

Honestly, hadn't been aware that I had come to that conclusion. Maybe it wasn't even a full conclusion yet, but a whisper from Satan. "If God loved you, you wouldn't struggle so much. If God loved you, He would protect you. If God loved you, ____________."

However, even if it wasn't a full conclusion, I was more than willing to say "But" to the truth that God loves me.

"No but's" has stuck with me. There are no rebuttals to truth. Truth simply is. When we waste our time wrestling against truth, we are distracted, exhausted, unhappy, angry, . . . . There is no rest.

What do you have to say "No but's" to today?


Saturday, October 31, 2009

Impossible Is Not A Word

I am an optimist when it comes to other people. While I wish it wasn't so, I tend toward negative thinking when it comes to myself. This is what I tell myself:

  • "Things are never going to get better."
  • "I am always going to struggle."
  • "I can't do _________"
  • "Why can't I do __________ right?"

Everything is impossible for me. I recently heard What Faith Can Do by Kutless. One of the lines says, "It doesn't matter what you've heard, impossible is not a word. It's just a reason for someone not to try."

Jesus proves the validity of this statement. From man's point of view it was

  • impossible for a virgin to conceive a child
  • impossible for the dead to rise
  • impossible for a sinful man to find a find a way back to God.

Yes, all of that is impossible without God and a number of other documented things in the Bible.

Matthew 19:26 states "With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible."

So when I look at myself and say that something is impossible, I am in some aspects correct. But it also means that my vision has gotten near sighted because it is so far from true when I turn my gaze upon God.

What seems impossible to you today? Where are you looking?


Friday, October 9, 2009

The Customer Is Always Right

I deal with the public in both of my jobs. Generally, I enjoy it. I like hearing their concern or want and figuring out a way to fix the problem or make them happy. Most of the time it is a good thing. But I am learning that customers can be a bit demanding. Okay, VERY demanding. They have bought into the idea that the "customer is always right." Why shouldn't they? That's what we've all been told over the years.

Even if we face a zillion self doubts a day, when we are in consumer mode, we are more than happy to believe that we are always right. It sounds great to automatically be in the "winner's" chair.

But it isn't really that the customer (myself included) is always right. It's more that the store doesn't want to lose our business because in most places there is always some place else we can shop. And, yes, customers sometimes point that out.

While the idea may wrangle customer loyalty, "the customer is always right" idea probably hurts us more than it helps us. It spills over into relationships. It spills over into the church. In the good ole' USA, if the pastor offends us one week or the worship leader's hair is too long or they expect us to volunteer in the nursery or whatever, we can go down two blocks and over one and find another church where we can stay until . . . .

And I am coming to the conclusion that maybe the "customer is always right" idea even comes into play with God. Maybe God says, "No" or "Wait" or whatever. I cajole and remind Him that I am waiting patiently. Yes, sometimes I even remind Him that I am waiting when He says "No" because surely He will change His mind. (Taking neither in context, I focus on the story in Matthew 7 about the man knocking on his neighbors door until the neighbor gives him bread rather than the verse in Numbers 23:19 that says, "Is God a man, that he should lie? Nor a son of man that he should change his mind?")

Sometimes, especially at my day job, there really is nothing I can do. Customers do not like this. Often their volume starts creeping up. Sadly, sometimes my volume sometimes creeps up with God. Maybe shouting might get His attention. But then there is the fact that I have never lost His attention. So, maybe a pique of anger and stamping feet might work.

Sometimes, I have to accept that the customer or God's beloved child is not always right. While God can do anything, it may not always be best for me. Fits of anger take me two steps away from God, while saying "I still want it, but I want You more" puts me right on the lap of a Father who loves me.

But it is hard to do. Father, help me trust you to know what is best for me.


Thursday, October 8, 2009

The Elephant That Followed Me Home

Some people have cats and dogs follow them home. While I have cats and a dog, I picked each of them out and invited them home. They were not strays that followed me home.

Recently, I've come to the conclusion that a stray has followed me home. That might not be completely right. She's followed me not just home but from home to home. She's even followed me across state lines, to camp when I was in college, into graduate school, and on and on.

My stray is an elephant. After all these years, I should probably have a name for her. But I don't. Perhaps I should keep it that way. Like the proverbial elephant in the room, no matter how big she has gotten, I've tried to ignore her, pretend that she wasn't there. Largely, I haven't wanted to admit that she was there.

At least on one hand I have. On the other hand, I think I may have snuck her extra peanuts when the keeper wasn't looking. I've gone back and forth. The problem with that is that it has resulted in intermittent reinforcement. It's when an animal or even a person gets use to being rewarded for a certain behavior. Then, the behavior is asked for but no reward is forthcoming. It happens that way several times. Then, BOOM! The coveted reward is given. Psychologically, intermittent reinforcement is actually stronger than continuous reinforcement. The behavior can be elicited on the hope that a reward is forthcoming.

Many years ago, I heard a story about elephants. Evidently, when circus elephants are very young, a chain is put on their leg. They learn that they cannot break it. As they grow, the chain actually remains the same. As an adult, they could easily break it. But there is the catch. Because they have been conditioned from such a young age, they never realize that they are capable of breaking that chain. They unwittingly stay captive.

That elephant followed me home as early as grade school. I was a shy and socially awkward child. I was aware enough that I didn't have a clue as to how to relate to my peers that at the bus stop, on the bus, and every spare moment in class my nose was buried in a book. That continued into junior high and high school. But it grew.

In grade school, everyone went to lunch as a group. While I might have sat at the end of a table alone, you had to sit and eat. Tables were dismissed from the lunch room to that terrifying playground where I made occasional forays into hop scotch and four square or tag but more often than not, I found a spot to sit and read. In junior high and high school, the social pressure grew. Despite my mother's effort to provide a lunch (and she even asked what kind of sandwich we each wanted), I tossed that brown paper bag lunch rather than face the hostile lunch room territory. I retreated into an ever present book.

The elephant was that I was hopelessly inept at all things social, that no one would ever like me, that I was a loser.

Today, I can go into a restaurant and sit and eat alone. Though, I am typically armed with a book. I don't prefer it, but if I cannot find someone to go with me, I will even brave movies alone. (Too dark for a book there.) Put me in a purely social situation, even something as seemingly benign as church, and I may panic. Sometimes I hide it better than others. Sometimes I don't.

So, this elephant comes into play in two ways. She's followed me home, dogged me through life. (Sorry to mix metaphors or animals words on you, but it fits.) I've kept her fed with things like:

  • What a stupid thing to say.
  • You will never get this.
  • I cannot believe you messed up again.
  • Run, it simply isn't safe!
But maybe even more than that, I've believed that those chains are still there. Sometimes I try to look at truth, the things that God says about me. I am dearly loved child. But I think sometimes I put the emphasis on child rather than dearly loved. And child can offer up a connotation of helpless.

I'm not sure how, but the elephant needs to go. She needs to find a new home. Better yet, send her back from where she came. While she is comforting in her predictability, we would all be better off with her back there.

Not sure how you send an elephant packing, but maybe admitting the elephant is there, is the first step.


Tuesday, October 6, 2009


I totally understand the concept of forgiveness. I really do. However, I still find it a struggle. Do you?

Recently there was (what in my opinion) was a major mix up. I do understand that it really was a misunderstanding. But, it still hurt my feelings in a major way. I've forgiven, but I find that it still hurts. I've prayed about it and it still hurts. It still makes me want to cry.

Maybe it is like a physical wound. It may have been accidental, but it may still physically hurt. I'm not angry. Just hurt. I'm not quite sure what to do with that hurt. But maybe like a physically injury it will go away with time.

Any thoughts?


Monday, October 5, 2009

Contentment -- Priceless

I know you've seen them -- those commercials for Visa.
  • New shoes -- $20
  • New dress -- $75
  • New hairstyle with highlights -- $100
  • Memories to last a lifetime -- Priceless.

Visa has our number. If $200 can promise something that is priceless, and will last a lifetime, of course we are going to buy.

I'm posting today at the Internet Cafe. Click here to finish reading this post.


Monday, September 28, 2009

I Would Have Made a Good Pharisee -- Hope Chronicles 90

For some reason, my favorite Bible characters have been on my mind of late. They include Josiah and Peter and Esther to name just a few. I've found my self perusing those and other stories. But as I've been doing that, I've felt the this question tingle at the edges of my mind. I've kind of wanted to keep it at the edges, but as sometimes happens, God wanted me to look at it. What is the question?

Great characters of faith, but which person in the Bible are you most like?

Sigh. I'm not as brave like Esther. I don't know that my heart is as sensitive to God's word as Josiah's. Peter jumped into the water and swam to shore even after he failed Jesus. I would have cowered in the boat.

Yes, but who are you most like?

It took awhile and came with humbling conviction. The Pharisees. Sigh. I don't want to be like them.

In Jesus day there were several prominent groups. One was the Sadducees. (I differentiated them from the other groups by their name and belief. They didn't believe in heaven so that made them "Sad you see." I came up with that in high school, so cut me some slack.) Then there were the Pharisees. (They wanted everything "Fair you see.") They were the rule keepers.

Honestly, I think that initially the Pharisees started out okay. They didn't want to break any of God's commandments. They were very careful about it. They decided to define all the possible ways of breaking a commandment. They then added to the law. In essence, they put up a zillion fences, things to do and not do, so that you wouldn't come close to breaking the law.

Problem: In the frenzy of building those fences, they lost sight of God and his people.

I like rules more than I want to admit. I'd rather be carefree and easy going. I like rules. They make me feel safe. They help me know what to expect and not expect. They give me boundaries at times when life feels out of control.

But just like the Pharisees, I lose sight of God. Yes, I may have my quiet time. I may be able to check any number of spiritual things off the list. But if my quiet time was just about the list, did I really meet with God?

Just like the Pharisees, I lose sight of God's people. Sometimes in relationships I am more concerned about being right or more concerned about what is fair than I am about the person. Take, for instance, my job at BN. I do enjoy it. I work hard. However, my dandruff gets up if I think I'm doing more work than so and so. I want it all to be fair. Sometimes I get so focused on a task, I lose sight of the people around me.

But there is hope. Saul was a Pharisee. He even held the others' cloaks as they stoned Stephen, a leader in the early church. He sincerely believed it was the right thing. He was very good at following rules. He expected everyone else to follow them too. Until one day, he was walking a long and Jesus appeared to him. He was blinded for several days. Then Jesus sent someone to heal Saul's eyes. From then on, Saul became Paul and became a leader in the early church. Talk about a 180!

Was Paul still a rule guy? I think that he probably was. However, he was also someone who had completely experienced grace. This allowed him to give grace to others even when they didn't follow the rules.

Yes, I would have made a good Pharisee. But as God shows us through Paul, God is more than capable to knock down some fences to bring hope to a heart.


Sunday, September 27, 2009

15lbs and Counting!

I posted this exciting news on my Facebook page on Friday: I've lost 15lbs in 7 weeks. I had several people ask me how -- what am I eating or not eating or doing or not doing. There haven't been any miracle foods. It's really been a combination of things.

About 8 weeks ago, I started taking a lunch time class that meets once a week. It is called "Healthy Weight, Healthy You." My job is sponsoring it. It is put on by OSF St. Joe's Center for a Healthy Lifestyle. Erin Kennedy, exercise specialist, and Kim McClintic, dietitian swap weeks. They are both very positive and very up beat and totally encouraging. One thing I like is that there are no forbidden foods and nothing you have to completely give up. Granted, there are healthier choices but they also don't advocating feeling deprived. Also, even though the title says "Healthy Weight" I feel like it more about health than weight. Though, everyone in the class wants to lose some.

Each week they advocate making small choice that lead up to big changes. Here is some of what I've learned:

  • Set a reasonable short term goal. They suggested 10%
  • Look at how clothes fit and how you feel and not just about the number.
  • Watch portions. Americans are so use to SUPER SIZE that our portions are out of control.
  • Realistically, our stomach holds about 2 cups without stretching. When eating a meal, try for 2 cups of food.
  • Don't worry, because in a couple hours you get a snack! A snack is about 1 cup of food.
  • Granted, you should choose wisely. a cup of MM's is very different than a cup of grapes.
  • However, you cannot completely blow it in one meal or one day! A pound is 3500 calories. Even if you had a piece of cake (which I have had over the last 7 weeks), that does not equal 3500 calories. Isn't that good news!
  • Try to get in 3 different types of food at meals and a couple different foods at snacks. Why? Because your body breaks down different types of food at different rates. It does carbohydrates first, protein second, and fat last.
  • Exercise: 30 minutes most days for cardio. I've been walking Hadley about 45 minutes.
  • Tidbit: the first 3 minutes of cardio you are burning protein. Minutes 3-20 you are burning carbohydrates. Everything after 20 you are burning fat.
  • For best results figure your target heart rate. That is 220-age. Take 60% for the low end and 80% for the high end. You will burn the most calories in that range.
  • Change up your exercise routine every 3 weeks or so to avoid a plateau.
  • Do some strength training. A pound is a pound. However a pound of muscle burns a lot more calories than a pound of fat even when you are just sitting.
  • Lift things around the house -- can of green beans, a gallon of milk, or your 4 year old. Do lots of reps with a little weight. Try 4 sets of 15. Rest a minute in between.
  • Wait 48 hours in between working the same muscle group. One day you could upper body and arms. The next you could do legs and such.
  • Here's the exception. You can do abs everyday. Aren't you so excited to read that?
  • Try new foods. Kim has given us a new recipe each week. I've liked all of them .
  • Read food labels. We've learned how to evaluate the health claims. If you want, another night I will post that. . . . .
  • Keep a food log/activity log. It just makes you aware of what you are eating. You don't have to share it. We often overestimate the amount we exercise and underestimate the amount we eat or drink!
  • Of course there is more like info on eating out, but too much to put here tonight....
Most importantly: only weigh once a week and as Erin and Kim say, "DON'T LET WHAT HAPPENS BELOW THE NECK WRECK HAVOC ABOVE THE NECK!"

So, I had to take Hadley to the vet yesterday for a booster shot. Go figure, with all of our walking, she's lost 2lbs! The only catch is that she didn't need to lose any!

Thanks Erin and Kim! Wed is our last class and I am bummed! They are such a hoot!


Sunday, September 20, 2009

Twisting the Golden Rule

Recently, I've been convicted over the golden rule. Interestingly, even people who aren't Christians at least know the gist of it. It can be found in Luke 6:31 -- "Do to others as you would have them do to you." (NIV) It's actually part of a list of uncommon ways we are suppose to treat others -- friends or enemies.

  • Love your enemies
  • Do good to those who hate you
  • Bless when you are cursed
  • Pray for those who hurt you
  • Turn the other cheek
  • If someone takes your cloak, give them your tunic too
  • And do to others as you have them do to you
It's a strikingly uncommon way of relating to people in a world that focuses on revenge and blame and all of those kinds of things.

While I don't do it perfectly, in general, I would say I'm pretty good at following the golden rule. (Not perfect, of course.) I loan things freely. I try to say kind things. I'm more than willing to go out of my way for people. Yet, as I said above, I've been convicted about it.

When I was in college, I had never been in a discipleship relationship. Going into my junior year, I found myself in leadership of a Christian group on campus and there were people who needed some shepherding. Honestly, my approach was to provide what I wished someone had done for me. Amazingly, it worked. I found I learned as much as they did.

There have been other things as well where my mode of operation is based on "what I wish had happened for me." It can be taking an interest in the kids I know, going to sporting events even if I do not understand the rules. It can be following through with promises. It can be any number of things.

It has worked well, but here is the twist. Lately, I've noticed bitterness creep in. Though I still may do those things, I find that I can think, "I did this or that for so and so, why won't anyone do it for me?" The twist is that I somehow deserve something in return. Sadly, that means what I have given or done, has not been a gift. It comes with an expectation.

Yes, it would be nice on various things, but that is not the heart behind the golden rule or any of those other things listed above. The heart is considering others before me because that is what Christ did. The heart is giving up our rights because that is what Jesus did.

So, I need to ask God to change my heart to match my actions. Then, the gifts of time or interest or whatever will be freely given with no strings attached.

What about you? Do you ever attach strings to things?



I've had such a good weekend. Some friends who use to live here came for a visit. It was Elena's birthday. She just turned 9, but she thought visiting me for her birthday sounded great. So, she and her sister Grace and their parents came for a visit. We went out for lunch and then came home and played games and went to the park. And, of course, a birthday calls for cake and ice cream. And we played a lot with Hadley. Hadley loved all the extra attention!



Time for cake!


Tuesday, September 15, 2009

A Moment's Glory and Isn't There More?

I saw a shooting star tonight. It so seriously impressed me that I'm writing about it right now. It shot through the dark in a blaze of glory that made me go "Oh!" and then thank God that no one was driving right behind me 'cause I almost completely stopped. I looked for more but I only saw the one.

For perspective, I this is the first shooting star this gal has seen. So, it did take my breath away. It made me stop in my tracks. It made me pause and look at God's handiwork. And then it made me ask, "Isn't there more?"

As stunning as it was, it did leave me thinking that there had to be more to it. Yes, it is all kinds of gases and light from a zillion light years away finally reaching my eye. But, for all the glory in that moment, it made me want something more substantial.

I am not immune to wanting moments of glory. I want to be noticed and appreciated and all that. I want to stand out in a positive way. But do I want just the moment's glory or do I want something more substantial?

What weighs more -- one moment of glory and splendor or a lifetime of ordinary moments that point to Him? Yes, that star pointed to Him, but it left me with the nagging question, "Isn't there more?"

If I could point to Him in just one moment -- a blazing glorious moment -- or I could point to Him for 80 years in a multitude of moments which would I choose? Both can reflect God, but the later has roots that answer the question in a more meaningful a way that "Yes, there is more. Let me tell you about Him."

Remind me of the value of a lifetime of moments, Lord, when my focus shifts and I desire a moment's glory. You are steady. Help me point steadily to you.


Saturday, September 12, 2009

Birthday Promise

This summer I started getting to know a little neighbor boy, Alex. I enjoyed going on walks with him, his baby sister, and his mom. More than once, the subject of birthdays came up. He wanted to know if my puppy, Hadly had a birthday. I assured him that she did and said we would do something to celebrate.

Hadley's birthday is officially on Thursday. However, Alex won't be around then, so we opted to celebrate today. I took him on a trip to Petco to buy Hadley a toy. (She got two. An orange ball and a squeaky bone as well as a bag of treats that Alex picked.) Then I treated Alex to ice cream.

When we got back he enjoyed giving Hadley her treats and her toys. He even sang her "Happy Birthday."

It may all sound a bit silly to some of you. Hadley isn't really aware of her birthday. But I had promised Alex we would do something. Hadley was the reason, but more than anything, I wanted to keep my promise to Alex.

How do you do keeping promises -- especially to children? I think it is important. It teaches them to trust what you say. It makes you a safe, trustworthy person -- to adults or children. I try to be someone who does what they say -- even if "I promise" isn't spoken.

I think Alex and Hadley both had a good time. Alex and Hadley both enjoy each other and I enjoy both of them.


Tuesday, September 8, 2009

How To Make A Parent's Day

Hadley and I just got back from a nice long walk. As we were coming up the alley, a little curly headed girl of about 3 came running out of her garage. "A puppy!" she squealed.

Hadley can be a bit jumpy still, but I held her in a sit and invited the little girl to pet her. Then I asked her if she could follow directions.

She nodded.

I asked her if she wanted to give Hadley a treat. More squeals of delight. First, I told her she had to know how to do it. I showed her how to hold her hand flat with the treat on it so Hadley could just take it off. (Dogs can sometimes accidentally nip if you just use your fingers instead of your palm.)

She held out her hand and Hadley took the treat. Again, squeals of delight. "She likes me!"

I agreed that she did. Then I said, "You did such a great job following directions! That was super!"

She beamed. But I'm not sure whose smile was brighter -- hers or her father's.

Recognizing something a child does well to a parent seems to encourage them as much as the child. It sends the message to the parent, that in the tough world of parenting, they might be doing something right.

So, at Barnes and Noble when kids are behaving well, I tell them what a nice job they are doing and even give them a sticker.

When I'm in the grocery store, I might say something about what a good helper the little boy is doing.

When I see a child help another, I let the mom know.

I don't have kids, but I recognize that parenting has got to be stuff. A little praise might encourage a weary mom or dad that they are getting something right.