Wednesday, February 25, 2009

My Take on Lent

This being Ash Wednesday and reading lots of posts on my Facebook regarding what people are "giving up", I just had to post a few thoughts on Lent and what it means to me to prepare for the Easter season.

I've decided not to give anything up for Lent. This is why. In the past when I have given something up for Lent, I stay focused on what I've given up, fighting whatever urges I have to give in, feeling like a loser if I give in. Basically it's all me, me, me. I actually don't get better as a person, to be honest.

So this year I'm not giving anything up. I'm going to add something to my life that I think will truly help me become more like Jesus. This year for Lent I'm going to focus on gratitude, appreciation, encouragement, and not worry about keeping a promise to give something up. This year for Lent, I'm going to send a note of gratitude, appreciation, or encouragement to someone in my life each day leading to Easter.

The whole idea of a Lenten practice, as I understand it, is to open my life more fully to God, to become more like Christ. There are few things in my life that connect me to God like a spirit of gratitude. When I realize I'm thankful, I realize there is Someone to whom I am thankful. The essence of Christ's life seems to be to have been love, sheer love. As I engage in my practice, I will be living in love, open to God.

So I'm not giving something up. I'm adding something meaningful to me. I am curious what will happen.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

BLT Strategy

This morning I talked to Jewelers, Hostesses and Guests at a Premier Jewelry Designs Appreciation Brunch. It was very, very nice. Some of the guests asked for the notes from my presentation, so here they are in shortened form.

I talked about the BLT Strategy for self-care, given that women especially seem to be in need of rest, nourishment, love, and a sense of well-being. The beauty of the BLT Strategy is that it encompasses the whole person, knowing that when our spirits are healthy, our minds are more healthy; when our bodies are healthy, our emotions seem to be more healthy. All of our parts support each other.

So here are the three points of well-being:

B ~ Breathe

When God breathed, life came into being. Breath is life. And what we know from physiology and psychology is that breath nourishes our brains and our minds. Good breathing, good brain function. Good breathing, good mind function.

When we get anxious, scared, or angry, our breath gets quick, shallow, and noisy. What we're shooting for is deep, slow, quiet and regular.

I encouraged the guests to take five deep, focused breaths every hour on the hour. In just 30 seconds, we can clear our heads and get re-energized.

L - Laughter

Proverbs 17:22 says, "A merry heart is like good medicine." And the ancient Hebrews didn't even know what we know physiologically today. Here's what laughter does for us physically:
  • awakens endorphins
  • eases muscle tension
  • stimulates the heart and respiratory rate
  • increases circulation
  • exercises stomach and chest muscles
  • boosts immune system
  • decreases levels of stress hormones
  • increases interferon-gamma, fighter of viruses and parasites

Zig Ziglar said, "If you can roll with the punches and laugh when you could just as easily get angry, it will be to your advantage 100 percent of the time."

I encouraged the guests to be ready to laugh even if they don't find anything to be funny on a bad day. Just the act of laughter triggers a good response in our body and makes us feel better. So laugh anyway.

T ~ Take a Sensory Break

Our senses are the first five gifts the Creator ever gave us. Psychological research has shown that being in touch with our senses intentionally does indeed increase our sense of well-being by lowering our stress levels.

I asked the guests to take one minute and think about their favorite sensory experiences in each of the five senses: touch, taste, sight, sound, smell. Then I asked them to think about how they could intentionally get more of those favorite experiences into their lives, then do it.

One of the most nourishing aspects of this strategy is that attention to our senses seems to naturally produce appreciation or gratitude. And when we are grateful, we realize there is Someone to thank.

So that's the BLT Strategy. Use it for increased well-being, zestiness, and nourishment of body, mind, and spirit.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Not So Narrow, Really

When I was young, my church talked about staying on the straight and narrow. It was meant, I think, to be a warning that if I didn't terrible things would happen to me and that I had to be very, very careful to make sure I didn't mess up.

In recent readings of the Book of Proverbs, I've encountered the notion of path again. But I now have a much different, more loving and healthy view of what it means to stay on a narrow path.

Something I've been asking myself the past couple years, because my early experience with the Christian faith was so shrouded in negativity, fear, and anxiety, is this as I'm reading Scripture, "What is the most healthy, loving, wise, nurturing application of this truth?" I'm learning to look at the whole Word of God (not only the Bible) through lenses that believe that God is light, God is love, God is life (1 John).

So the straight and narrow? Instead of provoking anxiety, it actually reduces anxiety, because I know the loving parameters and don't have to wonder about all of the options, all of the rabbit trails, all of the sideshows (as Eugene Peterson puts it). I can be confident as the way is made clear of how my character needs to develop, what is given to me to do based on my interests and talents and opportunities, and how the ground of it all is in light, love, and life. Whatever isn't of those things (and the older I get, the smarter I get about what that really means and how and when I can tell it's happening), is just not on my path.

I stay on the straight and narrow not out of anxiety of what will happen if I don't, but because it's the only way for me to really live in peace as I do. I've experienced enough of what it means to actually be in communion, that I know when I'm not and I don't want to be there. So it can be as narrow as it wants, but that path is really the path to utter freedom to be real and at rest. It is more of a powerful call TO something than a dire warning AWAY from something. And the Caller is all good.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Fruit FOR the Spirit

It's a well-documented fact in psychology that people who use and enjoy their senses are more psychologically healthy. They just enjoy life more! So I decided to enjoy several of my senses by making this for this cold and snowy winter evening, and get this recipe into a form that I could access easily by putting it in my blog. Jesus told me to pay attention to the lilies and the birds, and fruit is also one of life's bestest natural gifts!

My thanks to Vicky from the Sheridan MOPS for bringing this lovely to the meeting I spoke at Friday, and then for being so gracious to pass the recipe on.

I made it tonight with a breakfast casserole for dinner and my family is happy with me. All in all, this has been a soul-satisfying experience!

The fruit is incredibly easy.

1 Large can of sliced peaches, drained

1 Large can of sliced pears, drained

1 Large can of pineapple chunks, drained

1 Large can of mandarin oranges, drained

1 can of cherry pie filling

1 jar of apple sauce

1/2 cup of brown sugar

cinnamon to taste

Mix apple sauce, pie filling, brown sugar and cinnamon in crock pot. Add fruit and mix. Cook on high for 2 hours.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

It's Already There

This morning while walking along on the treadmill and reading John 21, I saw something I haven't seen before.

Right now I'm researching for the next book I'm proposing to Harvest House later this month and one of the key passages I want to work with is in John 15. But as is so often the case with my whimsical Creator, something new emerged unexpectedly.

I was reading about the invitation Jesus gave his fishing disciples to throw their net over the right (now there's something to play with) side of the boat after having a night of no catch. His initial question was if they had caught anything for breakfast. They did as he invited them, and everyone knows the story about their haul being humongous.

But futher down was the notion that really caught my eye and my heart for the first time. As the disciples came ashore and got out of the boat, breakfast of fish and bread was waiting for them. Jesus didn't need their fish to provide for them. The fish he intended to nourish them with and serve them was already there.

The fish they had caught was not what Jesus was dependent on to provide.

It's already there.