Too tired…

It has been a very busy past few days, and on top of that my sleep hasn’t been the greatest (no big reason, I think I am just working through some things and my brain doesn’t want to shut off). Tonite a meeting went later than expected, and after it had ended, I felt the weight of “oh man, I gotta blog still.”

So this one is quite short, as I am choosing rest over a long or at least deep-thought-involving post. Before I go to bed I am in need of a little encouragement. So I turn to the source of all my encouragement (the Bible, not pinterest!) and find these words:

And for these words I am thankful. They bring me peace when peace is hard to find.

May you, too, be encouraged and be blessed by them.

 

 

Write something brilliant here…

This happens every once in a while. I sit down to write a blog, and find myself staring at the blank screen waiting for inspiration to come. And waiting. And waiting. And waiting…..

Then I find myself figuring out if I’ve had a night off yet this week. Then I realize I HAVE had a night off. So I have to write something…there must be SOMETHING I have to say, right?

Only, nothing comes.

Most days I find myself looking for an idea for a blog post during the day. I keep my eyes open, I stop as I go through the day and review what has happened and what I might want to write about.

So when it comes to a night when I am blocked, it kind of sucks.

But here is what I have learned: this too, shall pass. Tomorrow (or the next day or whenever), I will write easily and be shocked that I ever had trouble coming up with a subject. So one nights like this, the best thing to do is to write anyway. Maybe I don’t find it easy, but I do find it good. Sometimes it is work to write, and there is blessing in the simple fact of doing the work.

I think our faith journey is like that, too. Sometimes it flows easily and without effort. Other times, it is a bit of a battle and yet there is blessing in battling on through.

That’s all that I have to say tonight, my friends. If you are in an easy-flow stage of your faith journey, enjoy the blessing. If you are battling on through, I hope you can see the blessing in that too.

Granola!

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It’s been a while since I blogged a recipe, but this is too good not to share. A friend passed on an article to me about how to make your own granola bars. I have been monkeying with the recipe for the past few weeks and have landed on what I think is the right recipe for me.

These granola bars are super-yummy and fill you up when you are hungry. They are full of ingredients that are good and good for you. And with the way I make them, they are only 4 pointsplus per serving.

2c puffed wheat cereal (look in the organic section at your grocery store)
1/2 c almonds (or other nut)
1/2c semi sweet chocolate chips
3/4c dried papaya (or other fruit)
1/4c honey
1/3c egg whites
1/2tbsp vanilla
Pinch of salt

Grind almonds to powder (or use chopped variety if you prefer noticeable chunks of nuts). Combine with puffed wheat. Snip papaya (or other dried fruit) into small chunks and add to almond and wheat mixture. In separate bowl, combine egg whites, honey, salt and vanilla. Once well mixed, pour into dry ingredients mixture and toss well. Coat 12 serving muffin tin with non-stick spray. Scoop equal amounts of mixture into muffin tin. Sprinkle chocolate chips evenly on top. Bake for 25-30 min at 300F.

I like using the muffin tin because it makes it easy to do equal servings. I usually take one of these to work for a mid-morning snack and I have another at lunchtime with fruit or veggies.

For the longest time I was eating Kashi bars like they were coming out of my ears. But what I like about these granola bars is that they are less expensive and I control the ingredients that go into them. Hope you enjoy them as much as I do!

Be kind…

There is a pin I have seen on pinterest that says “be kind, everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.” Today it struck me how true that is.

I had the opportunity to go out with one of my elders and visit with a few people this week. As I listened to one lady’s story I thought of how much weight she had to carry. Her son has been through a difficult health issue, she has a parent in the throws of Alzheimer’s and a parent-in-law also showing signs of dementia.

If you were to bump into this lady in the local grocery store, you wouldn’t have any idea that all of this is going on. She is positive and upbeat. She enjoys life and is active and healthy herself. And yet, she carries this heavy burden.

We don’t know the burdens that others carry or the struggles they face. We don’t know the difference that our kindness might make to another who is weary with the stress of life.

That is why Jesus calls us to always show kindness and love to everyone we come into contact with. I think Jesus knew what it was to face struggle, uncertainty and a future that meant pain and rejection. I think he knew what it was to bear a heavy burden. I hope he knew what it was to be touched by the kindness of others.

The call to kindness isn’t just so we be or seem ‘nice.’ It is actually a sacred call to the healing of this world. In kindness shared, the burdens of others are lifted and the world is changed for the better.

Life is busy and sometimes it is easy to be caught up in our own stuff and miss the need that is before us. My prayer is that Jesus would change my heart so that I don’t need any more reason to be kind than the fact that everyone I meet is facing a hard battle.

Words of comfort…

Tonite during the video part of our weekly study, The Divine Conspiracy, John Ortberg told a story about his daughter. When she was upset he or his wife would say to her “Honey, honey, honey, I know, I know, I know.” When she grew up enough to start speaking, they would hear on the baby monitor that she would self-comfort. She’d wake up from a scary dream and say to herself, “Honey, honey, honey, I know, I know, I know.” These had become words of comfort and of love for her.

So one of our discussion questions had to do with what sort of words from God would be the equivalent to our own “Honey, honey, honey, I know, I know, I know.”

When I was a kid, my Dad would say to me, when I was afraid, “It’s ok, it’s going to be fine. I wouldn’t tell you that if it wasn’t true.” My Dad’s voice saying “I wouldn’t tell you that if it wasn’t true,” is one of the most comforting sounds in the entire world to me. And I think the equivalent would be all the times in the Bible that God says “Do not fear, I am with you.”

There is something so comforting in just knowing that our Heavenly Father is with us. He does not leave us, he does not forsake us. I wish I could share the peace I find in that that thought with everyone I meet. I wish I could go around handing out that certainty and comfort to all those in need of it.

A little prayer…

Right now I am stupid-tired, and my brain isn’t working at all. So tonite I really will be doing a short blog. I’d like to be in bed, perhaps fully asleep by about 10 minutes from now.

An elder sent me this little prayer today and it has been rattling around in my brain since she sent it. I just have to share it, and hope that it blesses you as it did me:

I asked the Lord for a bunch of fresh flowers but instead he gave me an ugly cactus with many thorns.
I asked the Lord for some beautiful butterflies but instead he gave me many ugly worms,
I was threatened, I was disappointed, I mourned.
But after many days, suddenly , I saw the cactus bloom with many beautiful flowers,
and those worms became beautiful butterflies flying in the spring wind.
God’s way is the best way.

(Chun-Ming Kao, written from prison)

Counting more blessings…

I have a couple of different ideas for a blog rolling around in my brain pan right now, but I also have a headache rolling around in there. So I thought I’d do a short post tonite and give gratitude to God for some good things in my life (I believe this is a good way to deal with pain, whether physical, spiritual or emotional).

Today I am thankful for:

-having spent some time with my buddy Luke (we ate, talked, walked and watched all 3 extended edition Lord of the Rings movies). Luke has been an excellent friend for a lotta years, and I am blessed to get to spend time with him.

-good food. I picked up some oranges (for cheap!) at Sobey’s on Saturday and I am just burning my way through them. Also on the menu the last couple of days: awesome butternut squash soup, potato turkey saute, steak, eggplant and pineapple on the BBQ. Yummy.

-my health/my body. I was on the stability ball today, and I realised how able my body is (and becoming more so all the time), and how good my health is…and I couldn’t have said that this time last year. It’s good to stop and be thankful for that even as I continue to transform.

-a holiday Monday. Say what you will about family day, I am always glad for a break. And today’s break from the normal routine has been greatly appreciated.

-a good place to work, live and sleep. (They are not all the same place!) I love my church and the work I get to do with them. I love the house, the neighborhood and the city in which I live. This is a great thing – and since ministers go where ever the call leads them, it’s not always the case. I love my bedroom. I just gave it a major cleaning and did some decluttering, and that has reminded me once again how much I love it.

-companionship. Between friends, family, chosen family and the animals in my life, I have a lot to be thankful for – and that’s before you count the constant companionship of the triune God of the Universe.

These are some ‘big’ or maybe ‘general’ blessings…I think I will have to think about and come up with some random little things for which I can thank God this week.

Prayer…

I have several friends going through difficult times or facing major changes at the moment. I’ve mentioned this before. Whenever a friend – Christian or not – shares a struggle with me, I tell them that I will pray for them. (If they are not Christian and not close enough for me to know if they will be comfortable with that, I ask if I may pray for them.)

Today was a day of running around doing mundane things – a little grocery shopping, a lot of cleaning, a little laundry and a little cooking. While doing all these chores, my mind tends to run. Actually, it’s really good to have a day when I need to do a bunch of chores because it allows me time to think. As I worked and thought today, it occurred to me how necessary prayer is in my life.

It is as natural to me as breathing, and something I do without really thinking about it. Sometimes I just stop and say “Thank you, God.” Sometimes I spend a concentrated time in prayer. Sometimes I think of someone (remembering something they said or did in the past few days) and when I think of them I lift them up before God in my mind.

Sometimes I pray with words, sometimes in song, sometimes in images and sometimes just in feelings that have no words at all. Today, for example, a friend reached out to express a particularly difficult time she’s been going through in the past month or two. She has been on my mind all day. And while I don’t entirely know a single ‘easy’ thing to pray for her about, every time I have thought about her, I have felt love and protectiveness for her and connected those things to God. It’s a heart-thing and extraordinarily difficult to put into words without sounding trite or new-agey. Basically, I felt warmth towards her and towards God and connected those warmths to each other. I have no idea if that makes any sense at all to anyone else.

Sometimes we think prayer is difficult – but I think it is meant to be as simple as speaking to a friend. If I can pray for you about something, please let me know. And if you’d like to pray for me, well, I’d be touched. There are many things for which I need prayer, and if you’re the sort who feels best when given a specific request, I’d ask that you pray that God increases my trust of him and decreases my worry about uncertain futures.

Anticipating visitors…

So this week is the week for visitors at my house. I have a friend who will be spending Sunday and Monday with me, my folks are dropping their dog and my brother off on Wednesday before thy head out of town, and then on Friday my folks will be back and we will celebrate my Dad’s birthday.

In anticipation of this I have been cleaning. I am not big fan of cleaning, and usually I need the fact that visitors are coming in order to motivate me. It’s funny how I can be really motivated in some things and totally unmotivated in others. It’s also funny that having some people come to visit – who are family and have seen my house at its worst – is all the motivation I need.

I am not sure if that says something unhealthy about how I want to represent myself as more of a neat freak than I am, or if it says something good about the fact that I want guests in my home to experience a clean, comfortable environment.

I like to hope it is the latter (though I suspect it might be the former). I like to hope that having a sense of Christian hospitality has something to do with it.

Whatever the case, what is certain is that I will be spending most of the day tomorrow in preparation for my guests between shopping, cooking, cleaning, and other chores). Two blessings are obvious to me in this: first that I have a home & food to share; and second that I have people to share them with. God is good!

Press on…

I have decided to kick up my physical activity as I continue to try to break the weight loss plateau that I have been on since Christmas. So this week along with the walking that I do (on avg, 90 min a day) and the stability ball core strengthening (3 times a week, about 15 min each time), I have added 20 min on the elliptical trainer, about 4 times a week.

People keep telling me that I look great and that I could quit losing weight now. But the thing is – I have a goal. And at this moment I am 25 pounds away from that goal (I put on 2.6 pounds at last weigh-in). I want to reach my goal.

At first I was quite down hearted about the plateau that has plagued me for several weeks. But on Monday it hit me that down-hearted-ness was getting me nowhere. If I wanted to break the plateau, I was going to have to DO SOMETHING to break the plateau. It also hit me that if I am as serious about my goal as I say I am, the the only thing to do is to press on towards it.

Paul wrote these words to the church in Phillipi while he was in prison: “I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.” (Philippians 3:14 NLT)

Even locked in a cell, Paul refused to give up on the life to which Jesus had called him. I admire his determination. Often I have felt a lack of determination in myself. I am, at heart, a lazy creature.

But ever so slowly, Jesus is growing me up. And as he does that I am discovering things about myself that I never really knew were possible. I am determined to reach my fitness goals (and it really has become more about being fit than being skinny I. The last few months); I am determined to keep a blog as a spiritual practice – part of my ongoing relationship with the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

For the first time I feel like I have an affinity for Paul’s phrase “press on”, and I think this new determination will serve me well in the long run.

My friends, whatever you are facing, may God give you the strength to press on, too!