Thursday, September 26, 2013

Shattered Glass


 

I was speed-cleaning tonight to Mumford & Sons, when my elbow bumped a wine glass on the counter. I watched in slow-motion as it flew off the counter and shattered on my kitchen floor. Can you guess the instant feeling that came over me?

Relief.

Hubs came home and went to bed before dinner tonight. His last six weeks at work have been demanding, to say the least, and we haven't been seeing much of him. Stress levels have been high in our house. I put the kids to bed shortly after dinner tonight, and set to work trying to reconfigure some semblance of domestic order. Unpacking the remaining groceries. Dishes. Laundry. TOYS. Mail. Mountains of paper. Then, mid-action, the delicate wine glass flies off the kitchen counter and my flurry of activity pauses for the crash. Such a delicate tinkling of thin glass and liquid. Relief. Because everyone else was asleep. I didn't need to partition-off the danger zone for my curious two year-old. I didn't need to explain anything to anyone. I could simply experience the broken glass, the cool spray of wine on my ankles, and take a deep breath.

All is well. I needed to mop anyway.

So I took a minute to admire the beauty of the clear pieces of glass. Perfectly broken; reflecting the light from above.

Isn't that such a symbolic picture of us?

Beautifully broken. All we can do is reflect the Light from above.

"Anyone who falls on this stone will be broken to pieces; anyone on whom it falls will be crushed.” -Matthew 21:44


(Photo credit Dreamstine.com)

Saturday, August 17, 2013

The Upward Spiral: Mind, Body & Spirit


FACT: An object at rest will remain at rest until acted upon by an outside force.

. . . A simple summary of Newton's First Law of Motion.

Awhile back I noticed a motivational poster at the gym with the quote, "Don't keep doing the same thing and expect a different result." Which is taken from Albert Einstein's lighthearted Definition of Insanity: Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.

These ideas aren't exactly revolutionary in the 21st century. We've heard them before, in one form or another. However, when it comes to our daily lives, we might not realize how ingrained are certain habits or thought-patterns. We get frustrated as we keep reliving virtually the same disappointments, struggles, or negative consequences.

Earlier this February, I reached the point where I was dissatisfied with my mood and energy level on a regular basis. I had been on antidepressants for postpartum depression for awhile, and even still felt lingering blah-ness, like I was stuck in the mud, and feared another downward spiral into depression. After reading an article about the many benefits of the Seventh Day Adventist lifestyle, I realized I needed to make real life changes in order to improve the quality of my life. Nothing was going to change with my emotions, body, or mind if I didn't make it happen! If I wanted to change my body's energy level and chemical makeup, I needed to start using my mind as that outside force, to act upon it.

But how on earth can I change my mind when I'm depressed?! That's when I went back to the Bible, to verses I had memorized years before.

"Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will." (Romans 12:1-2)

Later in verse 12 the Apostle Paul continues to instruct Jesus' followers, "Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer."

In this one section of Scripture, it shows how all the parts of a person's being are interconnected. We're to offer our bodies to God. He cares about what we do with our physical bodies, not just our spirits or souls. The choices we make regarding our physical selves have a pretty big impact on both our mind and spirit. The Apostle also says to "be transformed by the renewing of your mind." And then later instructs to, "Be joyful in hope." As in, make the choice for joy! It requires a conscious effort. (And I'm not talking about pretending that everything is fine when it's not--more on that in another post!)

How do I renew my mind?

- Pray continually (1 Thess. 5:17)
      *Ask for God's help in making positive life changes! 

- Be in God's Word
      * For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. (Hebrews 4:12)
      * And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:7)

- Grab those negative thoughts midair, and replace them with Truth!
      * . . . we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. (2 Corinthians 10:5)

If you have a background in Christianity, you've probably heard these things before--- really no revolutionary knowledge since these passages were penned over a millenium ago. But just like we're generally familiar with the concepts I mentioned in opening (Newton's Laws, Einstein's definition of insanity), knowledge of a principle doesn't mean we practice it.

So bringing this post full circle, if I want to have more positive results in my life, I need to change something that I am doing. Changing an action starts in the mind. So I start by meditating on God's Truth and boosting my positive self-talk (renewing my mind.) This leads to an upward spiral, instead of the other kind. One positive change, leads to another. I started with one achievable life change last February, and it has since led to many more positive changes. Some examples to think about . . .

If . . . I want my spouse to think of me as beautiful and sexy, maybe I need to invest some time and energy into building my self-confidence. Nothing is sexier than confidence.

If . . . I want to boost my mood, maybe instead of giving into that old habit, I need to consider some changes in my spiritual or physical discipline.

If . . . I want my kids to obey me the first time! Maybe instead of yelling and threatening, I need to seek advice.

If . . . I want good friends, maybe I need to be more friendly.

If . . . I want to accomplish something great in my life, maybe instead of talking myself out of it, I need to write down achievable goals.

FACT: Your life will change for the better, if you start by making ONE change.



"Change your thoughts and change your world."
-Norman Vincent Peale
Afghanistan landscape by The U.S. Army 


(Photo credit The U.S. Army on flickr)

Sunday, July 28, 2013

What Makes You Feel Beauty-Full??


I stumbled upon the Choose Beauty Linkup this evening after dinner. I snuck sneaked quietly slipped upstairs as Hubs and the Littles started cleanup time in the playroom. I knew he'd roll right into story time on the couch, so I indulged in a moment of solitude. It's been awhile since I browsed online, and I was immediately drawn into Thoughts By Natalie and her discussion on true beauty. What exactly is beauty, anyway?

As a stay at home mom, I've found it's way too easy to fall into the frump trap and "lose" myself in all things kid. I tell myself that people should love me no matter what I look like (yes! Of course . . . BUT it's not about the other people!) While there's nothing inherently wrong with embracing the frump, it's guaranteed to leave the frumpster floundering to find herself. Frumping-it generally seems to make me feel depressed.

~Flashback~
Growing up, I was a classic tomboy and shunned all things "girly." Even during high school when I started  approaching femininity, it was with a gritty and defiant I'll-Never-Wear-Pink sort of attitude. In my immaturity, I thought ignoring or even rebelling against fashion trends was somehow more honest and real. I met Hubs at 16, and we immediately hit it off--both new believers passionate about Jesus, both purposely defying the in-crowd mentality; we wanted more, deeper, richer. We were friends for years, dated long distance . . .

~Flashforward~
. . . and now we've been married for almost eight years. My silver-ringed fingers and "sexy watermelon" colored nails flash over the keyboard. My hair is shiny and ironed straight. I'm wearing sea-foam green cropped pants and a peach tank-top. And yes, my toenails match my fingers. I still love Jesus and my time is consumed by deepening relationships, raising munchkins, and a gazillion other creative and intellectual pursuits. I don't know when it happened, but along the way, Hubs' loving me has helped me embrace femininity. By being intentional about my outward appearance, my own spirit is lifted and I'm more likely to act sociable. I recently read a Wiki article on introversion and extroversion. It stated that extroverts are more likely to wear accessories and colorful clothing. I don't know if I'm a social introvert or a quiet extrovert, but when I put on some color, a little makeup, and jewelry, I make more meaningful social connections. This has less to do with how others perceive me, and more to do with how my appearance makes me feel. Plenty of studies show how colors and images affect mood, so what we wear is bound to influence us.

Changing my self-care has been one more step in my process of overcoming depression and weaning off anti-depressants (along with improved dietary, fitness, and spiritual discipline.) When I put on mascara, fix my hair, and paint my nails, I'm telling myself that I'm worth the effort. Yeah, I could totally get away with not doing any of this and wearing yoga pants day in and day out . . . BUT I'm worth the effort. If for nothing else than the confidence boost it brings!

Now that said, the times that I feel most beautiful aren't necessarily when I get dolled up for a night out, but simply when I'm hanging out with Hubs, Birdy (4), and Buddy (2). The other day I handed Buddy a sippy cup, and he responded, "Thanks, my beauty-full!" And Birdy recently told me, "I'm so glad you're my mama, I can't even think of any words for it."
~Being a mom makes me feel beauty-full.~

What makes you feel full of beauty?
I'm so glad to be joining up with the lovely ladies at the Choose Beauty linkup! Please take a moment to check out their blog posts regarding their own beauty experiences below.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Fresh Find: A Healthy Dose


As the primary grocery-shopper, chef, and caretaker in our house, nutrition is often on my mind. How do I get my picky eaters to take in enough of the right nutrients?! So much of our mood and lifestyle is affected by what we put into our mouths.

Months ago, I was introduced to Juice Plus+ when I met Josie, and my nutrition concerns were laid to rest. She told me about the Juice Plus+ product line, whole-food nutritional supplements, and invited me to attend a coffee shop get-together. At first, I had many questions, with a pretty heavy dose of skepticism.

Why subscribe for a product when I can buy the other brands at the store? Then I thought about how convenient it would be to have the product shipped to my house, saving me from those special trips into the supplement store with my kiddos in tow. Yeah, that would be nice!

Sounds pricey, I don't think I can afford it . . . Then I read about the health studies that show the effectiveness of Juice Plus+ products. Could I really afford to not give myself and my family the best shot at healthy living?? I compared my then store-brand supplements which were advertised as "green" and "whole," but discovered that they were actually more like multivitamins than I had thought. Juice Plus+ supplements aren't multivitamins are more than multivitamins - - - think encapsulated whole foods. The monthly costs between the two different brands were about even, but Juice Plus+ offers free supplements to children ages 4 and up when they participate in a health study. So, really: I'd be paying the same price for a supplement that had numerous studies to back it (whereas the other brand didn't), endorsed by the author and pediatrician Dr. Bill Sears, AND my daughter would receive her supplements for FREE? Umm, yes please, sign me up.

At the Juice Plus+ meeting, I learned a lot about nutrition. Going into it, I thought I had a strong grasp on the subject. I realized that I actually wasn't getting optimal nutrition in my diet, and that Juice Plus+ helps fill in the gap. I know this is the right choice to keep our family on the healthy-living track. Our kids love the Juice Plus+ chewables, and it gives me peace of mind to know they're receiving the nutrition they need. If you'd like to learn more about Juice Plus+ benefits, I encourage you to click over to Josie's website.

For the record, all thoughts and opinions in this post are honest and my own! I'm receiving no financial or product perks for sharing Juice Plus+ with you.

(Photo credit josiesjuiceplus.com)

Friday, July 5, 2013

The Cat Wars Diary: Uneasy Calm

Nearly one month ago, the CATS (Cat Allied Threat Squad) comprised of neighboring feline groups led by Lt. Lurpy and Sgt. Slurpy, launched their first unprovoked infiltration on the Homefront. Today, 5 July 2013, is the first entry in the Defense Diary of The Cat Wars.

Sgt. Slurpy and Lt. Lurpy have failed to breach the premises for some time. It is unclear what the CATS seek, other than shade from the summer heat and a soft flower bed to %$#* in. We continue to line the perimeter with coffee grounds and vinegar by day, while potted lavender and citronella candles keep watch on lonely nights. This morning as I dusted the flower beds with the remaining grounds, a chill crept up my neck. I swear I felt a pair of calculating eyes studying me from beneath the neighbor's hydrangea. Needless to say, we are all on edge, waiting for the next offensive.

The General has proposed employing guerrilla tactics, including but not limited to the use of BB projectiles. I favor a more diplomatic approach; fearing any perceived aggression on our part, as the foreign occupants, could fuel a severe anti-Human backlash. We walk a thin line between predator and prey, in this Suburbia. While the CATS may be viewed as docile, even lazy in their native environment; there is no doubt in my mind that their razor claws and fang-like canines serve their purpose.

SFC Maggie Nificent

(Photo credit Julien Lozelli on flickr)