Friday, October 29, 2010

Stir the Pot

In the past few weeks I have gone through some major breakthroughs that I have waited for years to experience.  As a result, I had a huge shift in my demeanor, my self esteem and my level of joy.  It was like I saw life in color again after a long time in black and white.

I also had a wonderful weekend with a good friend who needed a friend.  And I felt like I genuinely was there for her and that my own past experiences were used to help her through her difficult time.  I never would have chosen to go through my life's experiences but it sure felt good to put them to use!

So riding a "high" for a few days, I felt better about myself than I had in years.  Of course, the other shoe was about to drop....(this is called Life).

A very good friend of mine told me a saying that his grandpa used to say.  "If you stir the pot, it starts to stink."  How true this is.

God has begun again to stir the pot of my life....and it smells horrible.  As this stirring continues, more and more rises to the top, things that need to be handled, things that need to change.

While the situation that brought this to the surface was extremely hurtful, I also realize that without it, change would never come.  When we are uncomfortable we do something about it.  We are made to act rather than sit by and watch.

I am asking, practically begging, God to prepare my heart with the right words and attitude, and the ability to make a wrong as right as is possible.  It has smelled bad for too long.  It is time. 

Dear God,  You see my situation in its entirety.  You know my heart and my thoughts and my intentions.  In my humanness, I have hurt others and You expect me to learn and grow from this.  It is difficult to face.  It's been easier to hide and pretend.  I ask that You go with me and that the words of my mouth will demonstrate You in my life.  Not just today, everyday.  Amen.

ps  My food program is going along very smoothly.  But when I feel good about myself, it always seems easier.  Taking care of personal or work issues that need attention can keep us on track!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Forever Friends

"Friends are friends forever, if the Lord's the Lord of them.
And a friend will not say never, 'cause the welcome will not end.
In the Father's hands we know
That a lifetime's not too long
To live as friends."

God has blessed me with a few wonderful friends.  The kind that you may not see for a while but when you do, you start talking as if there has been no space or time.  The type that know all about you and love you anyway.  The ones who tell it to you straight but you don't mind because you know how much they care about you.  At times they know you better than you know yourself and can see when you don't know what to do.

Friends like this are difficult to come by.  But I would rather have one good friend like this than millions chanting my name.

Dear God,  Today I am especially grateful for the precious friends you have blessed me with in my life.  You knew, God, that there would be times when a physical being could comfort me as a representative of You and Your love.  I have felt that several times in the last 24 hours.  Help me to give of what I receive to the friends in my life who need my love and care.  Please help me to mindful of those around me.  I am grateful and thank you for the Forever Friends You have given to me.  Amen.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010


Everyday we make choices about what to wear, what to eat, what appointments to make, friends to see and maintenance items on our home and vehicle.

Most of these choices take at least a moment to deliberate the solution and make an action plan.  Even the choice between tuna salad and turkey sandwich takes a slight pause for consideration.

So how come we don't pause in the morning to choose our emotional coat?  I daresay that most of us jump out of bed after 3 hits of the snooze and run like banshees with our heads cut off most of the day!

It's not until we are depleted of all energy, exhausted and running on empty that we start considering that we are not fueled up.

I challenge myself today to CHOOSE JOY as my emotional coat.  I want to expect that there will be ups and downs to life and prepare my mind each day to be JOYFUL in all of my circumstances.  I have had a PollyAnna mentality that no bad things should happen and when they do, I consider myself a failure or a bad person.  I now realize that it is life. 

God made us and knows we are full of imperfections.  It doesn't surprise Him, not one bit!  But I bet He wonders why we wait so long to call on His name and get refueled for what is in store each day.

That old hymn is so true:  Put on the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness.

CHOOSE JOY!  It will lift your spirits and raise your productivity, your relationships, your outlook on life.

Hey.....It's your decision.  You get to choose.

Dear God, Thank you as always for another day.  You are indeed a friend closer than a brother and I can call on You anytime and anywhere.  I CHOOSE to commit to JOY each day as I become more aware of the appearance of my heart than the brand name of my outward clothes.  Amen.

ps  First week of food plan and I weighed in today.  Down 3 lbs!

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Baggage, Suitcases and Carry-ons

You know, lately we have been inundated with the airlines trying to charge us for every single item we need to carry on the plane.  Each airline has different rates based on different sizes and weights of luggage.  Only one airline has the tagline:  Bags fly free!

If you would have asked me just as recently as a few weeks ago, I would have said that I don't have any baggage.  I would have denied the need to bring anything along on this journey of life.  All my stuff is neatly handled and packed away.  (Ummm.  Really?)

As I am taking a mental inventory each morning, I realize that I have been in denial about my luggage needs and that the situation needs tending. 

Now there are lots of kinds of luggage.  Some are just plain and serviceable.  Some are elaborate material and major name brand.  Large or small, worn, broken handles, and ribbons for identifiers amongst the other potential look-alike luggage on the carousel.

But as I contemplated this post, I thought that there is really three kinds of luggage in life.  Obviously, I don't really mean the actual luggage piece itself, but the contents of each.   Here is my overview:

Baggage:  Baggage is the really old stuff that just keeps hanging on from so long ago that has not been resolved and but you can't remember the last time you considered it.  It's the stuff in the furthest corner of the attic and if you were a truly compulsive cleaner you wouldn't even have to look inside to know it needs your touch before it can go in the trash.

Suitcases:  This is the stuff that is lingering and has some need for attention.  It's not really urgent but it nags at you any time you have a quiet moment.  Sorta like the winter sweaters that could be folded and stored until October and it's already July.

Carry-ons:  I think this is the stuff we are made of every day.  That we take with us and at times we consider it urgently necessary material.  It's right on the tip of our tongues and at the front of our minds when we aren't otherwise engaged.  We put it at the top of the list like your toothbrush and clean undies!

I am sure you can already see where this is going.  Most of us have some of all of these pieces.  Don't feel badly about it.  We all have it.  It just needs tending with some regularity.  I don't know about you but I don't have that much storage space for luggage to keep piling up in the attic.  I need room for the important stuff like the kids baby books, remnants of high school prom, and a box of favorite books and cds.  Well, okay, my Partridge Family albums too.

So, it is time to take inventory.  Personal inventory.  I really have loved that phrase ever since I heard it in an A.A. conversation.  It is a powerful statement because just saying it makes you feel the need to do it!  It is an action statement.  As Dr. Phil sometimes says, It's got a verb in the sentence.  Personal inventory.

As you ponder on how to even start this Personal Inventory Project, I am reminded of another friend's blog I read recently where she started to clean the bathroom and before she knew it, the entire bathroom closet contents were out and there actually was a bigger mess than when she started. 


So it makes sense to me to review my carry-on first.  Reconsider what is really necessary for each day.  You don't need the broken pen that was used to sign your mortgage 20 years ago, the empty bottle of hairspray you swiped from that fancy bathroom in NYC, or the countless gum wrappers to make a chain any more.  What?  Are you preparing to go on a game show or something?

Let's call these items the time someone forgot your birthday, feeling bad about gray hairs, and the worry about sugar-free gum and is it really a bad choice.  Who needs this in our carry-on for EVERY DAY.  We are hauling around stuff that just doesn't have to affect our mind-set, our thinking, or our committment to improvement.  Carefully consider these emotions and how these small things weigh on you and drag you down.  You will feel so much better when the carry-on is lighter and it actually fits in the overhead bin.

Then we have the suitcases.  This is important stuff that can't just be thrown out without review.  It will have to be opened and looked through, each piece individually.  Decisions will have to be made and possibly some action.

Let's describe this stuff as hurting your best friend's feelings and pretending everything is really okay, or telling that "small" lie that won't hurt anyone, or not keeping your word to your kids when you promise to play ball with them Saturday morning.

This is the stuff that makes us who we are and is demonstrated in how we live.  Sure, you may have been kind to the older woman at the supermarket and let her checkout ahead of you but that doesn't make up for causing your friend pain or letting your kids down.  Attention is needed before removal.

See what I mean?  You can't just take the suitcase and throw it out.  These things need attention.  They need action from you.  The action you take can determine how much lighter the suitcase will be.  The other option is to just keep hauling it around.  Sure your suitcase may have a handle and smooth rolling wheels if you are lucky.  But sooner or later, you will get tired of tugging it around with you.

And then we come to the baggage.  The old hurts and disappointments that affect our effectiveness even though we never take it out and look at it anymore.  We have ignored it so long but it is so engrained in the fiber of us that we don't have to pull that heavy bag out of the attic to know.  We have smoothed it over, painted it and just ignore the crack in our being.  We think others don't see that crack and so we don't either.

Let's describe baggage as a broken heart, the habit of blaming others, and the idea that we've always done it this way.

THIS STUFF NEEDS TO GO TO THE DUMP!  As soon as possible.  But it must be handled first.  It needs attention before it can be tossed for good and lighten the burden you are carrying.

I read a book called "The Hiding Place" and it is about Cori Ten Boom and her family who help protect and hide Jews during WWII.  They had a secret room in their house and they helped anyone they could, anytime they were asked.

Her father was a watchmaker and there were routine train trips to make sure the time at the watch shop was in keeping the big clock in Amsterdam.  As a little girl, Cori would make this trip with her father and she enjoyed the adventure very much.

On one of these trips, she questioned her father about some adult issues that were concerning her.  Her father stopped in his tracks and set down his heavy bag carrying the time-keeping equipment.  It wa so heavy it landed with a thud.  He asked Cori to pick up the bag and carry it for him.  Of course, she couldn't even lift it off the ground.  She looked up at him and said, I can't carry it.  I am not strong enough.

Her father said, And so it is with this situation Cori.  You are not able to carry the weight of it so I will carry it for you until you are ready.

Has God spoken to you yet?  He is speaking to me.  I can do all the housekeeping of my luggage that I can, by making amends to those I have hurt, asking for forgiveness, changing my ways.  I am the first to admit that I cram my luggage full and it barely will close.  There is alot of work to do.  And I am willing to change and lighten the load.

However, there are also times that it is too much for me alone.  But I have a Friend and HE will carry it for me. 

"He will carry you when your strength won't go any farther; when you have waved goodbye to the very last dream of your heart.  He will carry you when the tears pour out like a river.  When you cry in the night not to wait til the morning light."

So don't be taken over by the weight of your past.  Don't let the airlines weigh you down with charges and fees that are random and unfair.  With God you have the power to lighten your load....right now!  And it has to be said, With God, bags fly free!

Dear God,  Thank you again for another day to celebrate what you have done for me.  Thank you for speaking to me each morning and empowering me to handle what is before me today.  What a Friend you are to carry my load for me when it is too much for me to bear. Help me to grow stronger in You and to have wisdom in what I choose to carry around with me each day.  Amen.

ps  Just starting Day 5 of my food plan.  Had a bagel yesterday morning for breakfast and that isn't on the plan.  But made an immediate correction and got right back on track for the rest of the day.

Friday, October 22, 2010

You Can Still Get There From Here

You know, like most dieters, I have failed multiple times.  What a roller coaster of a ride to be on with Weight Watchers, Jenny Craig, Weight Loss Center, Sugar Busters, ephedrine pills, Under 10 Grams of Fat Daily Diet and No Limit on Sugar Diet, Fruit Only Diet, and of course, The How Long Can I Go Without Eating Diet and back again for more rounds of the same.

Roller coasters are supposed to be fun but, can I get an Amen that trying multiple diet plans is NOT on the fun list!

Also, like most dieters, because of all of the failures, that's all we think can happen when we diet....FAIL.  But thanks to my friend Kellee, who wisely asked me, what if I tried and this time I didn't fail, I am thinking differently today.

There is a story that I heard Pastor Joel Osteen tell that literally changed my life.  I love Pastor Joel and you will probably hear me share lots of his wisdom.

He tells about how when we have God in our lives, it is like having a GPS system.  You know how you put the address in the GPS and it calmly gives precise turns and travel clues to your destination.  But sometimes we miss the turn or someone distracts us and we drive too far, and we find ourselves no longer following the map.

What does the GPS system do at this point?  It recalculates the directions to GET YOU TO YOUR DESTINATION.  It doesn't matter if it was YOU who missed the turn or YOUR TALKING FRIEND who distracted you, the GPS is on the job, making a way to get there.

Isn't that just like God?  There is no limit or cap on our messups, He can make a way.  We can still get to our appointed place and be all that we were created to be.

The struggles in my life had made me feel so bad about myself.  And I allowed the voices to tell me, see, no one likes you.  They all think you are a bad person.  There is no hope for you.  No one will ever love you.  You have had your chances and there are no more.

My daughter and others mentioned to me from time to time that I needed to forgive myself and move on.  Of course, I practically screeched my reply of, how do I do that?  It's so much easier to say than to do.  Add to that my personality that likes a check-list to work on and, well, abstracts are not my thing.

But it did put it in the forefront of my personal inventory (that's a good AA phrase).  Recently, I was on a short, weekend road trip and coming home from Ashland through the beautiful and forested drive to SunRiver and home again.  It was so beautiful.  And somehow God used that beautiful drive to renew my spirit and I felt forgiveness flow.  It was a miracle.

When I woke up the next morning I felt like I was seeing my room in color instead of black and white.  I cannot remember the last time I felt like this.  I haven't been the same since. 

God knows what we need and when we need it.  Until He provides His answer, we are to "just do the next right thing".  And keep doing it.  And do it some more.   You can still get there from here. 

I haven't arrived yet.  I am traveling this road of change and growth.  And I thank God that He is with me.  He comforts me.  He provides.  His answers are the right answers so why would I want anything else?

Dear God,  Thank You for another day of life.  I desire to do my part to make it a life worth living.  After all You have done for me, my life should shine for others to see.  Nothing else will do.  Amen.

ps  Had a slow start to eating my food plan today but still working it!  Weigh day is next Tuesday so we will see how successful I am this first week.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

What If There's a Friend in the Mirror?

There is a book (and of course, a movie) that is called Eat, Pray, Love that really opened my eyes to some of the pieces of me.  In particular, there is a story about Liz, who has been through a divorce, another broken relationship, and depression meds.  She is rather down and clearly on the edge. 

One day she rushes into the elevator and caught an unexpected glimpse of herself in the security mirror.  Her brain does a quick reflex and says, "hey, you know her!  That's a friend of yours!"  She even started to rush towards herself to hello when she stopped and laughed at herself.  Liz tells how in that unexpected and unguarded moment she recognized herself as a friend. 

As she writes in her journal, Liz promises to be a better friend to herself and to know that she will always be there and never be alone.  She promises to love herself and to protect herself.  This causes her to experience one of the first good nights sleep where Loneliness and Depression do not sleep-over.

This story (paraphrased by me)  really hit home.  As a young wife at 19 yrs of age, I literally gave up on myself.  I truly believed that by putting others first, I would be better.  But 23 years of marriage and 5 years of divorce later, I can assure you that this is not the case.  God has another way.

Yes, I sang the song in Sunday School called Jesus and Others and You, what a wonderful way to spell JOY!  This song implies everyone else before self.  But if we are not taking care of ourselves, particularly by being One with our Maker, we can be of no service to others.

This is where I find myself.

Actually, in the past few months in searching for a path, an answer, I started reading the Alcoholics Anonymous books.  I am not a drinker and this is not a problem, but I saw in it a logical path of improvement and wanted to know more.

As I reviewed my learnings with my A.A. friend, I asked him in frustration, what is it with me?  What is my problem that I can't get over?

Having known me during the divorce years, he said frankly, well, you seem to have resentment towards your ex.

My immediate and almost expected response was DENIAL (more on that word later).  Oh no, I said.  I am over that.  I can even say I care about him and love him.  Why, we even talk on the phone at times!

But just as quickly as I said it, another thought just burst forth. 

I have never had my needs met.

And just like that, thank you, Lord, I understood myself.  I am so grateful that I wasn't sent around the world for weeks and weeks trying to figure this out.  God graciously provided the answer in that moment of desperate questioning. 

Now let me clarify "needs".  I had a wonderful childhood.  I had great parents who will be celebrating their 50th anniversary next year.  I had the tree house, skates, was popular at school, first chosen for kickball....

I am saying that my emotional needs were never met.  And that may sound like I am blaming the significant others in my life, but I am not.  We have to take responsibility for how we allow others to treat us.  And instead, I believed if I was somehow less than the other person, it was the way to a successful relationship.

Does this sound like a conversation you've ever had?

Where would you like to go for vacation?
Wherever you think.  I'm not sure.

What would you like me to bring home for dinner?
Whatever is easy.

No opinion meant I was a good person, partner, mother, friend.  In case you don't get it....IT'S NOT TRUE!  And it's boring. 

God created us.  He loves us.  If we don't love ourselves then we can't be a servant, a friend, a partner, a parent.  At least, not a good one.  Because everything we do is torn down by our own hands.  Our low self-esteem causes us to believe that we are not good enough....for anything.

My last point in this blog is: What if?  My friend Kellee was coaching me recently and asked me what was I afraid of to try to lose the weight, since it is so important to me.  My answer was that I am afraid of failing.  She was very intuitive when she asked me, but what if this time you didn't fail?

And for a split second I felt that hope of seeing a future with my weight under control.  Like I actually could do it.  And how it would feel.

I challenge myself today to be a friend to myself and consider what if when I make my food choices and other important and casual decisions today.

Dear God,  You know me and my thoughts.  You made me and I am wonderfully made.  Heal my mind to think your thoughts, to dream your dreams, to live your life.  Depression and Loneliness have no place here.  Help me to see my friend in the mirror.  I hope she will smile at me.  Amen.

ps I followed my food plan yesterday.  I feel better already.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Decision Day

I am praying this will be the time....I have tried so many times and like others out there I have never, not once, finished the journey.  Oh sure, I have lost 50 lbs. twice and in no time flat put it back on and more.

But I digress.  My story will come out over time.  My purpose today is to begin in a new way to fight an old battle with myself. 

You know, I felt bad using my own name in the title.  But there is a reason for that.  I want to find out how to love me, know me, celebrate me and all (and I do mean all) my imperfections.

The basics of the story?  Probably it will sound very familiar to you.  But it happens in decades...At age 7 being made fun of in 2nd grade for being chubby by girls whose names I can still remember; at age 17 having my best guy friend tell me for the first and not the last time, if you only lost weight you would be hot (I weighed a "horrid" 132 lbs.); at 27 having a spouse that had a low tolerance for imperfection (that's putting it mildly); at 37 having a significant person in my life and hearing again, if you only lost weight; and now at 47 still fighting the same battle and feeling 7 yrs old again.

During my marriage and raising 3 children, the excuse was always, someday the kids would be grown and I would have time for myself.  THEN, I always promised, I would have time for me.

And then as my spouse continued to put the pressure on to lose weight, of course I gained instead.  So it became HIS fault that I didn't love me.

But now, I am single, the kids are grown and doing their adult thing, and it isn't anyone's fault but mine.  I have been divorced for over 5 years and I can no longer put the blame on my former spouse.  It all lies with me.

So the Journey to Laura is me searching for me.  The Laura who did not love herself enough to take care of herself.  And the years piled up.  And the pain grew bigger.  And so did I.

This may sound sad and depressing but I assure you that if you stay with me, there are alot of positive stories to come.  These past years have not been for nothing.  Many internal battles have been won.

This weight fight is like the last frontier.  My weight i.e. lack of love for Laura, has stood between me and many a dream.  I want to win this once and for all.  I want to look in the mirror and see a friend not a broken, sad, wrinkled woman who has given up.

So off I go....Day 1.  Small steps.  I have planned my meals for the day.  I started my journal and this blog.  I am going to love me more than yesterday.  And it is going to feel good.

Dear God, please help me change my thinking.  Please help me to think about what if I succeed rather than what if I fail again.  I know You want me to be whole in my heart, mind and body.  Thank You for Your unfailing love and the many chances You give us to make things right.  May I honor You in how I live today.  Amen.