Thursday, March 24, 2011

Hi. I'm Laura. I'm a Think-A-Holic.

Let me introduce you to this passage and then talk about it.  It was part of my devotions today:

REFLECTION FOR THE DAY:  All of us are faced with the troubles and problems of daily living, whether we've been at life 20 years or 100.  We'd sometimes like to believe we could take care of all our problems right now, but it rarely works that way.  If we remember the slogan "Easy Does It" when we are ready to panic, we may come to know that the very best way to handle all things is "Easy."  We put one foot in front of the other, doing the best we are capable of doing.  We say "Easy Does It" and we do it.  Are the scriptures growing with me as I grow with God?

TODAY I PRAY:  May even the words "Easy Does It" serve to slow me down in my headlong rush to accomplish too much too fast.  May just that word "Easy" be enough to make me ease up on the whips that drive my ambitions, ease up on the accelerator which plunges me into new situations without enough forethought, ease off on the number of hours spent in materials pursuits.  May I hark to the adage that Rome wasn't built in a single day.  Neither can I build solutions to my problems all at once.


So, would you believe that the above devotion (or meditation) is from Alcoholics Anonymous?  Only the underlined words were changed from The Program and from slogans rather than scriptures.

Please don't get me wrong.  I am not an alcoholic.  I have no interest in alcohol.  I didn't have my first drink until I was in my 30's and I guess by then, it just didn't matter.  I am also not saying we should all attend an A.A. meeting, although I have gone with a friend a few times and it is extremely inspirational and I left in a better place each time.

What I am saying is, there are so many people out there looking for direction, guidance, a way out....Along with my Bible, I have used A.A. books for a while, to put a lifeplan together.  Sometimes when you are at your worst, ANYTHING that can get you started for the day is a blessing.

I find that this works for not only Alcoholics but Overeaters too.  Don't deny it.  Denial is telling yourself a lie.  Why lie to yourself?

I have also realized that I can put other issues in the same place and the direction is still the same.  When I asked my A.A. friend what was wrong with me?  I was told that I seemed to have resentment still against my former husband.  (I hate saying ex-husband.  It sounds so ugly.)  Anyway, the first words out of my mouth were, "Oh no.  That's not it.  I have forgiven him and I can even say I love him."  Can you say DENIAL?

So my A.A. friend, who knows me so well, said I should be putting the word Think instead of Drink in the verbage. 

"Hi.  I am Laura.  I am a Think-A-Holic."  Yep.  That made perfect sense.  It's true.  I overthink and try to fix and think everyone else should be and do just like me.  Oh Geez.

In closing, another A.A. slogan is :  Accept others and things as they are.

On second thought, maybe we SHOULD all attend an A.A. meeting. 

Dear God:  Thank You for showing me that You love everyone else as much as You love me.  I am not the only one who deserves grace and mercy.  I am not the only one who should get a second chance.  I must allow for others to walk their path to You just as I have.  Each journey will not look like mine and mine won't look like theirs.  Thank you for being God of everything. ~Laura

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Do You Need a Super Hero?

Today at lunch I was reviewing a sort of history of my life.  And while there have been many trips, slips and falls, (some of them quite literally), I was reminded of all the times that God showed me He was there, with me.  And He comforted me.

He was there when the size small sweatshirt miraculously fit my girth when I was cold and alone; He was there when I saw the sign in an unexpected place that said "God Loves You"; the inexplicable way that I knew His presence was with me on that drive from Medford to Sunriver and I found self-forgiveness for the first time; the time I knew He answered my prayer, not because it was what I prayed for but because it was what I hadn't prayed for and it healed my hurt; the moment I first knelt in my corner at Meadowood Church and gave my heart to Him.

We are human.  To make it more personal, I am human.  Mistakes abound.  Sins occur.  Hiding in a blanket of sorrow and shame has its place. 

I need a Super Hero.  A Champion.

Friends, whatever cross you carry, no matter how heavy the load, You Have a Friend.  Your own personal Super Hero.  Your Champion.

From the beginning of your life to the end, He is there!  The only Friend on whose name you can call and He always answers.  You don't get put on hold, or asked to wait until the tv show is over, or asked to make an appointment...

If you need a Guardian Angel; He answers "I AM."
If you need a Warrior; He answers "I AM."
If you need Someone to dry your tears; He says "I AM."
If you need a Healer; He says "I AM."
If you need an Employer; He says "I AM."
If you need a Song in your heart;  He says "I AM."
If you need Someone to hold your hand;  He says "I AM."

He is there from your beginning to your end.  Always.

There is no problem so big, God cannot solve it.  There is no wound so great He cannot heal it.  There is no sorrow so big that He cannot soothe it.

I have been listening to a song called, "People Get Ready."  My mom tells me it is an oldie but it is new to me.  It says:

"People get ready, there's a train a coming.
Don't need no baggage, just get on board.
If you have a little faith, you can hear the diesel humming.
Don't need no ticket, you just thank the Lord."

I have been so touched and moved by the words that I don't need any baggage.  So throw down those suitcases of guilt, depression, resentment, sorrow, regret!  And I don't need a ticket.  It's free!  Just THANK THE LORD! 

Just like when you go to your mom's house and she makes that yummy dinner.  No charge.  She's just thrilled to see you.  Just say thank you!

His love is a gift and it doesn't cost a thing.  Just say Thank You.  No need for baggage.  So throw it out.  And don't forget to thank your Super Hero.

Dear God,
Thank you for today...for the walk down memory lane; for the reminder of all the times You have been there for me.  I have never known a Friend like You.  I want to be thankful and share my Friend with others.  You are my Super Hero, my Best Friend, my Champion.  You always believe in me.  You are the reason I am told I have Hope in my face.  You want the best for me.  You are working ALL things for my good.  I wholeheartedly put my trust in You.  Amen.  ~Laura

Sunday, March 20, 2011

The Good News

I have allowed myself to feel gloomy today and it was a big mistake.  Doing this is really just too self-indulgent while at the same time extremely self-destructive.  I almost let myself get over the edge with a full-out Boo Hoo Fest.

But then, I thought thru the friends I have, and what their advice has been over the times of my life.  One by one, each of their faces and words of wisdom came back to me.  Their confidence in me, their smile, and I weighed carefully each one.  And then I got to the one that really brought me back. 

What would Lindy say?

She would say, "remember the list of 5 areas of your life?  Remember to take care of each one so when you feel down the others are in order.  It makes the one not feel so bad."

And I say, "oh yeah.  I forgot about that."  It's only been since my last post!

But that is just how easy to get off track it is.  We must be vigilant in caring for ourselves.  It is not selfish.  It is necessary.  All the "Boo Hoo" in the world couldn't help my friends if they came to me in need.  I don't think it helps anyone but Kleenex!

You know, Friend, if we were building ourselves a home, we would choose the best that we could afford.  We would carefully select the wood, the floors, the carpet, the windows, even the nails and piping so as to make as sound a house as we could afford.

We should put that kind of thought into our lives.  What is the best you can do?  How can you take care of what God has blessed you with?

And on the contrary, if you were out in the rain and snow, would you tear boards off of your own house to build a fire and make you warm?  NO!  Well, sometimes we do just that, metaphorically.  The life choices we make can certainly "tear down" our "house."
Don't let that one moment in time, that one moment in the day, when you are overwhelmed, or tired, or hungry, or lonely, or bored.....ruin the "home" you live in.  Make your life a priority.  Make your choices with care and consideration, seeking advice and help when needed.

Today, I didn't even have to reach out to a friend.  I had my friends all in my heart and their love and acceptance overwhelmed me.

Now for The Good News:  On March 5, two weeks ago, I started Take Shape for Life, which is a lifestyle plan for weightloss and maintenance.  I had tried it before and I absolutely know it works.  It was always me that didn't work.

But I have dedicated myself to it and in 14 days lost 8.2 lbs!

Today's turmoil almost took me away from that success but Thank God for the reminder of my friends, who helped me overcome and turn the corner!

Don't let those little things mess you up.  As a country song considers:

"I run my life.  Or is it running me?"

Take control.  Be aware of the moods and feelings that take us even a step away from our goals and our true values and beliefs.  If I can do it, you can too!

Dear God, As always You accept me as I am.  Even when the mess is self-made You run immediately to my side.  I call out for a best friend and You are there saying, "I AM."  I call for a Counselor, and You are there saying, "I AM."  I call out for Someone to hear my cry and you are there saying, "I AM."  Thank you for perfect peace.  Peace that passes ALL understanding.  ~Me

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Change-It's Uncomfortable

Anyone doing personal inventory or soul-searching in life usually finds that change is necessary.  But it is never comfortable.  In fact, it makes me sqwirmy.

When I start something new, it is awkward.  My schedule gets changed, the routine of it all, and it is easier to fall back into the old than to struggle into the new.  Frustrations arise and it takes so much more energy.

Well, Tom Hanks had it right when he said in one of his movies, "If it was easy, everyone would do it.  It's the hard that makes it great."

Day 3 was completed on my new-ME plan and I have begun Day 4.  I am finding the new routine to already become just that....Routine.  By keeping a food journal each day, I also realize that I had two servings of fat yesterday that weren't allowed with the meat choice.  But still, all in all, change is coming!

I like routine alot.  So much so, that a meal plan works best if I have my certain favorites ready and it is easy to prepare and clean up.  Also, I enjoy the preparation of the lean and green meal.  Cutting up the veggies for the salad and setting the table for me.....the routine is comforting and familiar. 

If you are embracing a life change of some sort, I would make a list (in my case a food tracking list) and hold yourself accountable to that.  Walk the line and hold tight to it, especially in the early days, so you can build that new routine and make the change you long for!  It's only uncomfortable for a while.

I am already feeling like I am on a high from eating right.  My daughter mentioned that I sound so happy and bubbly and full of energy.  Sometimes so much so that I can't sleep easily.  And it's not from drugs or any kind of mood enhancer.  It's just eating right!    I think I was actually drugging myself with the food I was eating.  My body is just reacting to getting the right fuel. 

So if you are looking to change something physical, or to change an attitude, your job, a relationship structure...Make that list.  Check it every day.  The list should be achievable actions that will make forward progress toward your goal.  Ask yourself how does each action listed bring you closer to your desired place.

"One must be kind to oneself when learning something new."

Get started today!  Embrace being uncomfortable.  Try something new.  You can do it!

Dear God, You see the struggle that weight has been for me.  You also know all the reasons for that and know my heart.  Please heal me from the inside out.  I want my outside to represent the inside and all that You have done for me.  Thank you for those who have asked for help.  Please help me see them through Your eyes.  ~Me

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Plan for Success...It Won't Happen By Itself!

So for the umpteenth time I have started a food program that I KNOW works if I would just work!  I am only two days into it but I see a few things that are already helping me succeed.  It seems that the old adage that you must plan for success is true.

This food plan is so easy that anyone can follow it, anytime, anywhere.  It is meant to be ultra convenient with 5 packaged meals a day and 1 lean and green meal.  In the past, I didn't pay much attention to the foods and of course, feeling dissatisfied, well, it's easy to jump back to old habits and comfort foods.

THIS TIME, I made a special shopping trip to organize and plan.  Instead of banking on a salad with grilled chicken as the daily lunch option, I chose small packages with two servings each of pork loin, steak and chicken breast.  I found broccoli florets on sale and also got some asparagus and several cans of green beans.

I received a George Forman grill (small one) and had not yet used it.  This weekend, with help from a coupon from my daughter, I also purchased a small griddle that I won't mind using, cleaning up or leaving out!

See, being single and cooking for one, it never felt worth the effort to "cook".  I also dislike a huge mess to clean up when it is just for me, so I just wouldn't bother.  But now, I am all set.

Today I had a pancake from my small griddle for breakfast, a yummy fruit n nut bar for snack, grilled a small steak on my Forman grill with green beans spritzed lightly with a little ICBINB (I can't believe it's not butter), pretzels and a soda for snack, another bar for dinner and a delicious brownie for snack!  That sounds good, uh?

So as I write this, I have completed Day 2.  Honestly, I have sworn to do this right so many times that I wonder why my family and friends don't just ROLL their eyes when I say I am trying again.  But this time, there is a plan.

And not only a food plan, but a life plan as described in my last post.  I am actively choosing activities each day to fulfill my social, physical, spiritual, mental, emotional and I have added business to the list.

Really...if you are struggling with something in your life, get together with a friend and speak honestly about what you are going through.  Ask for help!  Put together a plan to approach whatever is nagging you.  I will help you if you ask.  I would be happy to share what is inspiring me.  I am not perfect, but with the grace of God, I am trying.

If you wait for it to come, it never will.  How many times have you said:

"After the new year"
"When company leaves"
"I will when the weather changes"

Get busy living.  Feel better about yourself.  Be more useful to others.  Smile more often.  Share your life with others.  Unite with your family members.

Remember, if you don't have a dream, you can't have a dream come true!

Dear God:  Once again I am humbled how you provide for my needs.  Thank you for sending a friend the very day I was in need.  Her encouragement and instruction was inspiring and life changing.  Thank you for the newness that only You can give a bruised and wounded heart such as mine.  I choose to live a life worthy to be called one of Yours.  With Your help, Laura

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Fortitude: It's Not for Sissies

~mental and emotional strength in facing difficulty, adversity, danger, or temptation courageously.

I heard an author speak on The Today Show this morning who had written a book called, "Fortytude".  It was a play on words to include the number forty with the purpose to talk about the experiences of women in their forties.

You see, in our twenties we are career oriented.  In our thirties we are busy raising our family.  (Or in my case, you completely get those reversed.)  But in our forties we come into a season where we aren't quite sure WHAT we are supposed to be doing.
Our kids are successfuly managing their social calendar and homework schedule (hopefully) and our spouses (if we still have one) are enamored with their career and any sport that graces the television.

This is where I find myself.  I am looking for the Fortitude to distinguish the 40-something year old Laura from the one of my youth.  I certainly don't look like what I envisioned at this time in my life and it inspires more questions than confidence.

My kids managed to become almost too good at being adults.  My marriage ended over six years ago.  I have long since figured out that when the trash needs to go out, it's me.  When the groceries need lugging in, it's me.  When I don't know which bill to pay first, yep, it's me.

But this isn't what constitutes Fortitude.  It's when the loneliness and longing for your past family life hit you like a ton of bricks; it's when the financial pressure builds to a slow-boil and there's no one to commiserate with; it's when we are treated unkindly or judged unfairly and we want to run down Main Street screaming.

Yet, we continue our lives, one breath at a time.  That, is Fortitude.

I have learned that life is not one big act.  It is a series of acts with lots of scenes.  And we are the main character of our life.  We must rearrange the set, change the scenery, put on a different costume and evolve as the story rolls.

Now, I don't mean to suggest that we should fake it.  Just be prepared to "reinvent" yourself as the role in your life progresses and changes.

The book's author had some great ideas that, with my good friend tonight, we put to paper.  We listed 5 prominent life areas that could be used as guideposts to change.  They were spiritual, emotional, physical, social and mental.  Then we made short and easy lists under each one of activities that would/could fill that need FOR ME.

The important part here is, as you complete your grid, make an effort to listen to YOUR voice.  Consider YOUR standards, YOUR goals and YOUR values as you decide what activities will further your life and drive it closer to the goals that YOU desire to accomplish.  The author said, "Listen to your authentic voice."

I know throughout my life, I see a pattern of wanting to make someone happy, proud or content by the choices I made.  I sacrificed my own common sense and long-held values in an attempt to make the "right" decisions as seen by important figures in my life; or to make everything look "good".  I just wanted everyone to be happy.  It was all a facade.
This isn't anyone's fault.  It is a character trait that I was born with and never learned to manage or control properly.  It is truly a shame that I have wasted so much time worrying about what other's expect or want from me.

If you would have asked me over the past few years, I would have told you that I have experienced Fortitude already.  But as I look at the road map I created tonight with my friend's help, I see that I am about to experience the real thing with the Reinvention of Me.

One more point that played a big role in my progress this evening is one that I learned from my other friend who attends AA:    "Accept people and things as they are."
Well now, ain't that a grand idea?  It sure takes the pressure off.  If we can accept the things we cannot change, then that is a big responsibility lifted off of our shoulders.  The load gets immediately lighter.

Join me in this walk.  But if you are fortunate enough to have found your Fortitude already, then just add me to your daily prayer list.  I welcome all the prayers I can get!

Dear God, Thank you so much for the friends and family who share the load with me.  You know, the ones who take my call and actually listen?!  You have blessed me with friends who I can call on.  Thank you also, for their wisdom and sound advice, for their uplifting words and patience beyond measure.  God, if I am to find the "real" me, I will need You.  Please feel welcome in my life to show me how I can grow and become more like You. ~Amen.