Thursday, December 18, 2014

Better Days (act as if ... )

I went from this on Wednesday night: 

This is at least the third time I've encountered this Scripture today. I really need it. Struggling with various aspects  of depression, tiredness, sadness, disappointment, frustration  -- and guilt and shame for feeling and then insisting on sharing those things. I know it will pass. But when? Soon, I hope. I want to feel the joy and peace I know God has for me.
(The scripture was Romans 15:13 -- 
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.)

To this on Wednesday morning:

The sun comes up
It's a new day dawning
It's time to sing Your song again
Whatever may pass
And whatever lies before me
Let me be singing
When the evening comes

Bless the Lord oh my soul
Oh my soul
Worship His Holy name
Sing like never before
Oh my soul
I'll worship Your Holy name
-- "10,000 Reasons (Bless the Lord)" by Matt Redman. 

With some Psalm 23 and Page 353 (Dec.18 reading) in the OA Voices of Recovery in between: 

The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want ... He restores my soul ... Guarding, guiding all the way ... With blessings overflowing, His goodness and unfailing kindness shall be with me all of my life ... And I will live with Him forever. 
-- The New 23rd lyrics, modified 

There are those gray, bleak days when I don't feel like doing what I need to do to ... I'm tired of the effort. I want to give up. But I stop and reflect. If I quit making the effort, I'll slide backward. And backwards, for me, means ... mental, physical and spiritual anguish. ...
So I pray for the willingness to do whatever my Higher Power nudges me to do. Then I get my body in motion and do it! ... And then once again, I experience the healing and recovery. 
-- Voices of Recovery

The slogan "when all else fails, act as if" also came to mind today and probably helped. 

But, above all, faith and gratitude. 

Hope springs eternal. Morning by morning, new mercies I see. Great is God's faithfulness. 
-- Lamentations 3:22-23, paraphrased

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Oh. No. (plus) Oh. Yes. (equals) O.K.

I thought the blog deadline was Thursday but then it seemed like it just might be tonight. So I checked. And it's tonight. 

To write or not to write: that is the question. Or maybe, since now I am writing, the question will be whether to post. And the answer is pretty certain, given my past performance. I will post, but it will probably be pretty meaningless. 

I'm not sure where my time is going. I feel as if I'm letting more and more things go, and still I keep getting more behind. I've had many things I wanted to write about -- including the Christmas cantata, caroling, selfies, hair, clothes,  hoarding and emotions. Plus, I'm more than  halfway through my #healthy65 Holiday   Challenge, having completed 35 days of reducing my gum consumption by half and using that as a springboard for other positive choices.

So much seems positive and hopeful, and at the same time, my stress level is as high as ever as I wonder how I will  get all done that I need and-or want to do by Christmas and the end of the year. 

It's going to be OK. I know it is. It always is. I pray and I have faith, and God knows I try to know and do His will and live to His glory. And even though I tend to think I'm falling short and dishonoring Him, He keeps working things for good and showing me His blessings. 

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.
Romans 15:13

Let everything that has breath praise the Lord. Praise the Lord.
Psalm 150:6

In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.
Proverbs 3:6

Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.
1 Peter 5:7

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.
Romans 8:28

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

My #Healthy65 Holiday Challenge update, Day 28/65

My #Healthy65 Holiday Challenge goal started out as reducing my gum consumption by half for two days per week. It immediately became my desire to meet this standard every day. I've been going along pretty well with it, even as it has continued to take intentional thought. (If I didn't think about it, I would easily slip back into continuous chewing, as annoying as that is, even to me.)

For some reason, today, Day 28, I found myself wondering if I'm being honest. I think I may be playing mind games. For one, I was downplaying the amount of gum I previously chewed, and therefore set my target low. That means I've had some wiggle room, which I have used. (I can go over my target some and still be reducing my consumption by half.)

Anyway, the thing I realized is that I feel guilty or bad or ashamed of myself if I go over the lower target.

I don't want to feel guilty or bad or ashamed of myself. But I have a tendency to do so, and not just involving what I consume. In recent weeks (maybe the four weeks of this challenge?), I've really been working myself over mentally, second-guessing most of my thoughts, feelings, actions and attempts to express. High on the list is that I'm still as self-focused as ever, letting fear or just blatant selfishness hold me back from being a more generous and serving person. (Oh yes, I've also given myself a pretty good mental thrashing over a spell of forgetfulness and losing things that is driving me crazy, even though the good news is I've ended up finding most of the misplaced things!!!)

Unfortunately, in the process, I see that I have a tendency to judge others just as harshly as I judge myself. And I think I may express those judgments more than I realize, especially at work but also in other areas.

I want to lighten up. I'm not exactly sure how to go about it. I think that is my next goal, to find a way to be less judgmental, critical and negative, and more gracious, supportive and affirming. I'm pretty sure I can only do that with God's help. And so, as usual, I will pray, then try to let go and let God, and give Him the glory.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Praying in faith

Having a cold was not on my priority list for the start of December. It happened anyway. As colds go, it hasn't been bad. But combined with winter weather, an uncomfortably cold office, and stress from a variety of sources, it's about wiped me out. 

The stage was set Saturday -- Nov. 29 -- a day of contemplation and some tears, including with a dear sister in Christ who understands all too well. ... Feeling helpless but never hopeless. Grateful and blessed. And loved. Rich blessings of family, faith and spirit. Sweet music of life: To hear it! To share it!

The stronger symptoms of the cold came that night. Fortunately, the amount of water I drink and other methods seem to keep a cold's drainage from settling in my chest or head, so by Monday I felt remarkably better.  That doesn't mean there's not a steady stream of mucous and especially lots of tiredness. 

As a result, I've been less successful in dealing with emotions and stress. 

Even my prayers seem feeble and unfocused. It's all I can do to pray in faith -- I literally express to God that I have faith He knows my cares and concerns, and  I trust Him to take care of them. I trust that if He needs me to be a part of His work in an area, He will guide me and equip me. 

By the end of today, I was also reciting the Serenity Prayer: God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference. (Thy will, not mine, be done.) Amen. 

None of this seems easy right now. I'm not feeling the faith I claim. It's more like   acting as if. And there is value in that.

Meanwhile,  I feel so much tension in my body. Would crying make me feel better or worse???? 

I feel as if I need to bawl, but I fear if I start I will never stop -- or it really won't help, and then I'll just also have a headache and red, itchy, puffy eyes. 

And so I continue to pray in faith and trust. 

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Thanksgiving 2014

I desperately wanted to post something for Thanksgiving, but I could not find the words, and now it's after midnight, so unless my blog's time stamp is still messed up, it's Friday already. 
They need to be shared. 
I was grateful for a day with just my husband and myself at home. I've been going through a busy stretch at work and on weekends, so a day of rest was appreciated. 
But at the end of the day, something is missing. My heart needs me to reach out and touch  my extended family and beyond. Why is it so hard, especially to serve those beyond my family? And why am I so hard on myself?
I thank God for this day of rest and realization. 
And, obviously, I still have not found the words to express what is on my heart. It was worth trying. It's worth posting to show myself that I tried. And now it's time to let it go and head to bed. 
My heart overflows with thankfulness and love for God. 

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

#healthy65: Day 14 of 65

These are some  thoughts at the end of the second  week of my #healthy65 challenge:

I am thankful that I could choose not to participate in the wonderful Thanksgiving potluck at work and not feel deprived or pressured. I am grateful I can make choices that are healthy for me. Some days I don't. But for today, I did. 

I posted a version of that on Facebook, as an affirmation and somewhat of a commitment. I almost didn't post it, because I worried someone might think I was judging those who indulge in such feasts. That was not my intent. 

I think potlucks are  wonderful and sometimes I do participate. But I know how I am with food. The combination of a 10-hour holiday-week workday, stress and all that wonderful food would have been disastrous for me. I would not have been able to stop eating until I felt miserable.  I'm pretty much all or nothing, and when I acknowledge my tendencies and make choices based on the realities, the results are good. 

So, why don't I always do this? Who knows? Human nature, I guess. 

That brings me to another observation on Day 14 of my #healthy65 challenge. I've continued to achieve my gum goal daily instead of just twice a week. It hasn't gotten any easier. Today was another day I did not think it would be possible. But I'm on a roll, so to speak, and I really do not want to lose the positive momentum. So, I prayed, tried  and trusted -- and at the end of a long and hectic day I had only chewed about 54 little pieces of gum instead of the former norm of 112 or more. And I feel better for it, one day at a time. 

My final thought for tonight is that whose-ever idea it was to do the Dayxx of 65 tally was crazy. Fourteen seems like progress -- but 14 out of 65 looks like almost nothing. But on I trudge. More gratefully than it probably sounds in this post!!

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Seven healthier days? (#healthy65 Day 7)

This is mainly a checking-in post. It's the end of Day 7 of my #healthy65 Holiday Challenge. To my surprise, I've achieved my goal of reducing my gum consumption by at least half each day. (My goal was only to do so at least two days each week.)

I'll confess the amount of gum I'm talking about: It was typically 96 to 128 of the small squares of Dentyne Fire. That's up to eight packets of gum. For seven straight days now, I've chewed 56 pieces or less. I cringe to think of how much I'm still chewing, but I know it is a major improvement.

I don't see myself ever completely giving up gum, but I hope to never go back to chewing more than I am now, and I would like to reduce further.

Right now, it's still very much one day at a time to not go back. I really thought I would do it today. It seemed like it was going to be more gum or more food -- and before the day was over, I suppose I did eat a little extra. That is a related part of the goal that I'm actually still trying to figure out. I can eat a little more food in exchange for the missing gum calories. A serving of dairy and a serving of veggies are healthy choices. But many days I forget that. Maybe that's why I'm waking up feeling hungry.

Coming days and weeks will include many challenges for me to fall back into the old habit, grabbing another piece of gum without even thinking. It's only by thinking that I don't grab the extra. But the same thinking that is required to keep me from chewing more also takes my thoughts to a higher plane. This isn't just about gum. It's about a healthier way. It's about discipline. It's about hope. It's about gratitude. And I am grateful.