Sunday, January 31, 2010

iLife Apps

I saw a fun blog where every month a collage of photos were posted that represented her life over that last month, and I thought I'd do my own spin off of that! I love the iphone and would really like one, I think the apps are pretty cool and often tell a lot about the phone owner, so my monthly collage is going to be what the tops 'apps' for my iLife were that month. Here is January.

Happiness is...

I'm a pretty happy-go-lucky person most of the time but even I can have my funks, those rare times I actually WANT to be in a bad mood.

And then.....

I hear a baby cooing and babbling, so full of joy and wonder and sweetness. I really can't help but let my negativity evaporate after hearing that.

Happiness is a cooing baby.

What form of happiness is impossible for you to resist?

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Love U

I have been schooled in God's love a lot in the last year. It feels a little like I've been enrolled in Love 101 at Love U.

I've already mentioned what I learned at Southland earlier last year, about loving people at their worst because that's when they are farthest from God, and therefore need love the hopefully help reconcile them to God.

That lesson has been a great help in many relationships yet it still takes me a little while to remember that lesson. My first instinct is still to react with anger and judgement at people's mistakes or flaws. That is the human condition though, isn't it. I am aiming to love like God, but I am human, and God's love is above knowledge, above logic.

This human condition almost seems to be an involuntary reflex at times, but as Pavlov's research proves reflexes can be conditioned. But there was someone who knew about conditioning our reflexes long before Pavlov.....Jesus. This summer, at our Church Riverwood, they played a video of a great sermon from a church called Theater Church, who actually podcasts their sermons to several different locations. They had a series called Love U (funny enough), and I learned a lot in this lesson, you can listen to it here if you wish.

Jesus was a great observer of how we are good at acting like Godly people, but it is not as easy to REACT so righteously. But it is our reactions, our conditioned reflexes, that reveal more about our relationship with God.

Luke 6:27-36 is a great example of Jesus trying to recondition our love reflex. We go on the offense so easily when we are under 'attack', when someone steals from us, hits us, takes advantage of our wealth, but it isn't even just the 'big' things, that cause us to react badly because really, I haven't been stolen from or hit all that often. What about how we treat those who 'steal' our sense of peace, our personal time, our good mood. Or someone who hurts us with insults, gossip, injures our reputation, or emotions. Why are we not willing to give to everyone who asks, why only to those we like, or feel are deserving. Our reflex is to hurt back anyone who seems they are not for us, but against us.

The pastor in this video made a interesting observation, Jesus was practicing a sort of spiritual Aikido. Aikido is a form of martial art, performed by blending with the motion of the attacker and redirecting the force of the attack rather than opposing it head-on. He is trying to show us that when our conditional reaction to 'attacks' is to oppose them head-on we should instead redirect their attack with love. Jesus has perfect control of his reflexes and exercises a loving conditional reflex, with such mercy and grace. Jesus' gave love when it was least expected and least deserved. People caught in the act of horrible sins; the adultress woman about to be stoned, making eye contact with Peter instead of shunning him after he denied him, forgiving his tormentors as he was being tortured and crucified, he loved them all when they least deserved it and least expected it.

We convince ourselves that forgiving and loving people who hurt us will condone their poor choices, but Jesus obviously did not approve of the people crucifying him, yet he knew only a loving response would save them from themselves. His love is unfailing, it always remembers that people are more valuable than the life they choose for themselves, even a life apart from him. He is our groom and he loves us for better or worse. He also knows that when people are at their worst, they are at their most vulnerable and so we should love and bless people beyond their ability to reciprocate, after all, just look at what loving people at their most vulnerable, their most helpless, did to the people Jesus loved. He changed lives drastically.
So I looked inward, to see who I withold love from, who I pull away from, afraid I will condone their actions. There are the people I've worked with, who are ruthless, and I'm probably more afraid other people will think I'm approving of their actions. There are those who are just annoying, always needing attention, sympathy, approval, etc. and so it makes me want to give it to them even less. But the scariest realization was that I do that my husband. I am afraid to condone some of the things he does because I fear he will think it's ok to continue them, and so I nag a little, guilt a little, whine a little. That is not loving at all, and is something I purposefully avoided during my Honor Hubby Challenge, but has been tougher to carry out the rest of the time. I have made a bit of an improvement though, and I am seeing changes in him lately, but only because I've turned to God to show me how I can help him instead of thinking I can 'encourage' him to change my own way.
Who are you withholding love from because they don't always meet your approval?

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Laugh of the Day

I just had to share this blog that literally made me Laugh Out Loud.

Disclaimer: contains vulgar content, but just so you know, it's things said in his sleep, he doesn't really talk like this. which makes it all the funnier

Saturday, January 23, 2010

WOW - Words of Wisdom

Where I used to work, our HR team (my team and a wonderful group of people) were optimistic believers, they wanted to instigate inspiration, be a catalyst for change, an idealistic bunch who believed the best. It was just a call center but we tried to change the world we had access to. One of my co-workers, and still a dear friend to this day, was especially full of encouragement and he developed a weekly email called WOW - Words of Wisdom, where he would share quotes that he hoped would be that inspiration and catalyst. Many of them I took to heart, and still to this day I am a collector of quotes, sayings, advice that have had a hand in shaping me, inspiring me, motivating me. Figured I'd share a few:

Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result is the definition of insanity.
-- Albert Einstein

I must have been a little mentally unhealthy to think my health would just take care of itself the way it did when I was young, that being 'young' in the eyes of the world meant my health could still be taken for granted. But I got a rude awakening and this quote has become a good motivator for being healthy, I can't expect health to just happen to me, it's a life style, not a state of being.

Science without religion is lame. Religion without science is blind.
-- Albert Einstein

It's not only the beauty of His creation that points to His existence, the truth of biology, chemistry, physics, etc. proclaim His glory. Even the stones cry out His name. A genuine search for truth will lead to truth.

Anything worth having is worth fighting for.
--Thomas Jefferson

This has been a favorite for awhile, kind of along the lines of good things come to those that wait, but it's more pro-active than reactive, and even though waiting isn't always easy, somthings require you to act instead of being passive. And it's been my husband's and my quote almost from day one.

Do everything in LOVE. -- 1 Corinthians 16:14
Love covers all wrongs. -- Proverbs 10:12

I've always been the forgiving kind, I have more tolerance for things than some, loving people comes easily to me, but I made a connection that my judgemental attitude of the few I found hard to love, or even strangers, was in a way is unforgiving, holding something against people. Then a sermon last year changed my perspective. It is only by the power of God's love that I am not making the mistakes I'm judging in others, I have no right to judge when I could be in a worse position were I seperated from God's love. It brought new meaning to me, "love covers all wrongs", which made it easier to love people in all circumstances. Now I can have more loving interactions with people, make more loving everything in love.

The task ahead of us is never as great as the Power behind us.
-- unknown

Ever since I was little I was somewhat scared God might ask me to be a missionary, or some other responsibility that was equally as scary to me. That anxiousness disappeared a long time ago, however a few years ago a new worry took it's place, that He would not give me the responsibilities I wanted. Now I know, He doesn't give me any more than I can handle, He has placed a passion for my purpose within me because He created me, and whatever it is, it will be Him working through me, the task will never be just up to me, I am only the tool with which He works.

Every man is guilty of all the good he didn’t do.
-- Voltaire

Just a striking remember, it's not about how good I am 'on the whole', 'on average', but any opportunity I waste that God has given me to do something counts for something too.

We're fools whether we dance or not, so we might as well dance.
-- Japanese Proverb

A great reminder to not be so self-concious....I need lots of those.

Be who you are and say how you feel, because those who mind don't matter, and those who matter don't mind.
-- Dr. Suess

I've always wanted to take this more to heart, I have always cared too much about what people think of me, but haven't been able to quite get it through my thick head. I read this advice today that helped it sink in just a little deeper, "Don't take anything personally. Nothing others do is because of you. What others say and do is a projection of their own reality." Don Miguel Ruiz

Never separate the life you live from the words you speak.
-- Paul Wellstone

While I saw the other piece of advice above, I saw another one from Don Miguel Ruiz, "Speak with integrity. Say only what you mean." It reminded me of this quote, an important reminder that my actions speak louder than words, I don't just want to be genuine, I want to show I really believe what I'm saying, I don't want any hint of duality in my life.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Fruits of my Labor

So, despite not making any resolutions tied to the New Year, I have been experiencing more resolve than normal to become the best person I can become. The catalysts have been numerous; a lack of items checked of my 101 List, seeing friends/family reaching their goals and their potential, gaining rather than losing weight, a general re-examining of my purpose (realizing I don't feel any closer than last year, and like I haven't even acted that much on what I did learn last year). Maybe it's all the time I had on my hands over the holidays, maybe it's just something that happens to most of us, regardless of trying to avoid 'The Resolution', but I've been doing a lot of inner reflecting and deciding things I am trying to permanently change about my life.
As I mentioned my last post, I have some goals for fruitfulness, but overall my main goal is to be fruitful, period. If my results are not bearing fruit, something has to change, now. Here are some areas I know I need to change now.

Health. I am determined to keep my health a priority, and that means not letting myself get lazy. There is a difference between a 'break' and just being lazy and my 'break' from exercise has been too long to not just be lazy. My break from avoiding food treats has been too long to not just be lazy. But I refuse to allow myself to continue this aversity to work, and suffering. Everything else I've been filling myself with to avoid it has just not been fruitful. I'm back working out at least 2 days per week. I've got a taste for making my muscles hurt (in a good way :) and sweating again. I have actually developed the loss of taste for a lot of my usual snacks, I'm actually tired of them! I'm walking by chocolate and thinking 'ugh!' Shocking I know! I find myself not snacking at all or resorting to more healthier snacks. We are eating out way less, and I am continually trying to impliment healthier menu options to add more to my repetoire and therefore an easier option. My motivation is similar to my last campaign for health, yet something has changed. I don't want my exterior to be seen as self-depreciation or self-disinterest. I want to be seen as strong enough to overcome this, strong enough with His power of course.

Purpose. I've made several attempts at journalling over the years, in various forms, blogs being one of them of course. To me, journals have always been a little self-discovery, a little documentation. I have so many kinds of journals and I have a new determination to delve into them all, partially to document, a way to remember and honor lessons learned, hopefully ingraining them in my memory, partially to continue the self-discovery I feel I need more than ever. I have over the course of the last year felt that sharing my insights in my blogs may be part of my purpose, but I know that's not all. I feel the need to hash out my feelings about my previous goals, how I can achieve them in different ways, what I am meant to do instead, what talents am I not tapping into the full potential of? I have re-begun a discovery/creative journal I attempted to start in 2004, where I use many different mediums to become more intuitive, courageous, effortless, and less self-consious and inhibited in my creativity and self-discovery. It's been fun and freeing and fruitful.

Discipline. I spend a lot of time admiring people for various fruits they've developed, yet not doing much to attain that which I admire. I have become determined not to let that continue. When I find myself wishing I could be 'that way', I won't think of it as a lofty goal and I will make a plan to develop that fruit in myself, and then remained disciplined until I've achieved that goal. The number one thing on my list I have always wished I had more discipline with is reading the Bible. I can't expect to grow closer to God, and become more fruitful, if I don't dedicate myself to reading His Word. I have treated Bible reading as a goal and not a need, I need it like I need exercise and healthy eating. So, I'm making it almost fool proof. I have found a Facebook application for the One Year Bible Online, which gives me 7 days of daily readings when I open the application (on my profile page). My penchant for time wasting is at it's highest on Facebook, so I'm using my weakness against me :) and making my Bible reading just shy of too easy!

I will be a different person by this time next year, and for all the years to come, I am shaping myself into that person, day by day. I don't know who that person is yet, but I know who they won't be.

Friday, January 1, 2010

New Year, Not New Me

I’m going to copy my friend and resolve to make no more new year’s resolutions. I want to begin to think in terms of choosing to work on myself daily as opposed to making a list of yearly goals. Partially because I made my list one year ago and then within months I was thrown for some loops, and lost my focus on those ‘priorities’, instead working hard at hanging on and making sure the rollercoaster didn’t throw me off the tracks all together. Partially because the root of all my goals is my relationship with God, but just because there was certain fruit I intended on harvesting from that relationship doesn’t mean that’s what God had planned for me in 2009.
That doesn’t mean goals aren’t important to me, I still have goals for my finances, my health, my talents, etc., but my predominant goal is to seek out God’s will for me every day, to discover who He is shaping me to be in each moment. I believe that will result in a lot of various fruits, as that’s what the Bible promises when we are plugged into the Vine, will that mean I lose more weight, reduce my debt, and so on? I hope so, but I guess it depends on if there are more imperative challenges I need to deal with first.
I don’t want to make it sound like 2009 was a complete failure, there were many wonderful things about 2009 I celebrate and am so thankful for:
1. In the first 4 months especially, but all through the year, God has proven when I draw near to Him, He will draw near to me, and I have basked in His presence more this year than I ever have. He keeps showing me more and more of my ‘big picture’, and although I most certainly don’t have the whole picture, I do have increasing peace about what He has in store for me.
2. God finally got the truth through to me about my past, showing me the lies I believed about it and knowing that truth has made all the difference. I finally have plugged a leak of negativity in my life that was not only a distraction but a danger.
3. Even with the economic struggles most of us have been facing, we enjoyed a trip to Nashville, I started a Stampin’ Up! business, we’ve been able to put more money down on our mortgage (thanks to choosing a variable rate on our new house), and we still only have a small amount of debt.
4. I have still overall lost 21 lbs, so despite my indulgences and lack of motivation to continue my weight loss, I haven’t fallen behind too much, and am back on track thanks to a husband who has increasingly become more involved in his own health this year.
5. The loops and detours this year have equipped me or provided me with time and resources to invest more in certain relationships, and I am so glad to have grown closer to many people this year.
6. Over the course of the year my perspective of the future has changed drastically, and so it changes my long term goals yet clarifies my current purpose more. It ties into my sustainable living and pursuit of truth, and although it is all still just pieces of a bigger puzzle, I am growing content and confident.
So, another year, another wild ride, and I look forward to many more :) And I hope to keep sharing them with you all as well!
Happy New Year!
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