Friday, March 16, 2018

Focus Friday: Let's Focus on Brene' Brown

I have been binge-watching Brene' Brown TED talks and other interviews with her on Youtube this week.

It all started when I was looking for something to show and discuss at Fresh Hope on Thursday night. I found a great video by Brene' called Why Your Critics Aren't the Ones Who Count.

I watched it several times and wrote up some questions for our discussion. It was so good, I just knew it would help those of us who were meeting to get support and encouragement for our mental health.

After soaking up that talk, I went on to watch lots of other talks and interviews with Brene'.

A thought that kept popping up was the fact that shame and other negative emotions can often keep us "small," afraid to face criticism and judgment.
(Image from
Maybe that's why I often go through my day avoiding difficult, but ultimately fulfilling, tasks like writing articles and books. I fill my hours with trivial pursuits instead of getting serious about reaching my goals.

I find myself thinking "One of these days, I'll _________," but those days never seem to arrive. I keep spinning my wheels and don't make progress on much of anything.

It seems kind of silly that I even use inspiring TED talks to avoid doing the good work that God has called me to. 

Brene' Brown and other speakers can teach us and inspire us to grow emotionally. 

Chris Freytag and other coaches can teach us and inspire us to grow (or shrink) physically.

Beth Moore and other speakers can teach us and inspire us to grow spiritually.

We have to remember, though, that Brene', Chris, and Beth aren't going to do the work for us. We are the ones that have to choose different ways of thinking. We are the ones that have to spend some time moving our bodies and making healthy food choices. We are the ones that have to open our Bibles and spend quality time with the maker of our souls.

I'm ready to quit spinning in place. It's time to move forward, emotionally, physically, and spiritually...maybe after one more TED talk.

"Because the Sovereign LORD helps me, I will not be disgraced. Therefore have I set my face like flint [I'm determined], and I know I will not be put to shame." (Isaiah 50:7 NIV)

Do you sometimes do things that keep you from moving forward in life? How can focusing on God help you to quit avoiding hard work and begin facing it so you can move ahead? 

Friday, March 9, 2018

Focus Friday: Let's Focus on Birthdays

It was my birthday on Tuesday.

It was a nice day, but we didn't really do anything special. We got Little Caesars Pizza while we were out running some errands and going to appointments.

When I got home, I had this beautiful bouquet of flowers waiting for me - a gift from our women's group at Trinity.
I saw lots of Facebook greetings throughout the day, and I received some really nice cards (and a box of Peeps bunnies - I loved it but it was gone in less than a day!).

It wasn't a milestone birthday, so it passed pretty much like any other day.

I know some people who love to celebrate their birthdays, no matter what the number of candles there are on the cake. 

In the days since my birthday, I've given that a little thought. I think I need to make a bigger deal of that special day. I'm another year older and (hopefully) another year wiser. I've made it through bad days and I've enjoyed tons of good days. 

That's something to celebrate!

I was listening to some music by Chris Rice the other night and I got stuck on some lyrics. They keep running through my brain, so I think I'll share them here with you:

"Every day is a gift you've been given
Make the most of your life every minute you're living" 

You can google "Life Means So Much" by Chris Rice to see the entire song.

As someone who deals with depression at times, I haven't always seen my life as a gift. Sometimes I see it as a burden, something to be endured. 

Ever so slowly, I'm learning to change that. I don't let myself stay in that kind of mindset for very long. I'm trying to choose better ways of thinking.

Every day is a gift, especially birthdays.

"For through wisdom your days will be many, and years will be added to your life." (Proverbs 9:11 NIV)

Do you enjoy celebrating birthdays? How can focusing on God help you to see each day as a gift and make the most of each day you're given?

Friday, March 2, 2018

Focus Friday: Let's Focus on Staying Hungry

I lost four pounds this week! (We won't talk about the five pounds I gained last week while I was on the mission trip)

I was pretty shocked when I weighed myself this morning and saw such a big loss. 

How did I do it? I added some extra walking to my morning exercise routine and I stayed hungry most of the week.

We don't like to feel hungry, do we? Usually, at the first rumble of our stomachs we run to the fridge or cupboard to find something to eat.

I have to admit, I haven't even felt hunger very much in recent months. I had gotten into the habit of grazing my way through the day. 

I went to the pantry for crackers, M&Ms, and whatever else caught my eye between meals.

I didn't feel hungry when it came time for a meal with my family, but I ate it anyway.

When I weighed myself on Sunday, I was finally disgusted enough with my bad habits to do something about it.

I thought back to my "Weigh Down Workshop" days (I took the class back in Rock Rapids, Iowa in the early 90s). I had lost weight easily and happily by applying the principle of "Eat when you're hungry, stop when you're full."

So that's what I did this week. I tried to savor my food a little more instead of inhaling it. I was mindful of my hunger, but not bothered by it. I ignored it if it was close to a meal time, otherwise I ate a little something. It felt good to actually be hungry when I got to a meal. I stopped before I felt full.

Gary and I even went to Texas Roadhouse one night. I ate delicious Tater Skins, rolls with butter, most of a salad (I made sure I ate the eggs, croutons, etc. that I love and I left some of the lettuce so I had room for the rest of my meal), my whole sweet potato with butter and brown sugar, and a few bites of my barbecued chicken (I took most of it home like I usually do).

It felt great to walk out of there full, but not uncomfortably stuffed.

Now, I don't think four pounds in one week is going to be happening very often (I don't even think it's healthy to lose too much weight too fast), but it was encouraging for me to see that kind of progress today. It reminds me that how much I move and what I put in my mouth matters.

Another thing that helped, I think, is that I've been spending a little bit of time every morning reading the Bible before I go over to exercise.

I think it has made a big difference in how I'm thinking. My mind is set more on what God wants for me instead of just what I want. I know He wants me to have a healthy body, so it's been a little easier to make better choices about when and how much I eat.

Another thing that's been helping is that I'm reading a great book by Amy Simpson called, "Blessed Are the Unsatisfied." It has reminded me that we'll never be completely satisfied here in this world. We can be content with what we have, but we'll always have that sense of lacking something until we get to heaven someday.

When we run to the cupboard but we aren't truly hungry, it's time to stop and think. Maybe what we're craving is not chocolate chip cookies at all. Maybe we feel that void inside and we need to spend some time filling it with God instead. Grab your Bible and chew on that for a while (Gwen Shamblin says something like that in "Weigh Down Workshop.")

I think I'm going to have another great week, unless someone buys me a box of Peeps. 

"God - you're my God! I can't get enough of you! I've worked up such hunger and thirst for God, traveling across dry and weary deserts." (Psalm 63:1 The Message)

Do you feel hungry when you eat? How can focusing on God help you to get more comfortable with physical hunger and concentrate more on relieving your spiritual hunger?

Saturday, February 24, 2018

Focus Friday: Let's Focus on Mission Trips

On April 30, 2017, the town of Van Buren, Missouri experienced a flood. The Current River crested at 37 feet (8 feet above the record set in 1904). 

The water ran through town and into about 185 houses, destroying 55 of them. Many businesses were lost.

A group of us from Allison drove down on Sunday to help with repairs in two houses. We worked with World Renew (who partnered with Catholic Charities) and did as much as we could to help two homeowners this week.

Here's most of our group with Kathy (front, in white) on the first day. Three more workers came on Wednesday night.
Some of us worked mostly in Kathy's house. She only had ten minutes to get out of her house once she became aware of the danger. She grabbed a few things and left, thinking it wouldn't be too bad...but her house ended up filling with at least five feet of water on the main floor (about eight feet in the garage). 

We worked hard all week, putting mud on the walls and taping some spots, putting up drywall in some spots, sanding, and cleaning up messes. Some of our group did plumbing and electrical work. Whatever Billy Moses (our supervisor) told us to do, we did. He was right in there working with us all week long.

Gary and I worked together to put in a new bathtub.
The girls learned to mud, too - they worked so hard and did a great job!
Rosemary stopped mudding for a second to humor me with a smile. She also lined up
(and cooked) delicious meals for us all week long.
I learned to tape corners. What do you think?
Gary never expected to be mudding this week - but he did lots of it!
Some of our group worked next door in Dale Brown's house. It was farther along. He was living in it already, but the group completed putting in flooring and did some painting and trim work (among other things). 
Some of our group put in flooring and painted in Dale Brown's house.
It was so rewarding to talk with these homeowners and see their gratefulness for the work we did. We, in turn, were blessed by hearing their stories and seeing their faith in action.

Of course, the work was only part of the trip. We also ate delicious meals, played games together, had devotions each evening and sang together, and laughed a ton.

To be honest, I was a little nervous before we left on Sunday. I didn't know if I was ready to get out of my comfort zone and leave all of the things I "should" be doing back in Allison.

I'm so glad I came. I've hardly thought about the things back at home (it will all be waiting for me tomorrow). 

It was wonderful to get to know the people in our group better.

It was refreshing to spend a little time in the Bible most mornings and listen to what God had to say to me.

It was rewarding to help people who had lost almost everything.

It was fun to try new things (mudding, taping, and stilts).

My attempt at stilt walking didn't last too long. (Three steps forward and three steps back to the ladder!)
If you ever have the chance to go on a mission trip, I urge you to take advantage of it. We can all find a hundred excuses for not going, but there are lots of good reasons to go.

We found out that we didn't have to go very far to do some hard work for people who needed it. All of us are going to look around in our own communities and try to keep meeting needs once we get back home.

Sometimes you have to get away to be reminded of what's really important.

"Declare his glory among the nations, his marvelous deeds among all peoples." (Psalm 96:3 NIV)

Have you ever gone on a mission trip? How can focusing on God help you to see the needs of others - both far away and close to home?