Geranium seeds

Seeds of wellness for body, mind and spirit

Ear massage for headache relief

So I started writing this blog entry and realized it would be much better to just show you. So here’s my first video entry! Hopefully I will get better at this and add some more videos!

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Life is a gift… with an ode to joy

I’ve said this on this blog before, but after this week it bears saying again. Most nights when I rock Lucas to sleep it is a mostly sweet but still bittersweet moment for me. Having him snuggle up to me and run his fingers through my hair while I sing to him (sometimes he joins in, which is oh so sweet), or rocking this precious baby (toddler) in silence, then watching him fall asleep with that angelic face — that is very, very sweet. The bitter part comes with my full awareness that he will grow up too soon and be out of my arms, the knowledge that one day he will get hurt and I won’t be able to protect him from everything, and worse — my full awareness that we are not promised tomorrow and I simply do not know how many more times I will get to rock this precious child to sleep.

That may seem a little morbid but I can’t help it — I’m a hospice chaplain and I see people dying everyday. Young and old, people of every kind. People like me. Babies like my baby. It doesn’t depress me like many people think it might; knowing this has taught me the value of life and to appreciate it to its fullest.

This week the bittersweet moments have been even more bittersweet due to several events: first, a dear friend died on Monday. She was a happy, hardworking, active, wonderful person, mother, and friend. She had a nine year-old daughter who will miss her dearly. Then, a couple of friends experienced similar losses when two other parents of young children died this week. Finally, the shooting in Connecticut left us all numb and wild with grief at the thought of losing our own children.

A really great seminary professor of mine — John Claypool — used to say that “life is a gift.” His very young daughter died of cancer and he was later diagnosed with Multiple Myeloma — a nasty cancer that eventually took his life. And his response was this: life is a gift. It helped him to appreciate the time he was able to spend with his daughter, and the life he shared with his wife, family and friends.

That has always, always stayed with me. Life is a gift. Appreciate life.

By the way — here’s the back of our Christmas card this year!

cardback2012

And the front:

cardfront2012

And to finish up I have to share this with you… someone shared this on facebook today and I thought it was perfect timing since tomorrow we light the Advent candle of Joy… amidst all the grief! Flash mobs are awesome and this one is really special. Made me tear up! I hope it gives you some joy.

Peace, love and joy this season and always!! XOXO, Alice.

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Pastoral Care Week

Today I am reposting an entry I made for my hospice organization’s blog. This entry was based on a previous post I made on this blog, “Lessons in Healing Spiritual Pain: What Really Hurts,” which you can read in its entirety here.

During the week of October 21-27, we celebrate the work of chaplains and other spiritual care providers. This year, the theme of Pastoral Care Week is “Giving Voice.” Here is what is symbolized by the Giving Voice logo: “Giving voice is like a drop of rain that nurtures the earth, quenching thirst, and giving new birth to a voice that has been silenced. We listen to what is within, to the diversity of voices we hear, and assist in the weaving of voices in the teams we serve. The bird symbolizes new heights and new places to which our voices may soar.” (PastoralCareWeek.org)

When someone is diagnosed with a terminal illness, many questions find themselves bubbling to the surface: “Has my life mattered? Will I be remembered? Am I worthy of love and forgiveness? Have I done enough? Have I loved well? Will I find peace?” It is possible to conjecture that these questions have always been there, under the surface, to be dealt with at a later time or place. Spiritual pain can often be masked by roles or identities we wear, busy schedules, and prizes we collect along the way. When a terminal illness occurs, however, the masks are gradually stripped away as our usual distractions are no longer viable. What remains is our very core, the longings of our heart, and the essence of our soul.

Life threatening illnesses come uninvited, obtrusively into our lives. They are not warranted or deserved. But if we stop to listen, spiritual crises such as terminal illnesses can also be great teachers. They show us what is important to us and what needs to be healed in our spirits. They give us the opportunity to name needs formerly silenced, to offer and receive forgiveness formerly withheld, and to express gratitude and love formerly taken for granted.

Chaplains assist patients and families in giving voice to their concerns and expressions of meaning, and may also help families voice questions and concerns to God. Spiritual healing may occur even when physical cure is not possible. When patients and families feel heard they may find spiritual healing to be more powerful than they can express in words.

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I’m really doing it!! Transitioning to working part time…

I’m giving heed to my inner voice to “slow down”
*Image by Kelly Rae Roberts

Holy Cow, it’s really happening. In just a couple of weeks I will be changing from regular full-time job status to a 24-hour work week. I will be working 3 days per week (Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays) and will be a stay-at-home mom for the rest of the week. Craaazy, right??

I know, it’s really not a crazy or innovative idea. Lots of people do this. Lots of people are stay at home moms all week long. But it’s craaazy to me! To me, the one who has (privately, to no one) sworn to always hold a full-time job even after becoming a mommy. To me, the one who has (privately) scorned the idea of ever being other than a professional working woman.

I know, I know. Being a mom is my most important work right now, and if I were to quit my job altogether in order to raise my child at home, that would be a fine choice. Intellectually I know this. Emotionally, it’s not so simple.

I have been and still am a strong supporter of mommies who work outside the home. I know that, for a lot of women, it’s not a matter of choice but of necessity. For me, I have to say, it has been a choice. My husband and I could surely have made accomodations in our living expenses if I had decided to stay at home. To be honest, the thought of staying at home never even entered my mind. It wasn’t even a consideration.

You see, since I was a little girl I knew I wanted to be two things: a mother, and a professional career woman. I daydreamed about both of these roles and knew inspiring women who did both well. My own mother was a school principal while I grew up. My career plans have changed a lot throughout the years, but my inner identity as a professional woman has not. It has taken me a long time to finally find myself in a professional position. First I was an undergrad, then a masters student, then a chaplain intern, then a chaplain resident (and with jobs in between), then finally a staff chaplain! Let me just say, chaplain jobs aren’t that easy to find — especially in a small town. So, the thought of leaving my job was just out of the question.

Like many women, I underestimated how difficult it is to balance work and family. Still, I was doing fine, I thought. Then one day while discussing this with a friend, she said, “Working part-time would be perfect.” Until she said this, I hadn’t even considered part-time work. But I thought, she is right. A few months later, I pitched the idea to my organization after coming up with what I thought was a good plan. They said no, and that was that. Or so I thought.

For the next several months, I have heard this voice inside of me telling me to “slow down.” I have felt so rushed. And the voice has been getting louder and louder. But, would I be happy working part-time? What about my career ambitions? (Yes, even as a chaplain I do entertain career ambitions such as moving into a leadership role in the future). And what about the pay cut? It’s not pretty, my friends, but the truth is that having a pay cut is a big blow to my ego. You see, just like it took me so long to reach a professional position, it has taken me this long to finally earn decent pay. When you go to school for so many years it’s kind of demoralizing to not make much money (like the kind I made during my first couple of years post-masters degree). Truth is, I like the money, but mostly I like what it represents. As in, my education was worth something. As in, my working skills are worth something.

So anyway. I had to get over all of that and say YES, voice, YES, I will listen. I will slow down. So I kept coming to my supervisors with new ideas for going part-time. And it really seemed as if it wasn’t going to happen. I had started looking for part-time work elsewhere, and I grieved the fact that I was probably going to leave my hospice work. And then it happened. It was almost out of the blue. I had a meeting with a couple of supervisors on Tuesday, when I was given the OK to work a 32-hour week. Then, on Friday, my supervisor told me I can make that a 24-hour week. Unbelievable!

So here I am. Nervous, and excited. Mostly excited.

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Staying healthy? There’s an app for that!

An actual picture of my phone screen with some of my favorite apps

In the last couple of years, I’ve come to depend a lot on my smart phone — and likely, so have you. I’ve never been one to fill my screen with games (although, on my last flight I missed having a game or two to keep me entertained). Instead, I’ve enjoyed finding apps that make my life easier and apps that make it easier to stay healthy.

There are tons of health and wellness apps out there, and you probably have your own favorites. I thought I’d share mine with you, and then maybe you can share yours with me as well!

1) RunKeeper: this was my all-time favorite app before hubby got me a Garmin watch for Christmas. It helps you track mileage and pace when out running or walking, lets you map out your run and save all of your activity. You can also make up workouts such as intervals and let RunKeeper prompt you to change the pace. Really great app.

2) Eat This, Not That: the restaurant version. It grades the menus of many popular restaurants (mostly fast food), gives the nutritional info of foods on the menu, and recommends healthier items. If I am out on the road and haven’t packed my lunch, I usually check it before ordering.

3) My Fitness Pal: Here you can enter your current weight and your weight goal, and the app will come up with a daily calorie goal for you and help you keep track of your calories throughout the day. It has an impressive amount of food items; you can just about find anything you’ve eaten or you can enter the calories of any food you’ve created. Very good way to keep yourself accountable if you’ve been overeating.

4) Food on the Table: you can select recipes based on what’s on sale at your local grocery store. Then, it makes up a grocery list for you based on the recipes you’ve selected. The recipes are not bad!

5) Breath Lessons: if you think you know how to breathe, think again! This is a great app with really good info on how to reap all the benefits of a good breath. Really, try it!

6) P Tracker Lite: Girls, this is a good little app for keeping track of your menstrual cycle. It helps you know when you are fertile and what to expect around your period.

7) Sleep Pillow: a free app with white noise for sleeping. Can be a life saver for a light sleeper like me.

8) Heart Rate: If you don’t have that Garmin watch or another heart rate monitor, use this app to quickly measure your heart rate after or during a workout.

And a couple of honorable mentions – apps I haven’t actually used a lot, but still find interesting:

9) ShopWell: similar to Eat This Not That in the sense that it recommends healthier foods for you. In this app you list your nutrition needs, and it helps you make a grocery list of items that best match your needs and goals. You can enter grocery items you usually purchase and the app will grade the items based on how well it matches your goals. My complaint about this app is that many of the grocery items recommended aren’t easily found in small, rural towns like mine. But, it is still an eye-opener even if you use it just once.

10) This for That: another food-swap kind of app. You choose the kinds of food you are craving, and it tells you what you could have instead. I haven’t actually tried the swaps, but it was fun to browse through. It would be interesting to see if the cravings actually go away with their suggestions.

11) Healthy Habits: I have recently uploaded this and have not used it yet, so I can’t give a proper review… If anyone has used it, let us know how you like it! The app lets you choose habits you want to break or add to your life (physical, mental and diet-related). Then it helps you stay accountable to that with tips and encouragement.

That’s it for now, folks! What’s your favorite health app?

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Flower Therapy

I am sooo not Martha Stewart. So, if you are naturally crafty or very good with flowers, you will not get much from this post. If, like me, you enjoy beautiful things but need little tips on the craft/make-it-yourself/and-make-it-look-good department, read on, friends!

I have always enjoyed fresh flowers, but would only have them around for special occasions. Since I was never a good flower arranger, I would just buy a pre-arranged bouquet, trim it a little, and place it in a vase, exactly like it was when I purchased it. That was fine, but a couple of months ago I started a practice at my house that makes me supremely happy 🙂

Here, it is, in three easy steps:

1) Get a cheap bouquet from the local grocery. Yes, pre-arranged, but we are not going to use it as is. For the pictures on this post, I got a bouquet from Kroger for $5.99!

2) Use small vases or vase-like things you have around the house. I have been using old glass bottles (even a Frappuccino bottle). I filled the bottom of the bottles with pebbles just for a nice look. Other craftier people might tie ribbons around them and the like. I went the easy way.

3) Distribute the flowers among the vases/bottles as you like, and then place them in strategic places around your house. Here is where I like to place mine:

In the kitchen…

In the bedroom…

And in the bathroom…

It does me a world of good to look at my flowers all the time now. Today I was having a blue kind of day, and the flowers fixed me right up 🙂 I’ve also gotten some compliments from friends and family when they come over. Such a small thing but it can really make a big difference to how you feel at home.

By the way, I thought really hard about a witty way to say “flower power” in this post. But I couldn’t come up with any and it’s late and I’m tired, so… flower power!!

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Distractions in Brazil

My dear readers:
First of all, my heartfelt apologies for neglecting this blog. Summer was busy, and before I knew it I felt out of the habit of writing. You know how it goes. Here´s to a rebirthing of this blog with the beginning of Fall. *Cheers*

The busyness of last Summer started with a trip to Brazil to see family. It was a real family affair since my husband and little boy went with me, and the trip was a success. Little did I know I would be in Brazil again in a couple of months, this time by myself. My dad was hospitalized with pneumonia, and when I heard he had been intubated, I decided to book a last minute flight.

I grew up in a beautiful city on the coast of Brazil. At seventeen, I was ready to spread my wings and explore different sceneries. I didn´t really think that it would be a permanent move or that I would be raising a family in a different country. But, that is how it turned out. I love my life but sometimes I wonder if I would have left if I had understood how difficult it would be to live away from parents who get sick, to raise children away from my family, and to live away from the ocean. Ah, the ocean. My beloved.

It is wonderful to be here but also bittersweet. It´s hard to enjoy my hometown while also caring for my dad and missing my little boy and my husband terribly. Every mamma knows it´s not easy to have a good time when you´re away from your little one for an extended period of time. And even though it´s only been a week, I had never been away from Lucas for more than one night!

So, this has not been the usual leisure vacation in Brazil. But, I am still making the most of it and have certainly made use of wonderful distractions and self-care rituals in this wonderful place called home.

1) Toes in the Ocean

Praia da Costa Beach, in my hometown

I love the ocean. I always have, but now that I live away from it, I really appreciate it. Something about standing in it and watching waves crash on the beach makes everything alright. Nearly everyday since I´ve arrived I´ve come for a short jog on the beach, which ends with my toes in the water for a few minutes. Ultimate self-care.

2) Desserts, desserts, desserts!!

Brazil has the best yogurt. That seems random, but it´s true. I stocked up on my first day. But I´ve also been sampling some of my old favorite chocolates and everything sweet.

The intensive care unit where my dad is hospitalized has very strict rules in regards to visitation. Only one person can stay with him from 11:30 am to 7 pm, and two people can visit for 30 min in the morning and 30 min in the afternoon. I have been alternating with my sisters and stepmother.
One afternoon I was killing time at the mall until visitation time, and saw a bakery named “The best chocolate cake in the world.” Of course, I had to try it! It was good: layers of merengue with real chocolate in between. But, I still wouldn´t say it was the best in the world. So, I am going to have to continue on my mission to find the very best, which means sampling many more different kinds. I´ll let you know how it goes.

The self-titled “Best chocolate cake in the world”

This leads to the 3rd great distraction and self-care goodie in Brazil:

3) Coffee!!

I have had cappucinos or otherwise good coffee everyday. Doesn´t get much better than that.

By the way, this is what the McDonald´s McCafe looks like in my hometown:

Life is sweeter in Brazil.

Not too shabby, huh?

Here´s one more picture of the beach in case you are in the unfortunate situation of being away from the ocean. Picturing yourself here works too.

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What to do when we don’t know what to do

This is a longer post than usual, because it is the copy of the sermon I preached at my church this past Sunday (8/5/12). My pastor was off on vacation and asked me to fill in. We follow the lectionary at my church, and this week’s texts included Exodus 16:2-4, 9-15 and John 6:24-35. The sermon is based on these two texts.

What do you when you are struck by a life crisis and you find yourself in desperate need? It is probably safe to say that all or most people in this room would turn to God for comfort and help – but that is not all we do, is it? Some of us may cope with a crisis by arming ourselves with as much knowledge about the situation as we can – diving into books and studying whatever is afflicting us. Others may start problem-solving and attempting solutions on our own. Others may involve the justice system or the media in order to get enough attention and help from other people and means. Yet others may avoid thinking about the situation altogether by pretending like nothing is happening. It’s what it has been called the “flight or fight response.” And in our culture, at least, we give special credit to the ones who choose to fight, or who choose to do something about it.

After all, many of us believe in the saying, “God helps those who… help themselves.” Many of you may have also heard the joke about a man praying to win the lottery. There are many versions of this joke, but one version says that a very devout man prayed everyday that God would help him win the lottery. And everyday he would give money to charity to prove himself worthy of such a reward. But he never did win the lottery. So when this faithful man died, he went to heaven and came face to face with God. He asked, “God, I would have helped so many people if you had answered my prayer on earth and let me win the lottery. Why did you choose not to answer my prayer?” And God said, “My son, I would have done it, but you never bought a ticket!” Have you heard that before? However you feel about the lottery, the point of the joke is that if we want God to do something for us we should also be prepared to do our part. In other words, we should not expect God to do what we can do ourselves.

We believe that, don’t we? I think most of us would agree that it is not enough to ask for God’s help if we are unwilling to do our part. None of us would counsel a student to pray for God’s help with a test and not to worry about studying for it. That would be unwise or irresponsible. If one of us were diagnosed with something like high blood pressure or diabetes, we would pray for them, but we would also expect them to seek medical care and perhaps make some lifestyle changes to be well. It is only appropriate and sensible to do what we can, right?

What we are talking about is having initiative, taking responsibility, and being willing to work. Most of us have taken these values to heart. It seems to me that in this particular time and place in the history of humanity we have also really come to value self-sufficiency, or the ability to help your own self. “If you want something done well, you’d better… do it yourself.” “Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country.” And the American dream is that you can do anything if you work at it hard enough. So we often meet a crisis or need with the expectation that we can and must do something. The problem sometimes is knowing what to do. And even more terrifying is realizing sometimes there is nothing in fact we can do to change things, no matter how hard we might try. And our self-empowering beliefs and inspiring and motivating sayings aren’t much help to us anymore.

We have all been there, in those impossible situations when we find ourselves helpless. We might be paralyzed by too many options; too many conflicting voices telling us what to do, what to try, where to turn for help. Or it might be that we have looked for just one possible course of action to take and have not come up with any real answer. Maybe it’s a relationship that has been broken and the other person refuses to reconcile with us. Maybe it is something that happened in the past which we cannot change. Maybe we are being laid off from a job or diagnosed with a devastating illness. There are some things we simply don’t have the power to prevent or to stop or to reverse.

It really can be anything, although many of you have probably thought about the terrible illnesses which have afflicted our church family lately and our own personal lives and families over the years. When I first started thinking about this sermon several weeks ago, I thought about my father, whom many of you know was diagnosed with ALS three years ago. ALS (aka Lou Gehrig ’s Disease) is a fatal illness for which there is no cure and no treatment. It’s one of those rare diseases that have no definite cause, and there is no way we know of to prevent it. As it often happens, my father was one of the healthiest and most health-conscious people I know: healthy diet and exercise, healthy social life and spiritual practices. He is also a physician so you can say he really believes in and has leaned on medicine and medical practices. When he was diagnosed with this disease, he consulted the best specialist in Brazil and also came to consult with a specialist in the United States to find out what he could do to keep the disease from progressing. All of the doctors said the same thing: there is no cure and there is nothing you can do to stop the progression of this illness. Wow. Nothing.

I remember one time last year when I visited my dad in Brazil and a group from his church came to the house to hold a service. All around the room, people started to share memories about how my father had cared for them as a doctor. It seemed that he had been directly or indirectly involved with the medical care of several people in the room at one time or another. A few people said, “If you weren’t for you, I might not have made it that time”. It was a very special and emotional moment for everyone and you could see that my father was grateful for that. But I could also sense the sadness that went along with that for everyone involved. How can it be that, someone who has helped so many people medically cannot find help for himself?

If you have been in a situation where you feel that helpless, you can appreciate how painful and frustrating that is. You see, we talk about doing our part and helping ourselves as if it is simply a noble and sensible thing to do. And it is. But it is also the way we try to gain some control over a situation that is suddenly out of our control. It’s a frightening place to be – when we have lost control over our lives. And so we may ask for God’s help, but at the same time we keep looking for something we can do ourselves to ensure that we will get the results we want and have some control back.

If you can appreciate the frustration of being helpless, then you can appreciate what the Israelites were going through as they wandered in the desert hungry and without food. And worse of all, there was nothing they could do about it. Just imagine with me those people walking and living in the desert desperately searching for some way to provide for themselves. These were people used to hard work. They would be ready and glad to be able to plant and work a garden, or to hunt for food or to work in any way they could. Only there was nothing for them to plant, no food to be gathered anywhere or animals to hunt.

We often judge the Israelites for complaining about being without food in the desert after God delivered them from slavery in Egypt in such a powerful way. But can you really blame them? They say, “In Egypt we sat by the fleshpots and ate our fill of bread… here we are going to die of hunger.” In Egypt they worked hard and were afflicted, it’s true. But they knew what to do then to survive. They knew how to work for their food and how to keep themselves alive. Here in this new world they didn’t know what to do anymore.

It seems to me that we might feel the same way when something out of our control or not of our choosing happens to us. We just want things to go back the way they used to be. Maybe life wasn’t perfect but we knew what to do. We knew the rules and how to survive. When life is disrupted we just may not know how to survive anymore.

Since it is so important to us to do our part, we might expect God to tell the Israelites, “OK; I’ll give you food, but you will have to work for it.” But that is not what God does. Instead, God tells them, “I have heard your grumbling and I will provide for you. I will send you quails in the evening for your meat, and during the day you will have bread from heaven. You can take as much bread as you need but you must not keep any bread for the next day. You will have enough for each day.” It seems that God anticipates what the Israelites were going to do when they found the manna; they would try to stock up as much as they could and hold onto it for when they needed it. Again, the need to do something that would give them some control. And why not? Today we would call that being pro-active. It’s good to plan for tomorrow; that is why we have savings accounts and retirement plans.

But God makes sure the Israelites don’t practices stocking up. The first day, a few people try to keep some leftover bread despite God’s warning, and the next day they found that the bread had become rotten and there were worms in it. The only time they were advised to keep leftover bread was the day before the Sabbath so they wouldn’t have to gather the bread on the Sabbath day.

Why is it that God won’t allow the Israelites to stock up on the bread? The Scripture suggests that God was testing their willingness to trust. We could see this in a very restrictive way: that God was making the Israelites pass this test of obedience in order to receive God’s blessing of food. But we can also see it in another light: that maybe God was offering a gift to the Israelites by placing limits on their ability to provide for themselves. Think about it this way: if God had allowed the Israelites to stock up on bread, surely there would be some who would work all day gathering bread to make sure they would have enough for their families. There might be some competition and people might take more than what they need out of fear that they might not have enough. And it is possible that some might not have enough because they might not be able to gather as much as the next person. But if everyone knows there is no use in gathering bread for tomorrow, there is a freedom in this. They know that their provision for tomorrow does not depend on their health or strength or ability or intelligence or anything to do with them. The next day’s provision depends solely on God’s mercy and compassion, and they can trust the bread will be there the next morning. So you see, maybe the blessing isn’t the bread itself, but knowing and trusting that God is with us and will provide for our tomorrow.

Isn’t this what Jesus was trying to say to the crowd that was asking him for bread? Earlier in the service we read the account of Jesus’ teaching to those who had eaten their fill of bread and fish after Jesus multiplied food for the multitude. They asked Jesus, “What must we do to do the work of God?” In other words, “Just tell us what to do, and we won’t have to come to you anymore. We saw the way you provided for our needs by multiplying that food. Teach us how to do that, and we will do for ourselves.” And what Jesus tells them is this: the bread or the working of the miracle isn’t the blessing. The life-giving bread that God provides is not a set of skills, or a special knowledge, or a physical solution. It is relationship; trust; presence. Jesus says, “The work of God is to believe in me. I am the bread of life. Those who come to me will never hunger or thirst again.”

What do we do when we don’t know what to do? We realize that our peace does not come from our doing. It doesn’t mean that we become complacent, or that we stop doing what we know is right. It means that we let go of our belief that what we are able to do is what is most important, or that somehow our lives are worth more if we are able to do more. I can’t tell you how many times in my hospice work I hear people express that they feel worthless because they aren’t able to help themselves or others in the ways they feel they should. Our texts for today teach us that God values relationship more than our ability to produce.

When we don’t know what to do, we make room to be attentive to the moving of the Spirit inside of us. We take a moment to rest from our toils like God invited the Israelites to do on the Sabbath day. When we don’t know what to do, we surrender to the One who gives us life. That means that when we find ourselves very committed to a particular outcome and fearful that we might not get it if we don’t do all the right things, we take a deep breath and we decide to let go of our need for control and to trust that whatever happens will not destroy us. There will be provision for tomorrow because God is with us. Amen.

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I just might have a problem that you understand

Image

Bill Withers had it right. We all need someone to lean on sometimes.

Every now and then I need a reminder that I can’t do it all alone. I have this tendency to keep my thoughts and issues to myself, and to believe myself capable of handling multiple things without asking for help. Invariably I find myself overwhelmed and disappointed (maybe even surprised) at my not being able to somehow be superwoman. Then something or someone comes along to remind me that I am not supposed to do it all by myself and that relying on others and on God is part of the blessing and journey.

It has been one of these times lately. It’s not been anything big or out of the ordinary; I just found myself wandering again into the land of self-reliance or the fantasy of it.

I know it’s not just me because I run into this at work all the time. As some of you know, I work with people who are terminally ill. There are many painful things about being seriously ill at the end of life. But the one thing I seem to hear most of the time is how painful it is to lose one’s independence. People become very distraught at the thought of having to depend on others (whether loved ones or strangers) for regular functions of daily living.

It’s understandable. None of us would relish the loss of our ability to care for ourselves, or to walk unassisted, or even to drive. But it seems to me that at this particular time in history we have really come to worship self-reliance as if it is something to be most proud of. And the irony is that our sense of total independence is really just an illusion. We all do depend on each other whether we choose to acknowledge this or not. And who says dependence on others is really such a terrible thing? Just the opposite, it can and should be a gift.

I’ve been reminded these past few days that I am not alone and don’t have to try to do it all alone. Have you been there too?

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A miracle treatment

What if I told you about a miracle cream that, if applied to your body on a regular basis, would deliver the following results: elevate mood, increase energy, reduce cholesterol and body fat, improve skin, improve lung and heart function, lengthen life expectancy, reduce risk of cancers and risk of dementia, improve sleep and libido, among other things? The only side effect is a feeling of moderate discomfort that lasts about 30 minutes. Would you buy it and use it?

You probably know where I’m going with this. There is no miracle cream, but there is a miracle treatment that delivers all that: exercise.

Sorry for the cheesiness of this post. But this thought did occur to me after I finished a 30-min run today. I realized I had done something really, really good for myself in so many different ways, and all it took was some discomfort for a relatively short time. I wondered, if any product on the market delivered all of these results for some comparably uncomfortable side effect, wouldn’t people still consume it? Then why is it so hard for us to make time for something as simple and good as exercise?

Now that the weather has been so nice I’ve been spending a lot more time outside (hence my hiatus from this blog. I promise to do better about posting). And because I’m outside so much better, I’ve been more consistent about getting some exercise in, which is great. The feeling at the end of a workout is great — not just because it’s over, but because you know you’ve accomplished something good. It makes me wonder why I put it off so much.

I hope this cheesy post inspires you to treat yourself to a workout. Enjoy the nice weather and get those mind and body benefits!

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