Geranium seeds

Seeds of wellness for body, mind and spirit

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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So, are you ready to be a parent?

Lately I’ve been thinking about what little I knew a couple of years ago when I was considering trying to conceive and wondering what it would be like to be a parent. If I could write a letter to my 29 year-old self, this is what I would say…

Lucas and I

You will understand just how closely related love and grief are. You will look at your child as you hold him close on the first night you bring him home from the hospital and you will cry. You will cry because you love him so much and your heart is filled with such gratitude. And you will cry because you know that you can’t protect him from every hurt, and that one  day soon enough, he will not be in your arms anymore.

You will also cry whenever you see or hear about terrible things done to children or when you meet a mother who has lost a child. You will feel the hurt a little deeper, and it will be more difficult to distance yourself from the pain.

You will smile and laugh more. That’s because while you used to go about your business immersed in your thoughts much of the time, now you have a little companion who demands your attention… and boy is he cute. Your face will light up and you will think everything he does is hilarious… luckily he thinks the same about you.

You will be mad. On days when you are extremely sleep deprived and are running late for work, and he is screaming and running from you and just being difficult. And you will be madly in love. Just as quickly as you get mad you will also lean over and kiss him even though he continues to scream and throw a tantrum.

There will come a time when you desperately need a break from being a mommy and you wonder how anyone can do this all of the time. You will miss those days when you could decide on a moment’s notice to drive over an hour to a Bikram yoga class, when you could jump at the chance to register for an overnight relay race without a second thought, or when you could sleep in on Saturdays.

And you will miss him. You will miss him while you are at work, or when you see another mother with a young child somewhere. You will surprise yourself by wanting to cut down on your work hours and to spend more time at home, even though you have always vowed to be a professional working woman all of your life.

There will be nights, like last night, when he sweetly and quietly curls up in your lap at bedtime and lets his fingers run through your hair as you sing him to sleep. And there are other nights, like tonight, when he screams and fights to get out of your arms and you feel like a bad mommy. But you will know that he is just very tired, and so you will hold him a little tighter until he collapses from exhaustion and you place him gently on the crib.

You will marvel at what a wonderful father your husband is and will find another good reason to love him. You will love your child and your new family. You will hurt. You will find bliss. You will change, and you will also be the same.

So… are you ready to be a parent?

PS… if you could only see him, you would say yes!

Lucas and
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Mini Marathon Mommies!

Training for a half marathon with a stroller is no easy feat, but it can be done!

A few months ago, I wrote a post about my running partner, Jocelyn (read the post here.) We started running together while training for our first half-marathon in 2010. At that time, Jocelyn was the only one of us who was a mommy, and all of our runs were sans kids. Now, she’s got two little munchkins and I have a sweet boy of my own. Jogging strollers have definitely become part of our lives!

When we decided to train for another half-marathon together, we knew we would have to incorporate the strollers into our training. Both of our husbands are super busy with work stuff and trips this summer and we can’t find babysitters for all of our runs. We know it will be challenging to get our training done with full-time jobs and kids, but we’re determined to get it done and looking forward to it! We have signed up for a mini marathon in September and officially started our training this week.

If you are a not an experienced runner, a half-marathon may seem like a pretty intimidating feat… but I’m here to tell you it is not as dauting as it seems! It’s all about being consistent with your training.

When I started training for my first mini marathon, the most I had ever run at one time was 6 miles. Once. Our running guru devised an easy 15-week plan for Jocelyn and I that consisted of running only 3 times per week. I was 17 weeks pregnant on race day, and felt great. Our finishing time was 2:32 I believe. We could have pushed ourselves much harder but were trying to be conservative since I was pregnant and this was our first big race.

Since I’ve had Lucas my runs have become shorter but I also think I’ve had more efficient workouts — especially in my hilly neighborhood. Try pushing a stroller uphill… it’s quite a workout! Here are some tips if you are planning on taking your baby for a ride:

Be prepared for interruptions. Checking on baby, replenishing a snack, grabbing the bottle the baby just threw out of the stroller. It does help to keep snacks on hand. Lucas loves the big old rice chips/cakes like “Kim’s Magic Pops” (he’s holding one in the photo above) and it takes him a while to finish one. Perfect for the stroller ride. Also: invest in a stroller with a good canopy or purchase additional sun shade. Despite the canopy on my jeep stroller and my incessant tries to get Lucas to wear his hat and/or sunglasses, sun would always get in his eyes and he would be very uncomfortable (read: more interruptions). Getting extra sun shade has really helped. I have also purchased a weather shield for rainy (not stormy) days and have yet to try it.

Since runs with strollers tend to be shorter, we have decided to adapt the plan that worked so well for us in 2010. We do plan on enlisting child care for our long runs and maybe some of our weekday runs as well. But most of our short mile days will be with our kiddos. So, we tweeked our plan to stretch out our miles into 4 days per week (rather than 3 x week). I will share the plan here in case someone wants to give it a try.

By the way: seasoned runners may be surprised that there doesn’t seem to be a lot of miles to be logged during week days. But, this is the exact amount of miles we logged per week during our first training and were more than ready for 13.1 by week 15!

Week Day1 Day2 Day3 Day4
1 miles 3 2 2 5
2 2 3 2 6
3 2 4 2 7
4 2 4 2 7
5 2.5 4 2.5 6
6 2 3 2 8
7 2 4 2 9
8 2.5 4 2.5 8
9 2 4 2 10
10 2.5 4 2.5 8
11 2 5 2 10
12 2.5 4 2.5 8
13 2 4 2 12
14 2 2 2 6
15 3 2 13.1
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On the road again… my guide for eating healthy on the go

For the past four years, I have been on the road nearly every work day. Like many people who are on the go, I have had my share of bad convenience foods and skipped meals. Fortunately, I have also learned a thing or two about eating healthy on the road. Here are some tips for those days when you have limited time or options for a healthy sit-down meal, or for when you’ve got to hit the road, Jack.

1) Have some sort of a plan when you leave the house. This is key. Know roughly when and what you will eat throughout the day. Otherwise, you are likely to scavenge for whatever foods are available when you find yourself suddenly very hungry. Those are likely to be bad choices. Having a rough plan about when you will refuel and about what kinds of food you are looking for will go a long way to ensure you get in some good nutrition.

Must I say this? Good nutrition really is that important. We very often understimate the effect the kind and amount of foods we eat have on our bodies. Having some thought about the kinds of food we want to ingest requires small effort and has a huge pay-off.

2) Preparation is best. I often plan and pack my meals in advance. After some practice with this, it just takes me a few minutes in the morning to reach for my tried-and-true meal combos. I recommend investing in an insulated lunch bag, one or two reusable ice packs, and a BPA-free water bottle. Here’s how it goes for me:

I like to have a sweet and flavorful type of coffee in the am, so I brew it at home using my favorites Best Life skim milk and agave nectar — it saves me money and ensures I get the good stuff in it rather than good ol’ cream and sugar. That goes into my traveling coffee mug. I also brew a couple of bags of green tea and pour them over ice into my water bottle for sipping throughout the day.

On a good prep day, I pack breakfast, lunch and a snack in my lunch tote. I aim to follow the rule of balanced meals, even for snacks (complex carbohydrate, good/lean protein, and a little good fat). My favorite and easiest lunch is a turkey sandwich on toasted whole wheat bread with cracked pepper mayo and a slice of tomato (packed separately so the bread doesn’t get soggy). Breakfast may be greek yogurt, and snack is usually a serving of fruit and string cheese (the new “tomato basil” by Kraft is delicious). Other winner combos for breakfast or snacks are: mixed nuts and fruit; whole grain crackers or carrots with hummus; fruit and peanut butter (have you tried dark chocolate peanut butter? yummy); yogurt with or without fruit; whole grain crackers with cheese; protein bars or shakes as a last resort.

Since I usually start my day at the office, I also keep a stash of quick breakfast items there (like “Better Oats” oatmeal or whole grain waffles), so I often don’t have to pack breakfast. My current favorite is (toasted) cinnamon-raisin English muffin with peanut-butter spread.

3) Decide on your go-to places for no-prep days. On days when I fail to pack lunch or snack or anything at all, I often choose to make a quick and easy stop at the grocery store when I hit the road. Some grocery stores in bigger cities have fantastic foods. I travel in rural areas and don’t have that many options, but I have found that the Kroger across the street from my office often has ready-made deli sandwiches on wheat bread. It’s very convenient to stop there to grab a sandwich, a piece of fresh fruit and some nuts (maybe even a bottle of water if I forgot my trusted bottle at home) and be on my way.

You can, of course, hit a fast food restaurant — but then you have to be very discriminating about the kind of food you choose. Many fast-food chains are offering healthier items now but even these should probably still be eaten only on occasion. Starbucks has a great selection of breakfast items (if you skip most of the baked goods). Chili and a baked potato from Wendy’s or a low-calorie sandwich from Subway make a good lunch, and McDonald’s fruit and walnut snack will do for a, well, snack. Visit ttp://eatthis.menshealth.com/restaurant_guided_search/all/all/all/fastfoodto look up healthier items from fast-food joints.

Here’s a trick I have started using when I want a hot sandwich for a change. I’ve noticed that very often it is the white sugary bread that makes fast-food sandwiches unhealthy. So on some days I might pack a couple of slices of my good healthy bread, then order a grilled chicken or roast beef sandwich from a restaurant and make the bread switch.

Another good tip for a purchased sandwich is to double the meat rather than doubling the bread; for instance, order a 6-inch sub rather than a footlong and ask to double the meat (Subway has a way of charging for this). Or, order two grilled chicken wraps, ditch the tortilla from one of them and have double the chicken in your wrap. The protein will keep you fuller and you will avoid all the extra sugar from the extra bread.

4)Keep an extra stash of snacks in your car or bag.For those times when you haven’t prepped, and haven’t had a chance to stop by a go-to place, or you simply find yourself extra hungry: keep a cereal or protein bar, maybe even some dark chocolate and nuts, or dried fruit somewhere accessible for snack emergencies. This may help you keep your blood sugar stable and avoid a run for a milkshake. Of course, there are days when I do get a milkshake, and that’s OK. That’s got to be part of the plan sometimes…

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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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This has been a special season of Lent and Easter for me. We had such a moving Tennebrae service at church this past Thursday, when we remembered Jesus’ death with symbols such as the dimming of lights and the taking away of the Christ candle. I really wasn’t expecting the emotional response I had to the service. It reminded me of how important rituals really are. This morning, as we celebrated Easter, the symbolism and ritual grabbed me again. As we celebrated Jesus’ resurrection with the bringing back of the Christ candle, and as we rang our bells while singing Alleluias, my heart was soaring. A post from a fellow blogger came to mind, and I thought I’d share it with you.
Wishing you the joy of Easter!

unchained faith

Last week I posted the top 5 things I am tired of hearing in churches.  One of my readers pointed out another one, so I’m reserving it for a future date.  I think I may have to expand my list of migraine-inducing Church-ese.  I need more than a sentence or two for today’s Hated Slogan: “It’s not a religion, it’s a relationship.”

Let me unpack that one.  First, I don’t know where this idea that religion is bad came from.  Religion isn’t bad.  There can be people practicing it who do bad things.  There can be damaging theology attached to it.  There can be bad things done in its name.  But religion itself is not bad.

The word “religion” means rejoining.  I like that, because the practice of spiritual discipline, corporate worship, and God-honoring ritual are all things that should help us reconnect both to the Divine and to…

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Welcome, Springtime!

Happy first day of Spring!

My last post discussed the gift of “heightened awareness.” I hope you make time to notice beauty and blessing around you today. Nicole Nordeman’s song, “Every Season,” is a good invitation for this.

Here’s a treat for you as we welcome spring. Enjoy! ( the video and the season)

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