Thursday, April 24, 2014

Details...


I have a new little nephew...a tiny little nephew...
Technically, he's a great nephew...but great aunts are always so old...and...well...I like to think that I'm not quite old enough to be a great aunt...
I visited my one day new little nephew.
His mommy unwrapped him so we could see his little fingers and toes...
They were all there.
Each little toe had a tiny toenail...
Even the pinky toe.
It was super tiny.

I remember when I had my babies...
I remember looking at their tiny toes...
That tiny little toenail on the pinky toe gets me every single time.
It's just. so. tiny.

Life is so full of details...
Parts and pieces of a big picture.
Important and less important...
But all important...to someone...

We pray about health...
safe travel...
decisions...
loved ones...
jobs...
weather...
pets...
projects...
security...
thoughts...
anxiety...
joys...

God is a God of details.
He cares about what we care about.
"God doesn't care about that, I'm not going to bother Him."
Wrong.
He put nearly microscopic toenails on pinky toes in the womb...
He cares about everything.
Every detail.
He wants you to share everything.
Every detail...
Details that He created and cares about...
Yes, even that.

Friday, April 18, 2014

A Very Good Friday...


I'm reading Prayer - Does it Make Any Difference? by Phillip Yancy...one of my favorite authors.  (It's SO good!)

Last night, I read a timely bit about Jesus' prayers.  The prayer he prayed for wisdom in choosing his 12 disciples and His prayers for the two disciples, Peter and Judas, who would deny and betray him.  At first glance, it would seem that God did not answer those prayers...after all, Jesus was crucified...had those two done right by Him, perhaps His life would have been spared...or does God work differently than we would think?

God used those two men to accomplish salvation for you and me.  God's "freedom-respecting" style of goodness and grace, allowed those two men to exercise their free will to do as their hearts would lead.  He gives you and I the same freedom.  That is why we need His grace.

In the book, Mr. Yancy describes the "freedom-respecting style of good and the freedom-crushing style of evil".  He examines Mark 9, where "a young boy was foaming at the mouth, gnashing his teeth and throwing himself into fire and water.  In every way, evil possession transforms the boy into a caricature of a human being, forcibly overwhelming human freedom.  Contrast that scene with possession by the Holy Spirit.  Paul warns, "Quench not the Spirit and grieve not the holy Spirit of God"  The Lord of the universe becomes so small, so freedom-respecting as to put himself somehow at our mercy."

Wow.

As I ponder Good Friday...the day we recognize as the day Jesus, God taking the form of a man, died on a cross - the most degrading form of death at the time - to pay the price of the sin of every man, past, present and future...I think of this freedom-respecting style of God.

He doesn't die for us and then get in our face and say "LOOK WHAT I DID FOR YOU!  OBEY ME!!"

No.

He loves us and waits for us.

The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance. - 2 Peter 3:9 



What is His promise?  His promise is eternal life for all who accept His gift of grace...freedom from death...and the promise of eternity with Him.  

"not wishing that ANY should perish"...not one.  no matter what they've done.  no matter who they are.  no matter who they love.  no matter where they've been...or how long it's taken them to see...to accept...to repent...because all have sinned...and all need a Savior.  

I'm so thankful that God respects my freedom to choose...to believe or not to believe...

I'm so humbled that God, the God of the Universe, loved me...and you...little us...so much that He would die in our place so that we may live...

What a Good Friday!

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Overheard in the Dietitians office...

I've had two appointments with a dietitian...

What I expected:
To be weighed.
To be measured.
To learn my BMI.
To be shocked by my BMI.
To be told what foods are bad.
To be bummed out about all the foods on the bad food list.
To be told what foods are good.
To not like any of those foods.
To be told I shouldn't eat certain foods.
To be told how much to exercise.
To be given a food plan filled with foods I've never heard of.
To feel overwhelmed by all of the information.

What actually happened...
I sat down and the dietitian began asking me questions.
It felt like a counseling session...and I was uncomfortable at first.
She asked why I was there.
"I'm 48, food sticks to my body like barnacles to a rock even though I exercise regularly and eat a healthy diet but sometimes I'm bad and have treats that I probably shouldn't...but not very often."
"Wait...why are you so judgmental of yourself?"
"Huh?"
"Food isn't bad...you're not bad for eating food."
"Well, I'm talking about cookies and sweets."
"Why are those foods bad?"
"Huh?"
This is when I first began reconsidering my ideas about food...and why I eat it.

All food is permitted...good...it's WHY you eat it that matters...
"When do you usually eat.  Do you know what hunger feels like?" she asked.
"Yes."
"Oh good, some people don't know that feeling...they've never allowed themselves to be truly physically hungry."
"Oh, wow."
"So, is that when you eat...when your stomach is growling?"
"No, not always."
"When are other times that you eat?"
"When I'm bored...upset...happy...celebrating...with friends or family...in social situations."
"OK, so you eat emotionally..."
"I do."

My first assignment was to write down or pay attention to what I was feeling every single time I reached for something to eat.  Am I physically hungry or is there some other reason?  I did it.  Here's the overwhelming reason I eat:  I reward myself...for running!
My mantra:  Will run for food.
I could write it with a black Sharpie on a piece of cardboard and attach it to my back when I'm running...it's that true...
What the heck?
I'm completely sabotaging my efforts!
That was unbelievably eye opening.
What to do?
Well, awareness is an amazing first step.  Once I know what I'm doing, I can make a choice to do something different...and I did...
I started rewarding myself in other ways...I'm drinking lots of water - a reward in itself - and doing nice things for me like taking a little more time to write.
I've bought myself succulent plants...I have several containers of succulents now...it's a little ridiculous, but really super fabulous at the same time!
I've bought more music on iTunes so my runs are more fun!
I have started to see running as it's own reward...my body thanks me...and I don't need to feed it...the run is something nice in and of itself!  (yes, I really do love to run!)
I'm starting to change my mind....the way my mind gets wrapped around food...and eating...and exercise.

So now my assignment is to learn to stop eating when I'm almost full...because if I'm almost full, I'm actually full...and I'll feel it in 20 minutes.
Looks like I'll have to stay away from Olive Garden and the unlimited salad and breadsticks...and Mexican restaurants with those glorious baskets of chips...or learn to eat just a little of those things and save myself for the entree...
So much to learn...

And yes, we did talk a bit about eating a balanced diet...cutting back on treats but not eliminating them because...well...they're treats!  Hallelujah!

I'm glad I went to see a dietitian...it wasn't at all what I expected and I'm actually relieved.  I don't do diets...and honestly, I don't do exercise well either, but I have changed my perceptions...the way I think about food...and that has changed the way I eat for the better.

Friday, April 4, 2014

Dumb Chicken!


This is Pearl.
She's my dumbest hen.
I've learned a lot about chickens in my time as a chicken lady...
They're chicken...as in scared...not species.
They aren't terribly smart.
They are generally followers, except for the hen at the top of the pecking order.
They're fast.
They're twitchy.
They squawk a lot.
They can destroy a patch of lawn in no time flat!
And other various things, the most important being that they are hilarious!
Pearl is a special kind of dumb.
She is near the bottom, if not ON the bottom of the pecking order.
She is a poor follower.
She is chicken...the most chicken hen I have.
I enter the pen and she starts running to get away from me,
sometimes running TOWARDS me, realizing her mistake and changing directions abruptly, squawking a warning of my aggression to her coop-mates...all of whom understand that I will be throwing them scratch and flock around my feet in anticipation...
Pearl is always on the edge of the crowd...missing the bulk of the treats.
I sometimes throw some out to her...
She runs away, frightened.
Dumb hen.
Lately, I've been letting the ladies out of the pen to feast on bugs, worms, green leafys and other goodies.  They generally stick close to the house and close together.
Even Pearl knows the drill.
Until it's time to go back into the pen.
After a few hours of scratching and nibbling and bathing in soft, dry dirt, the ladies are ready for a handful of scratch and the comforts of home.
I grab a handful of grain and call them back into the pen...
They come running...
Into the coop they go where I've thrown a handful or two of their favorite treat!
All, that is, except for Pearl.
She ALWAYS get's "stuck" outside the fence.
She runs back and forth, back and forth, back and forth...
"Where's the door...I can't find the door!" she squawks
She's in full panic mode...
Running, running, running...
back and forth...back and forth...
I say "Oh my gosh, you're so dumb!"
And I sigh and grab a little handful of scratch to give her a trail to the door...
It doesn't work.
She's too dumb to figure it out.
"It's over here!" I say
I move away from the door to give her room to come in without feeling threatened by my presence...
Nope.
She continues to panic.
She's sure the door is on that side of the pen...but WHERE did it go??
I usually give up after about 5 minutes of coaxing...By then the other ladies have eaten most of the scratch.
I go into the house and let her panic alone...the other hens watch her, I imagine what they must be thinking...it's no wonder she's on the bottom of the pecking order!
After she paces on the outside for about 15 minutes, she is calmer, perhaps able to think clearly (if that's even possible for her to do) and I go back out, into the pen again, grab some more scratch and THEN she figures it out.
It's a dance we do every single time they are allowed out of the coop...
every. single. time.
And I wonder...
Am I like Pearl?
When God wants to give me something, do I rely on my own ideas or thoughts or wisdom to find it?
Am I listening when He opens a door and says "Go right in and feast?"
Do I say "NO, you don't understand!  The door is on this side of the situation...THIS is the right way!"
The door to my coop is around a corner from where Pearl runs back and forth...
It takes a good amount of trust for a chicken hen to go around a corner...especially if the hen is as chicken as Pearl.
It takes a good amount of trust for me to step out of my own knowledge of what the situation is...to trust God's plan for my life.
I have to believe that He knows more...seems like a "duh" moment...it should be a "duh" moment, but I always seem to question and hesitate or turn the other way...I can't see the door.  I can't see that it's open.
I rely on myself, rejecting God's wisdom.
I don't want to be a Pearl...I want to go through doors the second they're opened...to reap the bounty of God's goodness...to step out in faith and not be so "chicken".
Thankfully God doesn't stand by the door saying "OH my gosh, you're so dumb!"...He lovingly waits...patiently...for me to stop being so....Pearl-like!
I'm working on it...God is good...the opportunities to grow in faith are endless and daily and I pray that someday I won't relate to creatures like Pearl!  :)
Isaiah 55:8-9  For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

The Importance of Faith...


Our state experienced a catastrophic landslide this week.
The numbers of dead and missing fluctuate from day to day.
I'm reminded how precious life is...how precious people are...how life can be snuffed out so quickly.
The images of the devastation are everywhere...the sorrow-filled faces of family members, friends, neighbors...tragedies like this one tend to bring people together...to ignite us deep inside to the compassion and love and tenderness that is always there...stuffed down in the mundane of our day to day activities.
I watched the local news this morning.
The anchors spoke to a pastor because they said:
"Faith is important at a time like this."
At a time like this.
Faith is important at a time like this.

And then I wondered...

If we're in the midst of the pinnacle of happiness...does faith lose importance?

What if you were in the midst of the pinnacle of happiness...giving a new baby a bath, talking to an old friend on the phone, enjoying a latte...and the mud came down and ended it right there.

When is faith important?

We run to God when life gets too difficult for our spirits to bear alone.
When we receive a frightening diagnosis.
When we lose a loved one.
When we need a job
When the phone rings in the middle of the night.
When we feel all alone.

But what if we lived our lives in close fellowship with God
every... single... day...
and the difficulties came?
They're inevitable.
Life is not easy.
Death is sure.

To be close with God is not all about following a set of rules...
It is a relationship...
it is peace in the swirling chaos...
power in the face of fear...
love in the presence of hate...
and
joy in the midst of sorrow.

It is life eternal when death descends...

Jeremiah 17:7-8
Blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD And whose trust is the LORD. For he will be like a tree planted by the water, That extends its roots by a stream And will not fear when the heat comes; But its leaves will be green, And it will not be anxious in a year of drought Nor cease to yield fruit.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

DIY - A Treadmill Desk!!














In my quest for fitness, I've come to a realization...I'm 48.  I am at war with my body...more accurately, my body is at war with me...even more accurately, fat cells are clinging like a sea urchin to rock, like a magnet to a refrigerator...fleas to a dog...it's getting ridiculous folks...so yesterday, as I sat on my sofa, complaining about age and how I can hardly eat a banana without gaining a pound, it occurred to me.  I was just sitting on my sofa.  I had been writing, reading emails, commenting on friends' Facebook posts, looking for a mother-of-the-bride dress, perusing Pinterest and contemplating my evil fat cells all the while, sitting sedentary. I realized that my bum was starting to ache from all the sitting...so I suggested to my husband that we go for a walk, which we did.  That was better...until I came home and plopped down for a good long sit...again.  It was then that it struck me...I immediately shifted on my sofa and googled "treadmill desk".

And there, right before my very eyes was a hideous, room-hogging contraption that spanned several square feet of treasured space at the low, low cost of $500 (which was one of the cheaper models).  I didn't need an entire office at my treadmill, just a flat surface on which I could pin amazing things on Pinterest or check email or, most importantly, write, while walking at a leisurely pace.  The idea isn't to do a workout while writing, it's to NOT SIT while writing.  I googled "how to make a treadmill desk" and I found this gem:  It's a 3-minute how-to on building your own simple treadmill desk!


AMAZING!  I decided then and there that I would make my own!

I am writing this post from my new treadmill desk...while walking...not sitting on my bum!

If you don't want to watch the video, here's how I made mine...it is a little different from the video because my dad had a better idea...I prefer an easily removed desktop that can be lifted off and set aside. My dad, being the woodworker extraordinaire that he is, helped me make this but it is a simple design and that you can easily reproduce!
I started by measuring the width of my treadmill...both inside the side bars (30") and outside the bars (33").  I also measured the width of the actual bars (1 1/2").
I went to Lowe's and bought an inexpensive shelf board.  Mine measured 36" long and 10" wide.  It cost about $7.
We used scraps to make the fittings...we cut the scrap boards into 9 3/4" lengths, 1/4" shorter than the width of the shelf board.

 

Next, we made the brackets...glueing and then nailing - or pinning with a nail gun - the longer sides to the bottom which happened to measure  1  1/2" - the width of the bars.
Once we made the brackets, we measured twice...for insurance...the width of the inside span of the treadmill arms on the shelf then secured the brackets in place with clamps.  I had a funny feeling, and I've learned never to ignore a funny feeling, so I opted to bring the shelf home to check our placement before screwing it in permanently.  Good thing I did...we had the brackets situated on the wrong side of the line.  I moved them over, re-applied the clamps and screwed them into the shelf.  PERFECT!  The shelf fit securely over both sides of the rails...




I love my new treadmill desk!  It was very inexpensive...even if I hadn't had access to wood scraps I can't imagine it would have cost more than 15 bucks to make!


It doesn't move as I walk because I'm not walking quickly.  It's quite easy to type and walk...it gives a whole new meaning to multitasking!  I did need to elevate my computer a bit...on a book...my hand started to ache a little.  Once it was elevated, it was fine...so...something to tweak in the design...or perhaps I just need to keep a book handy.
One thing I should mention...I had worried about the desk slipping off of the handles...since they are both smooth surfaces and there is some vibration as I walk.  Mine doesn't slip, it's snug enough, but I had a plan if it was looser and that is to add some of that rubberized material that keeps rugs from slipping on the floor...or that you put in your cupboards to keep dishes secure...that would keep the two smooth surfaces from sliding against each other.  Just fyi.  :)

As I've written this post, I've walked over 2 miles and have burned 295 calories!!!

THAT.  JUST.  HAPPENED!!!

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Beadboard Flag Project!

I've been wanting to make one of these for years...why haven't I?  I don't know...short attention span...other projects on top of the list...the stars didn't align until now...(pun intended)
Here's the real reason why I finally decided to make my flag.  I was in my master woodworker dad's shop the other day,...admiring a couple of projects he was working on.  Out of the corner of my eye, I spied some beadboard leaning against some other wood.
"Whatcha doin' with that beadboard?" I asked, imagining a flag painted on it.
"Nothing, you want it?" he ventured
"YES!" I answered, jumping up and down with delight, "THANK YOU!"
"No, thank YOU!" he said, quickly handing it to my husband to load into the car, before I changed my mind.
My husband sighed...he was probably thinking about the vintage door I bought at a yard sale that sat in our garage for 5 YEARS before I FINALLY turned it into a very cool headboard for our bed.
I'm happy to report that the beadboard sat in the garage for a total of 2 days before I made the flag.  That's a personal record, folks.  I've never moved on a project so quickly!  :)

The first thing I had to do was cut the beadboard to the right size.  I love beadboard for this project because it has built-in guidelines!  I counted 13 stripes for the width and doubled that measurement for the length of the flag.  Then I cut it to size! 
                                               

I spray painted it an off-white...and not perfectly.  There were little areas where some wood showed through.  I'm going for a vintage look...a weathered old flag!  I taped off a square in the upper left corner for the blue part...and painted it...not perfectly.  
I was doing this on the back porch and kept running to the front porch to look at the flag hanging there for reference!  I measured with my eyes...not with a ruler!  I love projects like this because I'm not a perfectionist...I always make mistakes and hate to measure and re-measure and do perfect detail work.  Maybe that's why I'm such a fan of folk art!!  


After the blue part was dry, I taped off the stripes.  I used barn red for the stripes...and once again, I had to run to the front porch to peek at the flag...the stripes start and end with red...fyi.  
                                                                                                                      

Once the stripes were dry, I peeled off the tape and sanded down the whole flag a bit.  I liked it much better after the sanding.  It looked a little beat up, like it had seen some weather and action!


Then it was time for stars...I'll admit, I was a little nervous about the stars.  I am not a perfectionist, but I do want the starts to look somewhat star-like and I don't want them randomly plopped onto the flag.  I decided to use a star shaped sponge to make my stars.  Finding a compressed sponge in my stash, I drew a star shape on it with a pencil and cut it out.  It was lopsided and a little sad, but so what!
I ran to the front porch to examine the stars.  Horizontally, there were 5 rows of 6 stars and 4 rows of 5 stars...starting and ending with rows of 6.  I placed all of the rows of 6 first, then filled in with the rows of 5.  I did my best to make the rows somewhat straight and spaced evenly.  They turned out perfectly imperfect!


Since I'm not one to leave well enough alone, I had to antique it.  And since I didn't have any stain available, I watered down some brown craft paint.  That had an unintended consequence which I will point out in a moment.  I painted the brown wash over small sections and wiped it off...just like stain. It collected in the grooves which I liked!  The unintended consequence was that some of the blue paint and stars rubbed away with the brown wash.  At first I was horrified, then I decided that I liked it...it's quite weathered and wonderful!


A coat of sealer and hangers on the back and I'm all done!  I'm super happy with it and it feels good to check this project off of my mental list of projects I've always wanted to make!


This is one of those instant gratification projects that moves quickly with the majority of the effort going into waiting for things to dry...think of it as a chance to practice patience!  
Happy Creating!