Category Archives: Motivation and Encouragement

13 Ways to Better Your Days

camp is my happy place

I almost always come home from summer camp a different person than I was when I left.  I am not sure if it is the change of scenery, the change in schedule, or the change in my mental mood.  Whatever it is, I am changed, at least for a while.

I will let you in on a secret – I was privately worried that I would not make it all the way through camp without having to retreat from the retreat.  With my medical issues, life is hard to predict from day to day.  Surprisingly to me, I not only survived the entire week of camp, but I thrived!  I only had to take four pain pills, and two of those were during the same day.  I struggled a little, but way less than I thought I would.  Maybe it was combination of adrenaline and the power of God…

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Rabbit Trail  For insight on health and wellness

            Now why did I get through the week without major issues when I can barely get through a week at home without major issues?  Who knows?  I do know that I am willing to try making some changes that at least seemed to work during my camp week.  Will it help?  Who knows?  The least I can do is try it out for a while and see.

In adapting my church camp lifestyle to my home lifestyle, I thought of these thirteen areas that I handled differently at camp.

  1. Schedule

I had a fairly strict schedule at camp, and duties that had to happen at certain times.  I didn’t have just any old time that I could veg out playing a word game on my iPad or peruse Pinterest for hours.  I had places to be and jobs to do and people to see.

  1. Study

The first part of each day was devoted to Bible study and prayer for about twenty minutes.  This did come after a shower and getting dressed; otherwise, it was top priority.  Getting with God first thing in the morning – is there any more positive way to begin a new day?

Bible study

  1. Diet: Meals and Snacks

I ate.  I ate more.  I ate better.  This eating habit was an important part of the daily schedule.  Breakfast at 8, lunch at 11:45, snack at 3:15, dinner at 4:45 (that was a little tough), and another snack at 8. I paid attention to what I was eating and added what I needed to add (i.e., extra protein or iron, again due to my health issues).  Today, I didn’t eat anything until after I took a bath, which I didn’t do until 1:15.  An entire morning wasted away…

  1. Work

From 9:30 to 11:45, I taught lessons and led the campers in making a project each day.  At home, I equate this to my writing and my online income.  It doesn’t contribute much to our bank account, but it does contribute a little money and a lot of accomplishment.

  1. Service

Missions time was in a morning time slot, but we addressed it throughout the day.  At home, my main mission and service is to my husband, my home, and our house guests.  Housekeeping, community concerns, and my extended family and friends are my focus of ministry and service.

  1. Medications

This should be a no-brainer.  The problem is that sometimes, I can be a no-brainer.  If I forget to take my meds, I have difficulties and if I have difficulties, I forget to take my meds.  Since my medication are important to my health, I need to be sure I take them at the appropriate times.  At camp, I had my camp nurse that helped me remember to take them.  She never had to remind me; just seeing her hanging out would remind me.  I plan to figure out some trigger that will have the same effect here at home.

  1. Exercise

I did not have an exercise plan in place when I went to camp.  Just being at church camp tends to be an exercise in itself.  Walking, doing the motions to worship songs, just hanging out with faculty and campers gets me much more exercise than I am accustomed to getting.  Incorporating a walk and maybe a worship song or two into my day will go a long way.

  1. Nature

I am often saying or typing “Get out and play out.”  There are some very good books written on the topic of the nature deficit of modern children.  I tend to forget that adults need time in nature too!  Even if it is as simple as sitting out on my deck enjoying the outdoors, I need some nature in my life.  So do you.

Drake and Gertrude

  1. Friends

I was surrounded by friends this entire week.  At home, I tend to sequester myself inside my own four walls.  It’s not that I don’t like people.  I just don’t go out of my way to be where the people are. (Cue “The Little Mermaid”)  Everyone needs that human connection, including those of us who consider ourselves introverts or ambiverts.

faculty foosball

  1. Delegation of Duties

            Help!  I need somebody!  Help!  Not just anybody!

            Trying to do it all by myself is exhausting.  Doing this with my health is even more exhausting.  The past few years, I have started delegating more and dropping duties less.  At camp, I had others lead two nights of group games, others led campfire, others led meal time prayers, and others led all kinds of things.  This helped me then and it can help me at home.  Instead of leaving things undone because I cannot do it all, I will ask for help when I need or want it.

  1. Rest Time

            Naptime!!!

I will nap here

            A rest and relaxation time was built into the camp schedule after lunch.  I tended not to get much rest at this time because of other duties.  Instead, during the campers’ swimming time that followed, I was able to get an hour of rest, sometimes even sleep.  Recharging my battery is very important.  How can I help others if my own battery is running dead?

  1. Me Time: Creativity

“We were created by a Creator to be creative” was our camp theme this year.  During the day, I was able to get my camera out and practice using it.  I was able to doodle in my notepad.  I was able to write out thoughts.  I was allowing God to speak to me through my gift of creativity.

  1. Greater Good

I think the most important part of the camp week was that I was focused on the greater good.  I was there to serve, to lead, to show by example, to experience God and help others to experience God.  Sometimes, I feel my life has no focus, but that never happens at camp.  Maybe my camp mindset is one I should carry year-round.

camp confession 200

 

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These Three Things

a goal without a plan is just a wish

I have the wool pulled over the eyes of so many friends and acquaintances.  Many of them think I am such an organized person.  If only they knew…

Oops!  I guess now they do.

I do seem fairly organized, and this appearance is because I make use of many, many tricks to help me remember what I need to do, when I need to do it, what I need to do it, with whom I am doing it, and where it all is done.  I am most definitely a List Lady, and that helps tremendously.

I also employ a tactic that I call These Three Things.  Each evening as a part of my routine, I write down three things to be accomplished the next day.  I usually try to make sure they are not the ordinary and everyday tasks I do anyway, such as making the bed or fixing supper, although these can be perfectly acceptable for someone just getting started or if you know you will have a rough or difficult day ahead.

These are my These Three Things lists from four separate days.

These three things

Sometimes the items on my list are easy, such as a reminder of a meeting or a class that is not part of my usual schedule.  Sometimes, it is a more involved task, such as when I planned to rearrange my basement playroom/rec room.  That spanned several days and was rather intensive in both the planning and implementing stages.  That brings me to a very important point I want to make:

If you do not accomplish all three tasks, you have not failed!

Use this list as a tool, not as handcuffs.  Circumstances happen.  You can see that purging and putting away my shoes is on three out of the four samples above.  Sometimes it is because I didn’t get it done.  Sometimes (probably most of the time), it is a recurring situation.  Sometimes, it is because the task is something I know that I can easily get done.

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I leave you with wise words from Winnie-the-Pooh.

organizing

Being Beautiful

Recently, I have found myself tagged in posts on Facebook, encouraging me to post five photos of myself that make me feel beautiful.  I understand the sentiment behind the request to post and share with others.  Many women do not acknowledge themselves as being pretty, pleasing, or even acceptable to look upon, much less beautiful.

There is a big difference between looking beautiful and being beautiful.  Think about some beautiful people you know.  Just what is it that makes them beautiful?  Minus the makeup, what is left?

Let’s go at this another way.  Think about a peacock.  Most people will agree that they are beautiful birds, right?  Check out this peacock video.

Beautiful display on the outside, horrid noises from deep inside.  And sadly, I know people like that.  And, some of the most beautiful people I know aren’t much to look at if you are searching for Mr. or Ms. Universe.  What good is a lovely face without a lovely soul?

Pretty ≠ beautiful ≠ lovely

Let’s change this idea of what constitutes beauty and what makes us feel beautiful, shall we?

My Five Photos That Make Me Feel Beautiful

Beautiful Eyes

Tomi

…in order that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you (the) spirit of wisdom and revelation in the full knowledge of Him, having had the eyes of your heart enlightened, so that you might know what is the hope of His calling, what is the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the exceeding greatness of His power in us, the ones believing according to the working of the might of His strength…                            Ephesians 1:17-19

To me, this passage encourages me to use the vision and knowledge God has given me of His grace and how I can bless others with that grace.  I can see the hurting, I can see the needy, and I can see what I can do for them.  That is why my eyes are beautiful.

Beautiful Hands

skin

May the favor of the Lord our God rest on us; establish the work of our hands for us – yes, establish the work of our hands.  Psalm 90:17

I believe that what I do shows who I am.  Maybe not absolutely every little thing shows my belief, especially when my physical needs are overwhelming me, but overall, it is not difficult to see how I feel about taking care of God’s children and His creation.  I don’t wear my Christianity like a badge; I wear it like my skin. I want to always share His awesomeness in my actions.  That is why my hands are beautiful.

Beautiful Belly

Beautiful belly

Children’s children are a crown to the aged, and parents are the pride of their children.  Proverbs 17:6

Children are a heritage from the Lord, offspring a reward from Him.                               Psalm 127:3

 My belly is soft and sometimes saggy.  The skin is stretched and scarred.  This same belly that sometimes causes me dread and disgust is the same belly that was home, nourishment, comfort, and safety to four of my six children.  How can I deny the marks from the miracle of giving life?  That is why my belly is beautiful.

Beautiful Ears

Tomi and Sharla

The way of fools seems right to them, but the wise listen to advice.                                 Proverbs 12:15

Jesus called the crowd to Him and said, “Listen and and understand.”                        Matthew 15:10

I have a 40% hearing loss in my right ear.  Due to multiple swimmer’s ear infections I had as a child, scar tissue on my eardrum, causing the tissue to not vibrate properly in response to sounds.  Unfortunately, some of my husband’s vocal tones fall into the sounds that I have difficulty hearing.  I have learned to tune out some of the distracting noises when he is talking, along with focusing on his face during discussions.  This is actually a good thing to practice with everyone.  By listening closely, avoiding distraction, and focusing on the speaker, I can sometimes hear what is not being said along with the spoken words.  How can I help someone without knowing their needs and feelings?  How can I understand unless I seek to understand?  Listening with love is life-giving.  That is why my ears are beautiful.

Beautiful Feet

Cruise vacation 2012 085

How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in?  And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard?  And how can they hear without someone preaching to them?  And how can anyone preach unless they are sent?  As it is written: “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!”  Romans 10:14-15

Let’s face it:  I do not like feet.  Is there an opposite to a foot fetish?  If so, that is what I have.  Feet tend to be dirty, they look funny, and they smell.  But they are also pretty important.  If you don’t have feet, or even have only one foot, you have to adapt, using prosthesis or other devices to get around, or even just figure out a different way to move.  The most important movements we can make are toward sharing the good news of Jesus Christ.  This doesn’t require feet or even mobility in this day and age like it did in 50 B.C.  Feet are handy (ba-dump-ump-shkish) but faith is forever.  My feet remind me to take His message of salvation and share it wherever I go.  That is why my feet are beautiful.

Take Away

The most important lesson I would like you to remember is this:

lovely thoughts

 

🎼Me and My Fibro 🎶🎶🎶

When I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia several months ago, I had a very strange reaction to the news.

I felt a huge wave of relief wash over me.

That seems odd, doesn’t it? You are diagnosed with a life-altering incurable health issue that no one really knows much about, and you are relieved? After years of fatigue and pain and health issues that didn’t respond to the treatments like they should have, at least now I had a documented reason for the way I was feeling.

And I wasn’t just relieved by the diagnosis. I wallowed in it.

Too tired to do the laundry? Well, I have fibro – what do you expect?
Too exhausted for intimacy? Have a little pity, it’s not my fault I have fibro.
Too sore to go to the gym? I have scientific proof backing my choice to not exercise.

Honestly, I do have many days where it is a sheer act of will to get to the kitchen for a cup of coffee after getting out of bed. I don’t like showers because they are too painful for me, so I take baths, which leave me wiped out for a bit. I try not to schedule anything in the mornings since I don’t really know how long it will take me to get moving.

But I was using my health (or lack thereof) to justify not even really living.

So, here is my new mantra: Live life to the fullest extent possible, without using a diagnosis to make excuses. Now, if I honestly cannot do an activity, I won’t. My point is to not simply let my multiple health conditions take over and take away my life.

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Here are some ways you can help (whether it is me or another individual):

1. Please don’t tell me I don’t look sick. I try to not look sick. Don’t most people try not to look sick? Many people suffer from invisible illnesses and are battling something others may never see.
2. Don’t ask me if I am getting better. My issues are not curable (yet) and they will not just go away.
3. Do ask me how am I feeling or how I am getting along. If I need to share my need for help or prayer in an area of my life, this gives me the opening to ask without feeling like I am dumping on someone.
4. Understand that when I use the valet parking at church or some other location, yet I walk in without any limping or other issue, I am not just being lazy. I am taking advantage of a service that is provided that, although I may not need it when I arrive, I may definitely need the assistance when leaving.
5. Don’t be afraid to invite me to do things. If I absolutely cannot, I will let you know. I would rather be asked and have to turn it down than to never be included.
6. Don’t feel sorry for me. Everyone has their own battles they are fighting, and everyone needs to be understood and cared about. Ask me questions about my health issues. If I can, I am happy to share with you what I know.
7. I am still me, no matter what my body is doing. You can still be my friend, and that is the most important thing you can possibly do for me.

Resources for more information (my specific invisible illness issues)
Fibromyalgia http://www.niams.nih.gov/health_info/fibromyalgia/
Rheumatoid Arthritis http://www.rheumatology.org/I-Am-A/Patient-Caregiver/Diseases-Conditions/Rheumatoid-Arthritis
Migraine http://www.americanmigrainefoundation.org/about-migraine/
Irritable Bowel Syndrome http://www.aboutibs.org/
Glaucoma http://www.aao.org/eye-health/diseases/what-is-glaucoma
Chronic Depression http://www.helpguide.org/articles/depression/depression-signs-and-symptoms.htm
Generalized Anxiety Disorder http://www.adaa.org/understanding-anxiety/generalized-anxiety-disorder-gad

Finnegan Begin Again

On the eve of my final year before I reach the mid-century mark, I am still stubbornly holding fast to my age being 48.  Let’s face it, we are only 48 years old once, one day only.  Then we are 48 and a day, 48 and 2 days, 48 and 360 days.  We will cling to that year mark with every fiber, until, at last, the day changes, and here I am at 49 years old.

I tend to use my birthday as a back-up New Year’s Day, with another shot at being better at something, at anything.  In reality, every day is a new day and a new chance to change.

So, here on my New Day, I have set my sights on this goal:  I will.

Humpf.  Two tiny words doesn’t sound that awe-inspiring or groundbreaking, does it?  These two words could make all of the difference in my life, however.  So many times I hear these words coming from my mouth: “I can’t help it.”  Somewhere I read this little quip – I can’t means I Certainly Am Not Trying.  Really, what most of us mean when saying I can’t is that I won’t.

cant wont

            Obviously, I actually can’t help some things.  I can’t help it who my parents are; I can’t help it what race or ethnicity I am; I can’t help it that I am almost 49 years old.

However, I can help many aspects of my life and the lives of others, and my goal is that I will.  Three things that I can control and that are my focus are

My attitude

My outreach

My productivity

            My attitude is what I make it; no matter what the action is, my reaction is my own doing.  I have been through a lot of trials in my life that I would never wish on anyone else, and some of the memories still affect me today.  I can choose to let these situations overtake my life and drive me down into a hole of self-pity, self-loathing and despair.  I can also take these circumstances and use them to bless someone else who has gone through or is going through similar times.  I will have an attitude that blesses and encourages others and myself.

My outreach consists mainly of my work through blogging and Facebook pages that I manage, along with various groups which I am a part of, both on social media and face-to-face.  I need these groups of friends and acquaintances to keep me accountable, to keep me balanced, to keep me sane.  I will strengthen my outreach to help myself and others have and live a better life.

My productivity is tied in closely with my outreach.  I depend on my personal and business contacts to help spread the word about my blogs and early education website.  (Side note: You can help too, by sharing my blog posts with your friends and coworkers – thanks!)  My productivity depends on some things that are out of my control, also.  I have several issues like rheumatoid arthritis, fibromyalgia, and IBS, that affect my productivity in a negative way occasionally.  By developing and keeping control of my attitude and my outreach, I can counteract some of the impact that these health issues have on my work.  I can also work on health aspects that influence my physical problems.  I need to lose weight, I need to eat healthier, and I need to exercise.  I can control these habits, and I will.

1-newyear-resolution-quotes

 

Join me on the journey, won’t you?

Rethinking Thankfulness

For the past few years, I have noticed a trend of people posting thankfulness posts on Facebook in November.  One thing is named each of the thirty days in November for which the writer is thankful, from having a good job to living in a warm home to enjoying the company of many friends.  I have nothing against this practice.  In fact, I am delighted that so many take the time to count their blessings, even if it is mostly just for the month and is usually seen as a challenge instead of an act of true gratefulness.

I propose a twist to this practice.  What if each of us still express our appreciation for our blessings in a more tangible way?  As my friend Kevin states, “Faith on your fanny is useless.  It’s faith with feet that matters!”  How about professing our gratitude with action in addition to our words?

Are you wondering how this could work?

What can I do

How about:

I am thankful for the home I live in and the comforts it contains.

Express your thankfulness by preparing some “Blessing Bags” to distribute to someone who doesn’t have a home with or without its comforts.

I am thankful for my place of employment, a great supervisor, and wonderful co-workers.

Show your co-workers and your supervisor recognition by bringing in some baked goods or other treats to share during breaks.

I am thankful for my children and family.

Help out a single parent by offering a baby break while he or she gets a little “Me time.”  Sometimes just a trip to the grocery store without littles means so much!

I am thankful for food on my table, in my cabinets, and refrigerator, and the ability to get more whenever I need or want.

Volunteer in a soup kitchen or a hot meal line.  Remember, these places and people can use volunteers year round, not just at the holidays.

I am thankful that my children get to participate in various programs, such as soccer, dance, music, basketball, and so on and son (and so on)…

These programs can always use support, in helping to teach or coach, in providing snacks or meals, in monetary support (besides fees), and in word-of-mouth advertising and appreciative words of praise.  Talk to program to see how you can help out.

I am thankful that my children or grandchildren have toys to play with.

Sort through the children’s toys and donate some that are in excellent shape with a distribution center for the less fortunate.  Some locations here in Indiana are found at Indy With Kids .  A personal favorite of mine is located in Lawrence County and is called Santa Joe

I am thankful for my health, whether it is fabulous or fatigued.

Monetary donations are always appreciated by many health organizations, but there are other ways to help.  Volunteer, participate in a fundraiser, spread the word about the services provided – sometimes it takes no money to make a big donation toward a worthy cause!

blessings

These are just a few ideas to get you kick-started on your own campaign of thankfulness!  Share your own ideas in the comments below.  I am thankful for my readers!

Lessons Learned in Little League

Texas in October is absolutely perfect!  Slightly cloudy skies, a gentle breeze, and temperatures in the upper 70s… how could you ask for better weather?  Our vacation certainly could have been a few days longer.

One reason (the main reason!) we went to San Antonio was to see my beloved sister-in-love Julie and her family.  It happened that her son/my nephew Evan had a baseball game on Saturday while we were there.  So, all of us (me, hubby, father-in-love, mother-in-love, another sister-in-love, her beau and his son, and of course, Julie’s group) loaded into the vehicles and went to the ball park to cheer on Evan and his team.

Evan baseball for blog

As we sat on the oh-so-comfortable bleachers (insert sarcastic face here) and the game started, some thoughts began flowing about what was happening on the field and what was happening around me.  So guess what?!  These thoughts turned into lessons that apply to life as much as baseball.  Guess what else?!  I am going to share them with you.

Surprise!!!

  • The first concern I had as soon as the game started, was suddenly this chorus of coaches sounding, not out of the dugout, but from the bleachers. I immediately wondered how in the world those boys and girls on the diamond would ever know what to do with the flood of words.  Too many coaches, too many voices to listen to from the sidelines.  The players have to learn to distinguish the voice of the coach from all of the other voices, and to follow what he says to do.
  • The umpire for this game was very intentional about teaching how to play baseball correctly, and was very intentional about his kindness in teaching. He explained different aspects to the players.  One bit of wisdom I heard him share – “Don’t kick dirt onto home plate.  It blocks the view of the pitcher using it for guidance.”  Whatever the goal is, whether it is throwing a strike over home plate or choosing to go to college, don’t block the vision of the seeker.
  • The next concept is also from this umpire. It may be just a game, but to the little guys and girls it can feel like life and death.  Be encouraging!
  • Respect the umpire/person in charge. Even if you don’t always agree with the call or the decision, it is still his or her call or decision to make.  You should always be respectful of authority, and when you disagree, disagree without disrespect.
  • Those on the sidelines don’t always know the game plan. This particular coach moved the players around to different positions during the game, letting them have a try at catcher, at pitcher, at shortstop.  In this way, he was able to give each player the chance to experience the different positions since this was the first year for many of them, and he could also see how each one performed in the different areas.  Unless those of us on the bleachers knew that, it looked like a jumbled mess.  Within his plan, it is working well to bring out the best in each player.
  • Every position on the field has its own peculiarities. The pitcher has a certain style and follow-through to execute, the catcher has to tag the batter with the ball after the third strike, the runner has to tag up to the current base when the hit is a fly ball.  If the pitcher went to tag the batter after the third strike, chaos could ensue.

The last one is probably my favorite part I witnessed.

  • Always be willing to give someone who is down a hand-up and a second chance. The time limit for the game was up. Our team had no runs and the opposing team had fifteen runs.  The game was a runaway skunk.  We had four players that never even got to bat, including Evan.  After a conference between the coaches of both teams and the umpire, a phone call to the organization over the ball park and league, and the pleading of the seven family members from Indiana who wanted to see our boy bat, it was decided that our team could have last at-bats.  Such a cheer rose from the crowd!  (At least on our side and probably mostly from the Hoosiers)  Did it hurt anyone to make that concession so these kids could bat?  No.  We scored two runs, which we didn’t do before the time was up.  Did it make a difference?  Yes!  Those batters got to play and the family has a great memory of the day.

the expert in anything