Oh happy day! This picture is from a couple weeks ago when I was on vacation. Life is about choices. I could have said I was on vacation and skipped exercising but instead, I packed my gym bag and made sure to get my workouts in. Instead of the elevator, I took the stairs. I brought my water bottle so I didn't buy soda. I brought my Bible and used it. I made a conscience choice prior to leaving the house.
Vacations are supposed to recharge us. They are supposed to help us relax and return us home with a calmer outlook, ready to conquer the daily tasks associated with work, raising a family, and being a member of the busy society we live in. Yet it seems that most people plan vacations so full of "things to do" that we've forgotten to relax.
When our daughter shared her invitation to interview at three graduate colleges out of state and we realized it lined up with my February break. Yoo Hoo! Not only would our daughter not have to travel alone during the winter, I had the opportunity to relax for a change. Not only did we have a great time of bonding but while she was at the colleges and I was at the hotel alone for days at a time...relaxation was the mission. It was a win-win for everyone involved. Our daughter experienced bigger universities and I learned it was okay to relax and take time alone. Most importantly, I now understand the importance of making time for yourself. Ladies, you need to take time for yourself. You'll be a better daughter, wife, mother, and friend.
When is the last time you relaxed?
I know I've asked this question before yet I also know there are many new followers on the blog and this question is one discussed often at writers' conferences and writers' groups so it's worth posing again.
Personally, I still prefer to sit and write with pen and paper, or should I say pencil? I have a favorite type of paper to use for the "type" of writing I'm doing. If I'm sitting to write then I also have a favorite pencil and pen type I like to use. If I don't have these then it's a mental block in my writing process. It's silly yet when I think about athletes and their must haves, I figure it's just a writer's crutch or is it a cushion? Hmm...
While I strive to write every day, some is on the computer and others are by hand with a pen or pencil on my yellow steno pad. Sometimes which I choose depends on my mood, or the weather, or the topic. Of course there are the days when the notes are written on a napkin, sticky note, or delivery bag because it's all I have to write on. I keep soap crayons in the bathroom so if inspiration hits while in the shower. Just like a a singer is meant to sing, a writer is meant to write. What are you called to do?
If you are a writer, which do you prefer?
"Give it Up and Draw In"...A Lenten Devotional
This book is a surprise to many, actually, everyone. A few people knew I was writing while traveling with my daughter yet they didn't know I was working on a book. To be honest, neither did I. The weeks leading up to our road trip I prayed for God to give me the words He wanted me to write. I felt the Holy Spirit telling me to write a devotional but thought this wasn't my thing.
The first few days of the trip I dove into my concordance and Bible, looking up different verses. By the end of the second day I saw a theme, a pattern, and a devotional. I spent the next day diving into my Bible more and reading more verses than could be used in one devotional yet each one offered message from God.
When I research Bible verses for a book or a speaking engagement, my routine is the same. First, I write down the address of as many verses as possible about the subject I'm researching and learning about. Next, I look up all the verses, hand writing each verse that speaks to my heart. After this, I go back and read all the verses I've looked up and written. I ask God to direct me to the verses He has for me to share. It was through this last process that I heard, felt, the Holy Spirit, direct me to a Lenten devotional. I was shocked and nervous, but obedient.
The days that followed were spent organizing and laying out the devotional. I start the Tuesday prior to Ash Wednesday, known as "Fat Tuesday" or "Shrove Tuesday" and it concludes the Monday after Easter. Each day has a key Bible verse with an "Additional Bible Reading" after the devotional. If you've never read a devotional, they are short and sweet, similar to my blog. A quick message but with a Bible verse to get you thinking and more verses to help you dig deeper.
This won't be available for you this year, at least not during Lent but there are ARC (Advanced Reader Copies) in the hands of a few people for this year. I'm grateful for their willingness to read my unedited Lenten devotional. In order to have it in their hands for Lent, the ARC readers only have the first twenty days. I look forward to hearing their feedback about the physical appeal of the book and if the devotionals speak to their heart and help to draw them closer to God during their Lenten journey.
I extend a special thanks to those taking time to read my new devotional, starting tomorrow. May God use this as a tool to draw you closer to Him and find a new nugget of truth in the Bible as you read each day.
If you are interested in learning when this is available for sale, leave a comment below and continue to follow the blog. I'd love for it to be available to everyone this year, but I don't want to make a promise I can't keep. My hope and prayer for you and this devotional, may it release in God's timing and may it touch many hearts and lives, drawing more to Him and growing His kingdom.
Is a Lenten Devotional something
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As we left one University and headed to the next, we drove around in the wee hours so I could see some of the city and college. I found the brick structures, walkways and roads breathtaking. I felt as if I stepped back in time and to a quieter time. Of course we took our drive at 7 a.m. on a Sunday morning so it was easy to get swept up in the serenity of the moment.
Once we arrived at the next university, I spent time checking out the area. We went from a serenity to a bigger city, more cars, highways, and busy. In spite of the increase of traffic and roadways, the people I've met are just as friendly and wonderful. The front desk attendant is a student at the university my daughter is interviewing at, and recently visited the other. When my daughter gets here, the clerk offered to answer any questions my daughter has. I love the way God works and makes connections.
Although I couldn't attend church this morning physically, thanks to our church's live stream, I was able to be there for the start of church and will finish it this afternoon. Modern technology has some cool benefits, doesn't it? With that, it's time for me to chill out next to the pool and get some more writing done.
How did you, or are you, spending your Sunday?
Yup, times are a changing. Last year I still jumped out of bed but today, the idea of an extra hour of sleep sounded way better. I did make homemade waffles when I finally got out of bed. I read for a bit but struggled to keep my eyes open. After a couple minutes I thought to myself, Why am I struggling to stay awake? I can take a nap, and that is exactly what I did. Back to bed I went for an hour nap. I woke up to my Dad calling to say he made his delicious Swedish meatballs for dinner. After I got out of bed, hubby and I went to Dad's for supper and back to chill-axin.
I was bummed to use the snow day yet thrilled to catch up on sleep and this unplanned day of rest and relaxation. I hope you enjoyed your Thursday too!
If you had a snow day,
how did you spend the day?
Have you ever found yourself saying this? I know I have. In the past (and in past, I mean a year ago) I didn't have healthy habits to handle stress or challenges. These unhealthy habits drove me to overeating, overworking, and insomnia. As you know, this combination develops into exhaustion, moodiness, and obesity. Well, at least for me it did. Maybe you've had more luck but I'm guessing if you're habits for dealing with the tough times are similar to mine then you understand all too well.
Here's the deal, we NEED HEALTHY HABITS to deal with our stress. Last January when I started working with Dr. Jack Kunkel to adjust my eating habits, one of the first lessons I learned is how important our mental thoughts were to our success. This isn't just our mental health but also our physical, spiritual, and emotional well-being. I started a daily affirmation statement and meditation, along with daily tapping. I shared links about each, these aren't the ones Dr. Jack Kunkel used yet I believe they will help you have a better understanding. My affirmation and meditation are Scripture. My connection and foundation lie in my faith so I spent time choosing verses to help me grow stronger on all levels. If Scripture isn't your thing, then there are many affirmations and meditations out there, ready to go, just use your search engine.
Another healthy habit I use now is to exercise instead of eat. This past December someone close to me had a health scare and spent days on the ventilator. This was a challenging time for all who care for her. I had to make a conscience decision each day to choose exercise, prayer, and healthier habits to combat my stress. It would have been easy to get soda from the vending machine and eat hospital cafeteria food each day but I chose to bring my water bottle, healthy snacks, and something to keep my fingers busy. My weight loss stalled BUT I didn't gain weight so I count this as a win. In life, we must celebrate the successes. On a bigger level, celebrate life in general because tomorrow may not come.
I share this with you today because we all, even our dogs, need to get rid of the excess or nervous energy. We may not use a "dog park" to deal with our stress BUT we need to have healthy options for when the need to burn off energy happens. What are you doing?
Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.
Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings.
And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. To him be the power for ever and ever. Amen."
1 Peter 5:-11 NIV
What do you do to relieve stress and unwind?
Welcome back, is your body moving to the music? Mine is jamming. One of my favorite ways to sweat it out in college was dancing. There used to be a couple bars in my hometown that played the best dance music and I looked forward to heading out on the weekends to burn some calories. My friends and I met and danced until the bars closed, over the past couple decades though, the city of Oswego has eliminated all the good dance places. It's a bummer.
Now if I want to dance, I go to a Zumba class. I'm so TERRIBLE at Zumba BUT I have a ton of fun while laughing and attempting to dance. Last week I went to a Zumba class with my daughter and a friend from work. My daughter can dance, she should look into becoming an instructor so she can earn some extra money while getting her workout in. My friend and I on the other hand, we laughed A LOT! Between the laughter and dancing, I logged over 7,000 steps and burned some calories.
Another way I like to sweat is doing a good cardio and weights workout. The sweat lets me know I'm working and making my heart, mind, and body happy. Sweat is a good thing. According to an article in Men's Health, there are five reasons you'll want to get a good sweat on. Check them out below:
(Click here to read full article)
1. Boosts Immunity
2. Clears Your Skin
3. Body Detox
4. Releases Feel good Hormones
5.Boosts Sexual Attraction
What is your favorite SWEATING activity? Why?
What does any of this have to do with today's blog? Thank you for asking. What if we chose to have a thankful heart and share something we are thankful for EVERY MONTH, EVERY DAY, AND EVERY YEAR?! How could this change our outlook on life? How would this change your daily attitude? I think it would have a positive impact on us personally and those around us and as people read and watched our grateful posts, then started doing the same thing...do you think you have the ability to change the mood of others? I think you can.
Give it a try, for the next few months, only post positive an gratitude posts and comments with the people you interact with. What is the worst thing that could happen...you have a positive and grateful attitude? I think it's a win-win! Give it a try.
“Gratitude can transform common days into thanksgiving,
turn routine jobs into joy,
and change ordinary opportunities into blessings.”
William Arthur Ward
What are you thankful for today?
I work in an elementary school in Central New York, we are also a Leader In Me School. Part of being a Leader In Me school is the focus on goals, goal setting, and our plan to achieve our goals. This year, our principal encouraged us to set a WIG, a Wildly Important Goal, we can share with our students and each other. She also encouraged us to share our goal with someone else to hold us accountable. An accountability partner is vital to your success, we all need someone asking, "How are you doing today?"
I thought about a goal I could set and am comfortable sharing with elementary age students, and one they could understand. I decided to set me goal with the number of hours of sleep I'm getting each night. My sleep has been hit or miss, and my lack of quality sleep is creeping into my overall health and mood. So my WIG for school is, "I will get at least 7 hours of sleep 5 nights a week."
I haven't made my tracking chart yet but so far, at-a-glance, I'm doing better than I was, but without my monitor log, I can't share particulars. So, I know what I'll be doing after finishing this blog, it's time to create my monitor log so I can document how successful my WIG is. I also have to set a few things in place to help me achieve my goal. I have other goals to set in different areas of my life: spiritual, physical, emotional, speaking, writing, and publishing.
Yikes, I'm exhausted looking at the work ahead BUT I know it is worth every minute spent. This process helps keep me focused on track throughout the year. Good things don't come to those who sit back and watch the grass grow, they come to those who take the time to keep the lawn mowed, weeds pulled, and landscaping in tip-top shape. If you, or I, want to achieve our goals then it's time to do the work by writing and following the plan.
What is the first goal you wrote down?
What are the steps in place to reach this goal?
I. Do. Not!
Here's the deal, I feel my best when I make it to the gym at least four to five times a week and when I don't, I get so lazy. Once in the habit of going to the gym, my body craves it and my energy level increases. On the weeks when I can't get there at least three times, I get such a case of the lazies and my sleep is crummy. This quote struck me because of the powerful truth, "Success trains. Failure complains."
I have a choice each day, to exercise, eat healthy, and make healthy choices OR I can complain about how crummy I feel, my lack of sleep, and let the negativity get me down.I choose to strive for success. Success requires training. Whether you are looking for a physically fit body, to write the next best seller, or produce a movie or theatrical performance....you must choose to train!
The training for the activity you are striving for is different from one person to the next yet the ONE THING THAT IS THE SAME..SUCCESS TRAINS! Get training...you can do this.
What are you "training" for?
What goal are you striving to achieve?
What are you doing to reach this goal?
My goal for December 2020 is to be in the "overweight" range. You might be shaking your head because "healthy" should be my goal yet I understand realistic goals. In order to be "overweight", I need to lose 20 pounds. Yikes! On the flip side, if I could wear a size 10/12 and have muscles instead of fat, I'd be happy with a lower weight loss number.
When I look at the "healthy" weight according to the BMI, I think I'd look sick rather than healthy so a better goal is to be tone and wearing a size 10/12 , rather than a number. This is the inner conversation and trouble with setting a reasonable goal. My goal might not be good for you but for me, a reasonable goal would be to drop down in the BMI chart but my ultimate goal is to be healthy and feel better.
What is your health and physical goal for 2020?
I learned at a conference many years ago about the importance, and difference, between a dream and a goal. They use this analogy, it's a dream when all you do is "talk" about it but don't have a plan and aren't really making forward motion to accomplish all your talking about. When you "write" it down, then you can see what you are striving for and make a detailed plan to achieve it. This is where I'm at. I keep "saying" I'm going to do this or that but have been LAZY, yes it's plain laziness, I've been lazy about taking the time to write down my goals and set a plan and schedule to achieve them.
This week is a week to focus and get SMART. I have many lists but none with my end goal and the plan, and timeline to reach it. As January starts its downward slide, I'm stepping up and making plans.
Don't wait, take the first step and start making your goals for this new year and a new and renewed you. This book is a springboard and leaves you room to explore who you are and where you see yourself in 1, 5, 10, and 25 years before you set immediate goals. It also has space for you to journal and brainstorm, working through some of the what-if thinking when you start setting goals.
After you receive your book and start writing down your goals, and achieving them, take three minutes to write a review on Amazon.com to help others know how much my book helped you. Reviews are priceless gifts to an author and a priceless help to future readers and goal setters. Thank you in advance.
What goals will you put in writing today?
Order a book for yourself and a friend,
you are more likely to succeed when
you have an accountability partner.
When we let go of our ideas, notions, and expectations, God can, and will do amazing things through you to encourage and uplift others. If you aren't feeling creative, then create! The more you create, the more your mind will seek it. If you doubt Maya Angelou or myself, prove me wrong. On the days when you don't think you can't write, paint, or crochet another thing. Put it aside and head to the local bookstore to smell and touch books, walk through the fabric store, or put on a jacket and go outside. Clear your mind and let God in, He won't disappoint.
What are you creating today?
When we don't try or when we let fear control our actions, we don't take the chances, "shots", to succeed. If I didn't accept my first speaking engagement then I may have missed meeting some amazing people (some of you reading this for instance) and missed the encouragement, inspiration, and hope my listeners, readers, and family have showered me with over the past decades. If I said no then I may have never realized God called me to speak and share His word and how He works in my life. God has gifted us each differently and when we don't use those gifts, you'll grow stagnant.
I don't know about you but I don't want to stink, I want to be an aroma for Christ.
Yet I am so thankful to God, who always marches us to victory under the banner of the Anointed One; and through us He spreads the beautiful fragrance of His knowledge to every corner of the earth. In a turbulent world where people are either dying or being rescued, we are the sweet smell of the Anointed to God our Father."
2 Corinthians 2:14-15
What are you waiting for?
There are editors reading this with their comments ready to go. Outlining helps to organize your thoughts, so your paper or book has a solid beginning, middle, and end. I remember sitting down to write an outline and crying because I couldn't figure out where to start BUT if I looked at my notes and sources, I could easily draft a paper. My mom and aunts, with their wisdom, told me to "write the paper then make an outline". Phew, they saved many a tissue from their destruction at meltdown for trying to force my brain to write and think in this organized, black, and white formula.
I wrote the first draft of Where's Heidi? One Sister's Journey in three days. It was perfect and ready for publication...NOT TRUE! Actually, my first draft was terrible, disorganized, vomit, drafting, and many other negative adjectives. It took almost two years, two editors, and a lot of time to transition it from the ramblings of a grieved sister into the book of hope and inspiration it's become for my readers. Why do I share this? For this reason...I used this seventy-sixish pages of garbage to develop my outline and write a book worth reading.
As I look forward to finish and publish my next book, I'm contemplating developing an outline first! Yikes!! Yup, I'm stepping out...maybe. As I pray about the direction of this next book, I seek your input. What are your thoughts on outlining? Please comment!!
If you write an outline,
do you do it before or after
you write the book/paper?
Through this process I learned more about myself and where I want to go in the future. A year of reflection and renewal was exactly what I needed.
As part of the renewal process, I meditated often. A few of the verses I meditated on consistently were my 2019 verses:
My 2019 Scripture Personalized:
"I will devote myself to prayer, being watchful and thankful…Letting the message of Christ dwell within me richly, as I teach and admonish others with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in my heart… The Lord my God is with me, the Mighty Warrior who saves. He will take great delight in me; in his love He will no longer rebuke me, but will rejoice over me with singing. Amen.” Colossians 4:2; 3:16; Zephaniah 3:17 NIV
It was through this process I faced some of the darkness I kept buried and dealt with it. I learned that no matter have "over it" we might think we are, we never get over it. I've said this often yet this past year I learned I wasn't living what I was saying. Don't misunderstand me, I wasn't professing one thing and doing another on a conscious level. On the contrary, it was because of my focus on prayer and meditation to renew myself spiritually that I realized this. We all have revelations in our lives, this is one of mine.
After my mom's passing, it wasn't only my desire to write drifted, so did my faith. I never stopped believing. I never stopped looking up and praying. I never stopped leaning on God. I didn't stop serving and seeking to do His will yet my heart's desire wasn't at the foundation. I did it because I knew it's what God called me to do. I still found joy in it and felt God's love as I obeyed but until this year, I was going through the motions until I felt it in my bones.
If you depend on Him,
your body and mind will be free
from the strain of a sinful life,
will experience healing and health,
and will be strengthened at their core."
Proverbs 3:8 VOICE
This year I choose to be more MINDFUL and keep my focus. My relationship with god, faily, and friends needs to be a priority. They are the lifelines making me the woman of God I am and to be the one God's designed and called me to be.
What is your
one-word for 2020?
Leave a comment below or call into the podcast!
When my daughter, his only granddaughter was old enough to understand and appreciate these late night trips, disappointment came upon us. The DEC informed my dad it was illegal to "spot" deer. One of my fondest memories couldn't become a family tradition of a father to his daughter then granddaughter because of the few. I won't digress down this road because I want our blog to remain one of hope and positivity.
Here's the deal, not every parent expresses love with hugs and kisses, or long walks. For some, the greatest connections are doing what they love and sharing it with their kids. I'm grateful God created us all differently and uses different things to help us to connect with each other. For me, some of the deepest conversations with my dad occurred while skipping stones into Lake Ontario, spotting deer, or throwing the softball back and forth. If you aren't the snuggly parent or friend, don't apologize. Instead, celebrate your unique abilities and the gifts you have to share with your children and friends. You have a lot to offer and share with those around you.
The lessons, conversations, and memories of spotting deer helped to make me the person I am today and instilled an appreciation of this majestic, strong, and beautiful animal as an adult. Their tracks in the snow remind me of my earthly father and my Heavenly Father. Without knowing it, my Dad helped me recognize the importance and strength found God. God works in mysterious ways, what mystery is He unraveling in your life today?
Embrace who you are and share it with others!
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