I knew I was going to make some changes. Just not YET, I thought.
Well, it’s time. It’s more than time. It’s downright urgent. I have a family history of women living to be 90 and above, and if I am going to do the same while living a full and vibrant life, I’d better get serious about changing up the things that will keep me from that life.
As I’ve said before, just thinking about making changes gets you nowhere. Not until I give a voice to those changes will things begin to happen. So I did. I announced to the world that I’d answered a challenge by Dr. Daniel Amen and his wife, Tana, to become a Brain Warrior. In doing so, I will be doing all I can to avoid Alzheimer’s, heart disease & diabetes – among so many other things.
The date was set. Wednesday, May 4, 2016.
And then what did I do? Knowing what was coming I proceeded to eat the sugar, the popcorn, the chips, the ___________ (anything and everything) so that by the time the 4th came, I’d gained 3 pounds and was feeling very sluggish. I wasn’t going to let that cute couple with the healthy brains take away my happy food!
Except it didn’t make me happy. The sugar gave me headaches and restless sleep. The popcorn and chips made me feel bloated, and the extra pounds made me frown every time I got dressed to leave the house. But darn it, I wasn’t deprived!
Or was I?
The sense that I would never, ever, ever eat anything “good” again sent me reeling into a cesspool of a scarcity mindset. It won’t matter if I eat this handful of chocolate chips, or these few Hershey’s Kisses left over from Easter, or a couple of chips with some salsa, or. Or. OR. Especially since I won’t ever eat anything good again.
Emotional eating is a curious thing. It creeps up on you when you thought you had your resolve conquered. I mean, I know the right things to eat. I’ve done the Whole 30 Plan before. Quite successfully, in fact. But man, do I get blindsided by the sight of a chocolate tidbit.
It turns out Mindset is the number one item on Daniel and Tana Amen’s mastery list. And it’s a biggie. Without the right mindset, I can’t make progress. That nasty boogie man called scarcity will rear his ugly head and take me down.
What I learned tonight from Tana Amen, is that this program is not about deprivation – it’s about abundance.
I like that word. It makes me feel vibrant and alive. It gives me a handle on my business. It makes me a better wife, mom and grandma. It makes me a better me.
Leaving behind the scarcity mindset to walk in abundance is a choice I’m making. Starting now.
Let’s do this together – you can join the livestream by signing up here. Six months from now you’ll thank your healthier self.
Twenty years from now you’ll thank you even more.
I love springtime. It brings the promise of new life and change. At any given moment, the new songs of birds and vibrant colors of budding flowers saturate the senses. I was granted life in springtime, which may be why I love it so much.
Seasons come and go in life. Like the coming of spring, a new season has been brewing in me for awhile now and just when I’m reaching the age when many women slow down, I’m feeling a desire to ramp things up.
Life. Isn’t it funny? Change is inevitable, and we can either embrace it, or fight it. We can grow with it, or stunt our growth by kicking and screaming our way to oblivion. Okay, that might be a bit dramatic. Think about it, though… don’t you know that person who just wants to quit on life? To just sit and vegetate for the rest of his or her days? I do.
But that’s not me. And if you’re reading this, I suspect that’s not you either.
We know we need to change and grow. It’s a strong desire we think about. A lot. What I’ve found though, is a chasm of disconnect between the knowing and the doing. I know I need to lose a few pounds. I know I need to organize my life. I know I need to allow for some down time to relax and recharge. But do I DO it? Nope. Not whole-heartedly, anyway.
It’s nice to think about changing myself. I envision what it would be like to be my ideal (for me) weight and shop for clothes without disgust. I think about how efficient I would be if my office was tidy. I love the idea of how much my mind would be cleared if I got rid of some of the clutter in my home. I fantasize about taking a day off to play with my grandson without feeling like I have a ton of things that need to be accomplished.
A month later, I’m still thinking. There is no doing. And in all of this thinking and not doing, I’ve learned something very important: I have to speak the change I want to happen. It must have a voice. Thinking about it to myself gets me absolutely nowhere. Goals and visions for my future must be written down and spoken to allow for my conscious brain to actually get it, and begin moving towards the changes I seek.
Okay, so let’s make a deal: I’m in if you are. I’m 57 years old today and I’ve got big dreams and plans. None of it will happen unless I take the leap of giving a voice to those things that must change in order to reach those dreams. I’d like a fuller life, but there’s some stuff in the way. How about we work together on voicing change to a fuller life?
That sounds pretty good.
Today is my birthday and it’s time for a change. I’m giving it a voice.
I don’t know about you, but at the beginning of the year I take inventory of my life. Last year was good, but I had little focus and follow through. It seemed the success I had was haphazard, at best. Lucky me, I did fairly well in spite of myself, but there was something missing.
I’ve been thinking and praying a lot lately about having a theme word for 2016. I did this in 2014 and the word was DEEPER. That year, I went deeper in all areas of my life – my walk with the Lord became more resolute and He brought me to new places because of my commitment to going deeper.
Have you ever asked God for a word to set the tone for your year? It’s quite eye-opening. I chuckle at the fact that God has such different ideas about what needs to be accomplished than I do. I was inspired by Nikki’s choice of the word SIMPLICITY, because who DOESN’T need to pare down and remove all the distractions? Kristin’s choice of CONSISTENCY spoke volumes to me as well – I could use some consistency in my life.
I filled 3 pages with words I was hoping might inspire me to move beyond my sluggish vision for myself. They were all great words. Any one of them would have been appropriate. Perfect, even. Words like
MOMENTUM * FORWARD * EMPOWER * GROWTH * RESOLVE * ACTION * INTENTIONAL * CONSISTENT * SAVOR * IGNITE * COMMIT * FOCUS * DILIGENCE * SOAR * PERSISTENCE * YES * DISCIPLINE* BALANCE * BRAVE * RISK * PURPOSE
You get the idea.
But God doesn’t see what I see. So I asked Him to show me a word to adopt as my theme for 2016. On those 3 pages, I first highlighted all the words that jumped out at me, or “spoke” to me. Now I’m left with about 25 words. Funny thing, I had written the word Intentional about 4 times and highlighted it each time. But I still wasn’t convinced.
Now, instead of SEEING the word “intentional” periodically, I began HEARING it. I’m not kidding. It was everywhere. So much so that I chuckled at God’s sense of humor each time I heard the word. A couple weeks ago on a Saturday I attended a business training class where the speaker emphasized the need to be INTENTIONAL in our business. Emphasized is not even a strong enough word – she must have said it at least 20 times. The very next day, my pastor preached about beginning again in the new year. As he spoke about not settling for being comfortable, about how God has called us move out of our comfort so he can speak to us and through us. This requires being INTENTIONAL about how we use our time and resources. He added, “Don’t you dare set your agenda for the year. Give God the pen and let HIM write your plan.”
Okay, got it. My foray into being intentional needs to include hearing from God for each step.
In 2015 I neglected to choose a word and I was floundering. Busy without being productive. I felt a sense of disconnect between my calling and my reality. Nothing seemed to move forward. My year was okay, but certainly not great, and most certainly not fantastic. And not even close to being spectacular or even fabulous. I believe God has placed spectacular gifts inside of us, and it is up to us to use those gifts.
I want the best God has for me. So this year I know the word I need to focus on is INTENTIONAL. I know beyond a doubt that God has called me to great things, as I believe He has called each one of us. The key is, will we answer that call? Will we look toward intentional living so that we are effective for the gospel? Daily that word is before me, and daily I am taking steps to live a life of INTENTION.
I come from a family of ministers. My mom, my dad, a few aunts, uncles, cousins, my sister and my niece all professed to be “called” to the ministry at a young age. Even my daughter spent 2014 traveling to 11 countries in 11 months to minister to others on the world stage of missions.
Me? Nope. Not me. If there’s one thing I’ve always known about myself, it’s that I was NOT called to be a minister. Being called to the ministry was something that happened to other preacher’s kids at summer camp. Not me. Many of my friends and family in ministry know God put this call on their lives. I never felt that way. Never had that still, small voice telling me to leave my nets and follow Jesus into the unknown throes of ministry.
When I was a kid, being “called” to the ministry meant you HEARD the call, and ANSWERED that call by attending Bible college or seminary, getting ordained as a pastor and leading a group of adults or families or youth or a choir in the day to day living out of faith. It was messy and challenging and involved being able to speak wisdom in front of a group of people.
I have to admit to being both envious of those who heard the call and relieved that I wasn’t one of them. Being a PK (pastor’s kid), I’d heard my share of messy stories and really couldn’t fathom being the one who would help out someone in that kind of need.
I don’t think kids now have this dilemma. If they grow up in a church, they are sent on missions trips out of the country or even in their own towns. Feeding the hungry, clothing the homeless, bringing hope to the hopeless. They are the hands and feet of Jesus. They LOVE like Jesus did. They don’t wait for a calling. They DO stuff.
But me? I wasn’t called. So I lived my life. I raised my kids. I taught them to love Jesus. I prayed for family members and friends. Even counseled a friend or two in a tough spot. I gave a sandwich to a beggar on the street. Gave a blanket to a cold homeless woman on a rainy night. Wait. What? That sounds suspiciously like ministry.
And so, at the ripe old age of fifty-something, I’m finally realizing I am called. Called just like you are called. In the trenches of real life. It’s still messy and challenging, but doesn’t necessarily involve being able to speak in front of a group of people.
What it does involve is being available. Teachable. Willing to use your gifts to share the gospel.
Which brings us to today. LifeWordsToday, to be exact. A blog my sister and our daughters started writing almost two years ago, with a few things written by my mom tossed in. We’ve now posted 157 times. Our readership is still quite low…or is it? We know God allows just the right eyes to read our words at the time they are needed. And that is enough.
About a month before we ever began discussing the idea for this blog, I came upon a scripture – Psalm 49:3 “My mouth will speak words of wisdom; the utterance from my heart will give understanding.” I was compelled to write it on a card to keep in my Bible. Next to the verse I wrote, “3/12/13 = from God = (?about what?)”
A calling, perhaps?
What’s your calling?
Her words took me back a bit, “I’m a bundle of emotions.”
Our conversation yesterday as she prepared to leave Africa and her last World Race assignment was filled with joy for her return home, but also sorrow at the life she is leaving behind.
Nikki is like me – steady, solid, not typically emotional and with a strong aversion to drama. I don’t know why I was surprised. I feel it too. This emotion that wells up for no reason. Okay, not “no reason.” For good reason. Very good reason.
She is in the air at the moment on the last flight with her entire squad. For eleven months she has lived and breathed every moment with this group of young adults. They have lived in 11 countries in 11 months. A whirlwind world tour of sorts. They have laughed, cried, prayed, and witnessed miracles and tragedies together. They have healed the sick, comforted the sorrowful and loved the unloveable. When they land in Chicago 10 hours from now, they will say farewell and scatter across the nation to reunite with the families that have loved them from afar this past year.
They are sad. And they are oh, so very happy.
I feel it too, this bundle of emotions. I can’t read a post on the parent group page without crying. I read about the dad who wishes us well, but won’t see his son yet as he is choosing to stay in Europe indefinitely, and I cry. I see the mom’s comment about her daughter needing to stay in Malaysia just a bit longer until doctors are sure her malaria is under control, and I cry. I read posts from other parents I met at the launch event last January or the Parent Vision Trip in September, thanking us for being so supportive of their kids, and I cry.
I use the word “kids” lightly. They are young adults, for sure. But they are more than that. They are writers. They are artists. They are medical experts. They are teachers. They are construction workers. They are healers. They are preachers. They are worship leaders. They are warriors for the Kingdom.
And they are coming home.
My daughter’s journey on The World Race has changed her. I expected that. What I didn’t so much expect is that it would change ME. Profoundly.
I see more.
I feel more.
I love more.
I want more.
She will spend the next several weeks exploring where she fits in back home. Her calling doesn’t end because the Race ends, and she knows it.
In some ways, it has only just begun.
And so has mine.
Let the Second Act begin.
So, we should be halfway done by now, but I’m a realist. With all the other things I’m trying to accomplish, there really is no way to post something every day unless I’ve pre-written everything and gotten it all lined up. I didn’t, so that’s that. But this topic of gratitude is still so important.
I’ve been writing this month about being grateful. And not just being grateful sometimes, but about how to cultivate a grateful heart in this whiny, self-absorbed world we live in.
It’s tough sometimes, isn’t it? We want what we want, when we want it & whine when we don’t get it. At times we think the world revolves around us, and we whine when it doesn’t. We gaze at the new (fill in the blank) the neighbor has, and think, I should have that, too…
No? Just me, then?
I am truly so grateful for my life. But when bad stuff happens, or things don’t work out as planned, or, or, or… sometimes a swell of mopey overcomes my normally good-natured, grateful self. And I cringe.
I cringe at the silliness of it all. I cringe at how childish I am. I cringe to think of others I see daily who have a reason to be moping about, but aren’t. I look around at how stinkin’ blessed I am, and I want to slap myself upside the head and say, “STOP IT!”
So I’m working on it.
Let’s work on it together. One little change daily will turn your heart around. Think of one thing. ONE THING you are thankful for today, and write it down. Do it again tomorrow, and the next day. And the next.
I’m not a journal-keeper. Believe me, I’ve tried. But this I can do – I keep a gratitude journal where I write at least once a week the things I’m thankful for. I leaf through the pages and look back on it often. This is one of the first concrete things we took a look at doing, and it has been so helpful to me so far.
And you know what? It always produces a smile. And a change of heart in that moment.
I could go on and on about how there are studies to back this up, but let me just leave you with these wise words:
- Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. 1 Thessalonians 5:1
- Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. Philippians 4:6
- Praise the Lord! Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever! Psalm 106:1
- And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. Colossians 3:15
What are you doing to cultivate a heart of gratitude?
If you were betting real money – I owe you. Life happened, and things were pushed aside. Like writing every day for the 31 days of October. But there is still so much to discuss about this gratitude thing. Really, I know you needed a break anyway. It may take two months to reach our 31 days, but let’s embrace the grace of not needing a tight schedule and keep going deeper:
We were following a list of seven things it’s been shown to help you have a grateful attitude, but really, there are so many more than that, so we will stray now and then and add a few other gratitude-inducing practices. Some obvious. Some not so obvious. But oh, so important.
Like learning to recognize God’s presence in everything. And by everything, I mean EVERY THING. The good, the bad and the ugly. No matter what, you have never walked alone.
Think back. Look for it. You’ll see.
A few years ago, my son was in the hospital for brain mapping for his seizures. I was there with him for a week, because they needed a family member familiar with his seizures to press a button every time one happened. Little or big. I loved getting to know my young adult son on this intimate level. We talked, we laughed. When he had visitors, I’d step away for a break. For the most part, we were captive room mates. It was a strangely enjoyable time.
We had spent family time with my older brother just a few days before entering the hospital, and he had promised to visit Chris that week. It was quite a drive, so nearly every day I would leave him a message describing the traffic, say I knew he had to get up so early for work, and he should wait until the weekend to come visit. All was well.
Except it wasn’t. When my brother didn’t show up to visit Chris by Friday evening, I called him several times. No answer. I called his neighbor, who said the car was in the driveway, but lights were out in the house. I called my nephew, a police officer, to ask what I should do. He immediately drove there, and looking through the window, could see my brother lying on his bed. He was gone.
I know what you’re thinking: WHAT could possibly be good about this situation? How can you be thankful for your brother being found dead?
Clearly, I’m not thankful for the death of my brother. What I am thankful for is the orchestration of all the surrounding events:
* God chose to call my brother Home in the gentlest of ways. He simply took a nap after work, and didn’t wake up. I’m grateful.
* I was helplessly locked in to a commitment of being in the hospital with my son. If I hadn’t been there, I would have driven out to my brother’s house and I would have found him dead in his bed. I’m grateful to be spared from that.
* My nephew is a police officer in the adjoining city and when he called the dispatcher, he knew her. He knew the protocol of what to do in this situation and said to me, “Tami, God arranged for this to happen when I could take care of it for you.” I’m grateful for him and his good heart.
* Officers arrived & they had a common ground with my nephew. When they looked through the house and found no evidence of foul play or suicide, they reported it as such and the mortuary was called to pick up my brother, and not the coroner. This never happens. I’m grateful.
There is more, but I think you get the picture. As I think back on that night, I see God’s handwriting all over the situation, and I am grateful.
Now I’m entering into a time of beautiful blessing. I see God’s hand in that, as well. And I am grateful.
So very grateful.
Look at your life. Think back. Take some time to see how God connected the dots in your helpless and even hopeless situations. Never once, did you ever walk alone.
I hope you’ll see.
There is so much to be grateful for.
How many times has a smile spread across your face over the smallest thing? I mean, the very smallest thing?
That’s a very good thing, and one of the ways to cultivate a heart of gratitude. Learning to recognize the value in the little things that come our way such as a simple complement, a smile from a stranger, getting flowers “just because” or help with a task will spur us on to being happy and grateful.
Have you noticed these little things come from others? We need one another in this journey of life. I believe we receive back what we contribute. Be stingy with complements, smiles and small kindnesses, and you will not receive much in that area. On the other hand, if you are the one to make a point of giving a complement, sharing a kind word, even giving those “just because” flowers, you will reap the benefits.
Whether giving or receiving, it’s the little things.
Let’s try something: today’s assignment is to find someone you can do a small kindness for, share a kind word with, complement, or even give flowers to. I guarantee it will bring a smile to your face. And when it comes back to you – that’s pure joy.
Yes, the little things = the makings of a grateful heart.
How did you do with starting a Gratitude Journal? I’m pretty excited about mine. I chose the pretty handmade parchment journal with the yellow flower on the front. First thing this morning, I wrote a few sentences about the good things. It was enough to put a smile on my face the rest of the day.
As we dive deeper into cultivating a grateful heart, one of the suggestions is don’t avoid the negative. I know it sounds wrong – we’ve just spent time talking about how to remember all the positive, good things in our lives and to write them down, for goodness sake. And now, you want me to step into the negative?
Not step into it, exactly – just don’t avoid it.
Bad stuff happens to good people. All. The. Time. There really is no avoiding it. Life is unfair.
Dealing with the negative stuff head on and just pushing through to the other side gives you a sense of power and accomplishment. And how much sweeter are the good times when you have the tough times to compare it to?
Since it’s impossible to avoid the negative, the key is to not dwell in it. When something’s bothering you, I know getting your mind off it is not a simple task. If the urge to ruminate over a problem is more than you can stand, it’s time to change things up a bit to distract your mind. Think about something that requires concentration like ordering songs in a playlist or maybe the books on your bookshelf. Call a positive friend you know will help you snap out of it – you don’t even have to tell them what’s going on. Have a cup of tea. Reframe your situation in your mind, thinking of the positive things that could possibly come from it instead of the negative mire you are entrenched in. Even 20 seconds will do it. If the negative thoughts return, distract yourself again.
Setbacks are part of life. If you embrace them as part of your journey – you will emerge more thankful for the small things, and a heart of gratitude will follow.
My name is Tami **Hi, Tami** and I’m a journal hoarder.
As you’ll recall, we are perusing a list of 7 Habits of Grateful People by Lindsay Holmes at Huffington Post as we explore the concept of cultivating a grateful heart during October for the Write31Days challenge. Then, just for kicks, I’ll add a few more of my own as we dive deeper into this subject of how to cultivate gratitude.
First on the list is Journal. As in, actually do it – don’t just own dozens of blank journals, like I do.
It’s not that I’ve never tried, or don’t want to. I just don’t GET journaling. It’s difficult, no, more like impossible, for me to spend time writing about my day at the end of it. I just. Can’t.
And yet, I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE a new blank journal. I just tend to use them for other things. There’s the pretty green one I keep with my Bible to write notes in all week, then take to church to keep track of the sermon points. You know, just in case the pastor misses one.
Then there’s the brick red one I keep in my purse to write IDEAS down before they escape from my brain. I’ve designed my voiceover website, birthed ideas for future ministries and non profits, and kept a grocery list in that journal. Nothing anyone would look at later and have a clue what it all means.
Then there are these beauties:
Yep. All mine.This is maybe half of the lovely blanks I have on hand. Just waiting for the next great idea or life event to be penned in them.
Except that I have trouble journaling.
But it turns out, I’m off the hook! It’s not just daily journaling that makes you feel grateful. We’ve all journaled our complaints, just to get them out of our brains and onto paper. That won’t help. What will help is keeping a Gratitude Journal – writing down those things you are thankful for, grateful for, or that just plain brought a smile to your face. And you don’t even have to do it every day – just a few times a week helps cultivate a grateful heart. Now that I can do!
Harvard’s Dr. Michael Miller cites a study by psychologists from UC Davis and University of Miami, who asked participants to write a few sentences each week:
“One group was asked to write about things they were grateful for that had occurred during the week. A second group wrote about daily irritations or things that had displeased them. The third wrote about events that had affected them (with no emphasis on being positive or negative). After 10 weeks, those who wrote about being grateful were more optimistic and felt better about their lives. Surprisingly, they had also exercised more and had fewer visits to physicians than those who focused on sources of aggravation.”
A few sentences every so often to document the good things in life. Yes, that sounds like a wonderful idea! As we go through the rest of this month, let’s begin a gratitude journal, and see if it induces a sense of gratefulness. I’ll share some of my entries towards the end of this series.
And to think, I was worried. It turns out there’s a legit use for my journals after all!
Now, which one to use first…