Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Taking Care of You aka The Dwindling Roll

I have read often during parenting and just for life in general that one needs to invest in "self care". That if you don't take care of you, who will take care of them? (and them can refer to children, parents, other family members, friends, etc) That you can't fill from an empty cup. That in case of an air emergency, put on your own mask first before assisting others.

I used to dread the term "self care". I'm still not real fond of it. However, if you are going to help others with their care, you deserve to give yourself at least (if not more) than what you are willing/required to give away to others. Yes. DESERVE.

BUT what does that look like? HOW does one take time in an already filled, overwhelmed feeling of a day FIND time to take? I have never been walking around when a yellow cup, air bag and strap magically appear in front of me making me aware or reminding me of the need to put on said mask before assisting others. Usually, by the time I remember or take notice, I am well into assisting others without putting on my mask first!

For the days you don't remember, I have found a reminder that will be in front of you every day. You will notice it slipping away as it is used up AND if like at my house, YOU will be replacing it when it is empty/used up. What is this wondrous bit of knowledge? Have you guessed?

Toilet paper!

DISCLAIMER: I am preaching to myself with this post as well as I am far from reaching where I should be with my own self care. However, journaling, blogging and support of others I'm finding is part of my self care. We gotta start somewhere, sometime. Might as well be here....and now.

In this example, we start out as a full roll. I purchase by the square feet on the package and MUST be 2 ply. Bigger rolls = less times I have to change it out!

Lesson: Start out in the best "big roll 2 ply" condition you can: good sleep, fully hydrated, fed, medicated (if necessary), exercise (if you can't find 10 minutes now, will you find it when you are sick?), listen to music to get you moving, find something that makes you laugh and something to be grateful for


Approaching used up, mask dropping phase. Time to be careful. Your spare a square is running low. Keep some for you! Try and avoid the desperate cry for more while in a somewhat precarious balancing act!

Lesson: NOTICE when you are getting used up. Time to have a spare roll available on back up (accept help if people offer. ASK if necessary). The more people that are counting on us, the faster we disappear. Use those last few squares (actually, real paper probably works better for this) to write down a list of activities that may not take a lot of time, but make you feel better. This list comes in handy for when you are entering the land of Overwhelm. You won't need to THINK of something to do on top of already feeling stressed out.

Uh oh! Empty roll. No paper left. The mask is swinging around wildly in front of you. Now what?

Lesson: DON'T feel guilty about getting drained/used up/overwhelmed. It happens sometimes without us noticing. We are slowly slipping away in the hustle and bustle of life. Don't seek an hour, take 5 minutes to sit somewhere and take a deep breath. Let it out. Repeat.

Notice it's time to replace the empty roll....and start the whole cycle again!
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If you are here and you have not felt like a full roll in awhile, it is never to late to start doing things a bit differently to have a different tomorrow.

There are numerous resources about self care available online and books. If you can't think of some activities that will help, look some up to start a list.  Keep the list in a visible spot so when you can grab a few minutes you don't have to think of something that helps. 

Self care doesn't mean by yourself. If you have not "peopled" (been around anyone other than your child(ren), people depending on you), find a way to get out and about....especially if there is sunshine available!

Get out of the habit of saying there isn't enough time. We might be looking for a significant chunk of time and we should plan for those, but do not overlook the small moments of joy available in a day. I have learned to say that taking time sitting with a cat on my lap is lowering my blood pressure. ;)

Personally, my best self care is spending time alone with God. Praying. Reading the Bible...not a book about the Bible. I don't do it enough. When I do, I am never disappointed and always reminded that I do not have to do life on my own. You don't either.

1 Peter 5:7 (NLT) Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you.

Matthew 11:28 (NLT) Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.

Thursday, February 02, 2017

As The Spirit Moves

Driving down the road recently, the bits of snow started to swirl in the wind and blow across the road. The swirling was mesmerizing and almost looked like white cap waves on a lake.

I was reminded that often people say we can't "see" God. I'm sure many have even used a wind analogy to try and explain it. We can't see the wind either, but we can feel it and we know it is there.

However, on that particular day, the thought crossed my mind that we don't often see (or appreciate the full force of) wind, and dare I say, the spirit of God ..... until it moves. Something gets picked up in the flow of the wind: leaves, rain, snow and then, then we see what only moments ago we may not have even felt.

Then there are the days we may not be sure that God is in the background or even paying attention to what is happening in our little busy, sometimes overwhelming world. But then....you get a call, email or text from a friend just when you need one, something just happens to fall into place, or we receive an answer to a prayer that wasn't even put into thoughts or words yet. Something moved and then we get a glimpse and are reminded (if we choose to be) that we do not have to do this busy, sometimes overwhelming world by ourselves.

The wind can be very gentle or have great power.  If you lean back on a really windy day, the wind can feel like it is holding you up or pushing you back or reminding us it's time to go in the house (or in the basement!).

The spirit of God can be gentle or have great power. If you lean into it on a really cruddy day when feelings overwhelm and darkness feels like it is creeping in, it is possible to be held up and reminded (again) that we don't have to do life on our own. Sometimes it will be from someone that gets blown across your path at just the right time.

So, how do we better tune in to get more of that spirit moving? The best ways I've found is to actually allow quiet times frequently during the week. Time without TV, radio or computer. Reading the Bible and/or a good devotional book can help. Write in a journal. Pray. Praise music. A conversation with a friend. Making sure we take time to listen when someone needs to talk....because sometimes that is us getting to assist on a spirit moving for someone else.

If we truly look with our eyes and heart fully open knowing that sometimes it will NOT look like what we think it should look like, we will see. The wind...and the spirit moving.

1 Corinthians 2:9 (NIV)
However, as it is written:
“What no eye has seen,
what no ear has heard,
and what no human mind has conceived”
the things God has prepared for those who love him—

Galatians 5:22 (NLT) But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, and self-control. 

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Heavenly Pieces

As we draw ever nearer to Christmas and the notes of Christmas music fill the air, I hear numerous renditions of Silent Night. Most are familiar with the chorus line: Sleep in heavenly peace......

I've been rolling that phrase around in my mind....heavenly peace. My world this year has felt far from heavenly, let alone peaceful! Maybe your world has been too. Each year seems to have its own joys and concerns. Sometimes a year just seems to be especially filled with issues that are beyond our control and drag us out of our comfort zone.

I could provide a list of all the issues and related chaos that has seemed like our own personal blizzard, but some is not mine to share and some is "just" a different stage of life due to growing up. I will roll it into a snowball of moving into another phase of life with our children that are now "adults" (at least by age) and our parents that sometimes need our help more than they (and sometimes we) are comfortable with.  

Heavenly peace sounds like a package deal, you either have it or you don't. SO in case you fall in the don't column, I have a proposition. We will begin to look for our peace in pieces. Little pockets of time where things are good or at least suck less. ;)

Ongoing health issues have provided us time with family members.

God's timing is always better than ours.

I have learned much about how I and our families function during good, bad and worse times. Honestly, we have come out stronger than when we went in.

Laughter (and tears) solve many issues.

Email, text, cards are all important forms of encouragement and support.

When you need to remind yourself to take a deep breath, you are TOO stressed. Breathe in peace, exhale stress.

God told us that this life would not be easy, however, he also told us that He has had a plan all along: the Christmas that we celebrate, the silent night that didn't stay silent as angels sang to shepherds in a field, the baby that the wise men sought and wise people still seek. So, my dears, sleep. Sleep in heavenly pieces.

John 16:33 (NIV) “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

Sunday, September 11, 2016

All About Me homework

I was recently given the opportunity to help with homework! (Note: it was for 1st grade so I actually felt that I COULD help!)

As our children are no longer in school, I am a bit out of practice. I was feeling a bit misty that our daughter graduated this past year. I had no one to help get ready or school shop for. THAT was an odd feeling.

I was over at my nephews and niece's house. They are 6 1/2 year old triplets. 3x the fun....and the homework...and school papers, etc. They had a night before school assignment of "All About Me" It was a fill-in-the-blank and draw pictures of things like: my name is, my favorite food, my favorite thing to do, my favorite character in a book, etc. It was 2 pages. I split it up into a couple sections at a time so they wouldn't have to work on it all at once. I let them do it in the order he/she chose.

The one section they all did last was draw a picture of "What I do best" Each of them really had to think hard about what they would draw.

I'm wondering if it was the word "best" that made them hesitant or if we really learn at that early of an age not to brag about ourselves. I know as we get older it seems more difficult for a lot of us to remember that we are each individuals with talents and gifts that make us....us....especially if anxiety tries to creep in.

Sometimes in the hustle and bustle of growing up, we forget that it is OK to acknowledge the fact that there are things we are "best" at. Maybe we don't think of it like that. Maybe we don't feel like we should act too "proud" or we sound conceited. Too often it is much easier to think of the bad and the ugly than the good.

The online world can easily make us feel "less than" what we see portrayed on TV, movies, and the internet.

I urge you to take a bit of time and think about your very own "All About Me" even if, maybe especially if, you are WAAAYYY past first grade.

Genesis 1:27 (NIV) So God created mankind in his own image,
in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.

Jeremiah 18:3-5 (NIV) So I went down to the potter’s house, and I saw him working at the wheel.  But the pot he was shaping from the clay was marred in his hands; so the potter formed it into another pot, shaping it as seemed best to him.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

It's the thought that counts

"Mints make you cry?" my sister asked me when I sat down after the elevator descent from our mom's hospital room.

I knew my dad had gone to the "dutch" store earlier that day. I didn't think about or know why. When we got to mom's hospital room, he handed me a brown paper bag. Inside was a large container of individually wrapped peppermints. The good ones. He told me when I opened the bag, "You said you don't like the pink ones." I don't.

Peppermints have played a supporting role in my life looking back. From the peppermints we used to get from grandpa V.W. when we would visit in the nursing home to the peppermints we would use in church to pretend we (kids) were getting communion too, peppermints have been a comfort. They also freshen the breath when I am in TOO much of a hurry heading out the door. ;)

It wasn't the mints that made me cry. It was the fact that my dad went out of the way to get me something I like. Something I would not have gotten for myself. It was a day when I really needed a reminder that I was being thought of.

My point of this post is that if you have that little nudging of a feeling to do something nice for somebody else? Do it....even if it doesn't make sense to you. We get those nudgings for a reason. YOU may be the answer to somebody else's prayer....maybe one they haven't even put words to yet! The "something" does not have to cost $$. Maybe it's an encouraging note, phone call or text. Encouragement has a great ripple effect. Try it!

My "dutch girl" mints THANKS dad!

Philippians 2"1-4 (NIV)Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit,if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.

1 Thessalonians 5:1 (NIV)
Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.