Saturday, July 13, 2013

Day #3: Sleep


When I think about sleep, I think about how it has changed for me over the years. I used to hate to sleep as a kid and would fight my mom to stay up later and later. As I got into high school, it's all I wanted to do. I am sure this was attributed to depression sometimes too but sleep was a hot commodity. In college, I didn't do a lot of it and it was necessary to lose some sleep to get things done. Now, as a wife, mommy, and adult woman, it is paramount to my mental health and well-being. I am sure it always was but I just recognize it now. 

I think that sleep is not only a crucial part of your body systems working properly but also a huge part of your spirit being healthy. It is hard to hear God's voice in your spirit if you are frazzled and tired. Weariness was never the intention of the Christian life. A verse that pops out me when I think about sleep is this one:

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. -- Matthew 11:28

The case is that Jesus was probably talking more metaphorically in rest meaning a break from feeling overwhelmed or worried, but I think this goes hand in hand with sleep. If you have ever experienced insomnia, than you know that you are not able to rest in Jesus when you are not sleeping. Sometimes being able to shut your eyes, lay down, and let things go is a huge leap of faith. Every night no matter what I have to do, no matter what chores are left laying around, no matter what is on my mind...I go to bed with my son and husband. I make sure that we rest as a family. It's important to renew us for our jobs the next day as Mommy, wife, Daddy, Husband, and little growing baby! 

This photo captured my ideas of Sleep today...perhaps the word should have been rest :) 

Friday, July 12, 2013

Day #2: Beauty


There are so many quotes out there about beauty. "Beauty is only skin deep.." "Beauty is in the eye of the beholder" etc... Webster Says...

Beauty: 1. The quality or aggregate of qualities in a person or thing that gives pleasure to the senses or pleasurably exalts the mind or spirit. 2. A beautiful person or thing; especially; a beautiful woman
3. a particularly graceful, ornamental, or excellent quality. 4. A brilliant, extreme, or egregious example or instance.  

Over the course of my life, my opinion of beauty has gone through many stages. I thought I would show you how it has changed in pictures. This is my first glimpse of beauty as a little girl.  

Yes, I was in love with Michael Jackson (admittedly, I still sort of am) and he was beauty to me. I had no sexual feelings yet but I knew that his dark skin and big brown eyes were beautiful and every word that he sang made me swoon. Seems like the normal view of beauty as a little one.

As I moved into adolescence, beauty became more about things I wanted. This was beauty to me as a teenager:

I was a licensed driver and all I wanted was a 64 and 1/2 Ford Mustang (admittedly, I still do) Beauty had to do with things that I longed for, things I could touch, things that made me look cooler than I really am.

Then there was college. College shifted my view of beauty to a whole new level. Now beauty looked a lot like this:

In college, beauty looked like success and achievements. It felt good to get a Bachelor's Degree, then a Master's Degree, be the commencement speaker for my class, etc... Yet this time..I realized the beauty that I saw...didn't go as far as those others did.

Adulthood (AS IN ..NOW)

I can't post a picture to this part because Beauty is something I Can no longer really see. Beauty is the sound of Max's giggle when he is staring at his daddy making faces at him. Beauty is the tear that rolls down my husband's cheek when we talk about God's love for us. Beauty is being able to talk about your child (whom you lost) and long for the day you get to meet them finally. Beauty is the smell of freshly mowed grass as you take a country drive with your family. Beauty is finally being able to say MY SON and introduce him to you! Beauty is the sacrificial love my husband has for me that models that of our Heavenly Father's love. Beauty is my relationship with Jesus. These things...they are beauty and there is no photo!

I hope you find some beauty in your day today!

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Day #1: Happiness


Sometimes I wonder if people really understand the word happiness. Here is Webster's definition:

1. Good Fortune. 2. A state of well-being and contentment. 3. A pleasurable or satisfying experience.

The weird thing is, I don't attribute happiness to either #1 or #3. It is all "A state of well-being and contentment" to me. I have had a lot of misfortune that could have derailed my happiness but I haven't let it. Also, my every day is not always a pleasurable or satisfying experience but I am still filled with happiness. I think if more people would focus on their well-being and contentment instead of looking for the next pleasurable or satisfying experience to come, they would be happier. Also, I think that people are too caught up in having good fortune (everything falling into place) in order to maintain their happiness. My happiness exists in a few different factors.

  • My happiness is due to my relationship with Jesus Christ. I have joy that is beyond my understanding at times due to HIS love.
  • My happiness comes from having the love of my husband. His love brings me contentment and makes me feel safe. Those are two very important parts of happiness for me.
  • Happiness is knowing that God blessed me with two little ones. One of them is in Heaven but I still enjoyed every pregnant moment and Max who I have been blessed to have almost 6 months already. Every day that I can look into his face, I am truly happy!
Happiness for me is filled with pictures of those I love and cherish. Happiness is not about how my day goes or how many experiences were pleasurable. It is about WHO is in my life!

I chose a picture that I believe that you can SEE happiness on me. Me and My boy! 

365 prompts for thought/creativity

So I stumbled upon a page today that had 365 words that are supposed to be journal prompts for art or creative writing or whatever. I think I've decided to do a little project with them. I think I'm going to use them as blog prompts and photos will go along with the blogs. I would really love if followers that are interested would do this project as well. I think it's a great way to start thinking about things and see beauty all around. Mindfulness seems to be a good result of this too. Here are the 365 prompts first. My next post will be the first prompt. Enjoy

1. Happiness
2. Beauty
3. Sleep
4. Garden
5. Imagination
6. Secret
7. Give
8. Thankful
9. Kindness
10. Inside
11. Outside
12. Jump
13. Friendship
14. Love
15. Fire
13. Light
14. Darkness
15. Dream
16. Believe
17. Hope
18. Faith
19. Focus
20. Clean
21. Angry
22. Work
23. Music
24. Stars
25. Mystery
26. Envelope
27. Book
28. Dare
29. Choose
30. Beach
31. Forgiveness
32. Disaster
33. Dance
34. Mistake
35. New
36. Yes
37. Path
38. Horizon
39. Mountain
40. River
41. Open
42. Heart
43. Soul
44. Tear
45. Spiral
46. Up
47. Go
48. Be
49. Seek
50. Learn
51. Balance
52. Grow
53. Strength
54. Seek
55. Passion
56. Move
57. Today
58. Awaken
59. Angels
60. Laughter
61. Listening
62. Pause
63. Peace
64. Relax
65. Space
66. Wisdom
67. Difference
68. Begin
69. Time
70. Brave
71. Breathe
72. Childhood
73. Discovery
74. Mind
75. Energy
76. Flower
77. Health
78. Harmony
79. Recovery
80. Stand
81. Nowhere
82. Soar
82. Skip
83. Fresh
84. Delicious
85. Power
86. Complete
87. Grace
88. Legend
89. Ecstasy
90. Hug
91. Proud
92. Simple
93. Machine
94. Victory
95. Vibrancy
96. Leadership
97. Alive
98. Bloom
99. Fame
100. Enormous
101. Independent
102. Unique
103. Metamorphosis
104. Silence
105. Tranquility
106. Project
107. Smile
108. Miracle
109. Amazing
110. Game
111. Connected
112. Muse
113. Dazzle
114. Determination
115. Free
116. Help
117. Intuition
118. Smart
119. Sweet
120. Honesty
121. Useful
122. Safety
123. Ready
124. Vision
125. Cycle
126. Discipline
127. Promise
128. Patience
129. Destiny
130. Rejuvenate
131. Shine
132. Talk
133. Stress
134. Missing
135. Age
136. Success
137. Motivation
138. Family
139. Loneliness
140. Experience
141. Future
142. Vintage
143. Wings
144. Letter
145. Wandering
146. Factory
147. Rainbow
148. Ask
149. Self
150. Locket
151. Home
152. Cloud
153. Hunger
154. Possibilities
155. Boredom
156. Innocence
157. Charge
158. Rhythm
159. Date
160. Consequence
161. Prescription
162. Goals
163. Lost
164. Found
165. Cry
166. Parade
167. Party
168. Ice
169. Dragon
170. Alarm
171. Understanding
172. Uncomfortable
173. Serious
174. Opposites
175. Playful
176. Attention
177. Caring
178. Hero
179. Lace
180. Clue
181. Ideas
182. Junk
183. Collection
184. Radio
185. Interview
186. Zoom
187. Puzzle
188. Landscape
189. Advice
190. Memories
191. Communication
192. Compassion
193. Universe
194. Loyalty
195. Sharing
196. Travel
197. Voices
198. Sidewalk
199. Tree
200. Story
201. Why
202. Maybe
203. Antique
204. Action
205. Culture
206. Fuel
207. Desire
208. Weather
209. Directions
210. List
211. Ride
212. Wish
213. Breakfast
214. Touch
214. Sadness
215. Comfort
216. Circle
217. Reflection
218. Optimism
219. Anxiety
220. Shadow
221. Spirit
222. Stretch
223. Challenge
224. Five
225. Messy
226. Adventure
227. Fun
228. Surprise
229. Illusion
230. Mischief
231. Shy
232. Lesson
233. Whisper
234. Fight
235. Castle
236. Protect
237. Shop
238. Wheel
239. Pieces
240. Leaves
241. Fool
242. Productivity
243. Overcome
244. Encouragement
245. Watch
246. Lighthouse
247. Mild
248. Mouth
249. Rare
250. Target
251. Boat
252. Box
253. Grief
254. Heavy
255. Zeal
256. Color
267. Social
268. Zingy
269. Number
270. Little
271. Sound
272. Reach
273. Money
274. Staircase
275. Lemon
276. Wood
277. Try
278. You
279. Quote
280. Weakness
281. Bridge
282. Building
283. Clothes
284. Prepare
285. Teach
286. Window
287. Drive
288. Middle
289. Microphone
290. Definition
291. Shout
292. Catch
293. Release
294. Balloons
295. Sharp
296. Crowd
297. Cute
298. Cheery
299. Glow
300. Apple
301. Pictures
302. Swing
303. Wave
304. Joke
305. Cope
306. Accomplish
307. Special
308. Neighborhood
309. Wonderful
310. Service
311. Calling
312. Magic
313. Spontaneous
314. Fluffy
315. Organic
316. Silly
317. Thunderstorm
318. Toys
319. Butterfly
320. Buzz
321. Vine
322. Shock
323. Enjoy
324. Craving
325. Respect
326. Abstract
327. Rainbow
328. Train
329. Invention
330. Perspective
331. Genius
332. Circus
333. Ball
335. Crystal
336. Fairy
337. Cup
338. Reality
339. Forget
340. Priorities
341. Journey
342. Hands
343. Shoes
344. Television
345. Newspaper
346. Radiance
347. Hidden
348. Fright
349. Climb
350. Guess
351. Pretend
352. Turn
353. Shatter
354. Together
355. Adapt
356. Keep
357. Closed
358. Embrace
359. Blessing
360. Block
361. Pizzazz
362. Breakthrough
363. Curiosity
364. Distance
365. Zen

Sunday, July 07, 2013

Extreme Accumulation

I know that pretty much everyone has watched the TV show on TLC called Extreme Couponing. I watch it myself on Netflix when I get bored and need encouragement to make my grocery list or clip coupons. I should start by saying that I do use coupons and I do get most of my household products like dish soap, laundry detergent, tooth paste, floss, toilet paper, paper towels, etc.. virtually free. Those are the things that really hurt in our household budget so I do my best to get them at next to nothing. Once in a while I use a coupon on food but very seldom as we eat from scratch most of the time and those items are not often on coupons. Coupons are usually for convenience good, packaged items, and candy/snacks. I also use coupons for own personal shopping to be able to get some things here and there that are fun and might not be in the budget. Examples of these things are bath & body works products, free items at Kohl's, cosmetics, craft items at Michael's, etc... We do not really have a budget anymore for frivolous things so when I can get things for free or next to free to help me do my hobbies and are a luxury, I jump on it! 

I said all of that to lead into my post for today about accumulation. When I watch extreme couponing, I can't help but think that these behaviors of having 500 rolls of toilet paper or enough shampoo for 7 years are very unhealthy behaviors. Now, I know I am probably offending someone out there who has shelves of supplies in their home that look like they are awaiting the zombie apocalypse. I think that these behaviors are incredibly unhealthy spiritually and mentally. Here are my thoughts:

Spiritually: In Scripture, we saw the people wandering around in the desert with nothing to eat yet God provided their food for each day by having Manna rain down from the sky. Now, I realize that it is unlikely that we will walk outside and a giant loaf of Wonder bread is going to fall down in front of us but I think if you are a person of faith, you can probably say that you have never been left nor forsaken when you really needed something. Anthony and I have been at the point where we had NOTHING left to eat and it seems like God always sends someone or a bit of money so we don't starve. HE is good that way! Also, in scripture it's stated that we should not store up our treasures on Earth, not worry about tomorrow, etc. etc...
These seem like good ideas to me to not have your entire garage filled with nonperishable grocery and household items. I understand that people are preparing and that seems okay to me but when it goes into years that you don't know that you will have, it seems excessive. As believers, maybe we should be using our gift of budgeting and couponing to help those that are starving NOW! There are food banks in every community closing down due to a lack of donations. Donate your overstock to these people whose families are hungry. You could be their manna from heaven.

Mentally: It seems like it takes a ton of anxiety to believe that you need 7 years worth of shampoo to make it through your day. I have heard numerous people on that show say something about their stockpile being the next most important thing to their family and needing to insure it. REALLY? It seems like priorities are way out of line and anxiety is at an all time high. Maybe you should ask yourself...WHAT IF? What if I didn't have a bottle of shampoo when I needed it? I mean, realistically there is probably someone out there who would either give you a bottle of theirs or loan you the 79 cents that VO5 costs. Do you really need 158 bottles of it? It just seems seriously unbalanced.

What do you think about our culture's new need to hoard or stockpile these items in this much quantity. There are people literally building new rooms for their stockpile. Is it unhealthy? Is it sickness? Is it sin? Is it selfish? Just some questions I had.

Saturday, July 06, 2013

The odd life of Erica Lewis

We were watching a movie as a family the other night and it totally had me thinking about spiritual implications. The movie was Disney's The Odd Life of Timothy Green. Here is a brief gist of the movie

An infertile couple plants their hopes for a child in the garden, and receive an unexpected gift when a young boy emerges from the soil claiming to be their son in this enchanting comedy drama from Academy Award-nominated writer/director Peter Hedges (What's Eating Gilbert GrapeDan in Real Life). Jim (Joel Edgerton) and Cindy Green (Jennifer Garner) are struggling to accept the fact that they will never conceive a child of their own when, one night during a thunderous storm, a young boy named Timothy (CJ Adams) comes knocking at their door. In time, the prospective new parents and their curious neighbors discover that the most amazing things can happen just when you least expect it. 
~ Jason Buchanan, Rovi

So, anyway the component of the movie that caught me was that little Timothy grows leaves on his legs. These leaves are unable to be removed and are a constant source of annoyance and shame in the various parts of the movie. I don't want to spoil the movie by telling you more so just know that he and his parents did not like showing the leaves as they were not normal. I started to think...what are my spiritual leaves? What are the things that I would rather just push my socks up over and hide from the world around me to look more presentable. What are the sins in my life that take over me and are shameful. Here is what I came up with. I think Timothy had around 6-8 leaves so I've listed my top 5 leaves here

  1. JEALOUSY: I am jealous of almost anyone at any given time. I am jealous about people's lives like having children when I wasn't, getting married when I wasn't, vacationing when I wasn't...etc. It is embarrassing to think that I have to be all concerned about getting what I want when others are being blessed. I have so many blessings in my life and here I am..looking around. NOT OKAY. A leaf I would like to pluck right out!
  2. JUDGEMENT: I am one of the most judgmental people when it comes to certain attitudes and behaviors. I have a hard time understanding ignorance, intolerance, injustice, etc... and so I sit in my "high and mighty" chair and look at THOSE people and how badly they behave and think of how much better I am. NOT OKAY!
  3. SELF-IMPORTANCE: It is hard for me to believe that people aren't thinking about me all the time. Therefore, I care WAY too much what others think of me. The truth is, they are probably thinking about themselves as well. It would be ideal to shift my focus and possibly see things I could help others with.
  4. WORRY/ANXIETY: It is hard to stand in faith and be strong when you are worrying about every single facet of your life from how you are going to get all of the groceries in under budget to making sure you meet every single goal of your daily agenda TODAY. I am a perfectionist and I was once told that what lies between reality and perfection is anxiety because perfection is never reached. Wise words!
  5. PROCRASTINATION: I am the worst at doing things I need to do when I need to do them. This is attached to that whole perfectionistic thing. If I can't do it perfectly, I often don't want to do it at all. This includes things that are important to my survival like taking diabetic medication and treating it properly and exercise. Both of these things require consistency and are a paced thing and because I can't be perfect right out of the gate, I just keep pushing it to tomorrow. All this does is feed my 4th leaf of worry/anxiety.
These are just 5 of the things that came to me as I watched this movie. By the way, great movie. Great idea, concept, and lessons. What are your leaves? What would you love to be able to just pluck right out of your life. 

Friday, July 05, 2013

The day of silence

So I did it, I completed my first no media Thursday. Granted, it was the 4th of July so much of my evening was spent outside with friends BBQ'in and watching fireworks anyway but I know I would have been consulting my Iphone and being kind of rude, had I not been fasting it. I had some errands to complete yesterday so it was interesting to not have my Iphone to use my notes, calculator, etc.. and have to do things the old fashioned way. I had to write on pieces of paper to note what I wanted to blog about in the future, jot down phone #'s, and had to use an old school calculator for tallying my grocery budget. Interesting! These did not have spiritual implications per say but they sure did show me how dependent I am on my technology.

Through the day while I drive, I usually pop my Ipod into the car and listen to it on shuffle while I go to various stores and commute home. Since, to me, that seemed just like filling up the silence, I decided to leave the radio/Ipod off yesterday and use commute time to pray with Max. He was probably napping but I don't negate the effects of prayer on his life. I really felt like I was able to spend time with God and ended up singing praise to him instead and that felt even better than that shuffle option.

One challenge I have to note is that I did not spend as much time in my Bible as I had hoped. Okay, let's be honest.,..I didn't crack my Bible open yesterday. If I want to grow, I want to be honest. I read a book from the library and it was so good I ended up reading the entire book before bedtime. I wish I could feel that passionate about scripture. That is my prayer for next week's media fast...I want to dig into the scriptures and really get my heart excited about learning more about Jesus. I need to connect with those characters more than the characters in my fiction thriller. Anyone else have trouble with various types of media and their life with Jesus? If so, what have been your strategies for checking in with Jesus more than your Facebook?!


Sunday, June 30, 2013

Media & Me

So the unthinkable happened on Friday morning when I woke up. I immediately grabbed my Iphone and found that I had no wifi signal. I thought that maybe I was just in a bad part of the house but I got to the desktop computer and SAME THING! Panic ensued almost immediately. No, I do not work from home, I did not have an appointment where all of the details were online...I was just freaking out because that is my "break time" each day. I am a stay at home mama these days and that means my days are full of laundry, dishes, cleaning, organizing, and baby Max care! These are all fine and dandy but we all need breaks throughout the day. My breaks are mostly things that require a wifi signal like blogging, Facebook, reading blogs, and watching my Netflix. In saying that, the way that I felt through the whole day on Friday was sort of ridiculous. These are my confessions...

I literally probably restarted the wifi a total of 25 times throughout the day hoping that a re-start would make everything better.

I suddenly viewed sitting down and reading my current book what I had to settle for today. (GASP)

I did not view the time that I put into doing crafts that day as a break but rather as more work that I did not want to do.

I almost cried when my husband got home and figured out the wifi issue and I was able to get online again and rejoin the world.

How sad right? I was so disappointed in myself after Friday and realizing that it was such a powerful influence in my life. I am still proud to say that Max's needs always come first and my breaks happen while he is sound asleep. How long will that be true though? Am I going to continue to have this problem when he is bigger and needs more of my attention and less naps? I decided that this has to come to a stop now so I am going to be fasting from ALL media one day a week starting next week. Here are the fasting guidelines and what day I am going to be fasting. It is going to be really difficult for me to do this but I also want to be closer to Jesus, closer to Max, and not dependent on something outside of Jesus that much!

-- ALL media includes Netflix, Iphone, Internet, Email, Blogs, Tablet, Games, any music that is not praise and worship

-- Time that I would be doing these things (or desire to do these things) I will either spend with Max doing something with him or in time with Jesus, since the main focus is being more centered on Christ and learning this for motherhood.

-- Media fast will start at 12:00 AM on Thursday Morning and continue until 11:59 PM Thursday night.

I will be letting everyone know through my blog how these experiences are and what God is teaching me. I am excited to get alone with Jesus...and Max of course.