Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Celebrating the Ordinary


Today I'm celebrating!! Exactly one year ago today, I wrote a post about the progress in my health to overcome hypersomnia. Yay! 

I'm sleeping a little over 9 hrs a night now. (between 8/8:30p-5:30a...and I need all them hours!) Although my sleep is not back to the 7 hours I was sleeping before I got sick, I don't care, because at least it's not 14 hours anymore. My daytime energy is up, my life is functioning fairly normally and my spirits are higher. 

I'm so thankful to my Lord, the Everlasting. Ya know, He really had mercy on me and helped me through the suffering, all the doctors appointments, the heartache & headaches, and the questioning that comes with being chronically ill. He saw me through to this other side - like only Jesus can - and I am so grateful. 

Being able to sleep the right amount seems like such an ordinary thing and it is, yet in the same breath I can say, it's not ordinary. We so easily take for granted our "ordinary" and "normal" blessings. In fact, when I was reflecting about things to be thankful for, I came across a PBS article that shared about the heart. Take your two fists and put them together in front of you in a ball. Your heart is probably about that size and this diligent organ beats around 100,000 times a Day! That's about 35 million times in just one Year and in the average lifetime, your beautiful heart will beat more than 2.5 Billion times!! Ordinary in an average moment but honestly extraordinary.

So this Thanksgiving, among all the things to be thankful for...I will celebrate the ordinary because when I look deeper, what I find is that my "ordinary" blessings are really a bigger deal than I thought at first. My thankfulness list will start off with normal sleep and my beating heart. :) 

Thursday, November 21, 2013

The Impact of Giving

UPDATES!!


Chidodolo is super special to me. In exactly one week, on Thanksgiving day, I'll have been blessed to be his sponsor and friend for a year! Compassion recently provided me an email update after an inquiry I sent. They shared that through some additional gifts, Chidodolo purchased: Three T-shirts, Pair of shoes, 5 kg of sugar, Soap, Tooth paste, Tea leaves, & some soft drinks (soda). I was so excited that they included these photos for me. Emily mentioned that Chidodolo had also sent me a thank you letter and it was on the way too.


Purity sent me a long two page update letter recently full of happiness and thankfulness that I'll share in another post. The letter mentioned that pictures would be coming of the goat they bought. :)


Rosebel's letter arrived yesterday updating me on her life. She addressed the letter as, "My best friend Ms. Amy Baker" and that warmed my heart. She greeted me from the family and from her, (especially her mum and sister). She told me they are beginning to get rain which they are extremely thankful for as the farmers are preparing gardens, planting and sowing. She shared that school was now closed for the holiday and that she had done great in her classes by ranking 10th out of 38 students! She thanked God for that, and me...which is super humbling. Specifically, she shared Psalm 7:1 with me which says, "I come to you for protection, O Lord my God. Save me from my persecutors—rescue me!"

Impact. I'm so grateful that Compassion and the children I sponsor take the time to show me the small ways I'm helping.  They show me the impact and probably don't even realize how much they impact me! I'm just grateful for these kid'os, for their letters, their faith, and that God has placed us in each others lives. 

All that we behold is full of blessings.  ~William Wordsworth


Monday, November 18, 2013

Extra Time in God's Midst


I found ideas for spending a personal day with God. I wish I had a full day to retreat but the holiday season does not often lend me that honor. Yet, because I tend to get really worn out this time of the year (can you relate?) I do long for more time with Him! 

Believe it or not, different amounts of time can pop up in our day, so I thought I'd share some ideas of ways to draw toward God when it happens! 

Only have 5 extra minutes alone?
  • set an alarm so you don't have to worry about the time and pray
  • listen to a song that inspires you...and close your eyes
  • write a list of things you are thankful for - as many as you can in 5 min. 
  • draw a picture of you hugging Jesus...really, go ahead! It doesn't matter if you are great at drawing; all that matters is changing your focus!
  • or maybe you need to focus on "being" not "doing" - take some time to "be still" and recognize God as God 
  • if it's at night, go out and gaze at God's beautiful stars, moon, or nighttime sky 

Only have 10 to 15 extra minutes alone? 
  • go on a prayer walk around the block
  • sit quietly for a moment then journal a response to the question: "What am I learning, or could God be trying to teach me, in the things going on in my life right now? 
  • take a moment and do some prayer stretching! Examples: Reach as high as you can and praise God in worship, stretch your arms as wide as you can and pray about being open to God's word, stand and stretch your chin to your chest while sharing with God how grateful you are to be His...
  • remember...reflect on the moments that God began to reveal himself to you through the Word, remember your baptism, remember joy, relief, peace...remember His love for you.
  • consider not talking and just be in silence for 10-15 minutes with a focus on listening for God or just enjoying his presence.

Only have 20 or 30 extra minutes alone? 
  • read through one of the smaller books in the New Testament. Devour it whole! Some great examples are Philippians, Colossians, James, 1 John or Jude.
  • take a look at a story from the bible you love and read it very slowly...picture what you are reading like you were watching a movie.
  • spend some time praying wide. Look on a map and pick a country you've never been to or prayed for...pray for the country and the people there, pray about Jesus' love spreading there.
  • is there something you need to get off your heart? Pour out your heart in a journal or internal prayers to God

Well, right now I have about an hour before an evening work event, so I'm off to grab hold of the extra time God's given me. Can't wait!!!



Wednesday, November 13, 2013

4 Question Quick Quiz - Being Humble

Humility is HARD! I have failed so many times to be humble that it seems ridiculous to even submit this post, yet the Spirit pressed this quiz on me during my prayer time as a creative way to share so I have to be humble to that, right?! ha.   


People don't automatically know what a humble response is since humility is often rejected as weakness in the world, so prideful responses are the normal responses being modeled for us. So here's a quick quiz - select how you would respond:


Someone tells you that something you did hurt them and you say, 
  1. "I am sorry you were hurt."
  2. "I am sorry but I didn't mean to hurt you."
  3. "I am sorry you felt hurt."
  4. "I am sorry I hurt you."
  5. "Oh well."

Someone apologizes to you after you've expressed being hurt by them and you say, 
  1. "I forgive you but..." then list all the times they have hurt you.
  2. "I forgive you." ...and never bring up that hurt again.
  3. "I forgive you if you will..._____."  
  4. "I forgive you."...and pull your heart back so they can't hurt you again.
  5. "Yeah, sure. Whatever." 

You notice someone consistently acting different or distant toward you so you,  
  1. Are sure to be extra friendly with them next time you see them.
  2. Ask their closest friend how they are doing.
  3. Go ask them if everything is okay between you.
  4. Reason that if they have a problem, they need to come to you.
  5. Decided, "I have got my own problems."... and ignore it. 

You have a disagreement with someone and decide to pray together. During the prayer, you:
  1. Pray to see what you can change or if you are misunderstanding the situation.
  2. Pray for God to build unity and peace around the world.
  3. Pray and confirm your clear conscience then ask God not to hold their sin against them.
  4. Pray for God to help them see their fault.
  5. On second thought, you decide to refuse to pray with them.  

*******************************************************
Some of these above statements may seem outlandish but I've experienced each of them so here's some insight I've received o
ver the years from Christians much older in Christ than me - passing their wisdom along.

Someone tells you that something you did hurt them and you say, 
  1. "I am sorry you were hurt." (apology that they got hurt yet this subtle statement dismisses that you have any responsibility for it and is prideful)
  2. "I am sorry but I didn't mean to hurt you." (the 'but' cancels the apology before it, attempting to justify your intentions is to suggest they should feel differently and is insensitive)
  3. "I am sorry you felt hurt." (dismissive; you have pushed the blame of their hurt back on them, taking no responsibility)
  4. "I am sorry I hurt you." (humble and loving, apology and recognizing something you did hurt them)
  5. "Oh well." (uncaring, unloving) 
When we commit an obvious sin against someone we are often fine with apologizing. Yet we struggle with humility if we didn't intend to hurt the person or don't believe they should feel hurt. Why is this? Because in our pride, we care more about being justified and right. But in the average situation of hurt, what would be a humble heart? Being proved right? Or concern that somehow the one Jesus loves has been hurt? Be humble, be a peace-maker and in this you can find solutions so that this situation doesn't happen again. Let God justify you - you just focus on being humble and loving. Consider the heart of scriptures like 1 Cor. 6:7, Philippians 2:3-11, Eph 4:2.
 
Someone apologizes to you after you've expressed being hurt by them and you say, 
  1. "I forgive you but..." then list all the times they've hurt you. (not truly forgiving, holding record of wrongs, 1 Cor. 13:5)
  2. "I forgive you." ...and never bring that hurt up again. (humble - Eph 4:31-32)
  3. "I forgive you if you will..._____." (conditional forgiveness = unforgiving) 
  4. "I forgive you."...and pull your heart back so they can't hurt you again. (you've made a promise you don't fulfill, since you've left the friendship)
  5. "Yeah, sure. Whatever."  (unloving-distrustful) 

    The definition of "forgive" - to grant pardon for or remission of offense, debt...etc, to absolve, to give up all claim on account of, to cease to feel resentment against, to cancel an indebtedness or forgive interest owed. Just the definition challenges my heart!

You notice someone consistently acting different or distant toward you so you,  
  1. Are sure to be extra friendly with them next time you see them. (avoidance, dodging the situation you see)
  2. Ask their closest friend how they are doing. (not dealing directly, unloving)
  3. Go ask them if everything is okay between you. (humble - consider Matthew 5:9 & 23-24)
  4. Reason that if they have a problem, they need to come to you. (prideful)
  5. Decided, "I've got my own problems."... and ignore it.  (selfish, detached)

You have a disagreement with someone and decide to pray together. During the prayer, you:

  1. Pray to see what you can change or if you are misunderstanding the situation. (humility - focus on being a better you for God and that you always have room to improve)
  2. Pray for God to build unity and peace around the world. (evading issue, non-participation)
  3. Pray and confirm your clear conscience then ask God not to hold their sin against them (passive aggressive, read 1 Cor. 4:4-5)
  4. Pray for God to help them see their fault. (pride, consider Luke 18:9-20)
  5. On second thought, you decide to refuse to pray with them. (arrogant, hard-hearted)  


    I hope this post provides some things to "chew" on and pray about...Here's to growing in our humility to one another!!! :)  

Sunday, November 10, 2013

10 Powerful Daily Questions To Ask Yourself

I came across the MindBodyGreen website on Pinterest and have been enjoying their articles. This one especially...so I thought I'd share it!! I'm going to try to answer these questions as often daily as I can. :)

It’s all too easy to measure yourself by how much you’ve achieved or how much money you’ve earned, or how many Facebook likes or Twitter followers you have. It's so easy to start rushing to earn more, do more, be more, that we fail to notice the simple blessings that we encounter every day.

The questions you ask yourself on a daily basis will create the person you become. So rather than interrogate yourself with the all too common, Have I achieved enough? Did I earn enough? Am I good enough?, ask yourself these 10 power questions before you go to bed each night.

1. What did I learn?
We can learn something from everyone we meet and everything we do. Embrace each opportunity to dare greatly, to fail greatly, and to learn greatly.

2. Who did I love? 
Love is when we are both at our bravest and our most fearful. To love takes courage. But to give love rewards you with love.

3. How was I vulnerable? 
Being vulnerable is magical. Being vulnerable is about taking off your mask and allowing yourself to be deeply seen. It is asking for help, taking risks, and stepping outside of your comfort zone.

4. What am I grateful for?
Gratitude reminds you that you have enough and you are enough. A gratitude jar is a lovely way to practice gratitude.

5. Who did I listen to?
Sometimes we just need to be listeners. No fixing, no advice giving, no sympathy, just taking the time to listen to a friend, a colleague, a stranger, who wants to share her pain, her joy, or her story with us.

6. How was I challenged?
Challenge is not the same as struggle. You may have to overcome the same obstacle or confront the same demon but it's your choice whether you see it as a soul-destroying struggle or embrace it as a spirit-awakening challenge.

7. What made me laugh?
Never underestimate the power of laughter! If you haven’t laughed today, then a have a private giggle to yourself right now.

8. Who did I connect with?
Connection is the energy created between people when they feel seen, heard, and valued. It provides us with a sense of belonging that helps us to realize that we are not alone.

9. How did I grow?
We grow everyday through every experience; we just fail to appreciate it. You may have made a big leap on your journey of growth and blossomed from a bud to a flower, or you may have just made a baby-step up the stairs or personal growth.

10. What did I share?
Never underestimate your ability to inspire someone, to teach someone, and to make someone else’s life better. You are a unique individual with a story to tell. You can share what nobody else can."

Monday, November 4, 2013

Simple Banana & Peanut Butter snack

I totally dig bananas, especially if they are a tiny bit green, but find that it's often hard for me to finish a whole bunch. So I went hunting on Pinterest for a solution.

Ta-da! Frozen Banana bites. :) I sliced the bananas, placed them on a wooden cutting board then added some of my favorite peanut butter on top. For an extra treat, I also topped them off with some dark chocolate chips. 

Once they hardened, I placed them all in a freezer bag and they have done great! Anytime I need a little snack, I just grab a quick frozen bite. The only thing I'll change next time is to cut the banana's a bit thinner because it's a mouth full! ha. 

  YUM!!!!