Friday, February 26, 2010

It's my choice...except when it's not

I currently have two situations that have been receiving a great deal of my attention. One I can affect by my actions and choices, the other is out of my control.

Sadly, there have been days when they have received equal amounts of energy.

But why? Why do we give energy to things we can't change?

Right this minute, for example, I am sitting in a hospital waiting room. Don't want to be here, don't want the need to exist. But it does and I can't change that. I don't even consider wasting energy on "why why why?"

But there ARE times I get myself flipped around. I give energy to an issue that is in God's control, then I whine to God about a different issue I could have changed.

Maybe I am the only one who does that. You never do, right?

My level of physical fitness is under my jurisdiction. There are so many tools to help me be my best: Wii, other CD's, a treadmill, and friends who inspire me. But I still have to make the decisions to use the exercise tools and be wise in my eating. For that reason, God is less than interested when I whine about being overweight.

Whining is NOT good use of energy.

Nor is fretting about something I can't change...a situation of out my control, someone else's behavior and choices, etc.

The Universe has a pulse and a rhythm we can only begin to comprehend. But our part of it, our little place on the planet, our satisfaction in life, is contingent on doing what we can AND accepting/releasing those things beyond our control.

This has all been said before...none of it is new. And yet, we continue to spend time wondering how someone could be cruel to us, how life can be so unfair, how things don't go the way we desired.

And the things we can change, we too often don't.

Here's the deal: God has a part and I have a part. I can't do his part, He won't do my part. Easy enough, right?

"It's all good" is a popular saying. I don't use it because I don't believe it. Cancer, war, earthquakes, AIDS, recession, child abuse - none of these are good. But God is good. And I believe, in time, all things work out for good.

In the meantime, my mantra in situations over which I have no control is this: It is what it is. Not good, not worth wasting energy. It just is.

I'm not always successful, but it is how I am determined to live. Feed the positive energy. Starve the negative emotions. Be inspired by others who do the same, by those who better themselves a little bit each day. Be amazed by people who have turned their lives around in awesome ways.

Try'll be glad you did.

Start with not whining about the snow =) It is what it is.

See you tomorrow...Beth

Thursday, February 18, 2010

I'm strong to the finich and other things I forgot

I was exercising on the Wii Fitness board yesterday and the virtual trainer, whom I normally find to be irritating, said, "you're pretty strong, aren't you!"

Funny how the necessary word often comes from unexpected places.

YES, I am strong. I CAN stand against the best curve ball and change-up this life has to offer. And you can too.

But sometimes we forget.

We forget that we have given away some of our power to undeserving things, and that we must reclaim that power and use it wisely.

We forget to use the memories of past triumphs, forget to tap into the equity of those successes.

We forget that everything on this Earth is so temporary. Everything. Except the way we treat people. The hurts others inflict on us will be healed in divine ways. The sadness of death will one day be rejoicing at eternal life. But the love we share with others multiplies itself in our own lives. And abides.

We forget that the Creator if the universe is ready to carry us, prop us up, solve our problems and our hurts in ways that are infinitely more wonderful than we can ever imagine. Just ask...
Short and sweet...and just what I needed to hear today. How about you?

Do you need to hear it?

Love is eternal. Everything else is temporary. EVERYTHING ELSE IS TEMPORARY.

You're pretty strong.

And you have access to One who is infinitely stronger and more wonderful than you dare to think or imagine.

Have a great day, Popeye!

See you tomorrow...Beth

Monday, February 15, 2010

Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes and a new chance...

Well, I knew a day of reckoning was coming. We are into week 7 of Biggest Loser and I haven't had a day that was a huge struggle...until Friday.

Last week was hectic - the stuff of each normal day, work required by 3 feet of snow, and two trips to a Pittsburgh hospital.

The first thing to suffer was my exercise schedule. ..although shoveling is certainly exercise! Within 3 days of my workout routine being altered, I felt like I wanted to eat anything in sight. Could be emotional, hormonal, or simply a reaction to the crazy way life has been the past two weeks.

Whatever it is, here's what it's excuse. Nor is it the end of the world.

If I was "dieting" I might be very upset about the food choices I made yesterday. But this is not a diet. It is a change of lifestyle...and the only thing upset is my intestinal tract.

So I seek the lessons to be learned, the actions necessary to making this a permanent way of life. Actions that are flexible enough to adapt to disrupted schedules, unexpected events, and days when my food choices aren't the best.

Americans, in general, are rather addicted to poor eating. Sugar, high fructose corn syrup, bleached white flour are major culprits in this Americans battle of the bulge. And if you think you aren't addicted, try eating no refined sugar for a week.

Don't misunderstand...I have made no rash changes because I know they probably will not stick. I have a goal in mind and I am learning each day what will take me a step closer or a step away from that goal.

One of the lessons seems so simple: When an item is removed from any space, tangible or intangible, physical or emotional, something else will take its place. I can't simply stop grabbing for the chips. First I must decide why I am eating them, then make appropriate adjustments.

Maybe my blood sugar levels are dipping at a certain time of day. So I need to eat something- just not a Snickers bar. I might have to plan better, shop more wisely, spend some time cutting vegetables.

Maybe chips and dip are my standard snack fare...sit down to watch TV or read, and the chips are just part of that equation. That requires a change of habit, as well as adequate planning. It is likely that, initially, whatever I choose will not seem to be satisfactory. In my mind, I still want the CHIPS!!!! So I have to change my mind.

But that's what it's all about, right? Not just the Biggest Loser, but life in general. Try something, make adjustments, decide to change your mind about a situation...take a few steps...repeat.

Things get in the way. People have needs. Work demands vary. It snows 3 feet. You understand what I mean.

But change always happens. Some I initiate, some requires response from me.

And so I continue, shaking off a bad day, bad decision, lack of time to make a satisfactory effort.

It is a new week. There will be new challenges, change required. That's fine. No change means no chance for improvement.

Here's to a week of better health, first and foremost...and also fewer pounds!

What's your goal for the week?

see you tomorrow...Beth

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

What if God was one of us...and other snowy day thoughts

My friend Rachel, who is wise beyond her years (or at least wise beyond what I was at her age!) recently shared this thought with our Bible study group: God wants us to understand that we don't have to pray for His presence, because He is everywhere. What we need to pray for is an awareness of His presence, eyes to see, a heart that is open.

This is especially relevant for people dealing with serious illness, and the loved ones caring for them. I have spent a considerable amount of time in waiting rooms recently, supporting a friend who has cancer. And God is there.

Looking at the faces around me, I often wonder if they know God is present. Not just for those of us called "Christians" but for everyone.

Then two questions come to mind...first, those faces around me - the ones who question or can't feel His presence - do they see God in me? Do they see joy in the face of disease, hope in spite of a diagnosis no one wants a friend to hear, patience and a friendly countenance when waits are long, traffic is bad, people are short-tempered.

The second question is what do I see? Do I see the presence the God in people around me?

If God had a name what would it be?

And would you call it to his face?

If you were faced with Him

In all his glory

What would you ask if you had just one question?

I don't know what Joan Osborne had in mind when she wrote this song. For me, the words are a reminder that God unconditionally loves every beating heart. How much better would my part of the world be if I treated every interaction as if I was speaking to God? What if the glory of God surrounded every human encounter I had?

By neglecting to embrace selfless and unconditional attitudes, Christians often give God a bad name. I'm thinking He doesn't like that...just saying.

To be sure, there is a difference between having a rough day and having a mean spirit. Everyone has bad days...but even when you fake being Sister Super Christian, people know if you have a mean heart.

A friend recently shared that she was part of a Facebook group through her church. The group is studying a book about spiritual growth. My friend and the group's moderator had cross words - happens to all of us, right? So the moderator promptly removed my friend from the group...because that's what Jesus would do. Really? REALLY?

If God had a face what would it look like?

And would you want to see

If seeing meant that you would have to believe

in things like heaven and in Jesus and the saints

and all the prophets

Maybe it would look like that person you just cut off in traffic? Or the one you avoid at work because the negative talk irritates you? Or the kid in your neighborhood who just wanders the streets with a scowl on his face?

And if you took the time to look in to the hearts and minds of these people, would you be forced to believe that God unconditionally loves every beating heart?

If I can look in the face of the hard-working folks I encounter at stores, restaurants, etc, and be nasty to them, do you think they care that I go to church every Sunday? Doubtful.

I do all the things int the world definition of a "good Christian" - read my Bible, go to church, give money, volunteer in several ways, even sing as part of the worship team.

But none of that means squat if I can't see the presence of God all around people, in weather, in small miracles that occur daily.

And yeah, yeah, God is great

Yeah, yeah, God is good

Yeah, yeah, yeah-yeah-yeah

What if God was one of us?
Just a slob like one of us

Just a stranger on the bus
Trying to make his way home

It's true - He is both the almighty God and the man on the bus. He is good and great, and is looking for others who identify themselves as his followers to be the same. He is not a slob, but He can be found in the heart of every slob, every homeless person, every store clerk or garbage collector.

Do I see it? Do I seek an awareness of God's presence only for my own benefit? Or do I want to see God in others, treat people like Jesus did, love extravagantly?

How about you?

See you tomorrow...Beth

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Why do you want to be healthy? Not so fast with your answer...

Now in to week 5 of the Biggest Loser contest. My goal was 5 pounds per week and I am down week behind. Perhaps 5 pounds per week is not realistic. But I am aiming high.

My friend JoniBeth posed this question recently:

Why do you want to get healthy?

Your "blink" response is probably "DUH". Mine was. Then I let it roll around my brain, because it is an important question.

Yes, I want to fit in all the clothes. Yes, I want to look good in shorts on the golf course. But is that enough to keep me motivated on the tough days, enough to make me choose that 4 mile walk when it is cold or rainy?

Then I tell myself it is for health reasons...and that is good. Diabetes, high blood pressure, heart problems are prevalent on my maternal side. But these conditions are not news to me, and did not inspire me to reverse my weight gain at any time in the past five years. Why would I believe they would be motivational now?

So we are back to the original question: Why do I want to get healthy? I lost 20 pounds last January/February, and gained most of it back. What is different this year?

It has taken me several days to put my thoughts together...

At the risk of sounding trite, my weight at the beginning of January was not helping me be the best Beth I can be. I was tired and prone to colds. I was unhappy with the way I looked and felt. And I defy anyone to tell me there is no connection between how they live life every day and how they feel about themselves.

How can I do my best, be my best, do the work God has in store for me, when I look in the mirror and don't like it? Mind/body/spirit...intricately and immutably woven.

I turned 50 last year...but I still have LOTS to do. God has a certain number of days and jobs for me, but I need to honor that by taking care of the only body He gave me.

So I want to lose in order to grow.

There are things to learn, books to write, people to love...being healthy is important.

So yes, I have a very personal reason for wanting to be healthy. Losing = gaining; shrinking = growing; less of me = more energy, more stamina, more confidence.

Being healthy is imperative if I want to see my dreams become a reality. My physical body can never take me to a place my mind has not already conceived. Every time my mind is skips back to "fat and uncomfortable" the dream is delayed.

Why do I want to be fit and healthy?

This time it is about more than looking good to others, or wearing my favorite size.

This time it is about my life dreams...and that WILL be the necessary difference.