Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Changing our Cravings


It's possible. To change our cravings.

We can do it by changing habits. Quitting some, beginning others.

We can do it on our own, for a time, too. It's possible.

Mostly, we need Jesus.

He has promised to transform our minds. This is where the decisions are made. It begins with a thought, then we dismiss it or entertain it. We decide what we'll do and what we won't.

God has changed cravings for many people. He has changed something for me. It's a physical thing. There is still work I must do, however.

I've heard people say "Wow, I had a problem with [substance], but when I trusted Jesus, he took my craving away!   I don't doubt that it is possible. I do wonder how long these people made it before having to choose not to indulge in [substance], and whether they blamed Jesus for allowing them to be challenged and giving in.

It's happened with me. I've struggled with my weight for years. I've talked about it here a few times over the past 8 years.

More recently it's been about health rather than vanity. I can't run. I can't walk far without hurting and becoming breathless. I can't read a book, animatedly, without wheezing. It took two weeks to work up from 3 mins to 15 mins on a low impact DVD workout routine.

I have had cellulitis infections in my legs several times in the recent past. Once I had the infection, the fluid in my lymphatic system remained infected, even after taking heavy antibiotics. A year ago, I had been on these antibiotics four times. I spent about 18 mos constantly trying to heal both from infections, and from the cure. I researched how to heal the lymphatic system. It's not that hard, but it is time consuming, and when movement at all has become difficult, then so is healing.

I was tired all of the time because the antibiotics messed up my digestive system. This compounded my problem.

So, I prayed. If I left my lymphatic system a mess, I was going to be in a health crisis. I wanted to hike and run soccer drills with my kids. I wanted to wake up refreshed in the morning, and go to bed tired from doing hard things in the evening.

I realized one day that I had been having major digestive issues for more than a few days. I wasn't able to eat more than a few bite of food at a time, and I was having major pain in my left side when I did eat. One Sunday afternoon, at a pot luck church meeting, I had pain in my chest. There happened to be an EMT sitting at the table with us that asked me a few questions, and gave me a little advice. On Monday, I set an appointment with my doctor to find out what was happening and how to fix it.

She ordered loads of lab tests, and we had results within a couple of days. Everything was in the normal range. There wasn't a single thing that was too high or too low. There was nothing wrong with me. By the end of that week, my digestive issue seemed to just go away.

But something was changed. My appetite has dwindled, and I am unable to eat too much.  Instead of having a meal, and waiting a bit for my stomach and brain to decide whether I'm full, my stomach just tells me.

I'll be eating, and my stomach will send a message of discomfort, telling me not to take another bite. This is after, perhaps, half to three fourths of a meal.

Over the course of parenting, I have learned to bolt my food down quickly, else I might not have the opportunity to eat all. There have been far too many occasions when I've finished my children's plates, though that job usually falls to Mr. TheZoo. And during a period when I was lonely and unfulfilled, food was a friend.

Learning to be fulfilled by God is a thing. And while it is a subject unto it's self, it has applications here.

God is a chain breaker.  He heals our wounds.  He sees us through our challenges.

It doesn't usually look the way we want it to, though.

We take our chains, and we try to attach them to God. We don't have the the capacity to imagine all of the mysterious of the universe. Our minds are more short term.  We have a limited number of scenarios that we know will bring us happiness or comfort. That will eliminate whatever pain or hardship we are currently enduring. God uses those things, when we are open to it, to build character, or to do some good thing that we might never see. God's good things are not the same as our good things. We limit 'goodness' to something that fulfills our flesh during our short stay on the earth.

God's good things are timeless. That messes with us. We know what's best for us, so we pray for that, then we shake our fists when those requests are unfulfilled. We are impatient for the happiness we think we deserve. I wonder how often we miss a miracle because we are focused on whatever looks fulfilling in the moment.

So, God has changed my cravings. He has transformed my thought about some things already, so I wasn't shocked. I was, however, paying attention. I knew it had to be God, because I was sick. My body was not processing things the way it should have. I was going to have major problems unless this issue was resolved. And then it was. Resolved. And my system began to function differently. Or perhaps the way it used to function before.

I still choose. I choose what to eat and when. I can choose to ignore the slight discomfort and push on. I can choose whatever I want. But I was given a boost. A lift, A hand up. Why would I ignore that? I had already chosen the DVD workout, because that was going to help heal the lymphatic system. Eating less, and making better choices about food are things I need to think about daily, but God has given me a pass on obsessing over it.

My mind is full with kid things, appointments, chores, serving my community. It's full with bill paying, grocery shopping and meal planning. It's full with serving and loving my spouse. It's full with prayer and worship.

Now, I can pay attention to my body, because I'm given a clear signal. I suspect the signal has always been there. I suspect that I have long ignored that signal, and God made a way to get me to notice it again, recognize it, and pay attention to it.

This hasn't been going on very long, a little over two months, I suppose. I haven't lost a lot of weight, only about 20 lbs. I haven't lost many dress sizes yet, only two. But it's a change. It's one that I might have been able to do without God, but it wouldn't have lasted, as the past 20 years can attest. I would quit. I would decide I'd done enough, or that  I deserved something else.

I'm quite the expert on what I deserve. It's rarely what I actually need.

Weight loss, and physical fitness is hard in our USA. We've streamlined and leisure-ized our lives. We've filled our schedules, and left very little time for movement that used to be a natural part of living.

I needed a renewing in how I thought about healing myself, and in how I managed my time to do it.

"Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think, then you will get to know God's will for you which is good, pleasing, and perfect" Romans 12:2




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Friday, June 23, 2017

Sharp Women


I know some sharp women.

They are strong, joyful, serving, humble, kind people. Those aren't their only descriptors, of course. But they are true ones.

These women, they sharpen me. On occasion, when I remember to listen well, speak with the wisdom of the Holy Spirit (or not at all!), and be available, I have the joy of sharpening them.

Being sharp is HOW we remember to listen well, and speak with wisdom. It's how we encourage one another to good things. It's how we raise our kids in love. It's how we press on in our personal relationships.

It isn't coddling, or gossipping. It isn't bad mouthing someone perceived to be in the wrong. It isn't propelling someone to make a decision that our own wisdom gives, or rooting someone on in destructive behavior.

When you meet people that say "I'd like to pray for you", and they do so on the spot, those are people you want to be around.

These are the people that want for you what God wants for you.

When you meet people that pray for you on the spot, and remind you of scriptures that reveal God's character, those are people you want to be around.

When you meet people that pray for you on the spot, that remind you of God's character through scripture, and whose council and encouragement points to Jesus, those are the people you want to be around.

When we are around those people, we become more like those people. While being like other people isn't the ultimate goal, if those people are like Jesus, the result is that you become more like Jesus.

When we are surround ourselves regularly with sharp women, we become sharp, too.

That "Iron Sharpens Iron" sentiment is real.

People were created for relationship. Ultimately with God, the Creator of the Universe. But on the earth, we also have one another.

Loneliness is hard. Friendlessness is crushing. Self-reliance is deadening.

Sharp women in our lives is a blessing.

Even sharp women become dull after a time. We work and serve. Life demands things of us, and we give it what it needs. Then we need to be resharpened. And we turn to our posse. The people we trust to speak truth.

Don't have sharp women around you? Become one, first. It's a hard journey. It's demanding. You might even sweat. Okay, you WILL sweat. You'll stretch, and change, and grow. It will be noticeable. You will begin to speak life in others. You will be put a seed on someone else's mind to become sharp.  It's possible.

Do it. Be sharp. Help others cut through the crap so they can help someone else.





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Thursday, June 22, 2017

40 Something, Introverted Mom

Look, Socializing wears me out.

I mean, I like people, I just don't have the energy for 'peopling'. You get me?


Mr. TheZoo, he has a hard time meeting new people, but he draws energy from big social situations. Concerts, carnivals, rallies, car races. The noisier and more chaotic, the better. His smile gets bigger, his voice gets louder, his energy spikes.

Me, not so much.

These situations suck the energy out of me in seconds. If it's something that I truly desire to be involved in, I can prepare myself ahead of time to rally for a longer amount of time. It usually means that I'm not making much conversation, or that I'm holding my arms close to myself. I might cringe at loud close up loudness, or a major change in plan.

I'm depleted pretty quickly. If there's a way to sort of recharge,  and then rejoin, I will do that. If there's a quiet space someplace. Maybe it's not too difficult to go sit in the car for 20 minutes, or maybe the bathroom is nice and not to crowded. Maybe there's a shadowy corner that everyone else is avoiding, I can sit there and scroll through nothing on my phone, just to rebuild the energy that is required to do this crowded, chaotic, loud thing.

Oh, this isn't just rock concerts and Disneyland. This is highschool graduations. This is grocery shopping on a Saturday afternoon, This is church on Sunday mornings.

I've been around long enough to recognize what is happening and how to cope. I also know how to rally when I can't leave a situation, for the most part.

I might sit in the back, and appear anti-social. I guess I am, but it's more about having no social energy left.  I will still smile, and speak to anyone that speaks to me, but for the moment, I won't be seeking people out. If I do, I won't have anything to say, because, here's a weird one...small talk hurts my chest.

Meaningless chatter, conversations that last for 20 minutes about nothing but weather. It's painful! I get that we aren't revealing our deepest thoughts to strangers. That would be weird, too. But "Hi! So, how about those *whatever the current local sportsing thing is*?" just isn't my jam.

I don't really understand how to carry on small talk. Sarcasm, puns and humor to displace stress. That I can do. I'll stand there and poke fun at just about anything, rather than review the weather yet again. I'll even make fun of the weather. Or the weather apps, or weather forecasters, or even people that small talk about the weather.

I've been told that I'm fun to be around. I don't always see that. With people I know well, sure. I mean, we have time and familiarity on our side. With new people, though, I'm afraid that most of the time, they walk away shaking their heads, wondering what is wrong with that woman? She's a grown up for heaven's sake, and has kids! How do her children survive?!?!?!

Truth is, they've also learned sarcasm, puns, and humor to displace stress. They are very good at it. You could say it's their first language.

Of course, I've had to 'grow-up'. I hate that phrase in regard to this sort of thing, but it truly is the best way to describe it.

When my children need me to advocate for them, I step up. This means that I need to introduce myself to people, seek people out, ask questions, and have uncomfortable conversations.  I do it.

I take a deep breath, I ask Jesus to send the Holy Spirit to guide me, because there is no way in Lucifer's Fiery Afterlife that I could do it on my own. And I get to it. I HAVE learned how to do small talk, to some extent. I still don't like it, and it still takes quite a lot out of me.

Have you seen those movies and television shows that depict an empath character? Usually it's some awful tale about fairy tale type characters, or people with super or special powers. The empath feels what everyone around them feels, and often it's overpowering, and the empath character passes out, or lapses into a coma after feeling too much.

That's obviously melodramatic, but it is a decent attempt to depict a real thing.

I have a gift of empathy. That doesn't really mean that I channel the feelings of everyone around me. It means that I can often tell things about people that I am talking to. I can sometimes discern if a person is lying, or hurting, especially.  I can often tell if someone isn't who they are presenting themselves to be. Of course, I do that. I present myself as energetic, perhaps even bubbly. Maybe you've met me as confident.  I am not naturally any of those things. I can be those things temporarily.

It takes a lot of energy to either ignore a discernment, or to hold on to it until later. Depending on the situation, I might not do a thing with a discernment. Probably, I'll never meet that person again. But. What if I do? What then?

The whole discernment about people thing is another topic all together. More on that later, probably.

So, I sit in the back. I find a quiet place. I wait until someone speaks to me.

Or, I find a way to cancel.

Maybe we could just get together for coffee. You know fewer than 10 people that I already know, in a familiar place. That would be nice.

You in?




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Tuesday, June 20, 2017

The Holy Spirit and the Rock Trolls in Frozen



I know we've been done with 'Frozen' for a few years, but my Facebook memories showed me a video of the youngest zooligan singing 'Let it Go' with her pink plastic Dora guitar. Then I thought about the rock trolls, and the King.

I won't christianize the whole movie, although that is one of my favorite pass times. There's just this one part, and the one part, the one decision actually has a huge effect on the rest of the movie.

When Elsa hits Anna with her frost magic, and no one knows what to do, the King runs to the ancient book, where he knows he can find direction. He brings his family with him to seek wisdom and healing for his daughter. The wise rock troll healed Anna, and gave advice to the King in how to proceed. He told him that fear would be the thing worst thing for Elsa and her magic.

The King nodded his understanding and returned to the castle. He was joyous about Anna's healing, but anxious about Elsa's gift. His advice and training of her grew his own fear and planted fear in Elsa's heart.

He had the best advice, from the most ancient, wisest source he knew of, and he chucked it, trusting in his own wisdom instead. His choice shaped the relationship between the sisters, and between the future queen and the citizens of their realm. Fear overshadowed everything.

We do the same thing, Jesus followers.  We look to our ancient book for direction, we hear the urging of the Holy Spirit. We turn and trust our own control, instead.

Our decision to trust our own thoughts instead of the most ancient, wisest one has us missing out on the magic in life.  Trusting that what we know better what it good for us, then The One who is outside of time, rarely results in eternal success.

In the end, there is a nasty prince trying to steal the kingdom, but that's another analogy.

Today, go to you ancient text, seek out the wise Spirit, and trust that the truth you learn is the one you need.


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Friday, June 9, 2017

Take Me Tonight to the River...

A friend has a birthday coming up, so a few of us are going to take a walk out to the river and bring a picnic.

There are some beautiful places to set up out there, varied in vegetation and view.

Mr. TheZoo suggested we go out together in the late evening light and scope out a couple of spots for our mini-celebration. The conversation went something like this:

Mr. TZ: Do you want to go check out spots at the river?
Me: Nnnnnoooo...
Mr. TZ: What? Why not?
Me: Uh, will we get stuck?
Mr. TZ: Of Course not!
Me: Ummm, well...oooookaaaay.

We head out. We get to the river access gate and drive through, then the water filled ruts and holes come into view.
Mr. TZ: Oh! I forgot that it rained!
Me: Uggggghhhhh.

Now everything is a wet, muddy, soft mess.

We make it out to the river. The sun is still setting, our view is spectacular, and we brought the pup, who was enjoying every moment of this piece of heaven.

You can hear the river rushing by, birds settling in for the evening, and occasionally a train whistle, but little else. It's a serene moment. One I'm loath to give up.

Then, the rain drops.

We scuttle back to the truck, and Mr. TheZoo begins to drive out. Wait. Not out. Just drive, and drive and drive and drive. This path is rather narrow. Oh, I think those ruts are deeper than the wheels are tall on here!

Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaannnnnndddd.....We're stuck!

We had a nice walk out of the river access area, and a short trek home. Two of the bigger boys were still awake at the house, they went to help Mr. TheZoo unstick the truck. The biggest boy got to drive the rescue vehicle for a tiny bit in the access area to maneuver it into a helpful angle for truck pulling.

The boys had a little adventure, too, and felt good that Dad needed their help with something.

I was helpful by chortling about it over text with a friend.

Also, Mr. TheZoo called himself an idiot for getting stuck again. I told him that I love him.


We're all idiots sometimes. Hopefully we're idiots with someone around who'll love us anyway.



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Thursday, June 8, 2017

You Don't Know What You've Got...

...Until it's gone.

People say it all the time. Usually in the aftermath of losing someone.

It's painfully true.

We may recognize on some occasions what it is about this person that made life what it was. Moments of reflection on their positive traits, and how, perhaps, we might have benefited from the way they lived.

But when they're gone.

When they're gone, we do it every day. We remember them with tears, and regret. We wish they were back, we recognize all of the ways we may have made their living difficult. We remember things we wish we hadn't said or done.

The problem is that we don't often enough think that we shouldn't say or do things before we say or do them.

We don't regard people as well when they are living with us. When their faults and shortcomings are in full color, so is our irritation and exasperation.

Wonderful moments come between the hard parts of life. The parts that grow us and develop our  character. The parts where we make mistakes, and we're unsure of what to do next.  The parts where we are insecure, or we recognize that we are jerks, those are the hard parts. Then, while we are focused on our own shortcomings, somehow the shortcomings of the people closest to us are magnified. Rather than doing the hard work to fix ourselves, we begin to gripe about how those loved ones could fix themselves.

We want them to do something better, or more, or less. We want them to focus more on us, or less on us. We want them to be what we want them to be.

But they are who they are. They are either becoming better, or they aren't. Just like the rest of us.

But then. Then, sometimes, they are gone. Just, gone.

Then is when we realize that everything that they were, that they worked toward, that they said, and did...we miss. We miss that they left their shoes in the middle of the floor. We miss that they never put the cap on the milk. We miss that they worked so hard for their family. We missed that they served their community so well. We miss that they encouraged us to stay at home and love our family. We miss that they were always up for an adventure.

The things that we loved about someone, often those very things are what irritate us the most after a time. Then, when they're gone, we remember how much we loved those things about them.

We get in our own way too much.

We focus on our own agenda, or right to be right. Our wants and needs.

When the persons that we love the most aren't there any more, that's when we notice how needy we were. How self involved.

We realize that we'd take back every little thing about that person if we could. Every, blessed, irritating thing. And every lovely thing.

And we know that we wouldn't focus on the irritating things. In fact, we know that we'd push aside the luxury of being irritated at all. We'd focus on every lovely thing. We'd encourage every lovely thing.

In fact, perhaps we'd grow every lovely thing in ourselves.

I'm disappointed with myself that it has required grieving the loss of one of the loveliest people I've known, to purposefully look for every lovely thing in the people that I do life with.

I hope to succeed in this. I hope you will, too. Love covers a multitude of wrongs. It doesn't make losing someone easier, but it can make our regrets fewer and our lives together more joyful.



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Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Purposeful Excercise


Yuck.

I despise it.

The Workout.

Getting exercise doesn't feel like a chore when I'm doing something that I consider delightful. Gardening, an easy short hike, dancing (okay, not currently, but I used to!).

Doing this stuff on purpose is no fun. I went to a gym for a while. It was okay. The class was available before my kids were awake and before my husband left for work. I could get home just as he was leaving. It was at 4:30 in the morning. The class was called 'Boot Camp'. It felt the way it sounds.

I began feeling good about it after several weeks. Then, an impatient instructor called me out, was less than kind, and that same week, I found out I was pregnant. The doctor said that I had been at the gym long enough to call it 'regular activity', so I cancelled my membership.

A few years later, I came upon a low impact DVD workout that looked good. I used that for a few weeks, too. This time there was noticeable change in my posture, I lost several inches and any pounds. Then my littles became ill one after the other, until I became sick. This went on for a little more than a month. I didn't pick up the DVD again.

Recently, I remembered how well that particular program worked for me. Because it is in my house, I can choose the time. I can turn it off if I can't keep up. I decided to give it a go again. I've only been doing it for 6 days, but instead of doing it 3 day a week, and hoping that I don't forget or make some excuse, I'm going for a 30 day block.

I don't know if that's new psychology. I remember hearing that it takes 21 days to make something a habit, but that must be for things that don't take much effort.

Intentional exercise is awful. It hurts when you have no strength or endurance. You sweat. I know you're supposed to sweat, but ew. I mean, sweating over yard work supposed to happen, but weird jumping jack plies in the living room seem like they should be no big deal.

By the way, I didn't go buy a bunch of 'athletic wear'. I did, way back, purchase appropriate things to wear at the gym, but I ended up sleeping in them over the years. Now I just roll out of bed to the living room and do the routine in whatever I have on, plus sneakers.

Guess what? It works. No one is looking at me. Not that anyone was watching me before, except that one instructor, but because we are sorry humans, we always think we're being judged.   Also, I don't have to drive home with sweat drying on my skin. I can just roll right to the shower. And I know the towels are clean!

I know I've blogged about this before, but it's been a few years. I'm sure I'll blog about it again. And again. Because I always have to start over, or try harder. Again, and again.

What do you have to keep restarting? Reading your bible? Being kind? Eating healthy? Serving others?

I wish that purposeful exercise were the only thing I have to re-start. I'm bad at ending well. I just want to end things. Some things, though, don't end until our bodies do.  I'm always reviving a relationship. Most often with Jesus. We'll be in it to win it for a while, then I drop the ball. I don't read scripture or pray with regularity for a while, then someone will encourage me, and I'll begin again. Even just a few days away from that regular, purposeful exercise causes bad things to happen. I become tempted to do or say things that I've said or done before. Finally I can see it happening, and recognize that I don't want to be that person. I don't want to gossip, or loaf around when there are things to be done. I don't want to make poor food choices, or shout at the children.

All of those issues require purposeful exercise to change. There are things I can do to ensure different choices, and, often, better outcomes. It requires diligence, though. And not on my own. I can do it by myself for some amount of time. Or, I can concentrate on a couple of things and, under my own control, I can make some changes. but not all of them. Only Jesus can help me with that. He promised to send the Holy Spirit to guide me. And he does.

When I listen, when I make myself open to hearing, and willing to understand, then I am prompted to make wise choices. It's still a choice. I can always choose my own way, or whatever feels better than the whatever the prompting is. I can choose to be purposeful in my excercises, or I can choose to ignore what will help to make me better than I was yesterday.

What are you being prompted to improve? What is the purposeful exercise that you need to work on? because we're humans, currently bound by time, give something a 30 day chance. It's not some magical formula, but it does have a high success rate!

Get to it, and let me know how it goes!