A Time for Reflection

Holiday Island 2

Today is the last day of an incredibly restful and refreshing vacation.  This picture is the view from the deck where I am currently sitting and drinking a cup of tea.  It’s still early and there’s a little mist hovering over the water.  What a reflection of Papa’s heart that He would create such beauty for us to enjoy.

I have been reflecting on the last year or so while I’ve been here.  It’s been a very full year with lots of stretching and growing and seeking.  Seeking His face and His Truth and His peace.  Seeking His way over the world’s way in every situation.  This year I have seen my son graduate from high school and my daughter get married.  As a family, we have said goodbye to my father and hello to new additions to the clan, including the two most adorable baby girls you have ever seen. 🙂   My son got hydrocephalus and had emergency brain surgery.  I went from teaching classes at the local fabric and craft store, to working there part time, to being the Education Coordinator.  I opened a webstore, published my first book, and turned 50.  And I watched my daughter rise up to make a difference by selling jewelry to benefit the tornado victims in the state.

Through it all I have been amazed at the peace I have experienced.  I am blessed beyond words with the company of ones that Papa has knit together with my heart.  In the times that I have felt stretched beyond my limits or dizzy from the shifting paradigms that come with the revelation of His Truth, they have covered me and lifted me up and not allowed me to stay in that place.  They have helped to propel me back up to the throne of Grace where I can once again stand, a Kingdom woman, as I am destined and purposed to be.

I have seen more clearly than ever before that life is not about reaching some nebulous point on the road.  It’s about the journey.  It’s about learning and growing and stretching.  About shedding mindsets and attitudes that don’t reflect  the heart of Papa.  About becoming free of the network of artificially imposed limits and boundaries that the world uses to keep us bound in mediocrity and unfulfilled purpose.  About overcoming fear and insecurity and doing what the heart longs to do.

So, for at least the next 50 years, I will be staging my own personal revolution.  Against what the world says I should and shouldn’t do, against what fear says I can and can’t do, and against what the mindsets say I will and won’t do.  These partial lyrics by LeAnn Squier have become a personal rallying cry:

You were born to be limitless,

You were born for so much more

Than you have known in this life.

You were born for more!

You were born to be unafraid.

Neither height, nor width, nor depth

Can separate you now.

You were born to soar.

You were made for the endless skies.

You were made for the mountain heights.

The God who made us all

Made you limitless!

New Year, New You #2: The Great Pantry Toss

So, here is installment number two of my “New Year, New You” journey.  If you missed number one you can find it here.

The very first change I made had to do with food.  I decided that it would be easier to eat better if I didn’t have stuff around I was trying not to eat.  Thus began the Great Pantry Toss.  If pantry cleaning was an Olympic sport, I would be wearing the gold medal!

I started with simply getting rid of everything that was out of date (in the pantry) or unrecognizable (in the freezer).  I found more than a few mystery packages in the freezer.  You know, all those things you didn’t want to waste 5 seconds labeling because you know exactly what it is?  Because you know, that’s 5 whole seconds of your life you’ll never get back!  Then you spend an hour letting it defrost enough to be able to tell what it is, and it’s not what you thought it was so you toss it back in the freezer, again without labeling, because you’re not gonna forget what it is now after all of that!  So now you have all those sad, lonely, unlabeled surprise packages being tossed around the deep freeze as you search for something that is labeled to feed the hungry hoards.  I am happy to report that the sad, lonely, unlabeled surprise package population of my freezer is now a big fat zero.  Yeah me!  And, in an effort to maintain population control I even bought some cute little freezer labels and put them in a convenient place in my kitchen so I’ll actually use them.  I am also happy to report that all of the stray Y2K supplies that I found while spelunking in my panty met a similar fate.  Seriously, I don’t know what I was thinking; Spam?  Does anyone really eat that?

As I said earlier, one of my goals this year is to eat healthier.  I’m not talking about going on a diet and I’m not talking about some hard to find, esoteric “health food”.  I’m simply talking about eating more in line with what my body was created to eat.  So I’m going to be focusing on unprocessed (or at least less processed), organic (where possible), whole foods.  I am giving myself much grace in this process, because it is a process.  Will I ever eat 100% unprocessed, organic, whole foods?  I really don’t know.  But if I don’t, I’m not going to beat myself up about it.  What ever changes I do make will be positive and I will celebrate those changes no matter how small.

Ok, back to the pantry.  At the top of the 10 Most Not Wanted list was high fructose corn syrup.  As I began reading labels I was both shocked and amazed at everything that had HFCS in it.  I gotta tell you, reading labels ain’t for wimps!  Some things were pretty obvious like pancake syrup and cold cereal.  Some things surprised me, like “pure” vanilla extract and Lipton onion soup mix.  Seriously?  Onion soup mix?  So I made a decree that henceforth HFCS would no longer find respite in my dwelling place.  I made similar decrees about artificial sweeteners and MSG.  And loudly proclaiming things like, “Off with their heads”, they were unceremoniously tossed across the kitchen into the trash.

To be totally honest with you, though, I didn’t toss everything that should have been tossed.  And I’m ok with that for now.  There is grace in the process.  Some things were purchased by or for my teenagers and I’m not going to toss their stuff.  We have had some discussions about things I don’t want them to bring home anymore though. J  There are some other things that I will not purchase again once they are gone and others that will be phased out as I find healthier alternatives.  I’ve been making my own vanilla extract for about a year now, so the “pure” vanilla extract with high fructose corn syrup did get tossed! 🙂

Next time I’ll talk about #2 on the 10 Most Not Wanted list.  Until then, why don’t you share the weirdest thing you’ve ever found that had HFCS in it?

Thankful Thursday

I am sitting out on my front porch having lunch today and thankfulness has welled up inside me.  I am so thankful for my wonderful porch furniture.  It has been such a joy to sit out here with my tea and my Bible in the mornings and just spend time with Papa.  I am also thankful for a porch to put it on!  I am also incredibly thankful that it is11:45 am and I am outside and I am NOT SWEATING!  For those of you not living inOklahoma, this is a glorious thing.  We broke the long-standing record of days over 100 degrees this summer.  (There were over 50-after that I stopped counting)  I have to confess that I was not rooting for that particular accomplishment, but we made it even without my support. 🙂

Seriously, though, I am thankful for many things today, but I am most thankful for the stretching that I have gone through in the past few months.  This stretching has been and is and will be sometimes hard, sometimes painful, and always outside my comfort zone.  Papa is so faithful to give us what we ask of Him. I asked Him to remove everything in me that would hinder me from knowing Him and walking with Him like Jesus did.  And through it all I have been surrounded by grace.  Grace for the learning and grace for the teaching.  Grace for the victory and grace for the failure.  Grace for the moment and grace for the season.  The Bible tells us that His mercies are new every morning.  What grace!  What love!  And if that grace was the only thing I had, it would be abundantly more than enough with fill my soul with thanksgiving!

What are you thankful for today?  I would love to hear about the blessings in your life!