simplyenjoy


Drowning in paperwork.

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Ever feel like life is just one heap of paperwork, tasks or errands demanding our attention?

I smile on the paperwork and the pesky little details. We’ve successfully moved to a new state and the calls, mail, paperwork and life-maintenance that comes with it is nuisance at best. It’s nothing that could surmount the joy of being closer to home or finally in a larger-than-one-bedroom apartment.

That’s Elijah wearing his post-surgical cone. He says “poo-poo” to paperwork, too, literally trotting all over it and turning it into a nap-time nest. I had to push him aside for this picture.

Weeding through the paperwork as I looked for the vet bill, I found this little note (first picture above) from Bible study tucked into the back of my Bible.

It’s so easy to get caught up in all our tasks.

And I wonder, is balance attainable? I feel it is just elusive. Kind of like humility. Once you think you have it down, you find your feet are teeter-tottering on the balance-beam of life.

Sometimes I think surrender is better than balance. I won’t ask for balance. I’ll ask to make greater space in my life for God to work and then I know for sure my feet will stay on the ground.

From “Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World” by Joanna Weaver:

Mary had a heart of gratitude.

Mary came with abandon.

Mary heard what Jesus was saying and she responded.

Mary held nothing back.

Mary loved with her whole heart. She didn’t hold anything back. Instead, in sweet abandon, she poured everything she had into showing her love for Jesus.

“She has done a beautiful thing for me,” Jesus said in the face of his disciples’ disapproval. “Leave her alone. She belongs to me.”

 

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Anybody listening?

Listen up!

Ever have that awesome sense of feeling understood or accepted by another person? It’s most likely because this person was truly listening and privy to the characteristics and thoughtful habits and results of lending an ear.

Ever feel dismissed and rejected on the regular in a working or personal relationship? You were probably communicating with a distracted individual. Perhaps you were striving to achieve insight from a person who simply does not know how to listen or someone who was simply too busy with their own “stuff” to know how to listen or understand the value of listening.

Being continuously subjected to poor listeners can leave us feeling low, neglected and unappreciated especially if these poor listeners are people we are close to or have to see every day (family members, supervisors, teachers, coworkers or maybe even spouses.)

Why is listening so significant?

“From my personal experience, it’s easy for me to think of times when I didn’t sense real listening.  This triggers all kinds of insecurities for me:  Do I matter?  Am I included? Do I have a voice?  As a somewhat introverted person,  I’ve often felt like an outsider.  But when someone really listens to me, I can FEEL the connection.  I suspect listening meets many of our basic human needs:

First, good listening is a gift that touches a core need for significance.  When people listen to us, they give us time.  They don’t “take time” to listen, they give it.  This sends us a primal signal:  I matter.

Second, when a leader listens, we feel belonging – which is one of the most powerful human motivators.  Literally, when we “feel listened to,” we have a “seat at the table.” We are part of the group — and when it’s the leader listening, we’re part of the leader’s group.  We’re in.

Feeling heard activates a third basic human need: accomplishment.  We have a voice.  We have a chance to contribute.  We’re part of the solution.” – Excerpt from Listening Leaders www.sixseconds.org

(Courtesy of Google images.)



Pride and family.

This has been an intense, blessed week. My younger brother and his wife welcomed their beautiful little girl to the world. My sister and her husband welcomed their third child and first boy (of our entire family) three days later. Thanking God for the gift of new life today!

“Learn of me, for I am humble.” – Jesus

Pride is an independent spirit that wants to do its own thing without having to come under authority.

Humility means freedom from pride and arrogance and having a modest estimation of one’s own worth.

You don’t think you’re better than other people if you’re humble. It doesn’t mean you think you’re less or you’re not worth as much as others. (“Humility is not thinking less of yourself – it’s thinking of your self less.” – C. S. Lewis ) But you take on a servant’s attitude. This means you don’t exalt yourself above others. A servant is never higher than his or her master.

And you don’t think that somehow you on your own got the ability to do what you’re able to do. You have to realize that anything you’re able to do is a gift from God. Amazing talent only comes from an amazing creator.

On Earth it seems that the more people see that they can do and how talented they are, the more prideful and arrogant they become. Because they see their talents and gifts as a thing apart from God. They see them as a result of their own hard work, their own endurance and their own effort.

Pride is defined as an inordinate measure of self-esteem. An unreasonable conceit of one’s own superiority, which manifests itself in lofty airs, distancing our self from others and often being contemptuous of others.

It causes insolent and rude treatment of others while it causes an isolation and lifting up of ourselves.

Two problems of pride:

1. We think we don’t need God.

2. We think we can mistreat others. 

How we treat people is a very personal issue to God. (These notes were taken from sermon here.)

Pride is deceitful.

It is sneaky.

Yesterday, I was given a beautiful gift of a message from a fellow blogger through WordPress. Thank you, Steve for your awesome testimony and writings on your blog page and for your support in this space.

familyword

When I first started writing here it was a space to write about the things I’m passionate about and for my family and friends to keep in touch through long distance separation in this modern American life in a very technological age. It has grown and I have found so much more and indeed have found a WordPress family and also some great fellowship. Through encouragement from people at church (if you’re reading this, hello!) and other believers in this space, this place has become much more sacred. So grateful for this awesome message and gift.

pride

A message from Shaun, the creator of this award:

“This is an award for everyone who is part of the “WordPress Family” I started this award on the basis that the WordPress family has taken me in and showed me love and a caring side only WordPress can. The way people take a second to be nice, to answer a question and not make things a competition amazes me here. I know I have been given many awards, but I wanted to leave my own legacy on here by creating my own award, as many have done before. This represents “Family” we never meet, but are there for us as family. It is my honor to start this award.” Thank you, Shaun @ http://prayingforoneday.wordpress.com/”

Rules:

  1. Display the award logo on your blog.
  2. Link back to the person who nominated you.
  3. Nominate 10 others you see as having an impact on your WordPress experience and family.
  4. Let your 10 Family members know you have awarded them.
  5. That is it. Just please pick 10 people that have taken you as a friend, and spread the love.

My Inspirations and nominees are (and I have probably mentioned them before, but they’re worth the second, third, fourth – you get the idea – visit):

1. Tell Me About It 

2. Mustard Seed Budget

3. A Devoted Life

4. kissingthedust

5. CHRISTian poetry by deborah ann

6. Shift

7. Words of Balance

8. iChristian

9. Jesus, Light of the World…

10. CultFit



Transient trappings of the 20’s and stuff, stuff, stuff.

My husband and I are getting ready to move into a new place in a new state AGAIN in the next couple of weeks.

This is an awesome change and answered prayer after many years of hard work and shuffling ourselves around from place to place. In the past eight years Nick has lived in ten different towns within five different states. I have moved around between nine different towns within two states and three countries. As I look back at all our changes together – all the trials of long distance, growing up through our 20’s, learning to love each other and know one another better through it all and still pursuing our own passions – I’m amazed. I know it’s all because of the grace of God, some hearty will power and the awesome support of caring family and friends that we’ve survived all of our adventures together and lived to tell about it!

Another key component keeping us grounded through all the shifting is our mutual desire for a minimalist lifestyle and less clutter in our lives.

When you’re moving around from place to place, the quantity and usefulness of your things are pondered more frequently.

Do I really need to take that with me?

Should I pack this up or toss it?

Could someone else use this instead?

Where did this even come from?

How many UPO’s does one couple need? (Unidentified Plastic Objects – you know you have one or some in your home.)

I’ve heard many friends say that once you lay down roots and have your own place the accumulation of “stuff” becomes inevitable. And when kids are thrown into the mix forgetabout it. Junk and household items will multiply faster than the fish and loaves among the 5,000.

Why is it so easy to accumulate?

I have to say the only answer I have come up with is because we’re unwilling to purge. We’re not ready to let go or give things up. We don’t spend time in organization, thought, planning and cleansing. 

Lack of time-management or stuff-management is the reason stress builds up. This is the reason the dishes pile up. It’s the reason your e-mail inbox fills up with bold-faced alerts. It’s the reason frustration builds up in relationship. It’s the reason worry builds up when we’re not in prayer.

If we spend no time in our out-put and planning, our in-put will inevitably be all-consuming and cumbersome, manifesting in too much stuff, too much stress, too much work –  too much, too much, too much.

Our latest move to Cape Cod was a successful purge process. We packed up a studio-apartment sized U-Haul and moved all our things in one day, leaving piles of junk and throw-away items behind.

Once our items were in our new place, though, the size of our possession pile compared to our tiny domicile was amazing. I thought, “How could we have shed so much, yet still own so much?”

Our new apartment that is waiting for us is nearly three times as big as our current place and the extra space is exciting, yet daunting for practicing minimalists.

Extra space always whispers the tempting little words – “Fill me.”

Instead, I’ll plan on keeping clean corners and bright rooms.

Breathing space and room to stretch.

Less time for cleaning and organizing.

More time for love and dreams to come.

That sounds a whole lot more fulfilling to me.

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Driving off into the horizon during our last move from PA to MA back in March.

Matthew 6:19-20 Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy,and where thieves do not break in and steal.

Tips to ditch some inanimate trappings if you’re feeling the urge to purge:

1. Designate one day a week as a “Stuff Cleanse Day” and donate or throw away an item that you no longer use or need. You’ll be amazed by how much you’ll find in your medicine cabinet alone.

2. If you go on a shopping trip and make a new purchase, bring it home and find another item you can give away in its place.

3. Minimalist Rule of Thumb: If you have not used it within a year, get rid of it. No excuses. If an item is not worthy of sight or touch within 365 days, you probably don’t need it.

4. Have a virtual yard sale. Use Facebook, e-mail, E-bay or Craigslist to make a buck off of your unnecessary home goods.

5. Ask yourself three questions: Do I love it? Is it useful? Is it sentimental to my life?

 



A tip to “Stickk” to it.

Behavioral science tells us we are more likely to stick to a goal if we make wise choices daily to maintain consistency on the road toward completion of that goal.

Whether it be saving up money for a car, losing 20 pounds, quitting smoking, organizing your garage or finally taking that trip abroad, your goal is never acquired all at once, but approached in small, incremental degrees.

“If one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams,

and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined,

he will meet with success unexpected in common hours.”

– Henry David Throeau –

The more positive and productive your choices, the more likely it is that you will see your goal.

One of the best tools we need when going after a goal is FOCUS. And one of the best Web sites I’ve found to help foster personal focus is www.stickk.com. Declaring itself “The smartest way to set and achieve your goals,” Stickk is designed to help its users create healthier lifestyles by creating “Committment Contracts,” which bind you to sticking to a personal goal.

You set the goal and the time frame.

You can invite friends to help monitor your behavior and your actions toward that goal. You can even ask one of your people to act as a “referee” that will hold you accountable for your actions and choices on your way to the goal.

If you’re working toward a goal – don’t wait! Stay focused on your dream and move your feet in the right direction.

Hebrews 6:10-12

10 God is not unjust; he will not forget your work and the love you have shown him as you have helped his people and continue to help them. 11 We want each of you to show this same diligence to the very end, so that what you hope for may be fully realized. 12 We do not want you to become lazy, but to imitate those who through faith and patience inherit what has been promised.

aim

(Courtesy of Google images.)



Defining Willpower.
May 10, 2013, 3:14 am
Filed under: Art, Behavior, Brain, Mind, Motivation, Organization, Poetry, Spirit, Writing

treeSome of my sketchpad doodles.

If you could pick one from the tree and keep it for yourself, what would you pick?

This week I’m practicing greater self-control.

Controlling what I put into my body (healthy foods.) I’m falling in love with my juicer and hope to be sharing some sweet drink recipes soon (sans alcohol!) on my blog.

Juicing is not only a great way to cleanse, restore and nourish the body, but it’s also a great short-cut and on-the-run energy boost that can simplify your life (make extra and store it in the fridge!)

Behavioral and psychological research tells us that the best way to keep and nurture self-control is to set long-term goals and then monitor your daily behavior and progress in reaching those goals. Willpower is needed on the journey to the goal – this is the effort you put forth in order to resist daily temptations in order to achieve positive outcomes in the future.

But one of the most important things you have to do before practicing self-control and fostering willpower is to ask what your motivation is.

Identify your driving force.

Why are you working toward that goal?

What does it mean for you and your family and what are the implications on your life?

Defining Willpower

We have many common names for willpower: determination, drive, resolve, self-discipline, self-control. But psychologists characterize willpower, or self-control, in more specific ways. According to most psychological scientists, willpower can be defined as:

  • the ability to delay gratification, resisting short-term temptations in order to meet long-term goals
  • the capacity to override an unwanted thought, feeling or impulse
  • the ability to employ a “cool” cognitive system of behavior rather than a “hot” emotional system
  • conscious, effortful regulation of the self by the self
  • a limited resource capable of being depleted.

(Source: American Psychological Association http://www.APA.org)

Better a patient person than a warrior,
one with self-control than one who takes a city.
Proverbs 16: 31-33

 

 



The empirical experience of faith.

In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:

Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;

rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.

And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death— even death on a cross!

Philippians 2: 5-8 

A few posts ago I wrote on empirical versus clinical research in regards to behavior change and kicking old habits by sticking with them consistently for 21 days. To rehash it, the gist is that empirical evidence is based on results gathered through actions in practice, observation and experimentation. On the contrary, clinical research is a branch of medical science  that determines the safety and effectiveness of medications, devices, diagnostic products and treatment regimens intended for human use. These may be used for prevention.

So empirical evidence stands in contrast to the rationalist view under which reason or reflection alone is considered to be evidence for the truth or falsity of some propositions.  The senses are the primary source of empirical evidence. Although other sources of evidence, such as memory, and the testimony of others ultimately trace back to some sensory experience, they are considered to be secondary, or indirect.

So I’ve been reflecting on these two different types of evidence and research gathering methods in regards to faith-based belief systems. I see that since I was a young child I’ve been taught to put God first, to do the right things, to care about people, to think about others and to forgive and show compassion. As a child, this was simple and very natural. In preteen years it became more complicated and challenging to stay focused, but support and direction were always ever-present. In teenage years, it became even more challenging and temptation was more present in the form of boys, alcohol, drugs, cheating, skipping school, being distracted from purpose, work ethic and God. Also, at this time there was a large falling away from faith of some of the people closest to me within my circle of friends and in my family, and myself. (I guess this is just what they call “growing up” and learning.) It seemed that distraction and confusion was the norm. The clear, simple-to-follow golden rules of childhood melted away under the distracted, busy adolescent years going into the 20’s. So I also fell away from faith and for many years lived without outwardly expressing faith in Jesus, though I was always searching, studying and working to be a decent human being.

And I see, as we all move through our lifetimes and face challenges, obstacles and distractions from our faith, we are being tested, strengthened or shaped into the people God would have us to be.

But see, we have this element of free-will wired into us, and during all these events we’re constantly choosing our reactions and the path that we will take.

What does all this have to do with empirical evidence?

My faith in Jesus has been strengthened through the storms, trials and the falling away. It has shown me two ways of living: with Him and without Him. I see that without Him, drugs, sex, addiction, confusion, low-levels of health and poor habits were mastering my life and so many lives around me. I learned that with Him, I was stronger, making healthier connections with people, learning how to give back, to love, to lean on Him entirely and to rest in the perfect peace of his light yoke. The empirical evidence gathered by experiences, the observations of the experiences of others, my sight, my heart and my mind reactions began pointing me back to the truth of Jesus Christ.

I’m at the point in my faith where a lot of things slide off of my back. Because based on all the empirical evidence I’ve been gathering over the past 28 years I see that my faith and my story has absolutely nothing to do with anyone’s lack of faith or lack of belief. But it has everything to do with the ultimate sacrifice Jesus made when he gave Himself – totally – for the betterment of humankind. And my faith, my walk, my health has only been strengthened because of His mercy and His hand on my life. I see that God gets all the glory for saving me from a life of shame, anger, addiction and pain and for doing this for so many others. His grace truly is amazing.

This is why the Serenity Prayer is so powerful in recovery practice – recovery from abuse, recovery from drug and alcohol addiction, recovery from sex addiction, recovery from co-dependency or recovery from loss and the bereavement process. We truly must ask for discernment and wisdom in our walk to good health and a good life. This is why recovery is a process. It’s a daily walk.

We must ask God to weed out the poor influence, the low feelings, the hurt, the pain – we must ask Him to pull all of those things out and to help us change what it is we can change. He has to pull out the bad roots to allow his good seed to grow. We must use our free-will to assume control over the things we can control. Only the things we can control. And we ask for wisdom to know the difference. It’s amazing what this prayer can do. It’s amazing what God can do!

serenity

(Courtesy of Google images.)

Great scripture for meditating on wisdom:

Moral Benefits of Wisdom

Proverbs Chapter 2

2 My son, if you accept my words
and store up my commands within you,
turning your ear to wisdom
and applying your heart to understanding—
indeed, if you call out for insight
and cry aloud for understanding,
and if you look for it as for silver
and search for it as for hidden treasure,
then you will understand the fear of the Lord
and find the knowledge of God.
For the Lord gives wisdom;
from his mouth come knowledge and understanding.
He holds success in store for the upright,
he is a shield to those whose walk is blameless,
for he guards the course of the just
and protects the way of his faithful ones.

Then you will understand what is right and just
and fair—every good path.
10 For wisdom will enter your heart,
and knowledge will be pleasant to your soul.
11 Discretion will protect you,
and understanding will guard you.

12 Wisdom will save you from the ways of wicked men,
from men whose words are perverse,
13 who have left the straight paths
to walk in dark ways,
14 who delight in doing wrong
and rejoice in the perverseness of evil,
15 whose paths are crooked
and who are devious in their ways.

16 Wisdom will save you also from the adulterous woman,
from the wayward woman with her seductive words,
17 who has left the partner of her youth
and ignored the covenant she made before God.[a]
18 Surely her house leads down to death
and her paths to the spirits of the dead.
19 None who go to her return
or attain the paths of life.

20 Thus you will walk in the ways of the good
and keep to the paths of the righteous.
21 For the upright will live in the land,
and the blameless will remain in it;
22 but the wicked will be cut off from the land,
and the unfaithful will be torn from it.

 

weeds

(Courtesy of Google images.)




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