So, yesterday’s post expressed the serious side of me–and lots of gratitude. Thought I’d lighten it up by sharing a little humor on this Thanksgiving day.
“Guess what? Guess what? Guess what?”
My boys responded with the teenage eye roll.
Maybe I tend toward the melodramatic, but hey, a girl’s gotta express all that excitement.
This morning it was over the working burner in my stove.
Time again to be vulnerable about a “private” subject. Since 2013 I shared here about losing weight inside and out. I’ve mentioned periodically our struggle with money.
There it is. The taboo word. Money.
Always paired with the word struggle.
But as I’ve lost weight Jerry and I have also fought to lose the poverty mentality. The attitude that money is always pain and struggle and worry. That there won’t be enough.
I admitted last week that we had some really hard times in the years surrounding Jerry’s near death, times when I couldn’t get groceries. During this season my stove went out. We found a free one on Craig’s list, but the front glass was broken in the oven. Soon after the main burner of the stove started working on only one setting: high.
This morning I put turkey bacon in my skillet and used my favorite burner on medium. MEDIUM! Hallelujah. See, little by little, (and sometimes huge project by huge project), the nagging things that have made me feel pushed down are being fixed, replaced, repainted, re-purposed.
It’s amazing what a new oven door or fresh coat of paint or new fabric on old pillows does to that weary, poverty mindset.
Yesterday we got new carpet. NEW CARPET throughout downstairs. The old carpet was original to the house 30 years ago. And I always hated the color. LOL.
Today? New shelves for the freezer. After the old ones broke I was determined to not be angry every time something fell out. It took a while to afford replacements, but thanks to that $75 needed, this is no longer an issue.
A friend tells me, “inch by inch it is a cinch.”
And it’s true. A little effort and money here. A little more there. It’s getting done. The upgrades long overdue in my home are actually happening.
The temptation has been to not even start these home projects. There are many, and we are weary. To be candid the first project was thrust upon us, and we had no choice.
But over the last three months much has been accomplished, and I have a peace about my home that is natural. It’s a peace I fought for, sometimes several times a day, when the need for repairs or the lack of beauty threatened to send me into despair.
During those lean years I changed patterns in how I lived, hanging out in rooms that needed less work so I didn’t get pulled down by the bad carpet or old paint. I cut fresh roses and brought them in from outside or made cloth napkins from old fabric to add beauty to each day. I lit a candle. Played some Beethoven. Used the pretty dishes. Cleaned out clutter.
Tried to give the family good memories by working hard to make a big meal even when I felt overwhelmed with the improvisation of cooking without a trip to the store.
We learned a lot in those years. The kids don’t take a gift for granted. Their hearts are tender when they see a need. They work hard. (They have some wounds, too, which I ask my Lord to heal.)
I learned to pray hard. That even in the worst of times I could find something to share with someone else. To find joy in little things, like those 1,000 gratitudes I wrote in marker on my ugly wall. (By the way, it took about seven coats of paint to cover that!)
I learned to treasure the gift of laughter, of a peaceful home life, of friendship and walks in the sunshine.
The best things in life really can’t be bought.
I learned that God cares about little things. Like when I craved mangos in my weight loss shakes, but couldn’t afford them. I prayed for them and was given a whole flat that were on the verge of being too ripe. I cut those mangos up, froze them, and enjoyed them in my shakes for weeks!
My journey has not been as intense as others. A friend of mine went without food for some time as did her son. Both left the bag of a few cookies on the counter for the other to eat, choosing hunger over taking the last bit of food. I haven’t been hungry like that. But my own journey was significant for me. I fought hard to find joy and to rise above the broken things and broken places in my home and in my heart. Sometimes I cried. Many times I found victory after the tears.
As we’ve worked together in my home I’ve learned new skills like caulking, painting, and using a power tool. This knowledge also helps me rise above my circumstances to create the beauty I crave in my home.
Today I am grateful.
For the lessons learned.
For feeling like I can breathe.
For the fact that I shopped for tomorrow’s Thanksgiving meal without worrying if I would be able to pay for what I need.
I’m grateful for a new fence, new carpet, painted walls, working burners, shelves, and oven fronts. For a new-to-me couch and end tables. For pillows a friend and I sewed that spruced up furniture I already had. For new dish clothes and new shoes.
I’m grateful for children who dug out old fence and scrapped off old wall paper and filled in holes in sheet rock. For a friend who contributed resources and taught us and for other friends who gave of their time and skills. For a husband who refused to abandon me to finishing projects even when he was bone tired from an eleven hour shift at work. Who fixed my stove burner and installed that new oven door. Who, with our son, helped hang shelves.
I’m grateful for a God who is returning to us the things stolen during the hard season. For a God who cared even about the perfect painting to set the theme for my remodeled room and the 50% off candles that tied the colors of the new sectional together with the blues and greens of the walls.
For a God who is teaching Jerry and me to live outside of the fear of not having enough and to trust Him as He teaches our hands to create the provision we need.
All our circumstances have not changed. But we are moving into a new season. We are dropping the weight of a poverty mindset.
We are learning a new place of freedom.
How about you, my friend? What’s your relationship with money? Is it friend or foe? Is there stuff at your house that drives you to despair? If so, what CAN you change? You might not be able to buy new carpet, but how about covering some old pillows or cleaning out a clutter pile?
If you’ve never had old carpet, old furniture, or old paint, have you realized what a gift that is? What about the intangibles like love and joy and peace?
May the God of all fill your (and mine!) heart to overflowing with gratitude and joy.
May He empower us all to lose the weight of the money issue and embrace the truth that He has provided and will continue to do so.
Happy Thanksgiving, my friends!
Until next time,
When I read this I knew I had to share it. The title? Crazy Hot Sex. But as you can tell by the picture below, it’s about the real thing. About the man who loves through the babies throwing up and the hormone surges and the all night crying. Just click the link below.
Hope you enjoy! Be blessed, and have a great weekend.
Until next time,
Last night Jerry and I grabbed a Chik-fi-A sandwich as we rushed to hear our daughter sing. We’ve eaten out more than I’m used to. A quick trip through a drive-through when life has us panting with its busyness, a few lingering experiences in a nicer restaurant.
There was a summer when I was still fighting to shed the pounds when life was very different. The work ran dry. I didn’t share much about it here, but I struggled greatly. I’d found this new, healthy lifestyle that included a lot of fresh fruits and vegetables but was unable to buy them. We spent most of that summer eating out of our freezer or pantry and from the food given to us by a couple of friends who have food bank ministries. It was a paradox. Intense gratitude for the provision mixed with anger about our situation. How was I supposed to keep losing weight with the high calorie foods coming our way and without the ability to buy fresh food to balance it?
Finances profoundly affect health and weight loss/maintenance. My journey into crushing financial struggle gives me more compassion for those in America who fight poverty. While there are those in our country who go hungry, there are also resources for food. There’s a point above having nothing where you exist on whatever comes your way. The cost effective food tends to be high in calories–like pasta and rice–and the options from food banks are often the same.
On the flip side, the ability to eat out has challenged me as well. It feels like a treat, and I rarely make low-calorie choices. It’s given me more compassion for those of you who struggle with weight loss from this perspective–whether your busy life means you order out/eat out a lot, or your ability for finer dining subjects you to all of those amazing, high calorie sauces, drinks, and desserts.
Money–on both ends of the spectrum–affects our eating habits. My goal is to be intentional about noticing the unique challenges my financial situation has on my health/maintenance goals and to respond to those challenges!
How about you? Do finances affect your health/weight loss journey? Is there something specific in the abundance or lack thereof that is undermining your goals?
Until Next Time,
PS After that summer of crying out to the Lord my husband ended up with a new job at Door to Door Organics. Not only do we now get fresh ORGANIC fruits and vegetables at a reduced price, but Jerry is sometimes given extras. Today my home overflows with fresh produce. Even on the weeks when money is tight, my fresh foods come like clock work. Isn’t that just like our God?
Wondering about my mindset.
Here’s the thing. My jeans are tighter than this time last year. I want to care. I want to do something about that. I know how.
But mostly I ignore it.
I worked hard for the weight loss. I LOVE feeling stronger and healthier. I don’t want to go back to less energy, less health, less wholeness.
But here I am–breaking one of my most successful mindsets. Instead of taking each moment and making the next good decision, I’m putting it off until tomorrow.
Tomorrow I’ll start back on a routine for strengthening. Next week I’ll get more walks in. It’s too late in the evening for a snack? Tomorrow I’ll care. Pass the mashed potatoes, please. I don’t want any more veggies.
I can almost hear Annie singing to my body, “Tomorrow, tomorrow, I’ll love ya, tomorrow. It’s only a day a way!”
Ugh . . .
The last three roses froze on the bush today, little sprinkles of powdered sugar snow caught on their still-perfect, stiff form.
I brought them in hoping their blossoms will last a little longer.
Tried to freeze frame their beauty.
Hang onto the season of roses just a bit longer.
This time yesterday it was a balmy 73.
I worked hard then, painting, cooking, baking, entertaining. A full day and a full house.
Today the home echos empty, and melancholy sets in. Maybe I’m simply tired. Or perhaps I’m grieving the passing of the season.
Boy becoming man.
He’s the last home. A senior in high school on the verge of flying.
And today he is seventeen.
All 6 foot 1 inches of him.
This day he applied for a job, drove himself to physical therapy. Now he’s working on an English paper for the college class he’s taking.
Nothing little kid in all of that.
Just growing up and beyond.
As it should be.
Earlier we cried a little together. The grief was more poignant on my birthday, too, remembering those gone who usually celebrated with me.
It hit him the same way, and I knelt beside my son at the hint of tears in his grown-up eyes.
He held me as my eyes filled too. And while I meant to comfort, it was he who comforted me, his arms and shoulders lending masculine strength.
When did he ease out of child receiving and into adult giving?
The sky outside has darkened, but the rushing snow brings beauty. I love the season of baking and quiet and snowmen and sledding.
The home inside has emptied, but on special days they rush back in bringing joy.
Yesterday they were here–all but the one too far away to drive home for an afternoon. I baked up a storm. They brought spouse and girlfriend and best friends. We watched the game and a movie.
Said happy birthday to Sam.
Maybe that’s why today this house is very quiet.
I thought I wanted this.
This greater space for me.
And tomorrow I will.
But right now I want to burrow in and hide a while from the wind of change.
To cling to the little boy twinkle in eyes of the past.
The same that flickers still in teasing gazes of the present.
I want to hug a little tighter.
Hold on a little longer.
Snuggle with him on the sofa.
Refusing the thought that he is seventeen.
And not seven.
A young man.
No longer a boy.
To freeze frame this moment.
To believe the blossoms will not grow old.
The season has not yet fled.
Do you ever struggle with loving yourself?
How about believing you are loved? Or if you know you are, believing you are worthy of being loved?
Or I am the only one?
A while back God and I were talking. I hear best with a pen in hand, focusing my scattered thoughts by writing in a pretty blank book. I wrote to Him about how I felt lonely for His attention. “Honesty says I am angry about the times I’ve tried so hard to listen (to You) and heard nothing.”
I felt His response. Seeking to put it into words I recorded, “How many times have I tried to show you my love, and you haven’t listened? How many times have you heard . . . and rejected the Voice, fearing you had fabricated such kindness? How can I reveal to you my goodness, my love, my humor, and my kindness if you continue to fear that Voice? If you continue to doubt that you hear Me? How can I be a Lover if you refuse the sweet somethings I whisper in your ears!
“All my Words to you don’t have to be directive. I want to talk. To be together. To develop intimacy. Remember what I said, ‘I no longer call you servant, but friends?’ . . . You’ve shown me you will serve Me. That is understood. Done. Established. But will you love me, and let Me love you as a Friend, as a Lover?”
I wrote those words last August but they came to mind this morning. Last night I read in my Bible, “Remain in my love,” and I’ve been thinking all day about what that is like.
Wouldn’t remaining in His love be hanging out there, living a life immersed in the passionate belief that my Creator adores me? Letting that truth be the foundation for all else?
I am loved.
In Becoming Myself Stasi Eldredge wrote, “The world does not need yet another woman who despises the lovely person she is. God does not long for another woman who rejects herself and, by extension, Him. The world needs a woman who is thankful for how God made her, trusts that He is transforming her, and actually enjoys who she is. It’s a good thing to like who you are. God likes you!”
And hasn’t that been the issue? Believing that a Perfect God actually likes me? That because of Christ I don’t have to put up a wall to vast love because I think I don’t deserve it, because I think I’m not good enough, lovely enough to be loved like that?
Jesus also said, “Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit.”
Could it be that all our dreams of doing good will best produce the desired result if we can only learn to be loved?
To live from that place of being adored by God?
Oh that we may snuggle deep into His embrace believing we are fully loved!
A Little Breathless at the Thought,
Sometimes you just gotta let it go.
If you’ve been reading lately you know there are a lot of cool changes at my house.
One of the latest is a new sectional in our remodeled family room. I am not into tan or brown or beige, so I call its fabulous color “sand.” It’s all in keeping with the “refreshing” feel of the colors of a muted day at the beach. When you pick paint colors like misty surf, calming celadon, and refreshed, you see a theme emerge.
But before my beautiful new “sand” colored sectional could move in, the old had to go. We couldn’t fit that ancient couch around the corner and up the stairs. I have no idea how we got it downstairs years ago, but evidently we did.
Originally I wanted to give my beloved couch away, but when it wouldn’t fit up the stairs my friend said, “The couch is tired. It’s time for it to go.”
Tired. Time to go.
Makes me think about life. There’s stuff I hang onto that’s tired. Bad thought patterns. Negative self-talk. Old paradigms.
That stuff is not just tired, it make me tired!
It’s time for it to go.
Like looking in the mirror and telling myself I’m fat or ugly or wrinkled.
Like clinging to unforgiveness or rehashing hurts.
Like making decisions based on my fears and perceived inadequacies instead of on who the Great I Am says I am and what He says I can do.
Like living in a constant state of “not enough.” You know. Like not enough time, energy, money, courage . . . It’s a long list. Fill in the blank.
My friend, husband, son, and I took some pretty hefty tools to that old couch. A hunting knife. A hammer. Scissors.
We smashed the strongholds of the wood that framed the structure. Sliced apart the fabric. Cut the threads.
Friends, I want to smash the strongholds that frame wrong thinking in my life. Slice apart perceptions and habits that hold me to a lifestyle I no longer want. Cut through even the last tiny threads that bind me to the old.
It’s time for sandy beaches where I relax and live in calm places, refreshed as I enjoy the misty surf of life.
I want to live in new paradigms where I believe in good stuff and have hope for the future. Where I live as one convinced that there is a God who cares about me and is pouring all I need into me so I can live wiser, stronger, and more productive.
It’s time to believe that the new room of Paula will be painted with HIS glory and not my short-comings.
How about you?
Is there something old and tired in your life that just needs to go?
Until Next Time,
For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ. 2 Cor 10:4-5