Tag Archives: embracing abundance

Grateful

After the intensity of yesterday’s post I long for the simple again.

Just the everyday thoughts and remembering the everyday stuff that makes life beautiful.20140605_224323

Like the grown kids popping into visit and my refrigerator being full enough to feed them all, no problem.

Full. Abundant. Lots of left-overs. Fresh stuff, too.

Like the cool air on my bare arms last night as hubby agreed to walk at a nearby park. The clouds were cotton on blue and by the time we left the pink tinged them with glory. We bumped into some longtime friends who were at the lake fishing. Our youngest son rode his long board, weaving in and out of the those who, like us, strolled the sidewalk.

Just beautiful, simple living.

Hubby and I went grocery shopping.

We found a great sale and bought meat. Chicken breasts. roasts. steak.

And we COULD. We could pay for it.

How many times have I taken such simple graces for granted?

Today blueberries arrived on my doorstep. I’m dreaming of blueberry pancakes. There’s already real whipped cream waiting in the fridge to top them.

The roses are beginning to bloom, and I planted bright fuchsia and dark purple petunias. Would you believe a few pansies lived all winter long in my flowerbed, right through the snow, and have raised their pretty faces to greet me?

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I put a bright pink Gerber daisy next to them, a feast for my eyes each time I travel my own sidewalk.

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I’m walking again, and those few pounds that tried to steal my weight loss are beginning to recede. I am empowered. Stronger when I walk.

My new-to-me $25 dishwasher is amazing. After the week and a half of hand washing I’m especially grateful. And it holds more dishes and gets them cleaner than the old one did. And after a week and a half of the chaos of repairing the damaged floor and having clutter everywhere, my living room and kitchen feel huge. Clutter makes me claustrophobic, but oh the joy of putting everything in its place again! It makes an ordinary, familiar room seem new.

20140605_224433-1Fresh mint and lavender now grace my glass water pitchers, picked from plants next to the driveway. Sometimes I add lemon slices.

This isn’t a fancy post. No careful wording, no effort to ease into a poetic feel, no going deep.

Just real.

Just me.

Just thankful.

Just hoping you and I can grab a little joy and rest in a little beauty.

Noticing the little things.

 

 

 

 

Spirit Seeker Sunday ~ The Desire Beneath

treatLife’s deepest lessons are learned and relearned at ever-increasing levels.

Years ago I read The Sacred Romance and Journey of Desire by John Eldredge. These books helped me process the idea that behind every desire was a deeper, more potent desire for God.

It was a time of deep financial struggle for our family, and I remember processing my lack through a spiritual lens. For example, I’ve always loved layering scented body wash and lotion, and for many years my favorite store was Bath and Body works. But during this season buying fragrant body lotion was simply out-of-reach.

As I prayed about this disappointment I remember thinking, “underneath the desire to smell beautiful is the deeper desire to live beautiful. I want to live in a way that leaves the fragrance of Jesus trailing after me.”* The thought brings a lump to my throat even today.

The struggles of that time pushed me deeper into Christ’s arms. I took my craving for good gifts and looked beneath them for a craving of of Jesus, of heaven. I never became so spiritual that I stopped wanting stuff, but it did help me focus on my longing to experience God over the longings I had as many of life’s pleasures were denied me.

As I write today, I wonder that this concept didn’t help me more with my physical body, but I never remember applying it to what I ate, other than to help me overcome disappointment when I couldn’t afford to buy certain foods. But this looking beneath the desire to the deeper desire applies to weight loss, too.

We’ve talked a lot on this blog about turning our cravings for food into a reminder of our craving for Jesus. Filling emotional needs with food will never satisfy. Even real hunger is a metaphor pointing to a deeper need, our need for God to satisfy our innermost soul.

During our financial lack I grieved not being able to purchase some special chocolates I loved that were only available around the holidays. I told myself I could look beneath that desire for chocolate to a deeper desire, to taste the wonders of God. There was even a Scripture I applied, “Taste and see that the Lord is good.”

Funny how back then the concept didn’t connect with the fact I was putting on pounds. But today the application seems natural. When I crave that treat, what if I looked to Jesus as the ultimate treat? What if I stopped my thoughts and looked beneath them, then spent the time meditating on the wonders of Christ’s love instead of munching?

“After all, the ultimate goal of this journey isn’t about making me a smaller-sized person but rather making me crave Jesus and His truths as the ultimate filler of my heart.” ~ Lysa TerKeurst

Share this devotion:

Is there a deeper desire than that treat you crave?

*You can read 5 short devotionals that I wrote about this concept on my other website.

Monday Morning Makeover ~ Abundant Thinking

Every day we face opportunities to embrace abundant good or to be held back by destructive forces. Today’s makeover explores the choices we face in how we are going to interact with these forces.

Embracing Simple Pleasures

Are you like me? There’s nothing like a cold day to make me want to bake.

As the house empties of children, and I continue the goal of staying more fit, I find myself not indulging in a day of baking quite so often.

But even as I have backed off of this high caloric habit, I refuse to let it go completely. There is freedom in hanging onto life’s simple pleasures, choosing moderation instead of all or nothing when it comes to forming healthy habits.

And there’s nothing like the aroma of bread baking to make a house feel practically magical.

Oh the joy of a sprinkle of flour across a clean counter top and the feel of dough pliable in my hands! My absolute, very top favorite dough sensation is the feel of holly bread being shaped beneath my fingertips. (Challah bread for the more precise.)

Before winter gives way to spring I must celebrate this simple pleasure.

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The only problem with this photo series is I forgot to get a picture as the bread was pulled all warm and golden brown from the oven. (“Look at that! Another example of brown that I LOVE,” she thinks as she remembers her last post on earth tones.)

I guess you’ll have to take my word for it. It looks–and tastes–heavenly.

As you continue on the weight loss journey–or the journey of life–what simple pleasures do you embrace?

Simple pleasures: Challah bread

On a Beauty Search

Some people love earth tones. You know, creamy, sandy, brown, beige and taupe.

I’m so NOT an earth tone kind of girl.

My kitchen is yellow. My office a soft green. If I had my way it would include splashes of bright pink.

Last year I fell in love with walking.

I adore cobalt blue skies paired with snow capped peaks. Rainbow hues in flowers lining a planter box. A profusion of roses. Rich green leaves–or bright yellow, red, and orange ones in fall.

But plain ole brown.

Not so much.

I usually love winter. Diamond dancing when sunlight hits snow. Frosty air. Twinkle lights and homemade snowflakes.

But this winter has grown long.

And in between the beautiful snowfalls there is sure a lot of brown.

And when it’s cold I’m finding it hard to brave the temperatures and walk.

This post is a reminder to myself that there is beauty in brown. If I will just get my you-know-what outside and put my feet to the sidewalk, I can find it.

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And if I look hard enough I might even find a little green and blue.

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So I need to dig a little deeper, hit the pavement, enjoy the world one sidewalk at a time . . .

And cling to the promise of spring.

Share it: On a beauty search

Spirit Seeker Sunday ~ New Perspectives

Buena Vista 5“I can instead of I can’t is a powerful little twist of phrase for a girl feeling deprived” (Lysa TerKeurst).

In life and in food we humans have a tendency to want whatever it is we think we can’t have. If our thoughts get into that cycle of thinking about everything we can’t have, that’s what we want!

But what if when we’re tempted to something that is permissible, but not beneficial, we twist that negative to the positive: I can be healthier and slimmer. I can eat one piece of chocolate instead of five. I can enjoy a salad tonight. I get to bask in the sunshine as I walk today.

For the first months of my weight loss journey I tracked everything that went into my mouth on the My Fitness Pal app on my phone. As I got closer to my goal I stopped tracking calories, but continue to eat the way I learned in those three months that I tracked my food. The lack of specific accountability made it a little harder to be wise, but was also a good transition to life-style change, not just weight loss.

As I made changes some of the twist of phrases I used were:

  • I can eat one small handful of chocolate mixed with walnuts instead of several and only chocolate.
  • I can be satisfied with one helping at supper tonight.
  • I can enjoy my smaller sized clothes–and continue to enjoy them by choosing to fill my plate with a lot of salad and a little pasta instead of the other way around.
  • I can go to bed without a snack even though I didn’t get a full supper tonight. It’s worth it to keep losing weight instead of pigging out late at night. I had a full lunch, and I can enjoy a big breakfast in the morning.

It’s really about perspective, isn’t it?

As I journeyed to my 55 pound weight loss, this was my prayer:

God,
I want this journey to be a lifestyle change, not a one time experience that doesn’t last. Please help me not to return to mindless eating. Help me to resist returning to junk food. Give me a desire for the wonderful, nutritious food You created. Help me to add movement to my days. Thank you for helping me choose not just what is permissible, but a lifestyle that is beneficial.

It is still my prayer today.

What “I can” twists of thought can you embrace this week?

Share it!

A twist of phrase can bring success!

The Stuff Dreams are Made Of II

(For part one of this story click here.)

Valentine’s Day morning Jerry and I lingered in our beautiful vintage room at the Broadmoor. I couldn’t resist a long, hot bath in the large, tiled tub, complete with lavender mint bath salts from the Broadmoor’s spa collection. We chose a lazy morning over breakfast, so by the time we left our room we were starving.

We ate in the Tavern, next to La Jardin, which is a 1900s style garden room attached to the main serving area. (Since it was Valentine’s Day we needed reservations to actually sit in this beautiful room, so we settled for being close enough to gaze inside. Not that the expensive wooden decor of the Tavern left anything to be desired.)  La Jardin, with its 16 ft long chandelier, reminded me of the garden room dining area on the RMS Titanic, which I researched carefully to include in one of my scenes in our book, Titanic, Legacy of Betrayal. Of course this gracious space is on solid ground, not on the ocean floor. And Jerry and I loved it. Oh the opulence of the early 1900s!

jerry in the tavern

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I chose a very wonderful french onion soup to start my lunch. It’s the best I’ve ever had.

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And I savored every bite!

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Afterwards we headed to the Espresso shop for that morning coffee I’d not yet enjoyed. It was now our after lunch treat, and we each ordered something sweet. Jerry opted for a chocolate filled croissant, but I chose entirely based on beauty. And the fact that you can NEVER go wrong with raspberries and chocolate. (Just another example of why the thoughts in my post last Thursday about maintenance and keeping weight in check after a time of feasting were necessary reminders for me!)

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What we did next was not romantic at all. We set up office in the very elegant lobby and worked on FAFSA, due that day if we were to get our son on the list to be considered for college scholarships. Oh well, real life sometimes invades.

While we labored away we were given a wonderful surprise. I spotted my friend Brandy Cole-Vallance. She stood next to a gigantic fresh flower arrangement with a huge sign advertising her new book. Brandy’s gorgeous cover alone would have made me want to read the book, but when she shared her premise I was totally hooked! (Don’t miss the painted ceiling in the picture below. If I’m keeping facts straight, it was painted by the same artist who did the ceiling of Grand Central Station in New York City. When he was told his work was perfect, He purposely included an imperfection, telling on-lookers that the only perfect one was God.)

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What’s especially spectacular about bumping into Brandy is she had only received her book contract the night before, in front of a ton of people at the Writing for the Soul Conference. Everything was still new and like a dream for this debut author, and I loved the somewhat glazed sheen of joy in her eyes. Authors often spend years honing their craft and networking before breaking into the business. Many never actually experience this moment; few get their contract in front of an audience. I had a taste of this in 2011 when my first fiction contract for Postmark: Christmas was given to me in front of 500 people at an ACFW conference. It’s truly a stunning experience.

Getting to hug Brandy and cheer her on was a divine appointment–a sheer gift. As state coordinator for ACFW,  I feel invested in every one of our wonderful authors. Their victories bring me great joy. Plus Brandy and I share an amazing agent, Rachelle Gardner of Books and Such Literary, so we connect in two different, but precious, communities. Congratulations, Brandy!

All too soon Jerry and my lovely dream-of-a-stay came to an end. I waited inside the double doors as Jerry retrieved our car, standing just away from the blustery gusts of a very cold late afternoon. Two porters stood opening and closing the doors as each traveler came and went. Each was greeted with a genuine smile, and I found myself wondering if doing a job which required such consistent, cheerful kindness actually made a person feel happier. I finally got up the nerve to ask the smiling man during a break in the action. He said the Broadmoor was careful in its hires, getting good people who represented it well, but that being cheerful did help a person feel cheerful.

As I did the night before when I visited with our valet, I wondered at the stories this man could tell, at the people he’d met.

I think a novel series set at the Broadmoor is brewing. What do you think? Would you read it? I know I wouldn’t mind going back for more research! ;o)

I was a bit wistful as Jerry pulled into the circular drive and our dreamy experience ended. Thankfully the Creator topped it off with a gorgeous white moon to see us home.

The next morning Jerry made the boys and me our traditional Saturday morning whole wheat pancakes. Maybe the Broadmoor ambiance continued to flow through my veins because I decided my breakfast needed to be pretty. Which goes to show it doesn’t take a fancy resort to embrace moments of celebration. Like the smiling doorman, I want to find and spread joy in my ordinary days. It seems a worthy goal.

back home

Share it: Sometimes dreams do come true

Courtship with Myself

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When I started losing weight my challenge was to find ways to exercise and eat right.

Instead I found out it was a courtship.

A chance to build the love and affection I have always had for myself.

~Kim Seigle of AlwaysThinkingImFat

This week I stumbled upon simple thoughts of beauty and encouragement written by Kim Seigle. The above quote was taken from her Love Yourself Again post. I’d encourage you to check out her blog and read the whole thing.

Here’s another of her gems:

The Big Beautiful Woman & Her Man

I was out and about enjoying my day.

I love to people watch.  I was sitting eating frozen yogurt when I saw a woman about my size walk in with her man.

Her face was so beautiful and she looked lovely in the coral pink ensemble she was wearing.  The man with her was very attentive to her and was in love with every curve.  I could tell!!

It made me so happy to see such a big beautiful woman with her man.

I guess it is not the size you wear but how you wear the size you are in!!!

Paula here again:

So with these nuggets of hope and beauty from Kim, I wish you a beautiful weekend. May you stand tall, wearing the size you are in with joy and confidence. May your journey to better health become a courtship with yourself. May we all learn to love ourselves again!

Beauty in the simplicity of encouragement

Joy in the Journey

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I’m pushing 50 but twinkle lights bring out the child in me. For the briefest of moments I am caught up in magic when I watch them blink out their message of hope.

To me they are joy personified, shouting out the hope that “into the darkness there came a great Light!”

Part of my goal in the shedding of extra weight is the shedding of the weight of sorrow, the too-serious Paula who can easily take up residence inside of me.

Twinkle lights bring out the play.

With the holidays upon me I’ve sought to return to my walking habits. I simply don’t want to ignore every piece of chocolate or holiday cookie. And so I need to move!

As it turns out the need for movement turned into what will be one of my favorite December memories of this year.

It was a gift of time, and it was given to me by my husband. I’d asked him to take a walk, but you know how it goes, there’s always so much work to be done. The next thing we knew it was dark.

But he went anyway when I asked, despite his weariness, despite the demands of his schedule. I don’t if he thought about how much I’d enjoy checking out neighborhood lights, but it was quickly apparent that his agenda included letting me feast on them to my heart’s content.

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He held my hand and talked to me as we tramped all over the neighborhood. If there is anything I love as much as twinkle lights, it is holding hands and good conversation with my man. I may even like it better. ;o)

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I had so much fun enjoying not only their beauty, but the playful and zany scenes created by them.

IMAG3051I can’t see dog sleds without thinking of Balto,
one of the kids’ most beloved movies when they were small.

IMAG3073Did you know Mickey and Minnie have been dating since 1928?

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Good to know Santa bathes

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And that He’s got that naughty and nice list saved on the computer.

But who knew he liked pizza?

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 You’d think he could do better than an outhouse.

As much as I enjoy the silly stuff, I love the nostalgic even more.

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All in all, it was such a lovely night.

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Jerry made sure we made the trek to this place,

which has decked out like this for at least 25 years.

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Isn’t this scene sweet?

As I walked, full, happy, and alive, it was like God whispered to me, “You like this? Wait until you see the fullness of my galaxies of stars.” And I could almost see myself as some kind of cosmic being zipping in and out of space, drinking in the mysteries of the universe. As I thought about that I gazed at an almost full moon. I didn’t even try to capture it on my phone.

It was an amazing night.

So, my friends, celebrate the holidays this year by exploring your world one sidewalk at a time. Burn a few calories. Hold hands with someone special, chat with a friend, or simply get away by yourself. Pound the pavement to enjoy the lights. It’s sure to bring you . . .

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(and better thighs.)

Epiphanies I

IMAG1753-1 (2)It all started on the side of that mountain. There I was minding my own business with my girlfriends minding theirs. I gazed at sloping green that opened into a valley surrounded by white-frosting-tipped peaks piercing a bright blue sky.

Beautiful.

My “baby” girl had just returned from a Mediterranean honeymoon cruise, and my sliver of travel, less than two hours from my home to Breckenridge, stirred longing. “Could I see the Mediterranean, someday, Lord? I want to cruise, to travel.”

The guilt came instantly. Starving children in Africa and all that. Me. Me. Me. Want. Want. Want. Thinking about my comfort. Fun. I have eternity to see good things. There are people who need HIM. Why am I thinking about myself?

“Why do you do that?”

His sudden appearance in my thoughts shocked me. Huh?

“Why do you feel guilty about wanting to experience the world I created for you to enjoy?”

That’s when the waterworks started. My friends clustered around asking what was wrong. It was too deep to share just then, on the side of a glorious mountain where just seconds before we’d been talking and laughing.

Anyway, I wasn’t ready. There was more to His Words and my reaction to them. It was time for another round of emotional weight loss.

Breck neighborhood 9After our hike we headed back to the cabin. I disappeared into my room with my journal and trusty pen. I often hear best with my pen in hand.

Seventeen journal pages of dialogue later I had an epiphany.

Or several.

Here’s the first: I was created to spread joy, created for delight, for celebration.

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~The Journal Conversation ~

Him: “I’ve asked you to do without in a culture where there is much. But that doesn’t mean it is more holy. It’s just been your process and Jerry’s. I’ve been teaching you to learn contentment in all things.”

I don’t think I’ve done very well with that . . .

“You have found joy in the small things. The real things–like relationship with Me, your family, and your friends. Small things like the fragrance of roses. The feel of a warm mug. The swirl of cream in coffee. The song of a bird.”

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I’m not sure those are so small.

(He Chuckles) “No. They are my gifts, more beautiful than you understand, but often overlooked . . . Even now you pause to enjoy My Aspen leaves dancing on the breeze outside the window. I like that about you.”

(Tears spring to think this pleases Him.) It’s simply how you wired me.

Us: It makes me/you more resilient.

“Can I not enjoy this trait even more knowing I gave it to you and that you have cared enough to develop it? My gift to you is your gift (our gift, really) to the world. Give them eyes to notice My beauty, Paula. And let me give you sweeping moments of beauty and joy so you can be continually refilled to pour out the celebration of the Good in Me and in My world.

“Receive My every gift with open abandon, arms stretching to Me, dancing in the falling joy-petals of My love-gifts.”

~

Of course there’s more to the seventeen pages of journaling, some of which I’ll share in the coming days. My epiphanies eventually circle back around to the curve ball post of a few days ago. I hope you’ll continue to journey with me as I drop emotional and mental weight.

For today I’m camping out here. In the joy of little things. Delighting in the idea that such simple notice of His gifts pleases Him. In letting go of the guilt barometer and learning to fully enjoy His gifts.

I’m wishing all of that for you, too, my friend. May today bring notice of the love-gifts of the Creator. My you dance in the falling joy-petals.

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Dancing in the Falling Joy-Petals