Tag Archives: faith

Confidence Unveiled: Physical Identity

WDYT or FOFO???

Let’s remove some veils before we smother.

We are living in a culture of extremes that glorifies the smallest to the biggest of sizes.

We are either obsessing with appearance (WDYT) or settling with health (FOFO). And, because we’re at one extreme or the other, we usually “weigh in” with either pride or despair….

Can anyone relate?

In the event you don’t think I’m reality based, here are recent facts to substantiate:

  1.  1 in 2 deaths in the U.S. is due to lifestyle choices.
  2.  Plastic surgery apps on your phone now make it possible to cut yourself to a smaller size before posting onto social media.

 

 

We listen to the voices of culture that begin to play inside our minds creating thick, internal veils….

“I’ll never measure up.”

“What good does it do to take care of myself? I’ll die of something…”

Culture sways…Satan speaks….We hit “Play” and our Identity is Taken Away!

Whenever you compare yourself to others, you’re actually lowering your standard because you’re one of a kind…the unique combination of your physical, emotional, relational, and spiritual components that make up YOU in totality.

Let’s offer some HOPE, shall we?

What would it be like to approach each new day with the following mindset….

“What can I do today to care for my body?”

“How can I eat properly so my body and mind are nurtured well?”

“How can I work my body to keep it strong and active?”

“How can I appreciate (and even like!) the one body God gave me?” (Psalm 139)

“How can I use this body to fulfill God’s earthly mission since it’s the vessel He has given me to accomplish my daily tasks?”

A healthy balance is to take pride in your appearance without being prideful.

A healthy balance is to be proactive with your health, especially if you know your medical history.

The question ISN”T “Why Do I?”…. The question IS “Why Wouldn’t I?”

Two points to offer hope:

  1. Selectively focus on the traits you DO you like when you gaze in the mirror!
  2. Focus on what you’ve got; stop trying to look like someone you’re not!

Remove those veils of obsessing and settling and UNVEIL some confidence today.

 

 

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LENT: Look to the Positives

What if you rephrased the question of “What will I give up?” to “What will I gain?”

This short blog will utilize the counseling paradigm of the BIOPSYCHOSOCIOSPIRITUAL Model that focuses on the premise that each person is a unique and complex human who is composed of a physical being, an emotional being, a relational being, and a spiritual being.

What if you decided during this Lenten season to focus on one particular area of your life – based on the above concept – and focused on what is to be gained instead of lost?

BIO = Your body

What one thing can you do each day to better your physical health?

Take note that by doing something better, you’re actually giving up something that is of much lesser quality that may be harmful for your physical health.

How would this change your view of what you eat, drink, or improve self care since you are created in the image of God and your body is a “living sacrifice?” [Romans 12:1,2]

PSYCHO = Your mind

What can you do each day to take ownership of your thoughts and choose to think on things that are “true, noble, right, pure, admirable, and honorable?” [Philippians 4:8]

Do you need to “crucify” an attitude of entitlement and, instead, focus on gratitude for 40 days?

Take note that by choosing better things to think about, you’re actually giving up thoughts of much lesser quality that may be harmful for your emotional health.

(Are you starting to see a pattern? 🙂

SOCIO = Your relationships

What can you do each day to improve the relationships in your life? No, not what OTHERS should do, but what YOU decide to do to improve your marriage, friendships, relationships with your children, etc.

Do you need to start focusing on what the people in your life are doing well as opposed to what they aren’t? Does your attitude of harshness or selfishness need to be “crucified?”

Take note that by choosing to improve the relationships in your life, you’re actually giving up the right to only seeing things from your perspective.

SPIRITUAL = Your relationship with God

How can you choose to intentionally meet with Him each day?

Take note that by choosing to improve your relationship with your Creator, you’re giving up something of much lesser quality that demands your energy and time.

Side note:  You may say you don’t worship God.  Well, okay.  But look at WHAT or WHOM you DO worship, because we all worship something or someone.  And misdirected worship never satisfies. Never has, never will.

Focus on what you’re gaining this Lenten season as opposed to what you’re giving up.  It pales in comparison.

This is Hope Unveiled!

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Why Hacksaw Ridge Brought Me Full Circle

It was only fitting that I would choose this movie as the week closes on Veterans’ and Election Day.

I watched the movie as close to home as I have gotten in the last 15 years – Smith Mountain Lake – since my parents have passed. Ironically, this location is only an hour from the setting of the movie and where my parents took retirement after active service (Lynchburg, VA).

One of my earliest memories is meeting my father in Honolulu while he was on R & R from Viet Nam. He had already served in World War II and Korea. I wasn’t more than five years old when we swayed and danced to The Girl from Ipanema. He led while I positioned my feet on top of his. But something happened in those post retirement years, not long after our dance. How one handles horrific experiences of combat is unique.

In the years that followed, I went to college, married, and became a mother. My young adult self would utter, “I just don’t understand,” when my father, this Army colonel, never volunteered to discuss his more than 30 years of active service.

A few years before his death, I imploringly wrote a short note inside a Father’s Day card, asking him to share his experiences with his young grandsons. The card was coupled with a shadow box of medals I had stumbled upon that had been tucked away in old bandaid boxes. How could something so valuable be hidden or kept in this manner?

I “consciously objected” to what I perceived as his lack of understanding on my part to know his history. I was trying desperately to understand the father I didn’t. And to know the father who had survived 3 wars and 8 combat campaigns, but slowly died in life engagement during post retirement years. But you don’t know what you don’t know. And, because I didn’t know, I lacked understanding.

———

The graphically visual scenes of this movie left clear understanding of what these veterans lived through and died for on behalf of each of us. We don’t know what we don’t know. And we don’t know what we don’t see, live through, or experience.

Except for those who are or have been serving in the last decade or so, many in my generation have no idea what sacrifice means. And neither do our children. I don’t know what I don’t know. They don’t know what they don’t know. And for this I am convicted and feel ashamed. I have no idea what sacrifice means. Really.

The awareness that this movie provides is impetus for shattering some beliefs while strengthening others. Here’s what is true about life:

  • Battles in life can make us better or bitter.
  • Faith carries when foes throw us down.
  • Stamina is strengthened when strained.

My encouragement is for you to see this movie. Perhaps it will lend insight into a family member, yourself, or another.

And now I know what I know. And because I know, I understand. And because I understand, I can accept that to which I previously consciously objected. And maybe you will too.

Dad, I miss you. I have come full circle.

This blog is dedicated to all the men and women who serve this country. You truly know and understand. I salute you

Why Women Need Other Women

I’ve never been “in” to girl drama.  But there’s HOPE!

Needing other women in my life has absolutely nothing to do with drama.  It has everything to do with the value they bring to my life. My peers. Older. Younger.

This past week I deeply missed our sons for family vacation.  But what did God do for me?  He confirmed for me what I will affirm for you:  Women need other women.

Here’s why:

The physiology of our brains is similar (unlike our male counterparts). We literally process life and relationships differently.  Women have more connective tissue between the two hemispheres which, in turn, allows for differences in communication and understanding.

We need to carve out time to BE with these special women face to face.

Social media does not take the place for this kind of shared space. 

We need same age peers to encourage us. My trusted peers have been part of my life for decades.  They’ve seen me at my best and worst.  

We share milestones and stumbling stones. Through it all, they are my stepping stones.

We need older women to teach us.  My older female friend has been a part of my life since I was a toddler.  I learn from her in ways she doesn’t even know.  She encourages me as a woman, wife, and as a mother. She’s wiser, gentler, and kinder.

She is further along on the path.  Through it all, she is my corner stone.

We need younger women to inform us. We must stay abreast of current societal and cultural trends. I’m older and (hopefully) wiser, but I don’t know it all.  And the challenges that affect generations after us are unlike any that we’ve experienced.

They clarify culture, refine me, and polish my understanding.  Through it all, they are my gem stones.

Do you have generations on each side of you to teach you?  Do you have trusted friends – just a few – to encourage you?

Don’t look for “girl” drama.  Look for real HOPE by connecting with a selected few.

This is Hope Unveiled.

 

 

 

Why Not Being Athletic Doesn’t Matter Anymore

The irony of it all.

PAST

My father went to college on a football scholarship.  He majored in P.E., took a leave during World War II, and then returned to complete his degree and become an Army officer for life.

He and mom adopted me as a baby so, unfortunately, I didn’t have his gene pool.  But he was determined to trade the gene pool for a swimming pool, and we spent endless summer days with him trying to teach me to swim and dive. My skills in both still leave a lot to be desired.

As the years of childhood progressed, I was usually the last to be picked for the kickball team in P.E. class, hated anything to do with physical activity, and used a supposed heart murmur to keep me from intentional exercise during high school and college. As a college senior, I was praying I wouldn’t fail the freshman P.E. class due to having to run a mile and a half in a certain amount of time.  My only goal was to keep up with my roommate who used to run in high school.  I’m thankful I didn’t literally pass out or worse… I had had NO physical activity throughout my life until that very day.

While my husband was in dental school, my mother bought me the Jane Fonda workout video.  That was my first attempt at any cardio.

PRESENT

Today, I’ve progressed from Jane’s workout to cardio, strength, and other forms of physical activity.

Since I’m adopted and I have no medical history, I have made a decision to control all the variables that I CAN without knowing my genetic pool.  Of course, this includes diet, exercise, and lifestyle choices.  Don’t think for a minute that your lifestyle choices – day in and day out – don’t have a cumulative effect on your overall health.  If nothing has happened yet, let these statements resonate from Gary Thomas’ book Every Body Matters:

“Fitness isn’t about avoiding disease; it’s about avoiding frailty” (p. 114).

“About 66 percent of adults in the United States are either obese or overweight, with abut one-third being obese” (p.120).

“The reality is, however, that exercise usually adds to our lives.  A Harvard alumni study, which tracked deaths among 17,000 men for more than two decades, suggests that “overall, each hour spent exercising adds about two hours to a person’s life expectancy” (p.165).

FUTURE

Here’s the reality:  I have no idea how many days have been ordained for me (Psalm 139:16). But God has created you and me with a WILL to choose how we each will be a steward of the ONLY body He has given us.

In addition, He has a plan and purpose that only YOU can fulfill.  That only I can fulfill.

It’s your mission.  It’s my mission.

How can you NOT take care of yourself to complete the tasks He has for you?  How can I NOT take care of myself to complete the tasks He has for me?

I’m now in a class with likeminded students as we encourage each other to fitness. Forget the P.E. class of old.  It doesn’t matter anymore.

The irony of it all.

If I can change, so can you. Today.

This is Hope Unveiled!

 

 

 

 

Questions Before and After My Naturalization Day

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I still remember this day.  I was 4 years old. My mother, grandmother, and I boarded a train in the middle of the night to Washington, DC where we met my father for the Big Day.

My Big Day was a Big Deal.  The shrouded details of mystery in leaving one country to enter this one are still just that, shrouded.  There are many questions that still linger.

Since I was obviously a minor at the time of my naturalization, my mother filled out the questionnaire on my behalf.

Here are the questions:

  1. Have you married, or been widowed, separated, or divorced?
  2. Have you been absent from the United States?
  3. Have you committed any crime or offense, or been arrested, fined, or charged with the violation of any law whatsoever?
  4. Have you joined any organization?
  5. Have you become a member of the Communist Party?
  6. Have you claimed exemption from military service?
  7. Has there been any change in your willingness to bear arms on behalf of the United States; to perform non-combatant service in the armed forces of the United States; to perform work of national importance under civilian direction, if the law requires it?
  8. The law provides that a petitioner for naturalization shall not be regarded as a person of good moral character who, at any time after his or her petition for naturalization has been filed, has committed adultery; has been a prostitute; has procured any person for the purposes of prostitution; has been a narcotic drug addict; or has dealt in narcotic drugs illegally in any way.  Have you committed such an act or been such a person?

The questions for the process of naturalization have, no doubt, changed.  And the questions that still remain unanswered are still a mystery to me.  I waffle between HAVING to know and TRUSTING in what I don’t.  Nothing changes the result:  God’s sovereign hand in literally plucking me from one part of the world and placing me in another.

Some questions answered, some not. Regardless, I have been given freedom in the Land of the Free.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Anxious Living: “C” in R.E.S.I.L.I.E.N.C.Y.

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The “C” in R.E.S.I.L.I.E.N.C.Y. acknowledges four concepts for buffering stress. Consider the following:

CALM

Learn to cultivate calm evenings.  In particular, there are two recommendations:

  1.  Do not discuss “heavy” topics at night with family members.  This activates the brain in ways that is not conducive to restful sleep.  If needed, discuss stressful topics during daytime hours.
  2. Develop a calm bedtime routine.  This may include a relaxing bath, soft music, no blue light (for an hour and a half before bedtime),  reading a hardcover book, etc.

CONNECTION

Share your stress with a trusted friend or professional.  You are a “jar of clay” (2 Corinthians 4:7) and need to have an “inner circle” to connect and commune with during challenging times.  In addition, these trusted individuals can bear the burden of your stress by either just listening, or actively serving you to lighten the load. In either instance, put pride aside.

CAFFEINE

The tendency to be stimulated during a time of stress is a vicious cycle, especially if you haven’t been able to sleep well.  Be intentional about greatly reducing your caffeine intake.  If you’re used to caffeine at all three meals, begin by deleting it at the dinner hour.  Once your body is used to this, delete the caffeine at lunch as well.  Ideally, drink your cup of Joe in the morning and be done.  Your body is already stressed enough; caffeine doesn’t help the cause.

CRY

My grandmother always told me that a good cry was good for the soul.  Neurobiology has confirmed her wisdom.  The hormone that causes the production of cortisol is found in your tears.  Specifically, a 2-4 minute cry has stress reduction benefits. So go ahead and cry; however, beware of a pattern.

With these 4 concepts in mind, how can you…..

A. Make one change – and eventually more – in your bedtime routine to alleviate stress?

B.  Identify a trusted friend, family member, or professional to share your stress with?

C.  Monitor and delete your caffeine intake? Perhaps a family member to hold you accountable?

D.  Not suppress your feelings and give yourself permission to cry?

In summary, use these tips to manage stress.  Remember: The idea is to buffer and build (resiliency).

This is Hope Unveiled!

 

Anxious Living: Cultivating Resiliency

 

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A new day is coming if you learn to cultivate resiliency. And that’s great news!  Therein lies HOPE.  You can learn new techniques for becoming more resilient in the midst of seasons of life when you are stressed.

This easy acrostic will assist in remembering these tools.  Today I will share the “R” for  R.E.S.I.L.I.E.N.C.Y.

  • RISE
    • Begin the morning with a prayer of gratitude.  Give the day to God.  How easy it is to take a new day for granted.  Remember, He goes before you in your day and the details that will be in it.  You are not alone!
  • RELEASE
    • Choose to release worry and regret (an earlier post gives practical tools for worry).
    • I’m not trying to be blunt or harsh, but if you walk through your day with worry and regret, how is it working for you? You do it, and I’ve done it.  The good news is that we each make the choice to stay chained or released.
  • ROUTINE
    • As simplistic as it sounds, developing daily and bedtime routines are crucial in combatting stress.
  • RECAPTURE
    • If you are going through a time of grief or loss, (e.g. divorce, relationship, etc.), recapture the positive memories and “delete” the negative ones.  This is intentional disengaging from the unpleasant memories that cloud thinking and keep you stuck in the past.

How you interpret, reflect, and evaluate what you’re going through is crucial to emotional well being (or not).  So make the choice to put yourself in a better place.  You’re worth it!

This is HOPE UNVEILED.

**The techniques listed above are from various sources for stress management, neurobiology, counseling, and coaching.

 

 

 

 

Anxious Living: Burdened by Worry

What’s the difference between young adults and their parents?  For the former, they carry backpacks half their body weight, while those carried by the latter are invisible. Regardless of age, every person can carry too much.

Let’s make some distinctions.

First, fear can be a positive thing.  It signals our sympathetic nervous system that something is wrong.  It can motivate us to get our of harm’s way.

Fear can become a problem when it leads to anxiety and you are afraid of things that aren’t real, or when the feeling of fear is out of proportion to the real danger present.

Anxiety is more akin to worry, and can be aroused by a number of factors: medical conditions (lack of sleep or a blood sugar imbalance); role modeling from parents; trauma; lifestyle.

Another distinction is that fear can be looked at as imminent, while anxiety can be completely anticipatory.

From neurobiological and faith stances, here are life coaching tools for dealing with anxious worry:

NEUROSCIENCE

What triggers your worry? Write it down! Notice the situation, the people, the feelings.  Discuss with a life coach or professional.

Worry Box: write down what you’re worried about on a small sheet of paper.  Worry worry worry for 15 minutes.  That’s right.  Then when 15 minutes is up, put the “worry sheet” in the box and be done with it.  Your brain will naturally drift to another topic.

Before going to sleep at night, journal your specific worries with a pen and paper.  Don’t use your laptop, as blue light from devices interferes with sleep quality (cease usage at least 1.5 hours before going to bed).

FAITH

“Cast your burden on the Lord….” (Psalm 55:22).

Oswald Chambers’ My Utmost devotion for today states that God doesn’t lift our worrisome burdens because He wants to see if we will give it back to Him.

Why? He desires that you live intentionally and take responsibility for your faith journey.  And how you manage worry is also an integral part of your spiritual life.

Here is a formula I’ve developed based on Chambers’ devotion:

  1. Release
  2. Roll back
  3. Relish

Release the worry through prayer.  This is what “casting your burden” looks like.  It requires action on your part.

Roll back and hand over the worry to Him.  This is the implication of this verse.  When you do this, it leads to item #3….

Relish His presence.  You have now invited Him into the everyday details that weigh you down, visible or invisible.

Hand over the backpack of worry.  You were never meant to carry it.

 

**This blog post is not a substitute for anxiety disorders or phobias.  Please seek professional counseling. You don’t have to keep living under the burden of anxiety. You have options.

This is HopeUnveiled.

 

How Do You Define #Health?

What comes to mind when you hear the word “health”? Most likely, you think of health in terms of your physical well-being. Specifically, what you’re eating or not eating (cauliflower v. confection) , and what you’re doing or not doing (exercise v. exhaustion).

No guilt here. I want you to think broadly about this term and what it really means on a figurative, not literal scale.

A current counseling paradigm offers the BIOPSYCHOSOCIOLSPIRITUAL Model for health and well-being. What exactly does this mean? Let’s look at this term and break it down into individual sections.

BIO:

Your body. How do you care for your physical body? You have only been given one body.

Although this is stating the obvious, the point is this: Only you can take care of you. A new habit can be formed today. Start the process now before age and lack of proactivity take a toll.

Do you get enough sleep? Enough cardio? Enough vegetables, lean protein, and fruit? If so, the weight and body image will fall into place.

Taking care of your body doesn’t happen by default.

PSYCHO:

Your mind. How do you care for your thought process? You have only been given one mind.

I used to think that thoughts were not within one’s control. Personal experience and a graduate degree later, this is not the case (exceptions are made for certain types of mental illness). How do you interpret your past experiences? Your present experiences? Does your way of thinking put you in a “good” place emotionally or a “not so good” place? You can learn to pay attention to your self talk and make sure you are believing truth instead of lies. Believing a lie of some sort almost always gets us into emotional upheaval.

Taking care of your mind doesn’t happen by default.

SOCIO:

Your support system. How do you care for your relationships? Your marriage? Your family? Your sphere of influence?

Are you taking ownership of your part of the relationship? No, not what the OTHER person does or doesn’t do, but only what is within your control? This is a sticky issue, particularly when conflict, crisis, confusion, and unhealthy communication are involved. If so, add a life coach, therapist, or pastor as part of your support network if needed.

If you need to walk through confession, do it.

If you need to offer forgiveness to let yourself off the hook, do it.

If you need to be a friend to someone in crisis, do it.

If you need to confront someone due to a difficult situation, do it. And do it in love.

If you need to learn skills for communicating and listening better to those in your close inner circle of life, do it.

Tell your spouse you love him or her.  Tell your children you love them.  And do it often.

Taking care of your relationships doesn’t happen by default.

SPIRITUAL:

Your soul. How do you care for your soul?

Even if you claim you are not a spiritual person, per se, then I ask this question: What do you worship? You will worship someone, something, or yourself. And, if it hasn’t happened yet, eventually your soul will be sold out to a cause that has no long term satisfaction or peace.

Also feed your soul with healthy, good hobbies, skills, and things that bring enjoyment. For example, my list includes reading, writing, studying, time with family, sunshine. Sunshine. Sunshine. Sunshine…..Food for my soul that hasn’t arrived yet.

Take care of the totality of YOU. You are one of a kind (Psalm 139).  You are a work in progress (2 Corinthians 3:18).

You are writing the pages of your life story with each day that passes. And the decisions you make today will not only benefit you, but those around you as well.

Taking care of yourself doesn’t happen by default. Start today.  There’s strength for the journey.  Take heart.  Take hope.