Tag Archives: Intentionality

SUBSTITUTES

IMG_1997.JPGLearning to live well is as simple as your ABCs. Let’s think holistically, shall we?

A is for ACKNOWLEDGE.

The very first step toward change is realizing that a change needs to be made. Insight. Awareness. Call it what you’d like, but it’s the very first step.

B is for BEING INTENTIONAL.

Nothing changes if it only goes as far as your thought process. [The counseling arena as a 5 point process to acknowledge the complexity of our thought lives in deciding to DO something with our lives.] And, lest we fool ourselves, it’s not up to anyone but us. Proactivity. Period.

C is for CHANGING OUT ONE THING FOR ANOTHER.

This is also known as replacement theory. You can try to delete, delete, delete, but there HAS to be something to take the place of that which you are deleting or else you feel depraved or default back into the comfort zone that you’ve known and become all to familiar with.

Whether it is your physical body, your thought life, your friend group, your spiritual life, it’s prudent to be intentional about making the wisest choices possible that are within your locus of control.

On a singular level, let’s take food. I love it. Period. But I have to A) Acknowledge where my vulnerabilities are [sugar], B) Be intentional about drawing boundaries that work for me, and C) Change out one thing for another.

Here’s an easy one. Substitute romaine lettuce leaves for bread. Yes, you can. Create a new mindset about what you usually do for your meals and replace it with a new, wiser choice.

Can you delete a number of things from your daily intake? One thing at a time? What has worked for you? What hasn’t worked? Whatever you decide, it has to be realistic and achievable.

Try this healthy swap. Eat clean in 2017. And if you need a little help getting started, visit Amazon for my Recipes Unveiled cookbook to get you started!

This is Hope Unveiled!

**The above meal has substituted romaine lettuce for bread, apple chips for potato chips, and a turkey burger for red meat.

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Celebrating Who You DO Have

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If today is a “glass half empty” day for you, please keep reading (and stop scrolling through Facebook).

Maybe your father is gone.

Maybe your father is still alive, but isn’t present.

Maybe your father has “checked out” in some form or fashion for reasons you may come to understand in years to come.

My father who has been gone since 2001 would have qualified for all the above. While life is  mysterious and complicated, goodness and forgiveness abound.  There’s not a Father’s Day that goes by that I don’t remember  and truly miss my dad. And now with a whole lot more understanding and insight than my younger self realized.

But I felt compelled to shift my focus this year, so please come along with me as I explain…

Currently, the men you see in this photograph “have my back.”  As I gazed at this impromptu photo taken a few weeks ago, I began to think about each of them in a special way.  Why?  Because these are the men who I focus on today. No, not all of them are fathers, and that’s my point.  For me, these men – in their unique ways – influence me more than anyone else I know.  Here’s why:

For one of them, I am learning what it means to shake up the status quo and look at the world and people differently.  To think and rethink.

For another, I am learning what it means to never complain and to live out a life that is honoring whether anyone notices or not. To love and be lovely.

For the third, I am learning what it means to view blessings and opportunities humbly while seeking a greater purpose.  To reserve and to serve.

For the last one,  the father of my sons, I am learning what it means to partner continually with a sense of “we-ness.” To tackle that which delights and dismays.

Each man in this photo impacts and influences me to become a better person.  I see in them who I am yet to be.  The mirror they hold up causes me to see a reflection of who I truly am and how I need to change. To reflect and introspect.

Celebrate the men in your life who “have your back” and encourage you to be a better version of yourself.  I challenge you to pick up the phone and call (no texts allowed) someone who has touched your life in a special way, whether they are fathers or not.

The glass is half full, remember?

 

 

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

IMG_5842.JPGThere are two items in the “S” category of resiliency that you should be intentional about if you’re stressed:

Stop.

Have you stopped long enough in your daily routine or in that mental tape recorder that automatically rewinds and plays over and over again to actually identify what emotion you are feeling and write it down?

What’s the point, you ask?  There’s actually a psychological benefit that results when you stop long enough to pay attention to your specific emotion and then pen it.  Why?  Neurobiology – through brain imaging – has proven that this activity turns on the anterior cingulate in your brain.  The process of writing down your emotion(s) helps you psychologically identify and process the stress.  In addition, it helps makes your thoughts conscious.

Aren’t all thoughts conscious?  Actually, no.  For a number of reasons that I will not go in to for this blog, each person “does” life from a set of automatic, unquestioned beliefs.  These beliefs, assumptions, and perceptions are rarely questioned until your thought life begins to work against you instead of working for you.  In other words, they are so automatic, they are rarely brought to the conscious level until they are questioned. Writing down what is stressing you puts perspective on the mental stress you are feeling.

So…go ahead.  Write down what you’re feeling and thinking.  It’s therapeutic!  You may also be able to identify – by writing it down – that your stress and/or worry isn’t as big as you thought.  This point in no way minimizes your specific stressor, but merely proves that writing it down is psychologically beneficial.


 

Sun.

It’s my favorite time of the year.  The weather is warm, and the sun breathes new life into me.  If you’re stressed, a 20 minute time  of “sun block” is beneficial for a number of reasons.

  1. It relieves stress.
  2. It improves mood.
  3. It provides Vitamin D

 

Go ahead.  Carve out time to sit and reflect.  You can even combine the two activities into one!

This is Hope Unveiled!

 

#FiftyShades East of Eden: Reclaiming Paradise

Sugar. Spice. Everything nice. That’s what little girls are made of.

Prince. Promise. Paradise. That’s what teenage girls dream of.

Something old. Something new. Something borrowed. Something blue. That’s what brides are adorned in.

Somewhere between nursery rhymes and a walk down the marriage aisle to greet her Prince, a young woman longs for Paradise. When she walks the aisle, the dream is real. Thus the beginning of something beautiful and sacred – the marital covenant. A God given, God gifted, and God ordained personal Garden of Eden. And deep within her heart the dream of Paradise remains.

So how does life become shaded?

Before this question is answered, let’s discuss what the movie Fifty Shades does well. Look at this youtube.com clip of the interview between the man and the woman.

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From a marriage and relationship standpoint, here’s how this one movie clip touches the God-given emotional core of a woman and stirs Paradise in her soul:

The woman has the undivided attention of the man.
The man’s eye contact and body posture speak even more loudly than his words.
The man is interested in the woman.
The man appeals to her probable love language, words of affirmation.
The man inquires about her dreams.

This movie clip is almost as enticing as the apple presented by the serpent in the original Eden.

Why? Because it reaches to the (apple) core of how God created each human. The same needs and desires that were deeply rooted in Eden and into the souls of every human born since the First Couple:

The need to be heard and known (no fig leaves).
The need to be affirmed.
The need to be praised.
The need to be safe.
The need to be touched.
The need to be passionately desired.
The need to be included.

While the original couple walked in the Garden shaded by the beauty of creation, it lasted only as long as the beginning of Genesis 3. And so it goes with us. The Great Swap of shaded trees to shaded reality.

The volitional disobedience in the Garden caused a ripple effect of decay into all areas of life – spiritual, physical, emotional, and relational.

Just East of Eden, on the outskirts of “Paradise”, is the land called “Reality”. And “Reality” – where we live – will most likely be the motivating factor for many to journey to the theatrical destination of “Dreamland” next weekend. Let’s take a trip back in time to glance at what “Reality” used to look like.

Paradise used to be Reality.

Paradise, a Persian word, refers to the Garden of Eden, a beautifully enclosed garden for mankind’s first couple. The equivalent word for “Eden” in Hebrews means “delight” and “pleasure”. Within the confines of this garden, the couple had everything. They were naked, unashamed, and guilt free. Within their God-given boundaries, they had the gift of freedom.

Paradise Lost.

Once volitional disobedience entered the Garden, Paradise was no more. And all of creation was affected and marred. In our present day, the literal fig leaves worn by the First Couple have become metaphorical for all of our human relationships. In our personal Garden of Eden, we clothe ourselves in criticism, unforgiveness, or point the finger of blame. Shame and guilt run amok in the land East of Eden, the present day land of Reality. And in this land of Reality, we find Fifty Shades. Fifty Shades of grey in areas that steal our delight and pleasure in our personal Gardens of Eden: busyness, life, kids, responsibility, caregiving, careers. And the list is endless. Why? Because the First Couple was the first to learn that now their day to day existence would be laborious. So now humankind travels from Paradise to the land of Reality with an occasional emotional glance when we used to reside in Dreamland.

Reclaiming Paradise.

The original design for the marital covenant remains the same. Man. Woman. Covenantal relationship. All bestowed and gifted by the Creator.

So how can we reclaim Paradise? The same way it decayed in the first place. Choice. Volition. The same volition that was acted on that stole away delight and pleasure is the same volition that reclaims what was meant to be.

Your marriage will never be Paradise by default.

And, as a result of the fall, now you have to be intentional and choose to make it all that it’s supposed to be. You can reclaim the pleasure and delight that was once was. Choose to make your Eden a Dreamland of Reality that existed on the day you walked the wedding aisle (Proverbs 5:18b). It takes work. Hard work.

Give your spouse undivided attention.
Communicate lovingly with tone, body language, and eye contact.
Be interested in your spouse.
Appeal to your spouse’s primary Love Language.
Continue to dream as a couple.

Sugar. Spice. Everything nice. Prince. Promise. Paradise. It’s not Fifty Shades of Grey after all. It’s really black and white.

[**This blog is not an endorsement for the book or the novel. Seek professional counseling if your marriage is struggling.]