Ice Storm of Life

Man!  Was that ever a crazy ice storm we got pounded with this past week!  I could barely sleep from the roaring of the wind!  When I woke the next day I couldn’t believe the damage Mother Nature performed to our property.  I live on quite a wooded piece of land and all the trees took quite a beating.

In the front of my home, I have a beautiful birch tree that stood tall and proud on our property line.  I love birch trees, and we had to cut down quite a few to build our home.  I did leave 1 on our front lawn.  There are many more birch trees scattered among the other trees in the back of our property.  After the storm, all the trees were covered in a thick layer of ice but the one lonely tree on our front lawn was completely bowed down touching the street in front of it.

My heart broke for this one isolated tree!  The storm definitely defeated my arbor friend.  As I put its saddened state on Facebook, one of my friends reassured me that birch trees are tough and resilient and they will bounce back after this storm to normal, if not even stronger.

I set out to research this and found out that in general, if less than 50 percent of the tree is damaged, and they are bent in less than a 45 degree angle, the tree has a good chance of survival.  What a relief it was to read this!

As I reevaluated my birch tree situations, and tried to eyeball the angle of tilt of my beloved birch trees I noticed that the birch trees in our back yard definitely stood a chance of survival, but the one solitary birch tree in the front was definitely on more than a 45 degree tilt.  The other birch trees had the rest of the forest protecting them from this nasty ice storm, but the lonesome tree in front was left to defend off Mother Nature solo, and Mother Nature definitely won the battle.

This forest dynamics that I learned about is very parallel to what happens in our lives.  We are also made to live through storms.  How many of you have been blasted with many different kinds of troubles and turmoil and didn’t think you were going to make it through the storm?

We are built like the birch trees in the forest.  We can take a lot of life burdens weighing us down.  Just when you think you can’t take anymore of life’s icicles tugging at your branches, you find yourself bending just a little further and still able to hold onto the earth with your roots.  You might lose a branch or two, but after the storm clears and the sun starts to shine its beautiful, loving rays of sunshine on your cold life, your icicles start to melt and little by little, the damage that was done starts to lift.

Days, weeks, months…maybe even years will pass and bit by bit, you are finding that you are finally like these bent over birch trees.  Standing tall and stronger than before.  Similar to these white barked trees you are resilient to the storms of life.  During these storms, be like the trees in the forest.  Surround yourself with the people you love that can prevent you from being damaged more than 50 percent.  Frame your world with positive people that are going to lift you up and encourage your survival through the storm.

Remember during your next ice storm of life, James 1:12 promises, “Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him.” 

We all have to go through our storms.  It’s inevitable.  Please remind yourself of God’s promises and don’t be like my sweet solo tree, braving the elements of the storm alone.  It’s harder to survive when you are going this journey alone and chances are you will crack under the pressure of all life’s icy ways.  Engulf yourself in the forest of God’s word and get yourself around others that have went through the same type of storm who will ensure you that once you live through this horrible part, the calm after the storm is even more beautiful than you can ever imagine!

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Live a Vigorous Life

Have you tried out the calorie counting app that I was bragging about a few days ago?  I love that I can eat whatever I want, and then have to deal with the consequences afterwards.  It’s a dream come true.  I’m up for tracking more mileage on my runners or my elliptical if it allows me to eat whatever I want to eat.  I think dieting is for the birds.

One day I was craving Chinese food, so I decided I was going to bow down to my craving.  I had no idea that three chicken balls, a cup of rice and an egg roll would be all my calories for my entire day, and I ate this for supper.  Needless to say, I had to hit the elliptical, weights, and more elliptical and I was still over my daily allowance by fifty calories.

This was the first day that I went over my calorie count for the day.  This really didn’t fizz me much because I was still under for my weekly allowance, but I was surprised with the support from my husband who is on this journey with me.  He was asking me what I was putting down for the pace of my elliptical time.  I explained that I only claimed “moderate” on the app, which only burned 217 calories for a half hour.

He thought that I should put “vigorous” because it records that I burned more calories and that would put me under my calorie count for my day.  As tempting as it sounded, in all honesty, I didn’t go vigorously on the elliptical.  Sure I could have recorded that I went vigorously, but I didn’t.

As my husband and I had our discussion over why not go harder for shorter period of time instead of easier for longer, and we kept using the word vigorous, it brought a verse to my head from my beloved Proverbs 31 woman.  Verse 17 says, “She sets about her work vigorously; her arms are strong for her tasks.”

I’m not comparing my work-out on my elliptical to this woman setting out to work vigorously every day, but maybe my husband was right.  Maybe it is better if I focus on working harder in everything we do.  Even if it is something that we are doing just for enjoyment.  Or maybe it is something that you hate doing?  If we start each day with the attitude of this Proverbs 31 Woman maybe our lives would be more rewarding?

Do you think that this woman gets sucked into the world of Facebook, Instagram, online shopping, Netflix, or Soap Operas?  Our list of ways we can waste our time in our world today is endless.  I bet if the Proverbs 31 woman was on the elliptical she would be claiming the calories of a  “Very Vigorous” workout.

We all have things in our lives that we don’t give a vigorous effort to.  Many times you hear the saying, “You get out of life what you put into it.”  I usually think of the way we treat people when I hear this saying, but it is the truth for any part of your life.  Weight loss, productivity at work, housework, or spending time with your child, if you put your maximum effort into it, you will get maximum results.

Take a page out of this incredible woman’s book.  This is only one of the many amazing verses that describes how we can become all God has created us to be.  She sets the bar high, but we also have to start setting higher standards for ourselves.  If you are participating in something and it isn’t making you a better person, make a different choice.  Focus on becoming the best we can be.  Attack life vigorously and see what a change it will make in your life today!

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Calorie Counting

Since the New Year arrived, I decided I would start counting my calories.  For those of you who know me, you might think I am crazy, but my family and I are heading to Cuba for the March Break and I decided this would be a good resolution to put in place for the New Year before I hit the beach.

Thank goodness for technology!  I downloaded an app that takes my weight now, and I put in my goal weight and then how much I want to lose by the date and it tells me how many calories that I can eat a day.  It’s super easy to use, and I’m actually enjoying this new venture that I am on.

I am fortunate I’ve never had a weight problem and could eat whatever I wanted to eat, but these last few weeks have been an eye opening experience.  I learned that my favorite cupcakes are 380 calories per cupcake.   My favorite meal…a poutine is over 500 calories.  I only have a budget of 1227 calories a day, which definitely makes me rethink putting that cupcake or poutine into my body when I realize how much of a gash they take out of my daily allowance.

Of course, I can increase my calorie count by exercising more.  Every bit of exercise allows me to put more food into my body, which make it that much more enticing to exercise.  There is now a correlation between exercise and my ability to eat the food I love.

Since I started counting calories and being aware of the amount of junk I put in my body, it has made me be accountable for my decisions.  My decision on whether I should exercise or not.  It’s my choice on what I should eat or not.  I’m even now contemplating what I should have to drink because what we drink is often filled with empty calories too.

Isn’t this symbolic of our lives.  Imagine if we had an app to count our emotional daily life.  Something that we could add our life stresses to and it had a counter to tell us when we are letting negativity into our lives that our brain doesn’t need or we’ve had our limit of stress, and we needed to add exercise…or spiritual work to our day to help us add or deal with our emotional chaos.

We all have it.  You aren’t alone.  Sure some of us have less than others, and some people deal with stress easier than others, but the fact remains we all have it.  What you do with it, is your choice.  Just like deciding to eat your favorite cupcake that is going to put you over your limit, it is your decision.

I love the verse in Proverbs 14:10, “Your joy is your own; your bitterness is your own.  No one can share them with you.”  Just like the calories that I am counting, they are all my own.  Nobody else can burn them off for me.  Nobody else is responsible for what I put in my mouth but me.  I can be joyful and hit the elliptical so I can happily eat my cupcake, or I can be bitter and wallow in my own self-pity.

The same in life.  I can be joyful that I’m in the stage of my life I am in, and realize, it is just a stage, and things will change, or I can be bitter and make the stage of my life unbearable for myself and the ones around me.  No one else is responsible for how I react to my life situation, but me.

If you use spirituality instead of exercise it will not only lower your stress level and anxiety but it will help you through these horrible stages that we all have to go through.  These stages, just like exercise for my calorie counting app is used to help strengthen ourselves mentally and emotionally.  We don’t realize sometimes what we are letting seep into our brains from our lives that we face daily.  Negativity that our bodies do not need, just like empty calories.

Free yourself from these empty calories, and make wiser choices from what you are letting your brain eat up.  Your brain doesn’t need needless stresses to process so don’t let them in.  If they get in, use your spirituality exercises to help get them out or give you more room in your brain to function.  If only I could create an app for this…I’d be rich!

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Spiritual Taste Buds

Picky eaters.  Don’t you just hate them?  I was a picky eater when I was younger, but thankfully I had very patient parents that helped try to feed me with foods that I would eat.  I’m not picky anymore, or at least I wouldn’t consider myself a picky eater, but as a result of having sensitive taste buds, I definitely have my mental scars from childhood.

What mental scars you might wonder?  If you were a picky eater, you might understand.  People were constantly growling about the fact that you were so fussy.  Family members would growl at my parents for catering to my every whim.  But worst of all is being pestered by people, “Just try it”!  Oh, how I hate those three words.  Just.  Try.  It.

Luckily, I don’t have fussy eaters with my children.  Of course they have their own distinct pallet, but they aren’t anywhere as particular as I was.  I do catch myself every once and a while uttering those three horrible words, “Just try it.”  However, I never force them to try something that they don’t want to try.  I know exactly how that feels.

As I was thinking about people forcing me to eat food I didn’t want to try, turnips pop up in my brain.  Why turnip, you may wonder?  Well.  Turnip was a staple at my home growing up, but I always claimed that I didn’t like them.  My mother used to make Mush.  Do you know what that is?  Potatoes, carrots and turnips all mashed together into a “mush” to create a meal.  Oh.  My.  Goodness.  I hated Mush!  My taste buds would cringe every time I saw the three blended colors coming towards my plate.

My brother LOVED this combination.  And, that is fine with me.  We all have our own distinct pallet, and his was not as sensitive as mine.  My brother would and still will eat anything, except onions, where I love onions.  Isn’t it crazy how we all have our own distinct likes and dislikes when it comes to food?

I think this is the same when it comes to spirituality.  We all have a distinct pallet for spirituality.  Some of us are the picky eaters that are very religious and think their way is the only way to Heaven.  Others are not going to believe no matter what the evidence states and doesn’t even think there IS a heaven.  You can’t even utter the words, “Just try it” or they will knock you down with negative retaliations in defense of their beliefs.  Many other people are happy just sticking to their meat and potatoes of church, but don’t explore the subject any further than that.  Then there are other people who can’t get enough of every kind of dish out there and love trying new foods, and exploring all the different worldly cuisines.

I’m not a fussy eater any more, and ironically I love turnip.  I can’t get enough of them.  Actually, right now, I’m definitely after all the worldly cuisines.  I love trying and researching it all or trying new recipes!  I can’t get enough information on every religion and spiritual belief out there.  I think just as our taste buds mature to handle the strange foods that we aren’t used to, so does our spiritual taste buds.  Spirituality can’t be pushed onto people.  The “Just try it” mentality doesn’t work when it comes to spirituality.  People have to get there on their own time.  They have to try different foods, or religions to see if they like what is on their plate.

Romans 8:6 tells us, “For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace.”

There are so many wonderful worlds of spirituality out there and it’s a shame that so many people are very fussy eaters.  None of us know the right way to get to Heaven.  We are taught what our families feel is the way, but even that is having a very particular pallet.  We have to expose our taste buds to all the different taste of spirituality and then decide what we like and what we don’t like.  Every avenue has something wonderful to taste and add to your spiritual cupboards.

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King of the Mountain

The snow is really starting to pile up outside, and it brings such great new activities to us Canadians!  Snowmobiling, skiing, snowshoeing, sliding and one of my favorites, King of the Mountain.  Who doesn’t love being at the top of the hill and chucking people back down the mountain as they try to dethrone you off your reign at the top of the pile of snow?  Kids of all ages love this old, yet violent game and it can be a lot of fun until someone gets hurt.

I used to love playing it.  The challenge of trying to push someone down the hill, and the feeling of being airborne and rolling back down the hill uncontrollably that was accompanied by uncontrollable laughter as well.  Climbing back up that hill again to take another attempt at the silliness, only to get defeated another time.  Then you would brush the snow off you and try again.  It was just so much fun.

As I watch children play this game as an adult, it really got me thinking about the book of 2 Kings that I’ve been reading in my morning quiet time.  Every day, I read about another king and how they ruled Israel for such and such amount of time, but they sinned against the Lord and then died.  Usually these kings all worshipped other gods like Baal, and failed in their reign over Israel.

This is all such a metaphor.  How many of us go through the exact same thing in our own minds.  We go through a time when we are younger where we believe whole heartedly there is a God.  He’s the King of our Mountain.  Our king that is reigning at this time of our life has such innocents and hope.  But then we hit adolescence and start to question the world around us, a new king starts to reign our brains.  Some start worshipping other gods at this point, and become very egocentric.  This is when we really get kicked down our mountain.

As our years pass, our king may die, and another king takes over.  This time we might be still egocentric, maybe not as much, but we still put ourselves above all.  We are still trying to win this game of “King of the Mountain” but we are climbing back up our hill of life trying to take another crack at the person at the top, only to get pushed down again.

Now, life is starting to get painful, and our attack plan isn’t working the way our controlling personalities wanted it to work.  We want another new king in our world.  We let new beliefs take over and start on another approach at this mountain of life, trying to attack at a different angle.  This doesn’t get us any further than the first few kings that we had.

Finally, after painfully falling down the mountain many times and realizing our way isn’t working we deciding that maybe…just maybe the way to the top of the mountain is to let go of our egocentric nature and just start helping the guy who is the King of the Mountain.  We don’t need a king, we already had one all along.  We need to let this original King reign, and let go of all our selfishness and pride.  Stop worshiping worldly gods like, money, power, fame, fortune, being the best and having the best.  We also have to give up our need for control over our mountain, it isn’t ours to control in the first place.  Instead of trying to get ahead of everybody, we need to help people get up their own mountain.

This life is not about us pushing the guy off the top of the mountain, it is about helping the guy at the top.  The faster we learn this, the faster we will reach our mountain top and happily live there.  Life isn’t about getting ahead of the next guy, it’s about getting ahead of ourselves and controlling our ego.  We all have a kingdom inside of ourselves, and we can reign our kingdom with the help from the guy at the top.  First we have to find the kingdom inside of us, because we are all children of God and share the kingdom.  If  we would just open our eyes to see this incredible world inside of each and every one of us.

Luke 17:21 tells us, “The kingdom of God is within you”…are you letting the right King reign inside of you?  Stop the fight.  There is no need to climb or make a different game plan.  Relax and let it all unfold the way it is supposed to.  Our castle is already under great control, you just have to let go of your need to control your life and let the most amazing King reign your world!

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Inside Happiness

Do you enjoy alone time?  I never used to until lately!  I always wanted to be surrounded by people.  The more the merrier.  I loved once I had children, because then I was never alone.  I always had someone with me while I was shopping, cleaning, sleeping—geeze, I didn’t even get to go to the bathroom alone for the longest time.  They were constantly around me.

Now that they are growing older, and have lives of their own, I’m starting to be alone more often, but I am loving it.  Mostly because I also have found the amazing art of meditation, but I have finally found what I’ve been searching for!  Me!

For decades now, I’ve been looking outside of myself for everything.  All the answers to my life’s problems I thought were going to be found in a book, on a documentary, or even from the advice of a friend.  Now, however, I am learning that I have an internal instinct that will answer all of my questions and fulfill all of my desires as long as I sit alone and tap into this natural born instinct.

We all have it!  We are all able to find our answers inside of ourselves.  Think about it.  Where are you reading this blog?  Inside yourself.  If you are reading this out loud, where do you hear it?  Inside yourself.  If reading this blog stirs up any emotions, where do you feel them?  Inside of yourself.

Nothing that you ever witness in this world is ever outside of yourself.  It is all within.  Have you ever experienced pain and pleasure that hasn’t happened within you?  Happiness and sorrow happens within you.  Hunger and fullness happen within you.  Everything you experience in this life is all inside of you!

My interpretation of something is going to be totally different than someone else’s interpretation.  Why?  Because what I interpret is within me, and what you interpret is within you and these interpretations can be totally different for both of us.  It’s all how we choose to look at it within ourselves.

My question to you today is, who is in control of how you interpret these things that are felt inside of you?  Does your spouse’s annoying habits happen inside of you?  No, then why are you letting them get to you?  Are your children’s demanding personalities happening inside of you?  I don’t think so, so stop letting them stress you out!  Is your co-worker’s abrasive nature happening inside of you?  Absolutely not, so don’t let them bother you.  Stop letting things rob you of your happiness when you are the one who controls them!

If you start taking control what is happening inside of you, your whole experience of life on this planet will change!  Your surroundings are not your choice sometimes, but what happens in these surroundings with your thoughts, feelings, attitudes, and how you handle situations are all yours.  Nobody else’s!

When I am having a hard time dealing with my situation or surroundings, I do love turning for the knowledge that is found within the pages of the bible, but there are many different spiritual educational text out there to choose from.  James 1:2-4, explains, “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”

We have to start looking at everything we encounter daily as a joy.  From the little things your spouse might do to bother you, your demanding children, to the annoying co-worker that you have to work with every day!  You have to take this new year, to take charge of the inside of YOU!  Stop letting the trials that we face make us upset.  Only you are 100 percent in charge of how you react, how you feel, what makes you angry, what scares you, or what depresses you.  They are all yours!  Start finding the joy, in everything instead of the faults.  Only you are able to bring yourself joy.  Nobody else.  It all starts in the inside of you.

Start making some alone time in your daily life, to start nursing your insides.  All your answers of happiness are found deep inside of you.  Start your search today!

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Forty Years of Karma

In my midlife, I’m finally starting to clue into much more about life.  It has only taken me over 40 years.  As I reflect on my life, and how I’ve grown over the years it is incredible really.  You hear many people tell you, “What goes around comes around.”  Or, “Karma is a bitch.”  But you never really get it until you see it happening over and over.  Then you start to think—people might actually be onto something here.  Maybe the universe does work like this?  I used to think the old phrase, “History repeats itself” is over used, but as I get old, and now have a 40 year old history to look back on those words, I’m realizing they are really true.  History does repeat itself!

I love reading and listening to videos on spirituality, and this one video I came across by one of my favorite Yogis, Elena Brower, there was something that she said that really made me think.  She was explaining about her relationship troubles to her life coach, and the life coach explained that her answer was easy.  “If you are cheated on, it is because you are a cheater.”  Those are very harsh words to be telling a person who has just been through an affair, but Elena will admit that her coach was right.

She might not have been cheating on her husband, but she was cheating in other parts of her life.  Cheating is cheating whether it is in a relationship, on your taxes, in a game, your job on your full potential.  They all add up over time.  Whatever it is you are cheating on, it will come around to have something, someone to cheat on you.  That is how life works.

As I was reading 1 Kings 21 and 22 over the weekend, it hit home even more so.  This was a story about King Ahab wanting Naboth’s Vineyard.  Naboth wouldn’t give it to him, or sell it to him, so King Ahab’s lovely wife Jezebel was going to get it for her husband one way or another.  She set a plan in place to frame Naboth and have him stoned to death, and her plan worked.

The Lord sends Elijah to King Ahab to relay a message to him that is found in 1 Kings 21:19, “Tell him that, I, the Lord, say to him, ‘After murdering the man, are you taking over his property as well?’  Tell him that this is what I say; ‘In the very place that the dogs licked up Naboth’s blood they will lick up your blood!’”  Wouldn’t you say that is Karma?  Or what goes around will come around?  Exactly!  This is the way the universe works!

In 1 Kings 22:38, we learn that what Elijah told about King Ahab did come true, “His chariot was cleaned up at the pool of Samaria, where dogs licked up his blood and prostitutes wash themselves, as the Lord had said would happen.”

As we go about our day, we should keep in mind that what we give in this world we get back.  Good, bad or ugly.  It’s in every spiritual text, just like the story of King Ahab and Naboth.  I like Loa Tzu’s words in the Tao Te Ching, “Watch your thoughts; they become words.  Watch your words; they become actions.  Watch your actions; they become habits.  Watch your habits; they become character.  Watch your character it becomes your destiny.”

We are what we think about, and we get back what we give.  Make this world a better place by giving it your everything, and your life will reflect your actions.  Karma is a bitch, but, she’s just giving you back what you dished out.

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