Archive for the ‘musings’ Category

noise and floss

January 13, 2012

I was at the dentist yesterday to have a tooth looked at. Over the holidays, I took a nice bite of peppermint bark and crunched away until I realized there was a little piece of ‘bark’ that wasn’t dissolving . . . . Yuck! A piece of tooth! Gross!

I fished the offensive bit out of my mouth and felt around and located the spot on the tooth that had broken off. It was a minuscule bit of enamel but was very noticeable to my mouth! Isn’t it amazing how the smallest difference can be perceived as gigantic! I was quite relieved that it was as small as it was, but knew I needed to get it taken care of. I so dread going to the dentist, even for a cleaning. But I made the appointment and a week later found myself signing in and sitting, waiting, listening.

The young, beautiful dental assistant walked me back to the room, put that lovely blue bib under my chin and left the room. (Just love it, demeaning preparation + fear makes for such a lovely experience!) As I was reclined in the dentist’s chair (sounds so relaxing but it wasn’t) waiting for the doctor to come take a look, I heard the whirring, grating, buzzing, jackhammering sounds of equipment in other rooms. 

My mind journeyed back to my childhood, sitting in the chair, waiting for the dentist to come in, hearing all those frightening sounds, planning an escape, and then a thought, a question came to mind. Why, WHY am I still hearing the same exact sounds 4 decades later? Let’s say I was 10 at my first visit to the dentist (I was really much younger and cavity prone) that means 40 years later things haven’t changed much if at all, especially in the noise department!

I thought to myself how my washing machine is almost silent compared to the one we started out with which used to fill the entire house with its racket.

There are vehicles that are quieter than dentists drills! How is it that some cars are nearly silent and yet dentists are still grinding away with noisy, fear intensifying drills?!

I love my dentist, I really do! He has taken exceptional care of my teeth all these years and he is quiet and kind and gracious and gentle, nothing at all like the tools he uses! 

Is it because dentists don’t want to spend the money to update? “They work just fine, thankyouverymuch,” or is it because no one has taken the time to improve dentist equipment? Is there a dental conspiracy to keep everyone in fear? haha

Whatever it is, it keeps me flossing, because I don’t want to go back for a very long time! 

I used to have this dentist when I lived in Kentucky who would tell me each visit, “Only floss the ones you want to keep.”

Gee, thanks. That’s helpful.

I’d go home and have nightmares of losing my teeth and gumming my food! Seriously! Every now and then those words play back and I want to run upstairs and floss! His technique worked, but like in so many areas, fear is the worst motivator. Effective, but awful.

I will eventually have to get a cap for that tooth that broke; it’s structure is weakened, but I was relieved to learn that my dentist could patch things up and keep me going for a while, before I have to pay out the big bucks for a shiny new crown, which will entail lots of chair time and lots of noise.

All I know is I’m staying away from the peppermint bark and keeping floss in my pocket!

Christmas cravings

December 9, 2011

I have spent entirely too many hours this week looking through glossy catalogs and surfing the internet, looking for just the right gifts for family and friends. 

I must confess, though, that all the glamor and glitz of the pretty things I saw worked a number on me, and before long I was circling items in catalogs that I wanted, emailing gift suggestions to my husband, for myself!

I’m so ashamed at how quickly I fall prey to the age old greed that accosts me every year at this time, more than any other season. I just give in, like the frog in the pot of boiling water, I don’t even know what’s happening until I’m nearly cooked! 

Then I read 1 John 2:1-17 this morning and it spoke right to me, where I’m at, now! I’m always amazed at how the Bible, thousands of years old, is so relevant to my daily life, little old me, a tiny fragment of a speck of dust in the whole universe of all eternity. But somehow it does, and that’s only one of the amazing things about God that I marvel about! He’s relevant forever!

Anyway, I’ll just write bits and pieces of what grabbed my attention this morning.

“My dear children, I [John] am writing this to you so that you will not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate who pleads our case before the Father. He is Jesus Christ, the one who is truly righteous.”  Already, I’m blown away. John writes to us so that we won’t sin. But he knows mankind, as he was a man himself, and knows that being sinless is nigh impossible on our own. What arrests my attention, makes me stop in wonderment, is that in spite of my sin, Jesus pleads my case! Wow! He talks to God on my behalf! He says something like, “Remember Kris, Father, she loves you. Yes, she’s sinned and still does more often than she likes, but I gave my life so she wouldn’t die because of her sins. She is made clean because of what I’ve done! Have mercy on her, Father, because of your love for me and because of your faithfulness and kindness….” Is that ever humbling and precious and powerful! 

After that, John talks about the connection between love and obedience. Profound. (A topic for another post another day!) 

Then John gives this word of advice, an admonishment: “Do not love this world nor the things it offers you, for when you love the world, you do not have the love of the Father in you. For the world offers only a craving for physical pleasure, a craving for everything we see, and pride in our achievements and possessions. These are not from the Father, but are from this world.”

Busted! Ouch! I know these things! Why, for pity sake, (to quote my grandma) why do I continue to fall into this trap?! I am just like a little kid, so enamored with pretty colors and trinkets and sparkling new gadgets and am so easily fooled, shielded from seeing reality: these items will lose their fascinations, will age or break or go out of style. They won’t make me more lovable, acceptable or desirable. Nothing will, but Jesus!

Craving. Craving things, craving experiences, craving people’s high opinions of us. John goes on to say, “These are not from the Father, but are from this world. And this world is fading away, along with everything that people crave. But anyone who does what pleases God will live forever!”

The older I get, the more in touch I become with the reality of ‘fading away.’ Youth fades, strength and health and vitality fade. Our socks get holes. Our windows fog up or rot out or both. Our cars rust out and break down. It’s the way of our fallen world. It’s no wonder that the prince of this world wants to keep that ugly little fact a secret. He wants to beguile us with more and more, better and nicer and prettier things!  

I think we are designed to crave beauty and newness. That in itself isn’t a sin. Originally, we were made for paradise. It’s in our DNA. God put that desire in each of us. The Garden of Eden was just that before sin began it’s crumbling. It was new and beautiful and perfect and breathtaking and so much more. The problem, where we go wrong and get derailed is when we look for the fulfillment of those cravings in things and achievements, not in Jesus. Think about it. He never changes, he never fades or ages or forgets or lets us down. He is the same yesterday, today, and forever. I’d interpret that in this way, in light of what’s on my mind. Jesus is new always. He is able to satisfy always. He is perpetually desirable, enjoyable, delightful to see, and besides, he knows us better than anyone and loves us more than anyone in spite of our sin! That’s real paradise!

This earthly, fallen, paradise lost, will one day be a faded memory, and everything in it that I craved will have returned to dust. I, and the things I have and the ones I love. But! Dust is not the end for those who love God!

John says it right at the very end in verse 17: “But anyone who does what pleases God will live forever!” (This will take us back to the connection between love and obedience mentioned earlier.) I love God, I live my daily life with that always at the forefront of my mind and motivations. As I obey God, I show my love for Him. 

All is not lost! I just need to yank my distracted eyes off of the glitz and tell my cravings to get in line!

Then I can begin to enjoy a craving for peace and love and joy that Christmas is truly about, not all the stuffl

I don’t want to be distracted by things. I want to be devoted to Jesus. I want to engage my heart and mind in Advent this year, craving his presence in my life and seeing Him satisfy it like no one or nothing else can!

 

home

October 27, 2011

I absolutely love the Switchfoot song This Is Home and could listen to it over and over. (Sometimes I do!) It touches something deep inside my heart. I mean, just the word ‘home’ unearths memories and feelings. It’s fraught with an immense gamut of emotions. It’s my guess that we all long to experience ‘home’ in the best sense of the word.

I think that’s why, especially over the holidays, we can get so emotionally conflicted. We find ourselves grieving at a time when everyone (it seems) is celebrating. We long for home while at the same time knowing ours wasn’t really a place of love or safety, or perhaps it was but we’ve moved across country or our parents are divorced or no longer living. We long for home to be static, to be permanent, yet it is neither of those.

Our hearts long for home regardless of our age or gender. Not necessarily our home, but a home to go home to, to be welcomed in with open arms and hugs and aromas of favorite foods made especially for us. We ache for a home that isn’t filled with anger and resentment, that isn’t pocked by emotional scars left by prior fights and arguments. If we do manage to go home, we tiptoe around to avoid setting off any land mines that might ruin another visit.

If that isn’t our experience, perhaps we wish our family was home long enough all at the same time to actually be together. We long for parents who aren’t so busy in their own worlds that they notice us, make time for us and value us. Maybe we yearn for what used to be but is no longer.

Inevitably, eventually our earthly home will be invaded by loss of some kind. Whether by growing up and moving out, job changes, aging parents, health issues, death or divorce, families change. Home changes. Nothing stays the same. If we could freeze a frame from our life to go home to it’d probably be a favorite Christmas or birthday or family meal of some kind that made us feel special.

my childhood home

Home is supposed to be a place where we are safe, accepted as we are, loved, cherished, nurtured, enveloped and valued. It’s supposed to be a place where our needs are met, our presence is enjoyed and our dreams are fueled and fulfilled. It’s supposed to be a haven, a refuge, a place of rest and refreshment and recuperation. In Isaiah 32:18 God says, “My people will live in peaceful dwelling places, in secure homes, in undisturbed places of rest.” Doesn’t that sound incredible?! I think this is God’s ideal for our homes: to be places that are safe, secure, peaceful and restful. Ahhhhhhh. Home.

I don’t need to point out the discrepancies between the ideal and reality. And, despite all our best efforts to hold those longings at bay, to tell ourselves to be logical and analytical, we still find our hearts wistful.

We’re on the brink of Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Christmas and New Years. We’ll be making or feeling the pressure to make trips back to the homes in which we were raised or to attend meals with family. These activities have the potential to be catalysts for reopening old wounds or creating new ones. This time of year inevitably focuses our attention on what we feel should have been yet isn’t and perhaps will never be. It yanks our hearts back to aching for Real Home.

The other day I came across these verses in the Bible. Psalm 90 verses 1-2. Moses was talking to God. “Lord, through all the generations you have been our home! Before the mountains were born, before you gave birth to the earth and the world, from beginning to end, you are God.”

The very next psalm begins this way: “Those who live in the shelter of the Most High will find rest in the shadow of the Almighty. This I declare about the Lord: He alone is my refuge, my place of safety; he is my God, and I trust him.” (Ps. 90:1-2.) Here’s a verse to hang onto as well, Malachi 3:6 says, “For I the Lord do not change.”

I have said before that the only thing in my life that never changes is the fact that nothing ever stays the same! But there is one other reality. God never changes. He is the same yesterday as He is today and as He will be tomorrow and forever. There is a home that is perfect and will never change!  That encourages me! God is my safe place. As I put my trust in Him, as I believe that He is my Ultimate Home, I will experience home even though my home of origin is no longer in existence. My parents and oldest brother have died. The home pictured above is inhabited by another family. I have memories but that’s all that remains of my childhood home. I know you can relate in some way yourself.

I have a little framed print that says, “Home is where your story begins.” I love that saying and I look at it pretty much every day. I love it because I think of my precious children, now adults.

Our home is where they found their beginning. It wasn’t a perfect one, although we tried and gave it our absolute best. But the beautiful reality is that word ‘begins’. Their stories began in our home, but they aren’t set in stone. The same is true for me. I had a good home, yet I suffer the effects of life begun in an imperfect one. But my story isn’t over either! It is still being written! And the best part of the story is that my home of origin is not my final home. God is my safe place, my Home. I am safe in Him. In Him I am secure, loved, cherished and nurtured.

Ultimately, heaven will be my final destination and it will be Home like God intended from the very beginning.

In the words of Switchfoot:

“Created for a place I’ve never known, this is home . . . I’ve got my heart set on what happens next . . . it’s not over yet  . . . Oh, this is home, now I’m finally where I belong, where I belong, yah this is home, I’ve been searching for a place of my own, now I know this is home. . .”

exercise for now and later

October 20, 2011

I came across this verse today as I was reading my Bible. It arrested my attention and reminded me to keep my focus and my priority.

Physical exercise has some value, but spiritual exercise is valuable in every way, because it promises life both for the present and for the future.  (Good News Translation)

I’ve been working out at Fitness Together for about 22 months. I’ve seen some very encouraging changes in my body and my attitude! I feel stronger, healthier, enjoy better balance and stamina and am so very glad to be able to work out there twice a week!

Monday I went in to my workout appointment with Ashley armed with my eating/exercise journal and a new resolve. I told her I’ve got to get out of this slump and that I wanted to face the ‘Big 50’ next month with 10 fewer pounds! She said it’s possible but that I’ve gotta be willing to pay the price. (translation – I’ve gotta get my fat butt in there more often to do my cardio – more cardio – longer, more strenuous cardio!)

Even as I do pay that price, I’m still an almost 50 year-old middle-aged woman fighting the calendar and gravity! Working out won’t make me look like a 29 year-old fashionista model! (Dang!)  It will help me be a healthy, fit 50-year-old!  Ha!

It’s so typical to work hard at trying to get/stay fit but let’s face it, each day gravity gains more ground! We continue to fight fat, eat right, exercise, get enough sleep, drink enough water and yet natural law has the upper hand at least for now!

That’s where this verse comes in. Physical exercise is helping me live physically. But one day this body will give up/check out/sign off.  But my spirit is eternal. It will get a new, way better spiritual body to live in one day. I need to continue doing my spiritual exercises daily because it not only will strengthen me for living day-to-day right now, but it is also preparing me for my future forever-life! My spirit doesn’t have to fight gravity or age! It becomes stronger, more agile and beautiful and more alive the more I nurture and train it!

So, how do I exercise my spirit?

For starters, I spend a little time every morning reading my Bible. God’s Word. The words of God. Spoken to people and written down. Wow. I can know some of the thoughts of God! They’re here for me to read! I just have to open the book and read them and let them sink into my mind and heart. As I do that every day, it impacts my life – my thoughts, my actions, my relationships, etc.

Every part of Scripture is God-breathed and useful one way or another—showing us truth, exposing our rebellion, correcting our mistakes, training us to live God’s way. Through the Word we are put together and shaped up for the tasks God has for us.  (2 Timothy 3:16-17 The Message Bible)

Another way I exercise my spirit is to pray. This, I have to admit is harder for me than reading. So, this is why I persevere, because I know it’s important. It is my lifeline to God. Talking to Him is vital. I mean, how can you grow a friendship with someone you never talk to? So, I mostly write my conversations with him. (At least my end of them, ha!) Although sometimes I just talk out loud. In my kitchen or in the car. I tell him what grabs my attention from what I’ve read in the Bible and how I want it to change me. I tell him about the concerns I have for my family and friends and myself. I ask him for help, for wisdom. I tell him how amazing I think he is. I marvel at the creation he designed. I tell him or I gasp or gawk! Like the time a huge hawk flew just above me. Or when there’s a gorgeous sunrise or sunset. I don’t use religious language – Thees and Thous. I just talk and write and marvel.

Another way I exercise my spirit is to go to church. It’s way too easy to sleep in! Waaaaaaaaaaaay too easy! Excuses abound – I don’t even have to go looking for them. They are ready and waiting! (Kinda like all those excuses to keep me from working out!)

Going to church isn’t some way of making myself feel better about myself. I don’t go to ease my conscience. Going there puts me in contact with other people who are in the same boat as me so to speak. We’re all on a spiritual journey. We’re all wanting to know God and grow spiritually. None of us are perfect, nor are we pretending to be. We are learning to leave our pretenses at the door.

Being at church encourages me. It lightens my load. I leave refreshed, and challenged and armed with knowledge to help me make changes in my life and trust God more.

So, there’s my beginning description of what it means to exercise my spirit. I hope it encourages you to exercise yours.

Here’s a bonus tip, no charge! Sometimes I “multi-task” and listen to worship music as I run/walk. I talk to God as I pant my way along the treadmill or trail. I could even start memorizing scripture as I run! But I always find something to shake my head at and tell God how astoundingly amazing he is!

Happy exercising to you – physically and spiritually!

eggs in a cup

September 21, 2011

Well, sorry for my absence, but I’ve been a little busy attending funerals. Seriously. Sometimes life is full of those you love leaving you. Maybe one of these days I’ll share about what I miss and loved about them. It’s all so heavy though, and I didn’t want to start back to blogging focusing on my losses!

So, on the brighter side, I thought I’d share with you a happy little comfort-food idea that’s easy and nutritious! (Yes, comfort-food is important at times like these, or plenty of tequila! But I’d recommend sticking with comfort-food! It’s cheaper, more satisfying and will keep you out of trouble!)

I was wasting inordinate amounts of time on pinterest the other day and found this great way to make scrambled eggs (or as the innovator labeled them, omelets in a mug! ) The first time I made them, I forgot to spray the mug with Pam, and forgot to lightly scramble the eggs before cooking. I must’ve been hungry!  I ate them anyway! Today I remembered to do both and it was yum!

I always do better after consuming protein in the morning instead of the easy to grab and go carbs. So, this only takes 2 minutes and you can even take it with! The eggs stay hot a lot longer than ones on a plate do too.

Let me know if you tried them and if you made any improvements!

i’ve lost a friend

August 4, 2011

When I started this blog 19 months ago, I didn’t know Nick Ryan. But as I began my quest for fitness and health, he became my trainer and eventually my friend.

Two and a half weeks ago he and some friends were hiking up in Montana. As their yearly trips went, this was not even dangerous, yet his amazing life was cut short from a fall.

I’m still trying to wrap my mind around this. It’s one of those inexplicable tragedies in life that seem so absolutely wrong.

Over the last few days, my husband and I have been watching Shark Week on Discovery Channel. The people in these shows are risking life and limb, literally, to film, and yet aren’t killed by their serious risk-taking choices. Nick, on the other hand, was just out with his friends hiking one minute and gone the next.

I’ve wrestled with God and asked questions about the seeming lack of fairness of it all, yet have to quiet my heart, and say, “You are God and hold our lives and times in your hands.” My heart aches, not only for my loss, but for Nick’s wife and two little girls who have lost a terrific man, husband and father.

I wasn’t able to attend Nick’s funeral, so wrote a brief tribute to honor him and his impact on my life. Here it is:

A Tribute to Nick

I first met Nick in January of 2010.

A friend of mine had begun working out at Fitness Together in October 2009, and I saw such changes in her that it gave me my first glimmer of hope in nearly six years.

I’m a two time breast cancer survivor. The second cancer experience left me physically very weak with a serious lack of balance, in addition to 50 extra pounds due to many drugs and lack of activity. I didn’t look like myself to me and I didn’t feel like myself either. I had become so discouraged with my situation, I thought, “I fought off cancer twice to live in a body that was hi-jacked by cancer and now doesn’t even look like the me I remember before cancer?!”

Dieting and exercise didn’t effect much change for me and I lost hope that my body could ever become strong and active. My heart was damaged by the chemotherapy and my lungs were damaged from the pneumonia. My balance was off for 7 long months from some unexplained inner ear malady that left me unable to drive or look at any movement without feeling severe nausea.

My upper body lacked physical strength from lack of use, but also from my chest muscles being “messed with” due to my radical bilateral mastectomy. I was in terrible shape and I felt old and worn out and weary.

That’s the Kris Beauchamp that walked into Fitness Together seeking help in January 2010. Although looking back, I was hoping for a miracle but Nick wasn’t going to promise me one! I was hoping I could get in and outta there in 2 or 3 months. He was gracious not to laugh or roll his eyes, but he told me realistically that it was going to be a longer commitment than that.

I remember feeling embarrassed and ashamed of my fat body and horrified that he had to weigh and measure me. If it hadn’t been for my friend’s success I might never have gone back after those numbers were written down!

I’d go in, very quietly and do whatever was asked, thinking I was going to pass out from oxygen deprivation or hyperventilation, but he always pressed me just to the point I thought I couldn’t achieve and right before I’d pass out he’d let me stop! Nick got me to do more than I thought I could; more than I would have ever done on my own.

Nick was positive and encouraging. Always ready with a bright, friendly smile.

He took me where I was – didn’t make me feel ashamed for letting my body get in the situation it was in and looked at the facts and asked me where I wanted to be in 6 months or 12 or 24!

Initially I wanted to be able to enjoy life with my family. I wanted to lose some weight to feel comfortable again. I wanted to be alive for my future grandkids and be able to get down on the floor to play with them and be able to get back up again afterward too! Seriously. Once down on the floor, I couldn’t get up again by myself! That’s how weak I was!

I progressed ever so gradually, but Nick was always ready with praise for even the smallest increase of strength. I’d downplay it because of embarrassment and he’d remind me how far I’d actually come. No progress was too small to celebrate.

I’ve gone back and reread several of my blog posts about working out at Fitness Together and was reminded of just how monumental my progress actually was.

I remember telling Nick that I was out walking with my husband up a hill and I could feel a shift. All of a sudden I could breathe deeply, all the way in. I could fill my lungs and it was the best feeling ever! It was the first time in 3 or 4 years that I could completely fill my lungs with air!

I’m not sure, but I think I may be the only person who would ever leave a workout with Nick by thanking him. But I did. Yes, I paid him to work with me and it wasn’t cheap, but I still thanked him for making me a better, stronger, healthier, happier me. He’d tell me I was the one doing the work, but I wouldn’t have been able to do it without him.

At my last workout with Nick, I told him that I’d lost three pounds since my last weigh in (which amounted to a measly half pound a week in my mind). He turned sideways and looking over his left shoulder at me from across the room he grinned, saying with exuberant conviction, “Kris! You are doing it! If you keep doing what you’re doing now, you will reach your goals!”

Nick and I would discuss things I’d blog about relating to weight loss, fitness or nutrition. He’d challenge my thinking and press me to see a different perspective.

One day I wrote about a quote by Horace Mann:

“Be ashamed to die until you have won some victory for humanity.”

I know I’m just me, not a great person in the whole scheme of things, but I’m sure if you asked others, they’d feel the same way: Nick was a person who won a victory for me. He helped me conquer the ravaging effects of cancer in my body to become stronger, healthier and happier. His death is untimely for sure, but there is no shame in it. Nick won a huge victory for me by helping me find my way back to myself, back to even a better place of health and wellness than I ever thought I could.

Nick, I’ll do my best to carry on your legacy of winning some victory for humanity in my world. I’ll miss you, but I’ll do you proud.

Kris

chick-a-dee

June 25, 2011

We are only the second owners of the house in which we live. The people who built it put a lot of thought into some of the details, especially in the yard. Daily I’m filled with delight because of their planning!

When we moved in I remember thinking, ‘these people are really obsessed with birds!’ Now I see why! It might seem to some that I’ve become obsessed with them as well, but if so, it’s probably because I’m able to watch them and observe their behavior. Whether or not I’m obsessed, I have come to be quite fond of them.

I’ve learned that if you want to see and enjoy birds or butterflies, or whatever, you need to plant trees and flowers from which those creatures enjoy eating. The former owners did just that.

They designed a bird-haven in front of the large family room window. They built a wooden structure designed especially for hanging various bird feeders. They also planted a Serviceberry Tree in the lee of the house, a little corner off to the side of the window that is protected from the wind.

fruit of service berry tree

Fruit on the Serviceberry Tree

Over the years the tree has grown and become shelter, school and fast food stop to hundreds of birds!

Because of the former owners’ foresight, we’ve been filled with wonder and delight as we’ve discovered birds we’d never even seen before!

Over these dozen years we’ve observed male and female birds of various types:

Goldfinches, Cardinals, Downy Woodpeckers, Hairy Woodpeckers, Nuthatches, Purple House Finches, Grackles (not my favorite), Robins, Eurasian Doves, Mourning Doves, Orioles, Cedar Waxwings, a Sharp Shinned Hawk, and various assorted sparrows.

We’ve enjoyed seeing baby Robins hopping around the yard, chirping relentlessly for their parents to come rescue or feed them!

Since we moved in we’ve had to remove some large pines that were dying, so we landscaped, adding three Blue Spruce, a few Aspen trees and an Ash tree which provide more perches, more habitat for all these species.

A few years ago, we built a water feature in a corner alcove nestled beneath a towering River Birch and two Althea (Rose of Sharon) trees and have had the delight of watching cardinals and goldfinches and even a Red-Winged Blackbird come and drink and bathe in the water. The hotter the day, the more numerous are the fountain’s visitors. They perch on the fence, their beaks open as they seem to pant. Then nervously they glance side to side as they swoop down to take a few gulps of fresh water.

Somewhere along the line, we came across a small nesting box and hung it from a post built in the alcove next to the fountain. Last year I noticed a bird or two taking an interest, but sadly, they didn’t move in.

This spring we were elated to see a pair of Black-Capped Chickadees move in! They have hatched a little  family in our nesting box! My husband and I sit out there as often as we can watching the parents come  and go. At first they were carrying building supplies in their beaks, and then spelling each other as they  both took turns sitting on the eggs. Finally we noticed they were coming and going with greater  frequency, their beaks full of little inch worms and insects! We heard peeping and in a few days were  able to see tiny, featherless heads bobbing as they clamored for food!

Before much longer, those baby chickadees were figuring out that food came from the little round  opening above them and you could see them jostle to get closer. Now mom and dad cart in larger caterpillars and seeds and suet! They are sedulous! (dedicated and diligent)

Within about a week’s time, those little chirps had changed from single peeps to the clear “chick-a-dee” call these birds are named for! Such tiny, scrawny little featherless urchins are peeping, “chick-a-dee … chick-a-dee” like they’ve been at it all their lives! Oh wait, they have! Those little creatures have had us in awe! chick-a-dees

This amazing Chickadee family have been medicine to our sometimes weary souls. Their presence takes our minds off of all our preoccupations and we sit and listen with joy and wonder as new life has emerged right before us.

As I sat here yesterday morning, there were chirps being repeated from the Serviceberry tree in front of me. Baby sparrows were perched nervously, clumped close together, waiting for their parents to come deposit food into their open, expectant beaks. Their chest feathers were fuzzy-looking with fluffed-out feathers. One was bravely trying to preen and the others were hanging on for dear life! Their chirps were repetitive and persistent. It’s akin to our kids saying, “Mom, mom, mom, mom, mom, mom . . .” incessantly until we answer them! I can just hear daddy sparrow’s thoughts, “Alright-already! Hang on! Don’t get your feathers in a wad, I’m coming!”

Today they are back and a bit more adventurous. They sidle up to mom and wiggle, their tail feathers all aflutter, beaks ready for their treat. I’m guessing by tomorrow their mom will be telling them, “Go get it yourself!”

Our little Black-capped Chickadee parents swoop in and out, quickly grabbing seed or suet and off they go to their nest. Back and forth, back and forth, tirelessly and devoted.

A gold finch flits in and away. A male cardinal lands in the hanging box, grabs some food and takes off. (Yesterday I sat with my mouth agape, incredulous as a male cardinal sat next to a female on a limb in this same tree, feeding her! How precious!)

This activity causes me to recall some Bible verses I learned about as a young girl.

“Are not five sparrows sold for two cents? Yet not one of them is forgotten before God. Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Do not fear; you are more valuable than many sparrows.” Luke 12:6,7

What comfort. God sees them all – not just the ones in my yard, but all the sparrows and birds of all kinds all over the planet! They are precious and important enough to him to keep his eye on and Jesus said that we are more valuable than they I don’t have to be afraid. He provides for them, he will provide for me.

I want to be as eager and expectant as these little fledglings, looking to God, my Father, to care for me, even better than these feathered friends of mine look after their little ones. After all, I’m important to him, and you are too!

happy heart feasting

June 18, 2011

I was flipping through my journal and this bit caught my eye: “For the despondent, every day brings trouble; for the happy heart, life is a continual feast.” Proverbs 15:15

When our children were small, my husband and I would remind them to choose a happy heart. It was so easy for them to become frustrated and grumpy if something didn’t go their way.

The first several times I read that verse, I focused on the word ‘despondent’ and thought about what brought a person to the place of despondency. But over time, as I’ve pondered this, I’ve realized that any person has the capacity to become despondent or happy and hopeful. It is a matter of focus and choice. Not in the “let’s live in la-la land denial” sort of way, but in a very real acknowledging reality and choosing anyway sort of way.

I used to work with a woman who was a constant stream of complaints and grumbles. She whined and grumbled and complained so often that in my mind she became a grumble. No matter how I tried to point out positive things or show her the silver lining, she persisted to cling to her negative victim mindset.

These days I see this verse with new eyes. It’s as though it says: “For the person who chooses to be a victim and see life as always being against them, every day brings them trouble; but for the person who sees life as a gift from God full of surprises and challenges and new opportunities, life is a continual feast.”

The longer I live, I realize that life is hard! It is brimming with challenges and sorrows and joys and pain and loss and laughter alike. It is not life that makes us despondent. It is our mindset or perspective that influences our response to our situation and experiences.

What makes a happy heart? My perspective. My decision.

I was working out with a new trainer the other day and she asked me what I do and one thing led to another and I explained that I felt like I’d spent the better part of the last dozen years fighting or recovering from cancer.

Toward the end of our conversation she mentioned that I had a positive outlook on life which really blessed me. Her words were a gift!

With the experiences I’ve had these last 12 years, I could have easily become a grumble, but chose a happy heart. It wasn’t easy but it was the right thing to do. Consequently, I see each new day is a gracious gift from God, making every day a continual feast of beauty and joy in the midst of the speed bumps and pot holes of life!

There’s no need to be despondent and hopeless. I mean, if you want to be you can, but why would anyone want to be despondent when they can have a happy heart and a continual feast of delighting in the goodness of God?!

Laughable Reasons Why I’m Glad I Work Out

April 29, 2011

I was talking with my husband the other day after reading my Barbie post to him. We got to laughing and came up with a list of silly reasons why I can be glad I work out, even if I never get the Barbie-results I long for. So here, my friends, is a partial list of reasons I’m glad I workout.

I don’t have to fear the chalkboard waddle, one of those things teachers all over the United States of America fear. They don’t want their underarms waving like our noble national flag, flapping and swaying on a breezy day. (Too bad I’m not a teacher anymore!)

Les said I don’t have to fear breaking my hip (as he’s keenly aware of hip issues these days!) I thought that was a nice thing to say, so I asked him why, thinking it had to be because I’ve increased my bone density from working out. The truth is, he said, those areas I’m so frustrated with that haven’t budged much are the padding that will protect my hips when I fall! He said, “Barbies break!” (Well then, I’ve got nothing to fear!)

I won’t need to rely on a “Help Rescue Necklace” when I fall. It’s not a matter of if, it’s only a matter of time! It’s a fact anyone in my family will tell you. I’ve got quite a bit of experience falling! I won’t have to howl into the carpet, “Help, I’ve fallen and I can’t get up!” Oh, I’ll fall down for sure, but I’ll be strong enough to at least get back up on my own, thankyouverymuch!

Three times this winter alone, I’ve fallen, hard. Once on my rear, once on my hip, and once sprawled in several directions all at once – I practically did the splits! Somehow in that fall, my left big toe and right thumb hurt so bad I thought I’d broken them! I wasn’t particularly worried about my hip, (and now I know why! Padding, my friends, padding!)

Les told me he’s surprised he hasn’t had to go on heart meds as I’ve scared him so many times by falling! He should’ve known before we married. I fell on our second date, taking him with me! (And really, I’m the one who needs heart meds as he’s scared me so many times on purpose for fun – his fun, but that’s another story for another time!)

Then there’s the now infamous “Fall to Beat All Falls.” It happened the day after I came home from having double mastectomy surgery. I saw a vase of flowers that needed more water, so I walked over to pick up the vase and carry it to the kitchen. (I’m not really sure why I did that, since I was told not to lift anything over 5 pounds and besides, I couldn’t raise my hands above my navel because of the pain. I could have just taken a glass of water to dump into the vase but my mind obviously wasn’t working too well . . . must have been the oxycontin, darvoset and/or whatever else I was on!) Les was in the kitchen, about 25 feet away from me. He saw me lift the vase and begin shuffling toward the kitchen. He watched, helpless to prevent me from shuffling right into the foot stool (which I never saw) dropping me in an instant onto my chest (what was left of it) with my arms angled back straight behind me. I don’t remember what happened to the vase of flowers, but I couldn’t move my arms quickly enough, (and even if I could have, I couldn’t have caught myself! I weigh slightly more than 5 pounds!)

The angle at which I was falling, forced forward by momentum, looked like a scene from “What About Bob” as he leaned forward from the mast, hands tied behind him hollering, “I sail! I sail!” Of course in my case it would be “I fall! I fall!”

I didn’t need a ‘help necklace’ that day as Les involuntarily shouted as he sailed across the kitchen and family room in nearly a single bound, unable to prevent the fall and in a panic to know how to pick me up. Where could he put his arms around me to get me up? Not under my arms and not around my chest that was for sure! I don’t remember that part either – probably a good thing! He claims to have lost 10 years of cardiac life that day! (A little pay-back for all the scares, I say!)

I’m telling you, he should not have been surprised. I gave him fair warning by falling on our second date! We hadn’t held hands or kissed or touched in any manner – I know it’s hard to believe, but it’s true! We were walking outside in the evening, talking, and somehow I unknowingly missed a shallow step and began to fall – swiftly – I always fall swiftly! I tumbled down – with him trying to rescue me – only to find him straddling me like a difficult spin in a Twister game! (He should’ve known then. And I think he should be really glad that I’ve been working out, because at least now I can pick myself up!)

My final point on this partial list of reasons I’m glad I work out is that I can have my cake and eat it too, at least some of it! You see, one of the reasons I work out is to eat. BTW, have you tried those dark chocolate-covered caramels with the coarse-ground sea salt on the top?! Ohmygosh! If eating them was the only reason I worked out, it would be worth it!

I’ve watched skinny girls all my life. The saying was and may still be, if you want to be skinny, watch a skinny woman eat [and imitate her.] Um, helloooooooo, is anyone paying attention? Skinny women don’t eat! I mean, hardly at all!

I remember when I taught Title I Reading, the teacher across the hall from me was a speech therapist. She was a bit taller than me and probably 3 sizes smaller (and I was quite thin then, but never believed it – youth and young bodies are wasted on the young! We older, wiser people would enjoy and appreciate them so much more!) Anyway, I noticed that every day she brought her lunch with her in a little paper sack. I’d see her sit at her little table with a little paper napkin and nibble her little half a sandwich. Half a sandwich! Nothing else! I’d starve! I couldn’t last a whole day on that!)

It seems to me that skinny people can’t really enjoy eating. They have to pretend they’re eating by putting a minuscule portion of something on their plate and swishing it around making it look like they are eating! They are afraid that if they eat a bite of something their body will instantly pile on the pounds. So they have to take just a little teensy tiny eensy weensy bite and exclaim, “Oh, dear me, I’m stuffed!” (Stuffed my eye!)

I’m so sure. That, my friends, is the reason I’m not skinny. Life is too short not to enjoy eating.

So, when I get discouraged that I’m not seeing the kind of progress I desire, I will return to this, my list of laughable reasons why I’m glad I work out. I’ll smile that I don’t have an arm waddle; I’ll be happy knowing that I shall never break my hip, and that when I fall, I’ll be able to get myself back up again without a medical team. Then I will go find one of those yummy dark caramels with the chunky sea salt bits on the top and chew and savor it as my mouth waters in delight from the creamy, sweet-saltiness that those skinny girls have only ever dreamed about!

aviary

April 28, 2011

the sun brightens blossoms on the Serviceberry tree

our picture window is a portal to an aviary

a host, a plethora, a spectacular group to see

our yard’s the popular place for hungry birds to be