Monday, November 21, 2011

Gratitude by the numbers

I am on day 11 of a cold that has leveled me. Gratitude has been in short supply this past week.  So I was delighted to see this little article in The Denver Post this weekend. None of these findings come as a surprise.  Gratitude is birthed from God's own heart, so of course it's good for us. Be encouraged!

"Being thankful is good for the body and the mind. People who practice being grateful:
* Are 25 percent happier
* Sleep 1/2 hour more per evening
* Exercise 33 percent more each week
* Reduce blood pressure by up to 10 percent
* Decrease their dietary fat intake by up to 20 percent
* Can live up to seven years longer with frequent positive emotions."

Source: Robert Emmons, professor of psychology at the University of California, Davis and the author of "Thanks! How Practicing Gratitude Can Make You Happier"

Thursday, November 10, 2011

A Plan B story

Gratitude is born in the heart. And it leads you to action.” - Ecuadorian pastor

I am catching up on my email this morning. Enjoying the Facebook posts from many friends who are writing daily gratitude posts.  I suspect many are challenged by Ann Voskamp's book, One Thousand Gifts. She's in Ecuador right now with Compassion.  Her husband, 'the farmer,' didn't really want to go.  He had his farm and his pigs and his dirt. But he chose to bend into the call to go.  And his Plan B turned Plan A became very clear in an extreme corner of an extremely poor place.  And glory shone.  Enjoy, I did.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Living Plan B and Discovering Plan A

One of the things I want to do with this blog is write about what I'm reading.  For those of you who know me well, I love books and usually am reading several at one time.  Well I finished a good one this morning by Pete Wilson, Plan B "What to do when God doesn't show up the way you thought He would?" (Thomas Nelson). It's not that I actually felt God wasn't showing up to my expectation when I lost my job, but it certainly was a Plan B type of situation especially as the primary bread winner. 

Pete is a pastor in Tennessee and what I thoroughly enjoyed was how pastoral he was in writing this book. My copy is filled with pencil marks underlining favorite passages that are good reminders of truth. One of my quirks about books and authors is that I ofter check out the references in a book before buying. I like seeing who influenced the writer and in this case, Pete and I share a fondness for similar writers - Nouwen, Batterson, Yancey, McManus, Kidd - so I expected to like the book.  And I did. 

Here are a few excerpts:
"Your dreams may not be happening, and things aren't turning out the way you expected, but that doesn't mean your life is spinning out of control. It just means you're not in control." p.22

"Our fears establish the limits of our life." (Erwin McManus) p.55

"Just because God calls you to some venture, that doesn't guarantee the venture will succeed. Just because life doesn't turn out the way you thought, that doesn't mean you missed God's will. And here's something else we often misunderstand about God's will: it's as much about the person we're becoming as it is about where we're going." p.79

"In the end our worship, our idolatry, is more about what we do than what we say. And I think for those of us in the midst of a Plan B we'll discover that one of our idols all along has been a picture of the way life should be. Our idol was an expectation or a dream...Plan B situations expose the idols we are chasing. We must be willing, if necessary, to abandon the life we've planned and dreamed of in order to receive the life that our God has authored for us." p. 155, 157

"You've got to stop looking at your shattered dreams and your unmet expectations as something God is doing to you. He's not doing something to you. But he might be doing something through you. He might be doing something in you...In other words, trusting God does not mean God shows up for you exactly the way you thought he was going to show up. Trusting God doesn't mean his timing is going to be your timing." p. 186, 187

I am enjoying this season of learning and that what I thought was a Plan B is really a pretty awesome Plan A reality.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Quest for Quiet

I went on a retreat for spiritual directors last month. I've been to dozens (if not hundreds!) of retreats or conferences but none was quite like this one. Silence. A Jesuit Retreat House. Silence, but for the one room where we attended the conference. Even then it was the Franciscan leading the conference who did most of the talking. Three days of silence. I reveled in it. The freedom, the permission to only engage with God and not those around me. As a very public person by profession and a pastor's wife by vocation, it was a slice of heaven to lay down the need to be "on and available." This picture, my favorite from these three days, reminds me of the permission we have daily for quiet. It seems I am always on a quest for quiet.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Snow Days and Sabbath

I love waking up to snow blanketing my world.  The beauty covers the last vestiges of my garden, long past its summer prime.  This morning's mini blizzard, a "snow day" which my son pined for and received, brought the typical Wednesday schedule to a halt; like sabbath.  For more than a moment this morning I again realized how generous our Father is in giving snow days to disrupt the typical flow of the calendar; where the focus of the day became one to play and snuggle, read and nap.  And how generous He is to give me sabbath far more often than snow days.

May my sabbaths be a bit more like snow days.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Taking the first step

Wow, as a person who writes every day for clients, it's amazing how challenging it is to take this first step and start writing for me...and maybe even for you. I have so many words (just ask my family, friends and clients!) and I pray that some of them will prove to be encouraging, challenging and thought provoking for you.

I want to tell stories on myself and God; share my favorite books; chronicle my adventures; and simple be a woman on a grand journey of faith.  I could not be more grateful for this particular November 1. Unemployed to self-employed (I prefer God-employed but I realize I was actually that at Weber Shandwick as well).  I am open to new things because I have to be, because I can be, because I want to be.

From one of my many favorite wooden plaques:

"Never ever give up on the beauty and mystery of the Journey of Faith"

Join me in this journey.  I love traveling companions.