Monday, January 25, 2016

Be Do Finish: Reminders from my 21-Day fast

Yesterday was day 21, the final day of a 21-day Daniel fast. If you’ve never heard of the Daniel Fast, you can click here to learn more.

Before the close of 2015, I just felt sort of blah. At first I couldn’t figure out why. I’d recently started a new job, so that was a plus. My stress level was down. Things were good at home, so I really had no complaints. Yet something was still off. As I reflected over the year, I felt like I’d wandered off-track somehow. I desperately wanted to get back on.

So what better time than the start of a new year to cleanse your mind, body and spirit and prepare for a fresh start.

The last time I participated in this type of 21-day fast was 2009. I remember so clearly how good I felt. My mind was clear. My body reset. And the best part was the amount of time I spent reading and studying God’s word through my bible. I knew this time would be a little different. With a full time job I couldn’t spend hours on end reading scriptures, but I’d do my best to get as much time in as possible.

So today, now that it’s all said and done, here are a few of the messages and insights my unclogged brain was able to capture during this time of concentrated prayer and fasting.

FINISH

In his on the field interview after the University of Alabama won the College Football Playoffs (CFP), head coach Nick Saban talked about finishing. He expressed how his team had a loss earlier in the season (to Ole Miss) that could have damaged their spirit, drive and momentum. Instead it served as a wake up call and a reminder of what the team had been committed to do all season long – finish.

Obviously, the ultimate finish in their minds included a CFP win and a big shiny trophy. But there were many games that came before the big dance. And for each of them the focus, the goal was to finish.

Something inside me clicked as Coach Saban spoke. I’ll be honest. I tend not to be a finisher. I dream big. But the road to big is sometimes long and daunting. And if I allow discouragement to enter that passenger seat, I’m done!

But this year, these days, I want to change that. I want to finish what I start – slow, steady, FINISH. For example, I have at least two books I’ve started reading but haven’t finished. Some I started years ago. I love it when I finish a book, but lately I haven’t designated the time to do so. Reading is like nourishment. It’s fuel to a writer, so I must read. And I will this year. Slow. Steady. FINISH.

DO

Like I said, I sometimes get so paralyzed by the tasks at hand, and baby steps only irritate me. Instead I want to take giant leaps to reach a goal. Although it may be possible, it’s (most of the time) neither practical nor wise.

 

As I ate from a limited menu these past few weeks, I saw a slow but noticeable improvement in how I felt. Even saw a few pounds leave the scale – all because I made up my mind to DO something. Although weight loss wasn’t my goal and isn’t what fasting is about, part of the reason I chose to do it was to petition God for help in getting back to a healthier place. My mind, body and spirit needed to be reset. If I wanted the peaceful sleep and the clarity of mind that are rewards for a body that isn’t clogged with nasty preservative stuff, I had to stop being paralyzed and just DO something. Start somewhere. Maybe I’m finally accepting that slow doesn’t have to be all bad. There’s much to see and learn along the journey, isn’t there?

BE

Lastly, I recently edited a letter from the president of the Junior League of Atlanta. The letter is to be published in our print member publication, of which I am this year’s editor. While reading the letter, I was knocked over the head by these two little words – “Be YOU!” These words tattooed themselves to my brain.

Be You! Crazy…It’s what my whole blog site was supposed to be about. But I realized I was treating “be completely you” as something I was supposed to tell others how to do. When actually it was something I was supposed to DO and BE in front of others. Now that, as they say, is a horse of a different color. It’s also a game changer. I always wanted my posts to be authentic. But instead of just writing about life, I felt I had to write something specific. The something specific is what will come out of the BE. I feel like this is less a fresh revelation and more an “I’ve told you that a million times kind of story.” But that’s ok. Maybe the millionth time will be the charm.

BE. DO. FINISH

I reversed the order, because I believe it’s how the Lord wants me to carry these words in my mind and heart. Although, I’ve completed the time of fasting, the prayers won’t stop, of course. After all, I can’t be, do or finish a thing without His help.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

The art of journaling

Today’s NABLOPOMO question is: Do you think social media connects people together? Why or why not?

While I do think social media connects people, I think most of the “connection” is superficial. I guess that’s pretty much all I have to say about that.

In other news… Remember the workshop I mentioned when I shared how I’ve been learning to put first things first? Well, today was the big day. This afternoon, after a grueling few weeks of nervousness, I was so excited to host a journaling workshop for a small group of teen girls at a north Georgia girl’s shelter.

It never fails. I get the jitters each time I take on something like this. My nerves consume me until the moment I walk in the room. Then all is well. It’s sort of a crazy emotional roller coaster that probably makes my husband nauseous, but he’s a great coach.

The girls, who’ll be sophomores and juniors in high school this year, were darling. They were so excited to receive brand new journals, and that blessed me beyond measure. I specifically selected journals with words of encouragement on the cover like “do what you love,” “strive for progress not perfection,” “creativity takes courage,” and “life is better when you dance.”

These events seems so small, but I sure hope they make a big difference in the lives of the women and young ladies I touch. They certainly make a big difference in my world. Hopefully, before the year ends I’ll get to host a tea party for them, too. The girls want a pajama tea party where everyone wears onesies and we all get to paint. Sort of like one of those paint by numbers events minus the wine. I think it’s a fun idea. I’ll let you know if we’re able to pull it off later this year.

Until next time…

Monday, July 20, 2015

Making the connection over dinner

Tell us about someone you met that you always wanted to meet.

Since I can’t think of a person I’ve met that I always wanted to meet, I’ll share a different kind of story, a story along the lines of our theme for this month: connection.

When it comes to cooking, I have a saying, “If I can read  I can cook.” Though I can do it, I’m not exactly fond of it. Partly, because I’m so clunky in the kitchen and the process seems to take forever (especially since I insist on washing spoons after every stir).

Even though no one will ever use the word “chef” in front of my name (at least not with a straight face), I can definitely follow recipes. Every now and then, I can even come up with a decent meal on my own that scores big. But, make no mistake, cooking is truly a labor of love for me. Just sometimes more labor than love.

Breakfast? I have that covered. It’s dinner that always stumps me. Sunday, as we left church, we bounced around ideas for dinner. I’d thawed some boneless, thin sliced chicken breasts a couple of days earlier and needed to cook them. So I half-heartedly put the idea of chicken parmigiana on the table.

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Chicken Parm Prep

I’ve cooked chicken parmigiana once before, but it was years before my husband came along. And with the exception of breakfast, I still get nervous when I cook something new for him. I guess with just over two years in, maybe that’s to be expected. Anyway, I found the recipe I used the last time and decided to go for it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

He loved it!

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Chicken parm on angel hair pasta with a side of asparagus and a glass of white wine.

He doesn’t believe it, but I can always tell when he really enjoys a meal. Likewise, I can also tell when a meal falls flat. But that evening, as we sat to eat together, it was clear that this one was a winner.

Later that evening, as I settled into bed I reflected on dinner. Feelings of accomplishment, pride and joy filled my heart. It was actually kind of weird. I realized how amazing it made me feel to step beyond my comfort zone to attempt to cook something that my husband may enjoy.

Like I said before, cooking is truly a labor of love. I’m not a natural at it by any means. But that one little meal allowed me to connect with him in a different way. To my surprise, the most significant accomplishment I made that day and the one that made me most proud was that simple meal I dared to cook and the rewarding fact that my husband enjoyed it.