Friday, January 16, 2015

Immersed In Pondering: Dreams and Motherhood

I’ve loved every stage of child rearing... I didn’t “endureany, & I’ve never needed to go back to any stage. I’m equally loving teendom. I assume it’s because I immersed myself in each day and utterly filled my motherhood up. I didn’t allow distractions or deterrents.

When my first baby was born I was a mere twenty-three years old. I am a singer & songwriter. I've always dreamed of a full-time career recording and traveling. And it's possible to rear children while traveling. I've seen evangelist's families do so my entire life. As a pastor's kid with an inside look at the everyday life of an evangelist's family, I've also been aware of the challenge of it. Its difficult for a wife and mother who's entire upbringing has branded in her that the job is best done in a house with a foundation, rather than a house on wheels. Mothers thrive in one church, and in one community. That subconscious tug can cause a woman much duress when she's trying to rear her children and build her marriage while on the road. It can be a marriage-killer to attempt to rear the children in a house with a foundation while the husband fulfills his call on the road. It's possible, but not always best. My hat is off to those women who have the strength and stamina to keep their family intact while never being able to enjoy the comforts of the thousands of families they encounter each year.

It's difficult to have a "date night" when you're always in other people's domain, being hosted by vast variables of personalities. (Now my hat is off to them, AND I'm in a curtsy.) Traveling families live on a schedule that's never consistent. A mom must decide if she will trust utter strangers to babysit so they can enjoy a little romance in a strange land.

(First my hat was off, then I bowed in honor, now I lay prostrate in respect to mom's who live on the road. Most especially to moms who live on the road AND keep their family together. You far surpass me.)

While "traveling" in any capacity is still what I love, God was kind and gave me a music career WITH roots. It's limited my ability to record songs I've written to albums. Actually, I can record them all I want. And I DO record every year. But I can't sell the albums without traveling. If you don't sell, you can't bring in revenue to make new albums. So, that particular dream is stifled. But I am the music director at my church. Which means that I get to make fantastic music every week. I have created a unique bond between stage and audience that traveling artists rarely get to experience. And most importantly, I've been able to enjoy every second of time with my children.

I homeschooled for as long as I could. Then it came time when it was best for my kids to attend our Christian Academy. I can only assume that the reason I'm not pining for their toddlerhood, or for their elementary days, is because I truly was very purposeful to fill each stage of their lives with my best work. My story and song writing morphed from adult topics to child topics. And I don't mean thatwrote about children, I wrote TO children, specifically to MY children. All of my inspiration and energy went from being channeled into items for sale or people to impress, to the building of my babies.

Again, I'm surmising this is why I'm not a 41-year-old missing my children's childhood. I absolutely adore babies still. I take great joy in reading books to babies & kids, watching them discover their world, holding them, playing on the floor with them. (As my connections on social media can attest, due to my pics!) I still crave babies, but I do not wish mine were back in that stage. Nor do I wish for more of my own.

(Did you hear and read that, Lord? NONE of my own. It was not an amusing joke having my grandma great-with-child at 50 years old. Just felt a need for clarity. Ha!)

I write this blog today out of several sources of inspiration; both of my teens are out of town this week and I'm imagining how in a few years they'll be out of my house permanently. Also, yesterday I so enjoyed lunch with my niece & nephews, ages 6, 8, & 2. And last night I babysat my 1-year-old niece. I miss that my teens are out of town, and I loved my baby-time with my sibling's children, but I feel content and peaceful in this stage of life. A dab is enough to do me, thank you very much!

In my limited understanding, all I can accredit it to is that during my babies' upbringing I didn't try to split my time between my dreams and being a mom. I was JUST a mom. I think I adequately filled myself. Of course, I had to work. But my job wasn't my focus, my kids were my focus and work was strictly the means to focus on my kids.

I don't know if I'm correct. If I were an on-the-road mom, I'd like to think I'd have figured out how to fulfill myself with my babies rather than pine for a foundation. But that's easier said than done. I just know that I write today full of thanksgiving that my children are teens, enjoying learning, developing in ministry. And I'm thankful to be in the stage I am too. God sees my dreams, he always has. And He has always known how to fulfill me. I'm excited to see what He has for me and my kids!
It is well with my soul.

Friday, January 9, 2015

Everyone Should Fast

Everyone should participate in a spiritual fast. The process of a fast causes us to think more clearly, rise in dignity, see more clearly how to behave in a matter. And when I say, "Everyone," that's who I mean. There is a chuckle in my head every time I read or hear the dietary rules of the "Daniel's fast." I'm in no way opposed to the fast. I laugh at the rigidity and sacredness people place on the varying rules out there. WHO GAVE DANIEL THE RULES?! (I'm mentally laughing now.) Daniel predetermined his own boundaries. And THATS why I feel like everyone should fast. A diabetic can fast, a child can fast, a transplant patient can fast, a pregnant woman can fast; everyone should fast because each one can set their own boundaries of restrictions. 

In the tabernacle there were inanimate objects considered holy. What makes a wooden piece of furniture covered by gold "holy," or "sacred?" Merely that it was set apart for the use and purpose of God. So, set yourself aside for a holy purpose by taking a time period where you live apart from your normal routines and indulgences. THAT is a fast. If you have a health issue that dictates only certain foods be eaten, eat ONLY the required foods. If your eating is already so confined that there's nothing you can separate yourself from in the area of food consumption/restriction, then separate yourself from a particular sport, or a media, or luxury. If I haven't already, I will write a blog about the various fasts I see portrayed in scripture. But today's blog is simply an encouragement to JUST DO IT.

The scripture is full of testimonies of the natural and the supernatural world responding to a fast. It's amazing. I know fasting is not a hunger strike, forcing God's hand. I know it is a means by which we can better position ourselves to hear from God. Fasting is a sort of surgery, cutting away the calloused parts that inadvertently shield us from God's glory. I don't understand all the gears, I just know the machine works. I've seen external miracles occur as a direct result of fasting. I'll continue to seek to understand it. But my lack of understanding of it will not hinder me from participating in the power of it.

Fast & Detox

I'm NOT a purist. I seek spiritual purity far more intensely than I seek physical purity, but as you'll discover in this writing, I do neither of them typically or traditionally. I don't write my methods to say, "This is how you should do these things," but merely to inspire you to do your own thing. You are your own personality, have your own unique health matters, live by your own lifestyle convictions. Here's mine...

I fast for spiritual purposes. I know fasting is popular merely for the improvement of physical health. But I do not fast for health reasons. I have set fasting apart to be strictly a spiritual discipline. I hunger, seek, & strive to be more like my Savior. I want to better hear His voice, to be more keenly aware of how to serve this life for His purpose. I fast during my church's monthly unified fast for three consecutive days. I drink any liquid I want. That's my very simple fasting rule. 

If you've done even basic research into fasting you'll know a person needs to be wise in the matter. Blood-sugar levels alone can cause a person to feel like they are hearing God and seeing angels. I breathe in every supernatural experience and keep it quiet. When my fast is complete and my body is regulated I revisit the experiences and determine which ones were of God, and which ones were a hormonal irregularity. 

If you're allowing yourself to drink juice, the sugars and acids are going to be extra impacting to your system. I do not drink much fruit juices in general, but especially when I fast I limit them as it races my heart & makes me lightheaded. I drink "any liquid I want" solely for the purpose of functioning, not to fill my belly so I'm not hungry. I have children, co-workers and friends who are kind enough to put up with me and the affects of fasting. So I work extra hard on self-control of not just my appetite, but my emotional swings. I am easily annoyed & irritated when I fast, a natural result of altering the chemical changes in the body. 

During my fast I detox my body. This is in no way a spiritual act to me. I do not detox in the name of God. It's simply "two birds with one stone." But here are the simple things I do to detox while I fast. I drink a lot of extra water, take shots of Apple Cider vinegar, and I take activated charcoal. (NOT the stuff you barbecue with.)

Again, you've got to exercise caution if you detox. I'm purposefully not writing how much I consume of each because I want you to get professional advice based on your own body's needs. You should tell your doctor so they can give you the proper guidance based on their knowledge of your health and medicines. For instance, activated charcoal is an absorption binder. It's purpose in detox is to absorb all the toxins in your body, bind them together, then eliminate them from your body. But it is no respecter of absorption, and that means it will absorb & bind your meds and nutrients as well as your toxins, eliminating the good stuff as well. You simply need to wait a couple of hours after a meal or meds to consume activated charcoal so that your body can benefit from the nutrients and chemicals. Your doctor will know what other precautions you should take if they know you're going to detox. 

When I fast and detox I walk, and walk, and walk. Much of my job can be conducted on my mobile device, so I work and walk most of the day. In general I love to run. I don't like to run for long distances, but I love bursts of speed. But I do not allow myself to run when I'm fasting and detoxing. I have enough energy to do so. But it's not been smart for me over the course of several days. But I do walk a lot. Another physical thing that I do all of the time, but especially when I detox, is I sit in a sauna to sweat out even more toxins. Obviously, even more water is consumed during this process. 

When I fast and detox I feel like I am on Cloud 9. I feel energetic. I feel happy. I love to fast & detox. If I didn't have a prescribed day to quit, I'd never eat again. I feel that great during a fast. The only downside I experience is my knowledge of the burden and annoyance I sometimes am to those closest to me. My energy is so high I flit & flitter all over the house, cleaning and organizing. My authority as mom and leader is more keenly felt as well, so I get quite bossy. The only down-side to fasting for me personally is that the self-control struggle is greater.

We all have our cross to bear, as we should since fasting is meant to be a spiritual metaphor of being crucified with Christ. For some it's headaches and hunger pangs. For me it's the effort of kindness and common courtesy so I don't lose friends and family. 


As usual, I urge everyone to be in sync with your pastor and local community, while also understanding that they can't dictate, only encourage your private relationship with God. Church membership does not equal God-relationship. The church is a required supplement to your relationship with God, but cannot BE your relationship with God. Your pastor gives clear direction from the pulpit for the masses. But he or she doesn't go home with you and tell you step by step what to do or not do. Your ability to hear the Spirit of God is what guides you where you live. When it comes to your local church membership and pastoral authority you literally, "Can't live with it. Can't live without it." 

Your pastor and local church may have a specific definition of "fasting." Therefore what I label as my "spiritual fast," may not be appropriate for you to label as yours. Nevertheless, this is my personal custom & discipline and perhaps it will motivate you. I hope you'll be inspired in your personal growth.

Friday, January 2, 2015

Seek And Pursue

I'm pondering my habits and routines and prepping for new goals and accomplishments... The constant diligence to be joyful and peaceful has been in my mind. And I've wondered if since it is necessary to be a "diligent effort," have I actually accomplished any ground in this area? Shouldn't peace and joy be more "natural" in a truly peaceful person, rather than a constant labor? Even my Twitter handle purports that I am a "Funtologist in the full time study of peace and joy." The certification as a Funtologist is self-given & the office is self-ordained; merely another of my efforts to never settle in a bog of any kind. The title is a constant reminder to prioritize the search above the current experience.

In my prayer and pondering the scripture came to me... "Seek peace and pursue it." This is of course talking about a lack of contention in relationships. But it applies across the board. 

Peace is not a "natural" occurrence. Not since sin entered the world has peace been the default. Chaos is the default and peace is the concerted effort. 

Not only am I (& you may apply this to your own life as I write in context from mine) not a loser for daily doing little and big things to be peaceful and joyful, but the efforts are in fact the ONLY thing that makes me NOT a loser! Ha! 

Seek peace AND pursue it.

The wise men in scripture who are famous for having brought gifts to the Christ-child had a habit of seeking the night sky. Some nights the stars were hazy with cloud cover, other nights the "ordinary" was all too clear. But they diligently, night after night, went through the ancient efforts of setting up tools and making notes in parchment. If not for that constant state of "seeking," they wouldn't have caught sight of the extraordinary. 

And then we find even further direction when looking at their story. I can imagine their booyah-moment at having discovered such a unique thing! Yet they went BEYOND the wonder and excitement of seeing something unusual and spectacular. When they caught sight of that special-something, they went to great lengths to pursue it. 

Seek peace and pursue it.

From Bible reading & prayer, to conversations & healthy habits, to massage and holidays... We must keep our eye on the sky, diligently mapping the matter of peace. That one would seek it so earnestly is not proof of failure. It's the part He approves of and will honor. So seek through the darkness. Sift & seek through what is ordinary. And when we catch a glimpse of something special dogged pursuit is quite necessary. For that is the only way to come to that place of miraculous birth.

And then repeat...

Lions, & Tigers, & Goals, OH MY!

There are many approaches to a new year. Some write a few resolutions on a piece of paper. Some hire a life coach to guide them through a five year plan. Some poo-poo the whole idea of goal-setting. If that's you, here's some toilet paper. Flush your negative attitude and let me inspire you to try, try again! 

You're not too ill to set goals.
If you're suffering from health issues it should be your primary focus to work on the parts you DO have control over. If your diabetes, or joint pain, or gout, or whatever other issues you're having are connected to obesity, then your goals must be weight loss. If you're dealing with mental disorders, then your goals must be improving your control of those difficulties. And so on, and so forth. 

You're not too far behind to set goals.
The worst feeling in the world is that a thing is so far gone that it's impossible. First of all, with God nothing is impossible. Secondly, besides God's strength you CAN pull yourself up and out IF YOU MAKE A PLAN. (Uh-hem. In other words, if you set goals.) You may need to get counsel, you'll need to morph your plan as you go, but you can get out of debt, or start a new career, or change your lifestyle, or anything you want! 

You're not too old to set goals.
As a matter of fact, the habits acquired inadvertently through the experiences of age are the very reason one should deliberately chart their days. There is so much to do! Why sit at home angry and resentful at a spouse who's got cabin-fever and therefore bickers about every little thing? Do BOTH yourselves a favor and get out of the house! Could you use a few extra dollars? Then go work someplace. It's not beneath you to be a cashier. If the atmosphere is enjoyable, work there. Or volunteer someplace. Besides soup kitchens, there are libraries, and nursing homes, and shelters, and gardens in parks. You'll meet new people there, you'll learn new skills there, you'll contribute there, and if you're a Christian you'll be a soul-winner there. 

The magical thing about goal setting is that it improves ALL of your life even though you may only be focused particularly on one or two things. My personal experience is that I've inadvertently inspired myself to change a health habit because I was working toward establishing a music habit. And I've changed a writing habit because I was working toward changing a thinking habit. And that's yet another lovely bit of "magic" about goal setting; habits are created. 

Habits are the muscle that make goal-attaining possible. The more we live life without a plan, the less gets accomplished, yet the more stress and baggage we acquire. This spirals into a feeling of helplessness. People who declare a thing they want to accomplish, then WRITE THAT THING DOWN, after research and/or counsel from a voice of experience DATE WHEN the goal is expected to be accomplished, are happier people. Are they happier because their dated/written goal magically caused the class to be finished, or the book to be written, or whatever their goal was? No. The work toward the goal still must be done. They're happier because they've taken a bit of control over their own life. Will unexpected scenarios delay and sabotage the plans? Most likely. But that's ok! You simply reevaluate and get back on track. Easy-peasy. 

I laugh at the idea that failure is not an option. It's not an option, its a GIVEN. What is NOT an option is surrender. 

So, dust off your dreams. Or if by chance you've already accomplished everything you ever wanted, that is still not a reason to not make plans and set goals. The scripture is FULL of instructions and commandments that have yet to be accomplished. For instance, if you're an older person you have the challenge of teaching the younger. Get after it! There are challenges to feed the hungry. Challenges to memorize scripture. Challenges to create healthier patterns of thinking. GET AFTER IT! 

There is no excuse to not rise up and make things more manageable, easier controlled, and more enjoyable. 

I've got my own challenges to which I need to arise and conquer. And do you know how I'm going to do it? 

Through Christ, and the multitude of counsel, and good, old-fahioned hard work!