Sunday, July 10, 2011
How much time do I spend focusing on using my talent to make this a better place to live?
Friday, July 08, 2011
We have a long narrow flower bed that wraps around one corner of our privacy fence. For whatever reason, every weed known to man has decided to root in it. Yesterday morning I decided it was time to clear the bed out, once and for all.
I pulled the old flowers out; a quick tug at their base neatly removed them. Then came the weeds. I have a lot of strength in my arms but after five minutes of tugging and almost falling face first into the dirt I went to the garage looking for some garden tools. They worked on about eighty percent of the weeds. There were still these long tendrils of grass snaking past the border stones and I swear were actively resisting me as I pulled, dug and mildly cursed them. This meant war.
I removed all the border stones and stacked them in a wheel barrow. I went in the house and put on my work boots, the ones with the steel toes. It’s eighty degrees outside, I’m sweating my face, arms and legs are streaked with dirt and Joan is giving me one of those “Oh Lord, what are you doing now” looks. I grabbed a spade from the garage and dug down deep in the flower bed. I suspect I had somewhat of a maniacal grin on my face believing I had out witted those snickering weeds once and for all. I chopped the dirt up and sifted through it yanking out the remaining weeds. I found the rake and smoothed the soil. Everything was neat and symmetrical. I was as proud as proud could be. I asked Joan to come see. She stood there for a minute or so and said “Okay, what are you planning on putting in there?”
“Well that’s not the point. All the weeds are gone.”
“I know John but so is everything else. What are we going to put in there?”
Okay so maybe she was right. But, as I told her much later in the day, I had time to reflect on how my life is like that flower bed. So very often I let those marvelous flowers that are my talents and treasures become over run and crowded out by my own fears and doubts about my abilities. After a while all I see are the weeds and slowly my talents, the REAL John, get starved out. My doubts rob all the oxygen and sunlight and I lose sight of my goals!!! In other words I’m a mess.
Spark people and you my dear wonderful friends are those garden tools that ferret out the weeds and provide me the fertile soil to grow and make the life style changes that are necessary for the real John to flourish and reach his goals and dreams. Once cleared away, all those bad habits allow the sunlight of success to shine on my life.
Down deep are the things I’d never seen, noticed or believed before. They were hidden by everything else. Those weeds, those tough tendrils of grass, hang on tight and fight my forward progress. They require a lot of perseverance and stamina and I have to dig deep. It’s often painful when you realize you are the real root of all your issues. When all is said and done there is new fertile soil for John to grow It’s mucho hard work!!!
I grinned proudly!
“That’s nice John, but you still haven’t told me what we are planting.”
And so go’s the philosophy of my flower bed.
Wednesday, July 06, 2011
Moses led the people of Israel out of Egypt on a forty year journey to the Promised Land. I found out recently that entire journey, the one that took over forty years to complete should have only taken three month by foot. Instead, Moses, the rock star of the Old Testament led a group of people around in circles for over forty years. They were lost. You have no idea how relieved I felt inside when I read that article. A month from today, I’ll have been wondering around looking for my own Promised Land for fifty eight years.
Where is your Promised Land and who lives there? When Moses left Egypt it was to escape tyranny and oppression. All that quickly changed when there was no food and water. People grumbled and complained and on more than one occasion Moses role as leader of this motley crew were in jeopardy. All of a sudden those mean old Egyptians weren’t so bad. At least they had a full belly three times a day. So Moses had to detour and find food and water. Moses persevered and I think his faith, that eventually he’d complete his mission had solely to do with trust.
God picked Moses to lead this mission. He told him he was capable and competent. Moses trusted what he saw and felt. If you read the book of Exodus you’ll see he made more than one mistake and had more than one false start along the way. He was applauded and reviled sometimes all on the same day. He kept moving forward. Sometimes moving forward meant looking over a hill or around a blind corner and Moses simply had to trust his feelings, his gut and his instincts. He believed he was doing the right thing.
How many times do we find ourselves searching for that Promised Land of health only to have the people around us second guess, ridicule or even make jokes about us? I have struggled the last few months. I have gained about fifteen pounds. That’s all on me, no excuses. What startled me were the people who wisely nodded their heads and told me they knew I could never keep the weight off. (You think they would have had the courtesy to talk behind my back!!!) Joan told me to focus on what I’d done, get back on track and not to worry. I did and do, LOL.
I think of Moses often. I think of him wandering through the hot desert and hearing all the criticism drift up towards him as he tried to figure a way home for his people. He got side tracked, he got lost, but he never gave up. I won’t either. It took forty years for him to get there and during that time I am sure he learned a lot about life and himself.
No matter who questions your motivation your abilities or your worth and desire, firmly put your hand on your own staff of life, trust your instincts and one day, maybe today, just over the next small rise is your Promised Land.
Tuesday, July 05, 2011
One of my favorite Bible passages has to do with the apostle Peter walking on water or shall I say failing to walk on water. The story goes that after a long day of preaching, teaching and answering questions, Jesus went off by himself to pray and the apostles went out in the boat to fish. A storm comes up and Jesus heads back to the boat. The problem is the boat is in the middle of the lake. Jesus starts to walk on the water towards the boat. To use today’s vernacular the apostles freaked out. I can quite imagine the conversation in that boat. “Do you think it’s him?’ “I dunno you know him better than I do!”
Peter is my favorite apostl because we are so much alike. We are both people pleasers, over achievers and quite often engage our mouths and actions long before our brains have had time to mull things over. Anytime something needed to be done Peter would push his way to the front of the group and boldly say he could do it, would do it and BTW: would you like fries with that burger. Bearing all that in mind Peter comes up with a game plan of sorts. He yells out, “Hey if you’re REALLY Jesus you’ll let me walk on water also!!”
Peter stands up and gets out of the boat and begins walking on water. “Hey it is you!” I can quite imagine, given what we know about Peter’s personality, that he was styling and profiling, until the wind kicks up, it rains a bit harder and it dawns on Peter “Oh my gosh, I’m walking on water!!!” Realizing he is eons out of his comfort zone he starts to sink. If not for Jesus bailing him out Peter might be simply a soggy foot note in Bible history. Jesus tells Peter if he had faith he could have walked on water. He didn’t yell, scream or berate. He didn’t talk about everlasting salvation and the like. He told Peter if he believed he could do it.
Does any of this sound familiar? It does to me. Just about the time I racking up a string of successes in my life, this small voice reminds me that I am doing things I’d never, ever dreamed of doing before and then asks me if I really think I belong sitting at the cool kids lunch table? That’s when I start feeling the water on my ankles and calves. Can you say “glub, glub?” Completely and totally out of my comfort zone, I give up and go back to the mediocrity I know and love so well.
When I sit down and think about it I find that it’s in every aspect of my life. When I start becoming healthy and toned and actually resemble something other than a Rogaine add with frosty the snow man, I freak. That’s not me!!! I do not belong here!!! Glub, glub. I once ran five miles, all at once, just a few months ago. I’ve never run that far again!!! Too far out of my comfort zone to do it again. That’s not ME.
Every time I get close to being a complete and total success I suddenly realize “OH MY GOSH, I’M WALKING ON WATER!!” The remedy is faith, faith in me and in my abilities. The saying goes that you can’t help a drowning person who is struggling. The more I fight the notion that my Creator created me to be a complete and total success, the more comfortable I’ll be the next time I walk on water, or at least the puddle in my drive way.
I am worth it. I deserve it. I am what I believe I am, and I am who I hang around with, aren’t I?
OH MY GOSH I’M WALKING ON WATER
Friday, July 01, 2011
It’s hard to believe that it will be close to two months since I had a diet soda. Mercifully I have entered that stage where I don’t even think about it. I can be in the same room with a bottle of diet Coke without allowing it to seduce me. I still have one rather nasty side effect. My thighs, both quads and hamstrings and my hips cramp very easily. My doctor could find nothing wrong. She told me I “probably pulled a muscle.” Hmmmm, both hips and both legs? That’s one heck of a pull. I’m not fortunate enough to live in an area that offers integrative medicine so I have to rely on the internet. My wise wife of thirty seven years suggested that some of the aspartame was stored in my fat cells and was producing the distress. I researched it. She was correct. According to the three or four articles I read, Aspartame withdrawal can cause moderate to severe cramping in the hip and thigh area. Here is the scary part: The substance your fat cells produces is formaldehyde!!! The pains can last anywhere from two to six weeks. I am in week three and believe I am over the hump. The pain gets less each day and I can ride my bike. Stairs are still a bit of a challenge. My loving wife with her ever present sense of humor said. “Well look at it this way, your one of the few living people who is embalmed and living!!!”
Last Tuesday, eight days ago to be specific, I stopped using caffeine in my diet. This is not as daunting as it may seem, I am not a coffee drinker and with the soda gone, I was down to one huge McDonalds un- sweet iced tea in the morning. I decided that was my next step. It’s been eight days and all I am drinking is water. I’m at the point where every now and then I want something with a bit of taste top it so I squirt some lemon or lime juice in my water.
I have begun using organic blue agave nectar as a sweetener. It is a low glycemic sweetener so it absorbs into your body at a slow rate. The end results are no sugar spikes. I have been having berries, blue, black or strawberries with each meal and putting about one half of a tea spoon of blue agave on them. Since Tuesday evening when I began I have noticed I am not having any strong sugar cravings or carb cravings for that matter. One tablespoon has sixty calories and this stuff is so sweet I can’t imagine anyone using more than a tablespoon at three meals!!! It is the substance tequila is made from. Talk about an endorsement, huh?
Finally, about two weeks ago I wrote a blog concerning my granddaughter and her “silly hat.” I’ve posted a picture below.
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