Tick Tock

Perspective Check:

What do you think when you hear the words “My Time”? Or phrases like, “I only have this much time”, “I’m going to do XYZ with ‘my time'”, or “I don’t have any time for that.”

Is any time really ours to claim? Do I own a minute, an hour, or a week? Can I control time? Make more of it, less of it, or make it non-existent? No, not really. All I can do it utilize time.

My Time

I’ve been reminded of this recently when I’ve had my own agenda of what I plan to do with “my time”, and then someone calls and needs a last minute favor, or a friend calls and is really down about life, and talk on the phone for a long time.

Needless to say, I don’t end up accomplishing the ever-so-important agenda. But when I stop and think about these things, the truth is, time is not “mine.” All time is God’s time! He is the creator of time, the allocater,The Beginning and the End. I just have the opportunity to choose how I’m going to spend God’s time – do I choose to use it for MY purposes…or His?

Which in the long run is more eternal: to run errands that can be done tomorrow, or watch a friend’s child so that they can do something super important?
To work on paperwork, bills, and other items that can be done in the near future, or give undivided attention to a friend who is low and can use some encouragement and love at that very moment?

This perspective makes it simple! It’s not the gratitude and thanks from others that makes it simple (though it’s always nice to hear!!), it’s the fact that in the end, I used His time wisely and took advantage of the opportunities that He put in front of my path instead of wasting them. THAT my friends, is worth all the time in the world, and in the end, we will be rewarded (or not!) for how we spend His time.

 

2 Corinthians 4:18

” So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever.” (NLT)

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That’s Yucca!

Those of you who are on my Simply Enrich FB page might have seen my post last Tuesday suggesting a ‘Try something new Tuesday” dinner tradition (and if you aren’t on my FB page, please take a second and ‘Like‘ it now! 🙂 It could be a product item, like a new fruit, vegetable, or fresh herb, or maybe tofu, or simply try a new healthy recipe! Well, I realized that I needed to get to the store because I wasn’t up for a whole new recipe, so a produce item was going to be it that night.
Searching through the produce department refrigerated wall at Kroger, I realized that there are several items that I have not yet tried, and hadn’t a clue of how to prepare. Then I saw it — THE try-it Tuesday item! It was a big, brown, bumpy, ugly root. Kinda resembled a fossilized elephant turd or something.Yucca Root Yucca root? What kind of name is that? I’m sure if it were tasty they would call it “yumma root”, so I could only imagine what I was in for. My kids were less than excited, to say the least.

Now how to prepare this…thing?!  I saw an older Indian woman looking at the same area, so I asked her if she knew how to eat it. She did, and she told me to peel it, boil it, and then cut it and eat it. Said it tasted like tapioca pudding. Mmmmm!! It didn’t sound so ‘yucca’ at all!
The journey didn’t end there. The check out line was even more interesting. Like 15 minutes of interesting ;). Of course I didn’t think to grab a yucca root with a sku number sticker on it, I mean, every cashier has the sku number for yucca root memorized, right? Lol
So the sweet cashier kept looking for the item up on the cheat sheet, but it wasn’t there — the sheet stopped at ‘T’ (what about ‘watermelons’ & ‘yams’?!) I sent my 9 year old to find another yucca with a sticker. Meanwhile, I’m apologizing to the cashier and the man in line behind me. They were both very understanding and patient…maybe even a little, dare I say… intrigued.
I shared with them about the try-something-new-Tuesday challenge I had posted and the reason behind my somewhat odd purchase. It was quite the conversation piece. When the guy behind me said that I was a very unusual American for trying new things like this, I shared about the International Cooking group that I’m a part of and how I actually love to broaden my taste buds’ horizons and try new things. He asked me for my card to give his daughter who loves stuff like that. I happened to have a few cards hiding in my purse and I handed him one.   The cashier asked for one, too (maybe you guys are reading this right now since the web-link is on the card, and if so, thank you so much for your patience last week!)
My son returned with another yucca… without a sticker. Third yucca was the charm. We could finally check out and be on our way, and was asked to report back how the experiment turned out.
The Yucca experiment.

Even though the kind Indian lady gave me great directions, I was a bit intimidated by getting the rough, waxed peel off of the root.  I mean, seriously — how in the heck?!  I knew I needed backup. Gotta love Google. Here it is for you in case you want to learn more or try a recipe:

http://healthyeating.sfgate.com/cook-serve-yucca-root-8371.html
I admit, even with my sharp Cutco© knife, I didnt quite chop the root into small pieces like the recipe advised:, so I gave up on that:IMG_20140325_185935_691To keep this article short, since I didn’t intent for it to become a cooking post, I followed the directions from the website above and boiled the yucca root. IMG_20140325_193339_763

I got kinda impatient after awhile and eventually settled for nearly-yet-not-all-the-way-cooked.  Then I added some milk, roasted garlic, and squeezed lemon juice, and salt. Potato mashed it as much as possible.  It turned out fine. I wish I would’ve taken the time to cook a bit better, but even at this point, I got to taste the ‘yucca’, and it wasn’t “yucky” 😉

IMG_20140325_195208_704

Gotta love trying new things – variety is the spice of life.

For those interested, here are some good nutrition facts on yucca root:  http://www.livestrong.com/article/341685-yucca-root-nutrition/

I’d love to hear from anyone else that is taking me up on this challenge!  I’ll report back on the recent Try-something-new-Tuesday episode here soon 😉

 

No Matter the Weather

weather

A common conversation piece happens to be the weather.

You might ask someone on the phone, “So how is the weather where you are?” or maybe make a comment to a stranger in the grocery store line about how “it’s such a dreary day today!”  And then there’s always the talk of , “I can’t wait for: Summer (when it’s winter), Rain (when there’s drought), Snow (when it’s Christmas), Autumn (when you’re tired of the heat that you wished for months earlier) etc.”

The weather is something that everyone can relate to, a topic that anyone can contribute to, and we all have an opinion on the matter. Some of the extreme opinions I’ve heard lately are things like “I’m so sick of this winter!”, “Sure, it might be warm and sunny today, but it’s supposed to snow the rest of the week!”,  “I can’t stand this weather anymore; I wish I could move.” (By the way, you know what they say opinions are like, don’t ya? 😉

We all hold a power when we share our opinions, and that’s the power to be positive or negative. Would you rather cast a pessimistic shadow over your friend, or, share an optimistic view with them?  HOPEFULLY you’d like to be a positive addition to your friend’s day and not a draining one. In addition to the vibes that you put out when conveying your own opinion, studies show that how we talk can also influence how we feel ourselves!

You may be thinking, “Oh c’mon Renee, it’s blasted cold outside, no one even knows if the sun exists anymore, and the forecast shows another 12 inches of ice and sleet by tomorrow…and did I mention that the kids could have ANOTHER snow day? How do you expect anyone to live in a fairytale ‘la-la-land’ and pretend to be HAPPY about this weather that is dominating my life?!”

Here’s my reply: Can you change it? No…  Does it do anyone any good complaining about it? No…  

Ok, then, let’s embrace the facts of the “situation”  at hand (the weather)…but let’s change our PERSPECTIVE 🙂

How? Let’s use Columbus, OH weather as our example.

Talk about weather!  This winter we’ve gotten it all! Yesterday and today it actually jumped up to the mid 60’s, yet  I have a ‘severe weather alert’ coming across my smartphone saying that we’ll have inches of snow and a low of 7º tomorrow. That’s nearly a 60º difference within a 24 hour period. Yes, we have bipolar weather. For days in advance I was excited about the warm weather that was approaching; however, even in the midst of the sunshine and ‘warmth’, I heard several people focusing on the fact that it ‘wasn’t here to stay’ and complaining about the forecast later in the week. There were times that I just felt like saying:  SHUT UP! If you can’t find joy in the moment then please refrain from trying to steal my joy.

1) Be thankful for the good moments and allow yourself to celebrate them as they come!

We’ve had many sub-zero days this winter and a few days that dumped enough snow to keep even the bravest of us cooped up inside our homes….and some with restless, squabbling kiddos (heeeelllllp!!) Recipe for bad attitudes, disasters, and discontentment on account of a wrecked schedule (I had to miss the gym A LOT!)  So how can we celebrate and be thankful for times like these? Find a way! In this situation, I decided that I couldn’t change the facts of the matter, but I could interpret it however I wanted to. So instead of a day stuck inside that kept me from the gym, my errands, and my plans, I changed my agenda and made it a day that I was privileged enough to stay inside and get some projects done that I hadn’t given myself permission to do for a long time! Make a rainy or snowed-in day into a “Mending Monday” or a “Cleaning Day” or organize a room that is long overdue.  Embrace the project and then you can celebrate what you’ve accomplished by changing your perspective! (oh, and put the squabbling kiddos to work or play, too, but in separate rooms 😉

2) Find a way to change the ‘bad’ to something ‘good’, then act on it!

And my final tip to help you change your perspective? Realize that LIFE GOES ON! This is only one day/week/month/season/year, and there is more to come down the road. We control our perspective and attitudes about things. It’s a choice. A mindset that we choose to have. There are some pretty tough situations in life, and ‘the weather’ is just a metaphor that is used as a tangible example, but people do become ill with cancer, go through relationship problems, lose jobs, and many other crisis’. Life is not always that pretty ‘la-la fairytale land’. BUT – the more that we focus on the positive and choose joy over hopelessness, moving forward over giving up, the more that we’ll find happiness in the despair. The more sunshine we’ll see through the clouds. Reminds me of Paul and how he was wrongfully imprisoned and chained to a wall, yet he still focused on the positive and chose to have a good perspective even when most others in his situation would’ve said ‘whoa is me!’ (Philippians 1:12-23)

3) Suck it up and choose to have a good perspective, even if there doesn’t seem to be a logical reason!

Whether the weather is nice or whether the weather is, well, not so nice…let’s commit to keeping our perspectives positive & focusing on what really matters in life (like Jesus!)  Cold and snowy where you are? Well, “Rejoice in the Lord always, and again I say REJOICE!” (Philippians 4:4)

HIMsomnia

insomnia

If I’d never have had experienced it myself, I probably…no…I WOULD be someone that would scoff at people who voice their frustrations of having bouts of insomnia. I mean, seriously – you hear so many people who deal with the opposite, like fatigue and the inability to stay awake when they need to, and then these “insomniacs” can just stay awake all night?! How could that be so bad? Think of how much one could get done with no interruptions during the night hours!

Yeah, well, experience taught me the lesson of humility and empathy.  My first bout with insomnia was when I was a young teenager when a medication gave me the wonderful gift of insomnia as a side-effect. Those long, daunting nights were like cruel and unusual punishment after extended days of going to school, doing homework, and then AGAIN being unable to get the much needed rest that my body (and mind) craved! Needless to say, after a week of that, I refused to put another one of those pills in my mouth!

As an adult, I have had spells where I wake up in night, unable to sleep for a period of time before finally falling back to sleep.  Funny how some of those times I would actually wake up at an exact time, on the dot, every night consecutively. Bizarre.

In addition to being very annoying,  it feels like night will never end – like your mind and body are playing tricks on you. I hate to feel like I lack control — especially that I can’t FORCE myself to go to sleep, even though by all normal standards, I should be tired (and there was never a medical reason).  Oh, and no matter what anyone says, you can count as many sheep as you want, but they don’t put you to sleep 😉

There came a point during one of these bouts that, after much prayer for this to STOP, God gave me a very clear picture of why I was having the insomnia: HE was causing it!

Apparently,  I was so busy and focused on my life, everyday filling my schedule and my thoughts to the brim, that this was the ONLY way He could grab and hold my undivided attention.  Sure, I loved Jesus and tried to follow Him the best I could, prayed and whatever else, but He wanted a closer RELATIONSHIP with me. He wanted me to use that insomnia time to just be still with Him…He wanted me to experience His peace and refreshment that comes from being quiet and listening.  If I wasn’t going to make time during the day, He was going to teach me how to do it…even if at night.

Psalm 63:6  says “I lie awake thinking of You (God), meditating on You through the night.”

The Psalmist could have laid there awake thinking of his troubles, his girlfriend, or even plan his schedule for the next day. But he didn’t – he meditated on God.

I came to realize that I didn’t always have control over going to sleep, but I did have the CHOICE to use my insomnia for Him, instead of loathing and ‘wasting’ it. I actually began enjoying this personal time along with Him, and seeing it as a gift. In fact, I coined a new phrase: “HIMsomnia” (well, at least with myself, haha!) I didn’t focus on the lack of sleep or the annoyance factor anymore…I focused on Him and listened to Him. Talk about a way to grow and get to know Him!  There have been times when He has had brought a specific person or situation to mind and I’ve been able to spend time in prayer for those. It was pretty neat, and I now count it as a gift that my Creator and the Maker of the universe wants to spend time with ME. While I usually do take time during the day to spend with Him now-a-days, there’s still something different about the dark, void of distraction, wide-awake quiet time with Him that I miss a bit…though don’t get me wrong, I’m not wishing for a chronic problem of HIMsomnia 😉

Disclaimer: There are many reasons for insomnia, some of them medical/emotional/physical and I in no way am trying to diagnose, treat, cure, or downplay insomnia in any way. I’m only sharing with you my personal experience, and perhaps offering a way to simply enrich your life, if you should ever go through something like this.

 

Once Upon a time

Once upon a time, in a faraway land, there was a princess who was rescued by her prince – all their dreams came true and they lived happily ever after…..

***Insert gagging sound***

My hubby & I at Neuschwanstein Castle in Germany 2013.

My hubby & I at Neuschwanstein Castle in Germany 2013.

Sure, I get that fairy tales and other such fiction may be invented as an escape to help us forget the troubles of our own life for a brief time, but in a world full of so much pain, heartache, and other yuck, there has to be something more lasting and REALISTIC to look to that will give us that ‘happy’ feeling instead of fairies, castles, and princesses.

This week, in the Bible study that I’ve been doing (Namesake – when God Rewrites Your Story by Jessica LaGrone) there was a homework day that focused on discontentment where we were asked to complete this sentence:

“I’ll be happy when ______________.”

Here’s how some people might complete it:

I’ll be happy when I find my soul mate….I can have a baby…my baby sleeps through the night…my kids pick up after themselves…I lose 20 pounds…my spouse shows me they love me…my divorce is finalized…I finish school…I get the perfect job…I have my own house…I get out of debt…I’m not in pain anymore………….

Here’s how I completed my sentence:

“I’ll be happy when I get to Heaven and this life doesn’t matter anymore.”

That about sum it all up? Does it sound depressing and hopeless?  Maybe not as much as you think.

Happiness is a roller coaster feeling that we ride up and down the entire time we’re here on Earth. One of those above mentioned situations may help a person feel ‘happy’ for a brief moment (kinda like watching a Disney fairytale movie) but it won’t be long before we encounter the next difficulty that plummets us right back to that feeling of discontentment.  Having everything that we want will never truly make us “happy.”

Life really isn’t about our happiness, but it’s important to note that our life on Earth DOES matter, and we only have one shot at it. And I hate to break it to you, but there are no perfect fairy tale lives here  — behind all of the makeup, smiles, and computer screens there are REAL people with REAL problems who often times are really discontent, too.  This world is full of sin and sinners who make mistakes, hurt people, are selfish, and compare themselves to others, judge others, cheat, steal, kill, destroy.  And did you know that this earth will eventually be burned up?

Nothing “happily ever after” about any of that.

Ok, I’m done with the doom & gloom and on to SOLUTIONS 🙂  Even though there are no real life perfect fairy tales, your life story doesn’t have to end in discontentment. In fact, you CAN have a ‘happily ever after’ ending by accepting Jesus’ gift of eternal life that will allow you to spend eternity with Him in Heaven (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18, ).  Can’t get a more ‘happily ever after’ than that!

But what about the daily troubles; the ones that leave us discontent in the moment?

Here are some ways to have a better “once upon a time” TODAY.  Are you ready?

1) Identify WHAT it is that you’re discontent with.

Is it a relationship? A situation? A personal flaw? A lacking of something in particular?

2) Stop and think about what you identified and ask yourself WHY this makes you discontent or unhappy.

For example, is it a baby that is waking you up all night? Why does that make you feel discontent: maybe because you’re tired and want more sleep.  Is it a relationship that is distant and you wish that s(he) would be more romantic or loving or even just acknowledge you. Why does this make you feel unhappy? Maybe because you feel entitled to receiving love from your spouse or a call from a friend and you are trying your best to reach out to them — you DESERVE to have your needs met! Or maybe you are struggling to even pay the bills.  Why are you discontent with the amount of money that you have? Maybe because you’d like to be able purchase some of your ‘wants’ without having to worry about bouncing a check, and you’re tired of others laughing at your old jalopy that billows smoke as you pull out of the parking lot. I’m overweight. This makes me unhappy because I have no energy, I feel ugly, and I don’t feel good about myself.

Recognize that most cases of discontentment can be narrowed down to a ‘why’ that centers around “Me, Myself, and I.” I want something. I should be treated better,etc.

Note: None of the above things are ‘wrong’ to desire, but it’s what we do with this desire and how we let it affect us and the people around us that can potentially be a stumbling block in life.

3) Take ACTION to do what you can to improve the #1, based on your ‘why’.

You can try to find ways to help your baby sleep through the night (but ultimately, you can’t control whether or not they sleep!) You can make sure that you have a great attitude toward your spouse and speak their love language, have a heart-to-heart talk with them and share (kindly) how they could make you feel more loved and appreciated (but ultimately, you can’t control how they treat you.) You can be very frugal and wise with the money that you have and make attempts to earn more money or cut costs in other ways (but ultimately, you can’t always control a job-loss, or unexpected medical expenses, etc.) You can watch what you eat, exercise, make healthy choices for weight-loss (but ultimately, you can’t 100% change your genes or your bone structure.)

4) CHOOSE to be content and JOYFUL even when you’re left with undesirable situations that are out of your control.

I’m not going to lie, this is the toughest part. However, contentment IS a choice, and sometimes choosing to be content is the only part of a situation that we can actually have any control over.  We’re told the ‘secret’ to being content by Paul in the book of Philippians, “… for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. 12 I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. 13 I can do all things through him who gives me strength.” (Philippians 4:11-13)

 

There’s so much more on this topic; maybe for another day. I need to be honest here and say that I have been dealing with discontentment myself, but am working through all of this, just like maybe you are. We can all help each other to write our stories from this point forward. On Earth they may not end in “Happily ever after”, but I hope you’ve chosen that for eternity! On the other hand, we DO have a “Once upon a time” – you can start your story of living a content life right…..NOW!  (**poof** I’m gone, just like a fairy godmother 😉

Happy New Year: Recipe for Prosperity

Happy New Year!

Can you believe it’s already 2014?
You may or may not have set goals, plans, intentions, or resolutions for 2014, but I bet you’ve at least given it a thought. It’s nearly impossible to start out a brand new year without reviewing a bit of the positives and negatives of the past and have wishful and hopeful thoughts of the future.

I don’t make “New Year’s Resolutions”, per say, but I do have a lot on my mind that I’m still working out, and I can’t barely wait to share it all with you! Coming soon…. 😉

One quick thought: Do you know what the meaning of “prosperity” is?
The dictionary defines it as “a successful, flourishing, or thriving condition, especially in financial respects; good fortune.”
Sounds good to me. Although, personally I don’t feel that it needs to be a financial respect — I’m all for becoming more successful, flourishing, and thriving in other ways as well! Friendships…relationships…spiritually…goal achievement…etc

So how does one attain ‘prosperity’? God’s word says in Joshua 1:8, ” Study this Book of Instruction (The Bible) continually. Meditate on it day and night so you will be sure to obey everything written in it. Only then will you prosper and succeed in all you do.”

Hmm…that’s something to ponder, isn’t it? You may or may not believe those words, but would it cause any harm to ‘study and meditate’ and see what happens? Have anything to lose?

Let me know if you’re open to checking out this recipe for prosperity, and if you’re interested in any help along the way.

Wishing you a year full of good health, prosperity, and joy that comes from The Source of all joy (Jesus)!

I’ve Got My Eye on You

It’s nice to be driving to my next destination with a few minutes to spare.  Lacking the typical thoughts of “hurry up, you’re running late!” makes room for relaxing thoughts and the ability to be mindful of where I am, and what’s going on around me.

I had this rare experience yesterday. As I came upon a small, yet busy, intersection a man in a yellow construction vest was directing traffic because of a lane closure due to construction.  I was the first vehicle in my lane, so while I really needed to keep my eye on the traffic director in order to know when it was my turn to go, I couldn’t manage to keep my focus on him. Seriously, it was boring  to watch him wave his arms around this way and that way like a mechanical gorilla, especially when I was intrigued by the massive construction equipment that was  productively moving dirt right next to me. No matter how many times I attempted to focus on the traffic director, again and again I got distracted by other things in my peripheral.

I didn’t want to miss my turn and get honked at, so I eventually stifled my curiosity and began to stare at the annoying yellow-vested guy. All of a sudden, the thought hit me: If he made one mistake, accidents could come from any of the 4 directions.  He had a very important role! There was no way that this intersection of vehicles could manage to figure out when to stop or go. In fact, we couldn’t see down the lane closure to the area that the road became two lanes again, but the traffic director was in a position to see the whole picture.

Additionally, it took the responsibility of each individual driver paying attention to the traffic director’s cues in order for every other vehicle to stay safe.  If I missed one cue, I could either A) be stuck sitting in the same spot wasting time when it’s my turn to go, or B) start driving when I shouldn’t and run into someone or cause another accident.

It may only be occasionally that I run into a situation involving someone directing traffic, and yet, this parallels so well with my every day life.  There are many times that I come upon a crossroads or problem, and instead of keeping my focus on The One that guides me and protects me, I’m busy looking all around and distracted by everything else.  Some of those distractions are sin in my life that keep me from focusing on Jesus. Others are just mindless ‘big moving objects.’  There are even times that I just get stuck in the everyday mundane things of life and I don’t move on because I’m not keeping my eye on Him when He’s motioning for me to move forward.  Sadly, I admit that there are times that I have made huge ‘accidents’ and hurt myself (and even others) because I wasn’t watching Him as He attempted stop me, but I ignored His direction.

I think of Peter who walked on water toward Jesus, but as soon as he started looking around at the strong wind and the furious waves, he became terrified and began to sink (Matthew 14:22-33).  He took his focus off of Jesus!

Hebrews 12:1-2 says it so practically: “…..let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith…”

You know, I may find it annoying sometimes when I’m stuck staring at a traffic director.   I might even prefer, at times, to focus on distractions in my life instead of keeping my eye on Jesus — I am a messed up person with human tendencies and a myriad of imperfections. Nonetheless, I want to keep my eyes on Jesus, my champion. I want to trust in His protection because I know that He can see the whole picture, and I can just see a portion of the situation. I want to strip off the weights of distraction, sin, and anything that trips me up. I want to avoid accidents as well as be paying attention to when I should ‘go’ so that I’m not stuck in one place staring off into things that don’t really matter. Yes…I want to run with endurance the race that God has set before me.

Reminder taken.

Thanks, Jesus, for the few spare minutes of thoughtfulness…and that pesky man in the yellow vest. By the way, I’ve got my eye on You 😉

Eye on You