A New Focus: Loving and Helping People

     It’s that time.  It’s time to shift my focus from Power Thought #4 “I am difficult to offend,” to Power Thought #5.  Let me just say that I am glad that I will be revisiting Power Thought #4 later this year.  I thought I did pretty well at not getting offended until Friday.  I said “Hi” to someone on campus, and he did not return my greeting.  Then, today at Target, one of the workers cut in front of me with a huge cart, and did not say excuse me.  My immediate response to both of these instances was offense.  So, yes, I need to work on being difficult to offend, and letting go of all resentment.  I need to practice thinking the best of everyone in every situation.  So, even though I see lots of room for improvement with Power Thought #4, I am ready to move on to a new focus this week. 

     I am very excited about Power Thought #5.  I have been looking forward to this one.  This week’s Power Thought is:  “I love people and I enjoy helping them.”  The fun and challenge with this thought is that I make it my goal to be a blessing.  With this thought, I look for ways to bless people on purpose.  In the book, Power Thoughts, Joyce Meyer suggests asking God every morning to show you someone to bless and what to do for that person.  Then, in the evening, you can take “inventory” and check to see if you did what God impressed upon you.  Loving people and helping them can take on many forms—from donating time, money, giving an unexpected gift, to being encouraging and complimentary in your words.  Every human being who crosses our paths is an opportunity for us to show love and kindness. 

     Living this way means filling my mind with thoughts of others.  What would she like?  What would bless him?  What would make her life better this week?  What would ease his burden?  I am going to confess that this is not my normal way of thinking.  Perhaps like many Americans, even many Christians, I am a little bit too focused on myself—what would I like?  What would bless me?  What would make my life better this week?  What can I do to make my life easier?  As I begin to focus on the needs and interests of others, I am trusting God to meet my own needs and look out for my interests.  I think incorporating this Power Thought and practice into my life is going to be life changing!  I am excited!

     One more thing—this loving and helping others must be mindful and on purpose, because I cannot count on feeling like it.  I might feel like helping someone occasionally, but many days, I feel like lounging around on the couch drinking coffee and reading books.  Thank God we don’t live life based on what our feelings tell us to do.


Everyday Things

     Today has been fairly uneventful.  We are starting to get some more winter weather in Missouri, but the roads weren’t too bad this morning.  I went to campus to finish my first day of spring semester preparations.  That did not take long.  I also put the finishing touches on a proposal to teach a special topics course the first part of the summer.  It’s the class that was born out of my wondering, musing, and curiosity about dystopias in young adult literature.  Here’s the proposed reading list: A Wrinkle in Time by Madeline L’Engle, I am the Cheese by Robert Cormier, The Giver by Lois Lowry, The House of the Scorpion by Nancy Farmer, Uglies by Scott Westerfield, and The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins.  I am very excited that I followed the trail of my interest to this end.  I hope the class “makes” and I will get a chance to discuss all of these books with students.

     I left campus fairly early.  It was already snowing steadily, and conditions are expected to worsen throughout the day.  I stopped to run an errand at the bank, and made it home by noon.  For the first part of the afternoon, I read the Bible, and wrote out my prayers for the day.  I worked on this week’s Power Thought (God Loves Me Unconditionally!) and meditated on the scripture that goes with it.  As you can probably see from the pictures of the signs that I posted earlier, I am getting quite a collection.  I am betting that these signs throughout the house are having a positive effect on my husband as well.  I also have signs at my office at the college, and wonder if the guy that cleans my office has noticed them.  I hope so.

     Scout the dog is loving the snow.  We went outside to get the mail, and although this is shameful to admit, we have two pumpkins left over from fall that we never did anything with.  For some reason, Scout has decided that they are his new toys.  He has been playing with pumpkin pieces and running around in the snow tossing them up in the air.  Hilarious!  He thinks these pumpkins are wonderful!

     There isn’t much on the agenda for the rest of the afternoon.  I hope to straighten up the house and do a little cleaning before it’s time to fix dinner.  It is a good afternoon to be home and indoors.  I am thankful that I could come home early today.  Tomorrow is an iffy first day of school.  If we get the 6”-7” of snow that is predicted, I doubt my own attendance as well as that of many other faculty, staff, and students.  Either way, my heart is prepared and I am ready for the new semester.


Eating Too Many Dove Chocolates? Five Easy Ways to Take a Better Break

     For me, eating too many Dove Chocolates is a sign.  It is a sign that I need a real break.  I am not very good at taking breaks or at finding balance between Productivity and Relaxation.  I usually eat a little chocolate on my way back to the computer or the project or buy myself a little something while I am running errands and try to pass that off as a break or self-nurturing.  What a joke!  When I woman needs a break, she loses her sass, spirit and spunk, and tries to feed her soul with junkfood and shopping “treats.” 

     The real break, or the most desirable treat is time.  How about a couple of hours to do something fun?  Something that isn’t productive at all?  This is scary to me.  It means I might not get to mark off everything on my to do list.  Yet, ignoring the “I need a break” signs leads to frustration, anger, and for me, extra pounds.   You could also add on stress, and more frustration and anger, etc. etc.

     So, even though my Productivity isn’t as great as it might have been in previous years, I am recognizing the fact that I am a whole person–not a robot, and that means that my peace and contentment are more important than getting things marked off the to do list. 

     One of the struggles here is that due to my lack of experience at giving myself breaks, I don’t  always know what to do.  However, I have gathered a few ideas.  They usually come to me by thinking, “What did I used to do for fun?”  I think back several years, and then I have something to try.  Here are a few of my random suggestions:

  1. I love to put my feet up, and snuggle up on the couch and watch a show or a movie that is just for me–something that feeds my soul–not  necessarily something that my husband or friends would watch.  It’s my choice.  Today, I took a break and watched two episodes of Little House on the Prairie.  How wonderful!  (I also remembered as I was watching that both Melissa Gilbert and the actress who played Nellie Oleson published autobiographies last year; I might enjoy reading those books…)
  2. Play with the dog or dog.  Create a toy from a “found” object outside or in the house.  Most of the time while I am working, I ignore Scout the Dog’s attempts to get me to play.  At some point though, I realize, he’s right.  I really do need to throw this toy for him.
  3. Make something little.  Some really tiny creation.  Sometimes, when I am working a lot, my brain is so tired that I just want to do something different.  I don’t care what it is.  I want to make something, but I don’t have the time or energy to start a big project.  A few simple things to try:  bake some cookies (use the bought cookie dough), make a sign with a favorite verse or saying on it, embroidery a tea towel, make a simple pin or necklace.  Art doesn’t have to be big and grandiose!
  4. Get outside with your camera and takes some pictures of anything that catches your eye.
  5. Take a nap.  If you can’t fall asleep, focus on your senses.  What do you hear?  What was the most beautiful thing you heard all day?  What beautiful thing did you see?  What do you smell?  What was the tastiest food you at that day?  What was the best texture?  I find that focusing on how my body is experiencing the moments of my day gets me out of my robotic mind-mode and helps me feel rich and grateful for the whole of my life.  Also, in focusing on the senses, you may stumble upon an idea of a poem, something you want to photograph, or simply something you want to share with an special person.

Women’s Autobiographies & Sarah Palin’s Going Rogue

     This isn’t a goal for 2011–it’s really just something I feel God put on my heart.  I am being led to read (or listen to–I like audible books) the autobiographies of famous and/or important and/or influential women.  I love books and read voraciously, but I have never been much into memoirs or autobiographies.  This is small change that feels big.  I am going into this with an open mind.  I believe that God wants me to do this because each one of these women has something to share that I can learn from.

     I am starting with Sarah Palin’s Going Rogue.  Sarah Palin is obviously a figure of great contraversy.  People either seem to love her or to hate her.  I am curious about her.  As a Christian, I know I agree with many of her viewpoints, and as a woman, I shy away from any individual or group that wants to represent the entire gender.  That is how I am coming into the book.  The audible version I am listening to is also read by Palin; that was a nice surprise.  So, I am listening to Palin’s book.  I am not looking for points of contention or points of agreement so much as what does God want me to learn from her?

I Can Do All Things Through Christ

     The first power though to work with in Joyce Meyer’s book  Power Thoughts is this Whatever I need to do in life I can do through Christ

     Yesterday, I made signs proclaiming this thought, and posted them all kinds of places–in drawers, on my guitar case, on the front of the refrigerator.  Then later, I played Scrabble with my husband and won.  He said that it was because my signs were giving me power.  He was kidding of course, but there is no doubt that there is power in holding onto the belief that I can do whatever I need to in life through Christ.










I Love What I Love: YA Novels

     Toward the end of the summer, I read Gretchen Rubin’s book The Happiness Project.  I loved this book, and Rubin shares a lot of powerful revelations that rang true with me, and have stayed in my mind.  One of the truths that she shares is that what makes other people happy may not make you happy and vice versa.  Sometimes, we may feel pressured by what’s popular and what’s in vogue, so that we believe we should like certain things, and shouldn’t like other things.  When we have the courage to like what we like, we feel the joy of being ourselves on purpose.  I am absolutely mad about young adult literature.  This may be uncool or not intellectual enough for some people, but it is wonderful for me. 

     I don’t read young adult lit constantly, but I do read it regularly, and when I stumble on a book or a new author that I like, I feel as if I have discovered treasure!  I just recently finished The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins and I am into the second book in the trilogy, Catching Fire.  Besides enjoying these books, I am intrigued by the whole genre of the young adult dystopian novel, and wondering about it.  Why are there so many dystopian novels for young adults?  What types of questions and thoughts do these books provoke in young people?  I began to skim the web and found several long lists of top dystopian novels for young adults.  There are a lot of classics as well as the newer books.  I want to study this and make it into a class.  It is wonderful to discover a new theme and think about where I could go with it.  An idea to ponder and wonder about and chase and explore—makes life much richer.  And of course, it may go without saying, but isn’t it sassy, spunky and spirited to embrace what you really love and run with it?