A Little Lift-pt 3 in self-care series

We are wrapping up our self-care series with the care of our spirits. I hope you have found something helpful to grab onto in this series. Sometimes it just takes one thing to breathe life into the places that we have given up on. Change can happen in small ways that lead to big changes–like a blast of warm air to lift a hot air balloon.

I believe that hope is a fundamental need like faith and love. No matter where we fall on the religion meter-from atheist to agnostic to believer–I hope we can agree that we, as humans, are spiritual beings and as such we need to be intentional in caring for that part of us. We know that in the natural world things left untended become stunted or overgrown into barrenness or chaos–neither of which, in my opinion, lead us anywhere good.

I believe in good and evil. I want to nurture good in my spirit and resist evil. I believe in God as Father, Son and Spirit. I believe He is good, powerful, and just. I believe He is love. I believe that I am the creation of a Creator. If you have doubts or just plain don’t agree, I encourage you to read on anyway. I don’t intend to preach and you might find something useful for your own spiritual journey.

Hope and help for the spirit can be found in the acronym–L.I.F.T.

L-love. Pursue love and earnestly desire spiritual gifts (1 Corinthians 14:1)

Our spirits are created by love, fed by love, and designed for love. The opposite of love is not only hate but indifference and apathy. In order to pursue love, we have to be open and willing to be open and willing.

Spiritual gifts are, well… gifts…from our Creator as a way to connect with Him and each other in a deeper and more profound way. They help us to reveal the love of our Creator and change our focus from earthbound thinking to a higher more spiritual view. Do some research, if you are curious, and find out what they are and how they can build our spirits and others.

I-inspiration. Look for it and let it do it’s work.

This life–day in and day out–can rob our spirits of the joy, hope, peace and grace that is ours. Find what  brings inspiration to you, on a spiritual level. This can include reading scripture, meeting with others who can encourage us n our faith, and going to church or group studies. Don’t wait for it to appear, although that will happen when you are open to it, but seek it out.

F-faith. It is the food of the spirit. Find ways to grow it.

Our spirits feed on faith and faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. We must cultivate it and help it to grow. Prayer, meditation, worship, readings, talking with a pastor, priest or church leader–these are all things that feed our faith. Think of faith like a muscle–the more you use it the more it grows.

T-treasure yourself and others as spiritual beings.

It is easy to see each other as just bodies and personalities. It is easy to forget that we are spiritual beings designed for much more. Treasuring ourselves and others acts as a lightening rod for lifting our spirits and allows us to share not only our faith but to seek out those who are on a similar path.

 

If you take nothing else from this series, I hope you have realized that you are precious. Your body, soul, and spirit are treasures of the rarest kind. There is no one like you on the face of this earth. Never has been–never will be. Seek out ways to treasure yourself as a way to honor the gift that is you and the Creator that made you. In the press of daily life try and remember to REST your body, CARE for your soul, LIFT your spirit.

Heidi Mull,  looking for a lift, hoping to catch a warm breeze.

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Rest In Motion(Pt.2 in Self-care series)

Rest in Motion seems to be a contradiction of words and ideas but according to Sir Isaac Newton, who was a pretty smart guy, and inventor/scientist/philosopher of the Laws of Motion, these two are very much intertwined. Now before you start to worry that I am going to get all-scientific on you and these words start to look like “blah, blah, blah” let me just say that one of the problems we face in the 21st century was addressed by Newton so hang tight and please, read on. Newton’s first law of motion is often stated as:

newton110An object at rest stays at rest and an object in motion stays in motion with the same speed and in the same direction unless acted upon by an unbalanced force.

To me (a non-physics expert) that means we keep doing what we are doing unless something makes us do something different. It’s very true that we get in a lifestyle rut sometimes and we either go to the side of doing NOTHING or to the side of OVERDRIVE neither of which is good for us. I tend to go to maximum overdrive and it is that problem I want to address here  but I think the ideas presented today would be helpful to both sides.

We have been talking about taking care of ourselves–not as a self-indulgent practice or a ME-focused ideology but as a way to: 1) remain healthy longer, 2) be more productive, 3) set an example. We only get one body, soul and spirit and how we treat them is key to being able to fulfil our purposes and destinies here on earth.

Imagine if when you turned 16 you were given a car and that car was yours for the rest of your time here on earth. You would be given no other and buying was not an option.

firstcar

I can only imagine how well I would treat that car especially when I noticed those who didn’t take care of theirs and were forced to walk or hitch a ride everywhere. Their lives would be EXTREMELY limited in range, possibility, and potential. Taking care of ourselves is key to living life to the fullest. I’m pretty sure I want to be able to do just that.

 

Intentionally caring for ourselves is necessary to crafting a more HOPE-full life.

I gave 3 acronyms for restoring health and hope to our spirit, soul, and body in the last post–Finding Hope…Again. They were R.E.S.T. for the body; C.A.R..E for the soul and L.I.F.T. for the spirit. Let’s take them one by one, working from the outside in and start with the body. In the subsequent posts we will cover the soul and finally, the spirit.

REST

Rest is a four letter word and is viewed by some with a snarl, lip-curl, or eyes rolling. It is hard to admit that we need rest. In our fast-paced, 21st century, the-early-and-late-bird-gets-the-worm mentality, rest is not valued or viewed as an asset despite what research tells us. If you are interested, just google “rest and body health” or check out: http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/health-topics/topics/sdd/why

 

Here’s my take on this idea of R.E.S.T.

R is for Re-think my lifestyle choices.

I can very easily justify my crazy, non-stop got  days:

I’ve got a full house.

I’ll rest when they’re grown.

They need me.

I want to live a full life.brain-cogs-injury_222

Just one more thing

I couldn’t say no.

I feel guilty just sitting around.

I’ll catch up on my rest later.

And my husband’s personal favorite…If I don’t do it-it doesn’t get done.

This type of thinking is caused by letting someone else drive my car. Their plans and their agenda are pushing me. These ridiculous, unrealistic expectations of what a full and fulfilled life looks like are killing me/us. Our kids, too. Check out the research on that if you dare. We could all sloooooooow down a bit and the world would not stop spinning.

Re-think and re-examine your lifestyle choices. If for some reason your couldn’t keep up all of your commitments and plans what would happen?…?

I totally understand that there are seasons in life, I’ve been there when it’s  just crazy…did I mention the part about having and homeschooling 5 kids (4 of which were born in 5 years). Those are season– not a way to live.

 

E is for exercise.

Our bodies will stay at rest or in motion unless we act upon them with something different. Researchers have found that too much exercise is just as detrimental as too little, however, that has not been my problem. I have been told by my doctor, and read research, that walking is the best exercise. 1/2 hour, 2-3x per week–that’s it. That’s the baseline. Take a walk, no weights, just move your arms and breathe deep. public-domain-images-free-stock-photos-shoes-walking-feet-grey-gravel--1000x666

On those days when I am really tired I amble, meander or stroll–just putting my body into motion is an accomplishment.

If walking outside isn’t an option then try this: http://www.walkathome.com. It’s a great program. Super easy, multi-levelled and fun to do.

 

S is for sleep.

I LOVE sleep. For years I didn’t get much (lots of babies and toddlers), and then when my husband was hurt (see post in March 2016) I was up ALOT with him and then my Mom’s illnesses…

Did I mention I love sleep? I have learned the value of a nap–cat or otherwise. cat-sleeping-funny-photo.jpgI think that’s what sitcom reruns are for. I love to nap to Everybody Loves Raymond because I’ve seen them a hundred times and they are usually funny to wake up to.

If naps worked for Einstein,  then they’re good enough for me. http://www.inquisitr.com/1754670/albert-einstein-among-other-great-minds-proved-the-efficacy-of-micro-naps/

It’s always amazing to me how much better life looks after some sleep. The old adage of “Let’s sleep on it” is based in ancient wisdom and modern research.  Here are some great tips from the people at the Mayo Clinic on sleep.

http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/adult-health/in-depth/sleep/art-20048379

Our bodies/brains do some of their best work while we are sleeping.

T is for time

Nivens-McTwisp-White-Rabbit-Concept-Art-alice-in-wonderland-2010-11205475-563-675

Time is a finite commodity. In other words, we can’t make more time. What we need to do is use it wisely.

Teach us to number our days so that we may gain a heart of wisdom. Psalm 90:12

I do myself and others no small favor when I slow down to care for myself. I am NO fun when I am burned-out, run-down and over-committed. Jesus, himself, invites us to walk with Him in a way that is easy and light. In the Message translation of the Bible it says that He will teach us to “walk in the unforced rhythms of grace”. Now that’s an invitation I don’t want to miss. By taking time to care for this body, I am honoring myself, my purposes, my loved ones (they deserve the best version of me) and my Creator. If He can take time to REST on the 7th day who am I to argue?

Heidi Mull, R.E.S.T-ing, re-thinking, and learning the rhythms of grace.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lights, Camera…ACTION!

Shakespeare said “All the world is a stage and (we)… are all actors in it”. (As You Like It, if you care to check it out)

Have you ever thought about your life as a movie or play?

Are you the hero or villain?

What would be the title of your life movie?

Who would play you?

What message would you want your life to tell to others?

Think about a movie/play that has impacted you in such a way that you were changed and felt called to some action?

I have often wondered if we viewed our lives that way then would we act and live differently?

Along the same lines, think of all that goes into creating a play or movie:  the script, the costumes, the actors, the setting, make-up, lighting and so on. All of this just exists as back round to the real story and nothing happens until the director calls out…”Action!”.

Nothing happens until someone takes ACTION…

We are talking about charity this month and how charity is a two way street–giving and receiving. Charity is the Greek word agape (uh-gawp-ay) which is simply defined as active-love towards our fellow humans beings. It seeks to meet people where they are and offer hope in the form of something real or tangible–an action offered in charity.

I hope you have been encouraged by putting your cards in the mail (see previous post) if not don’t worry, the month isn’t over yet.

We started out, in January, with the idea of cultivating and crafting a more hope-full life. We have learned to seek those things that help us to be intentional on our journey to a more hope-full life.  This has all led us to here… the place of charity.

Charity is hope all grown up. Charity seeks to re-create hope in other people and situations.

Hope is love holding out its hands in the dark–George Iles

This is the power of hope and charity. The actions that we take are vital to our lives and the lives of those we touch.

The joy of giving and receiving…

Let’s start with the big picture and then bring the focus closer to home.

What’s bigger than the idea of universal laws & principles?

There is a universal law of Giving, that is, the more you give the more that comes your way. This “Generosity Principle” is the idea that in living a life of generosity we create a ‘flow’ of sorts where the value, quality, and influence of our lives is expanded. The Bible speaks of the principle of sowing and reaping but believing in the Bible isn’t a requirement for this to work. That’s the idea behind a law of nature or universal principle–it just works.

Give and it will be given to you–pressed down, shaken together and running out all over.–Jesus (Luke 6:38)

Cast your bread on the water and after many days it will come back to you.–King Solomon (Ecclesiastes 11:1)

Think of Ebenezer Scrooge, the ultimate hoarder, he held tightly to all that he had–namely his money– and he eventually learned that a life, or wealth, unshared is no life at all. (The Christmas Story by Charles Dickens–not just for Christmas)

So to bring this home to where we live, let me say this–being a generous giver and receiver is a part of the same principle. By not being generous, we rob and limit ourselves. By not being a gracious receiver, we rob and limit others. And the really cool thing is that both ends of the principle are not just about you–the you on either end.

So when the credits roll and the lights come up on your life how will people feel when they walk away?

I recently experienced a preview into the story of a friend’s life. (True story with names changed)

Katrina, my friend, had been questioning the theme of her life movie and feeling a little down. I was there when she met a long, lost friend, Rachel,  who then told Katrina that because of her (Katrina) she (Rachel) was alive today. Years ago my friend, Katrina, had picked up the phone to just ‘check-in’ on Rachel who was going through a difficult time. What Katrina didn’t know was that Rachel was taking steps to end her life with the final prayer that if just one person would call her on the phone she wouldn’t go through with it…Katrina was THAT friend. Rachel never said anything at the time but that phone call of charity, agape, horizontal love saved Rachel’s life. and the lives of her children.

How powerful and profound that something as simple as a phone call changed the course of an entire family.

Although, thankfully, I have never been at that extreme breaking point, I have had timely gifts and calls that have kept me going through rough times in my life: pancakes from a neighbor, a rocking chair for child #5, a card in the mail, a much-needed pack of diapers left by the front door, a timely invite from a friend to come and hang at her house (and bring ALL 5 of my kids), a phone call “just to talk”.

These are some of the credits that will roll at the end of their lives and be credited for blessing mine. In the spirit of these kindnesses, I have attempted to be the giver of similar kindnesses and can’t wait to see how they have played out. Sometimes I think it will be the ones that I am not aware of that will be the most powerful.

Small kindnesses are like drops of water in a pond-the effect far outweighs the effort.–Me

I remember a very low point in my life when I was alone, pregnant, nauseated 24/7, and  3,000 miles away from home. I had a neighbor that was lovingly, yet secretly, known as “Kooky” ______. We lived next door to each other and would occasionally, make dinner and craft jewellery together. One day she showed up at my door and said “Don’t be mad but I’m here to clean”. She burst through the door with her cleaning supplies and vacuum cleaner, “I know you don’t feel good and that’s understandable but the world always seems a little better when the floor is vacuumed”.

She and I weren’t close. She had some “issues” of her own but she came like an angel on a mission and my world grew much less dark that day. I eventually came home to the love and support that I needed but I have never forgotten her, and her unique, precious and “kooky” friendship. To this day I tear up at the memory and pray for her to be blessed because of her great kindness to a girl from West Virginia, who came and went from her life but on whose life she made a profound impact.

So when we speak of charity don’t discount the little that you feel you have to offer. If it’s in your heart or mind to give it or share it…just do it.

And don’t worry about the credits or the awards–each kindness has a reward of its own.

Heidi Mull, grateful for kindnesses given and received, learning to answer the call of “ACTION!”

The Secret of Change…

 “The secret of change is to focus all of your energy, not on fighting the old, but on building the new.”–Socrates.

We are talking about change this month. This can be a disconcerting and annoying subject. As much as we want change–we want it in the WAY that we want it. We want certain things to stay the same because they are good or because we are comfortable. An important truth of life is that we have to learn what is in our control/in our realm of ruler-ship and what is not.

I can change the color of my hair.

…the TV channel

…what I eat

…what music I listen to

…whom I choose to hang out with

and so on. This is valuable insight in a life that is full of things I cannot change.

I cannot change the person driving in front of me…

…the person I have to work with

…the disease that my loved one has

…the addiction of my family member

… the number of hours in my day

There are also a lot of things in life that can’t be changed quickly but can be changed over time.

I can change my attitude…I cannot change yours.

I can change the present but I can not change the past.

I can choose to be positive even when I cannot change the circumstances I am in.

A great question to ask your self when you are in a tough situation is ” What CAN I change here?”

I know most people don’t like reptiles but their ability to shed the outer skin is a great example of what Socrates was talking about. The past can haunt us with our fears, failures, and foul-ups. I don’t deny that my life is full of them but that is not what I choose to focus on. I do not deny that they happened; that I messed up badly; that I made an ass of myself  but I can learn to shed those nasty layers and focus on what I can do now.

Paul, a first century writer, missionary, and theologian, puts it this way “Let us lay aside every weight, and the sin (bad choices, hurtful words, negative thinking, wrong doings) that so easily ensnares (traps) us run with endurance the race that is set before us” Hebrews 12:1 NKJV.

I try to make amends to those I have hurt, including myself, and then I press on–looking at what I’ve learned, at what didn’t work, and at how I can do it better. This is change that I can control.

Remember the season of life that we talked about last time?

Nature gives to every time and season some beauties of its own; and from morning to night, as from the cradle to the grave, it is but a succession of changes so gentle and easy that we can scarcely mark their progress. Charles Dickens.
Change often happens while we are unaware of it. Time sneaks by and brings subtle and not so subtle changes.
I am growing older…
I am acquiring some wrinkles.
I have gained weight.
I need more sleep.
I am changing… and so is everything and everyone else around me. I can work in and with change or I can fight (futilely) against it. Working with change is empowering and is needed to intentionally have a HOPE-full life.
I can find hope in embracing change.
Is it easy?  No.
Is it hard? Yes.
Is is scary? Yes.
Is it possible? Yes.
Some tips for embracing change:

* learn to savor the good/ learn to shed/discard the negative

* learn from the past/ be in the present

* be joyful in hope.

We will talk more about these tips in the coming weeks. Be blessed. Be fearless. Be changed.

Heidi Mull, fighting fear, embracing change.

What Comfort is NOT…

We are mid-April with May just around the corner. Tax day is behind us and we could all use a little comfort there.

April is the month of sharing hope through comfort and comfort through giving a gift. Whether homemade (see Tidings of Comfort and…Hope blog for ideas) or through time and care (see On Comforting the Sick or Injured blog post).

I would like to talk about what comfort is not. Comfort is NOT fixing, changing, nagging, lecturing, busy-ness, rearranging, blaming, taking over, or giving advice… you get the picture.

Comforting IS action but it is not an action imposed on another but rather the act of coming alongside where that person is and being there with them.

To offer consolations:

“I know it is hard right now”

“I see you are in pain”

“I’m sorry for your loss, pain, suffering.”

Like the map at the mall or amusement park that says “YOU ARE HERE”. Comfort comes and stands or sits “HERE”. So our gifts say “I see you are…HERE”. No matter how big or small, simple or elaborate, a gift of comfort is filled with hope.

Hope says:

“You are NOT alone”

“This too shall pass”

“Don’t give up”

We don’t have to understand it all or offer wisdom of the sages or do it perfectly. All we can offer is some hope for better days wrapped up in a small gift of comfort.

small gift box

Heidi Mull, letting go of what I can’t fix…

and fixing up a small gift basket for a friend who is grieving the recent loss of her father.

Next stop…HERE.

On comforting the sick or injured…

C.A.R.E.
Thoughts on comforting the sick or injured

This month we are focusing on sharing hope with others. Here is an article that I wrote a little while ago. I hope you find it helpful. I would love to hear your stories of how you shared some tidings of comfort and hope this month.

CContact with cards, calls, visits.

AAsk questions to better understand needs.

RRisk your self and reach out.

EEnd with prayer.

It is sometimes hard to know what to do when someone you know well, or not well at all, is ill or injured. Some people don’t want company but a card is lovely. Some want company and get lonely. Sometimes a card would suffice or would Facebook or an email be better….?
With so many options it’s hard to know what to do. In caring for both my husband and my mom in the past several years, through trial and error, I believe I discovered some helpful tips.
My Mom has had several bouts of extended illnesses including several surgeries, hospitalization and chemotherapy. My husband was seriously injured. He had surgeries, hospitalization and physical therapy as well as a resulting disability.
For both the family and the infirmed, comfort and encouragement are vital to survival and recovery. For someone who is normally outgoing, being sidelined is especially difficult even devastating. For the quieter person, isolation is no less painful and they often find it more difficult to express the need for human contact.
Here are some thoughts on ways and ideas of reaching out and maintaining contact with people in need.

1. Most Notable Award
Most people want to know they are being thought of so cards are great. I know that most stores sell boxes of cards (blanks are great). A short note like ‘thinking of you’ or ‘praying for your continued recovery’ is a thoughtful, unobtrusive way to reach out to the person and/or their family especially in the weeks and months to come when the excitement wears off.

2. To Call or not to Call that is the Question
There is no easy answer to this. So…if possible ask a family member if the person would be up to or interested in a phone call. If there is no one to ask, I recommend risking a call and in the process asking if another phone call would be desired or is there another way they would prefer to hear from you.

3. A Computer Wizard
A lot –I would dare say even most people– have access to and are involved in electronic communication. Don’t assume they aren’t. Ask. In this day and age, emails, ecards, Facebook, Skype, and Twitter are all potential avenues to keep in contact with people. I love cards in the mail but have come to appreciate to expediency and the thought that comes with a Facebook message, too.

4. Knock Knock-Who’s There
Once you’ve made the decision to visit face to face-now what? It can be a little scary. Whether it’s a home visit or hospital there are things to consider that will help put you both at ease. Keep your visits short unless you are also providing physical care like food, hair care, massage, etc. Ten to 15 minutes is good to start (unless already discussed with person or family) and no more than 30 minutes. This will help with most awkwardness. Illness brings vulnerability in the area of the physical body. People vary in their comfortableness with bodily functions and visiting in their pajamas/hospital gowns.
It’s great to come prepared with some interesting news or story. Perhaps something that may be of interest to them. Keep it positive and encouraging. It is better to skip the economy, politics, recent arrests, crime rate–think “Guideposts-type” stories. It might be a good idea to read and/or bring a Guidepost or Reader’s Digest with you.
Share something that is happening in your family but again keep it somewhat on the lighter side. The weather, seasons, pets, kids or a hobby are good places to start or maybe a local event. Don’t feel compelled to talk either. There is much comfort in just being there. Asking questions, taking interest in what they’re going through makes a person feel important. A mix of your chit chat and questions about them usually make a good combo. You can usually tell if someone doesn’t feel like talking. If other family members are there they will usually engage in the conversation.
Don’t forget to ask if there is anything they need or that you can do for them. And always offer to pray. Keep it short and sweet: Lord bless _______ with your comfort and peace as You walk with them thru this storm. Thank you for keeping ________ and his/her family close to you. Amen.

However awkward and difficult it may be, sharing hope and comfort brings just that back to the giver. Be brave. Sharing hope is an excellent way to intentionally grow some for yourself.

Heidi Mull, sharing and caring and growing some hope.

And baking some cookies for a friend, who will make the tea, and the circle of life goes on…