Things I Love 7: The Blog Series That Wouldn’t Die (Like Freddy Krueger)

island hammock

I realize that I’m getting ridiculous with this 7th installment of the blog series of things I’m thankful for, but I do really have so many things (most of them small and seemingly insignificant) that I love and am thankful for. This one starts with #146. And yes, I am that scatter-brained that every time I do one of these I have to look up the last one to see what numbers I ended with.

146) The people who read my blogs. Each and every one of you make me feel special.

147) That ¬†even if I’ve completely blown it with a friend and the worst case scenario happens and she never wants to see me or talk to me ever again (which I hope is NOT the case), then my world won’t end and life will go on and I will be okay because God’s grace is still sufficient.

148) Running my favorite trail in Crockett Park.

149) Dog-sitting (or cat-sitting) for a friend or family member. And yes, I can be hired for a reasonable fee.

150) When I realize how truly blessed I am to be alive and healthy for another day and how many won’t ever get that privilege again.

151) When I can make people smile or laugh.

152) When I see the face of someone who really gets how much God truly does love them.

153) The salty smell of the ocean air when I’m near the beach.

154) Listening to my grandfather’s old pink tube radio and thinking that it’s the same one that kept him company in his workshop all those years.

155) When I am simply overwhelmed by the joy of the Lord.

156) The sun breaking through after several grey, rainy days in a row.

157) Whenever and wherever mercy triumphs over judgment.

158) The calming sound of a ceiling fan at night that helps me drift off to sleep.

159) Seeing answered prayers for those I’ve prayed for a long time.

160) When I fail family and friends and find grace and forgiveness rather than judgment and condemnation.

161) My old comfortable pair of sandals that have taken me to many places and adventures with good friends (and kept me from getting blisters).

162) Being able to look back on friendships that ended and remember the joy and good times instead of the hurt.

163) Mixing the creamy jalapeno ranch and the salsa at Chuy’s for the perfect dip for those amazing tortilla chips.

164) The chicken tortilla soup at Chuy’s (after those chips and dip).

165) The joy of sparking new conversations at restaurants and coffee shops with strangers who become later become friends.

166) That my Abba Father still delights in me, dances with joy, and sings me to sleep every single night.

167) Sitting still in the pre-Civil War St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in downtown Franklin and feeling the peace of Christ wash over me.

Just Another Sleepy Sunday

I have been sleepy all day today. Maybe it’s because it’s been grey and overcast just about the entire day. Maybe because it’s Sunday. Maybe it’s because I didn’t take my customary Sunday afternoon, choosing instead to watch an old movie on TCM.

Regardless, I have a feeling I’ll sleep really good tonight.

I’ve never been more aware of my dire need for God than lately. I need him desperately every hour of every day, every minute of every hour, and every second of every minute. He’s the one who holds me together.

I’ve also never been more aware of the abiding peace of knowing that God is in control of my life. I don’t know what the days and weeks and months ahead hold for me, but I know God knows.

So instead of seeing problems and obstacles, I’m choosing to see blessings. Like the blessings of family and friends, good health, freedom of worship, and life. I hope I never get over the joy of celebrating each and every day as a gift and every person in my life as a blessing that I don’t deserve but I get anyway.

So many will go to bed hungry. So many will end the day alone. So many will have to wake up tomorrow without purpose or meaning or God in their lives.

I need to remember that I’m not blessed so I can grow fat and happy. I’m blessed so that I can in turn be a blessing to someone else who needs it.

So my questions to you are the same ones I’m asking myself. Who are you going to be a blessing to today? Who will you pray for? Who will you encourage? Whose lives will you speak into, whether through a phone call or a text or a facebook post?

If you woke up at all today, you’re blessed. If you had at least one meal today, you’re blessed. If you had shelter from the rain and a car to drive, you’re blessed. If you had family and friends to cheer you up, you’re blessed.

So, how will you pay it forward?

A Slice of Blogging Life

Here I am, sitting at a table in the middle of a Connection Cafe at Brentwood Baptist Church that’s full of people and conversations and laughter and . . . well, life. While I was bashing my brains (not literally) trying to come up with a fresh blog topic, I thought, “Why not just describe where I am?” I mean, after all, if this blog fails spectacularly, it’s not like I don’t have 988 others to fall back on. The world won’t end.

I’m in a good position to witness a lot of the interaction going on around me and do what I love to do but don’t normally do unless I’m at the mall: people-watching.

I sometimes like to step outside of life for a bit and observe it. Not in an OCD, note-taking kind of way, but just in a general non-threatening, non-creepy kind of way. I love seeing families and married couples and throngs of teenagers and all the ways they mesh together.

It’s good to slow down and really appreciate this simple things in life. To appreciate family and friends, good health, freedom, the Church with all her beauty and faults, and life. There’s that life stuff again. I guess it boils down to being grateful for being alive. Life isn’t guaranteed. It’s a gift handed to us each day for which most of us– including me– taking for granted most of the time. But not today.

Today I am aware that I could very well not be here tomorrow. Neither could you. No one is guaranteed a tomorrow.

So if you get anything out of this rambling mess of a blog, take this. Take time to appreciate all the miracle and mystery and madness that is life. Take time to be thankful for the gift of being alive and being able to enjoy it.

That’s all. Now you can go back to watching re-runs of Swamp People.

Tips for Getting Fit

camelbak-groove-insulated

As of today, I’ve lost 30 pounds (insert Monty Python “Yay” sound effect). I feel much better. The only downsize is that none of my jeans fit anymore. Almost all of them are too big for me now.

How did I do this? Well, here are a few tips I’ve learned along the way that have helped.

1) Give up soft drinks. If you’re from the South, that means giving up Cokes. If you’re from anywhere else, that equates to no more soda/soda pop/carbonated beverages. Even the diet sodas (you’ll be amazed at how much the craving for sweets goes down once you’ve quit the Diet Dr Peppers and Diet Mountain Dews). It’s not easy, but as I can attest after nearly 9 months without them, it can be done. Giving up these soft drinks has helped me more than anything else I’ve done to lose weight.

2) Deliberately park further away. It seems people want to wait 15 minutes for a spot that is 5 minutes closer, but if you want to get fit, buck that trend and park further away than usual. That means you have to walk further. It may not seem like much, but every little bit counts.

3) Take the stairs instead of the elevator whenever possible. Unless of course you’re going up to the 99th floor in a 100-story building.

4) Buy a reusable water. I have a Camelbak insulated water bottle with a filter that I got on sale, but any BPA-free water bottle will do. I truly believe that if you have one of these, you will drink more water.

5) I’d recommend finding an affordable pedometer. It’s not essential, but it does help to see how many steps you take during an average day. A good pedometer will also take into account how long your stride is and will also tell you how many miles you’ve walked and how many calories you’ve burned.

The key is to do something. You don’t have to start right away with a¬†grueling 2-hour workout session the very first day. Just turn off the TV and go outside for a walk. The important thing is consistency, doing something every day. Every single step matters, because it gets you one step closer to where you want to be.

In shape.

Perspective

At the moment, I’m a bit annoyed with my wi-fi service. It’s slow and it doesn’t want to connect to web pages very well. I keep getting a “This web page is not available” notification. I keep thinking, “Why is this happening to me? What did I ever do to deserve this?”

In answer to your question, yes, I would like to have some cheese with my whine.

Then I have a little perspective.

I woke up this morning. I was able to get out of bed and enjoy my day and do all those things I routinely take for granted that so many people can’t do, like get dressed, feed myself, walk, etc.

I had food to eat and clean water to drink. Many people around the world don’t have either and have to walk for miles to bring home dirty, unsanitary water because that’s the only water they can find to drink. And here I am stuffing myself with Halloween candy and complaining about slow wi-fi.

I have friends who can witness me say and do some incredibly dumb things and still want to be my friends. Ditto for family. Nobody so far is pretending they don’t know me when they see me or ducking into an alley when I walk by. Not yet.

Best of all, I have a hope and a confidence and an eternal security that nothing and no one can take away. I have a God who told me that no one would ever snatch me from his hand. That he wouldn’t ever lose me. I have a promise direct from God himself that the best is yet to come.

So wi-fi issues suddenly don’t seem that important anymore. At least I’m still better off than when I had a slow desktop with an even slower dial-up modem and an internet service (which I won’t name) that kept dropping the connection and charged way too much for service. Yes, kids, we used to have to get internet through the telephone line with noisy little things called modems. And we had to watch television by candlelight before electricity was invented.

So, I feel better already. Don’t you? It’s all about getting the right perspective.