While I'm enjoying a week away with other YoungLives campers, enjoy this repost from my previous blog lizology101.
We waited for an hour, standing barefoot on hot sand, sunscreened against the July glare. When our turn finally came, we stepped into heavy wet harnesses, tightened the waist straps, loosened the thighs.
Then we walked to the other side of the lake, barefoot over grass and gravel, carrying the double-webbed straps with heavy cable clips slung over our shoulders. When we reached the zipline tower, we climbed uncountable steps, up and up and up -- to the top, where we were greeted by a teenaged kid wearing a harness clipped into a spider web of safety lines.
He clipped our harnesses into the web, and again we waited, eye-level with the tree tops. The tower swayed gently in the breeze, just enough to be slightly nauseating. Then came the awareness that we really planned to jump off from here.
"Stand on the box," the kid told us.
We stepped to the edge of the wooden platform, toes hanging off into air. The kid attached our clips to the zipline. He unhooked our safety straps from the web. We stood unsteadily on the edge.
"I can't do it!" my companion called.
"There's nowhere to go but down!" I answered.
I counted, "One, two, three, jump!" but neither of us moved.
I leaned back against the line to put tension in the harness, counted to three again, and lifted my feet.
"Where can I go from your Spirit? Or where can I flee from your presence? . . . If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, Even there your hand shall lead me, And your right hand shall hold me" (Psalm 139:7,9-10).
God always knows where we are, and he is always with us. Nowhere we go can escape the reach of his protection and love.
Sometimes we wait, wondering, for days or months or years for God's call to jump. Sometimes the call comes as a gentle nudge, sometimes a hard shove. At some time God calls each of us to take a big step. Then we have to trust in him and ride the line wherever it goes.
The zipline was a few screaming seconds before splashdown in the cold lake. Kicking, splashing, spitting water, I looked around for my companion.
I heard her beside me laughing, "Let's do it again!"
I pray you have faith to jump eagerly and often. What step is God calling you to take today?
Someone I love very much has accused me of saying "Whatever" too much.
"You wouldn't use that in your writing," he said.
Actually, I thought. Maybe I will.
Whatever emotions you are feeling today are important. Emotions are the barometers of our souls. Listen to your feelings, respect their message, and honor the truths they tell.
Whatever lessons you are learning today are necessary. Failures are only course corrections to redirect our journeys. Decide to learn from what goes wrong and choose a way to make it right.
Whatever gifts you receive today are worth opening. Blessings often arrive in disguised packages. Appreciate and give thanks for every experience that comes your way.
Whatever you seek is available.
Whatever God shows you has meaning.
Whatever place he leads you has purpose.
Whatever challenge you face will help you move forward.
Today may you find whatever it is you ask and seek. Know that whatever your prayer, God hears every word.
And to my Loved One: Remember you are loved, whatever you say.
What is God saying to you today? Where is he calling and leading you?
I bought a new duffle bag to pack for this summer's trip. Stacked on my spare bed are the piles of clothes and bags of toiletries I plan to take for seven days at the campground in Michigan.
Among the items I consider necessary for seven days away from home:
*Two beach towels
*Two pairs of flip-flops, one for the beach and one for the shower
*Two pairs of sunglasses, or maybe I need to take all three
*Tennies because I hope to tackle the high-ropes obstacle course this year
*A good book to read on the almost-14-hour bus ride. This year I am taking Room by Emma Donoghue.
*GinGins ginger candy because I tend to get car sick when I read on the bus
*Pepto Bismol in case the GinGins aren't enough
*Snack bars and string cheese, because if I don't get car sick on the way, I will definitely get hungry.
I will be making this year's journey to camp with 11 teen moms from our YoungLives group, their children, and five other mentors. We will spend seven days together swimming, ziplining, dancing, singing, and praying.
I will be packing other necessities to help make camp a fantastic week.
*A sense of adventure to try new things like the ropes course and paddle boarding
*A sense of humor to laugh at myself when I fall off the paddle board. Hopefully I won't fall from the ropes course.
*An open mind to get to know new people, accept new assignments, and develop a new attitude
*An open heart filled with forgiveness, abundant patience, and positive energy
*The belief we are making this journey together to share an awesome experience and build caring relationships
*The knowledge this week will be wonderful, no matter what happens!
I'm also leaving space in my new duffle bag to bring back fun memories, renewed confidence, stronger friendships, deeper faith, and hopefully all three pairs of sunglasses.
Where are your adventures taking you this summer? What will you pack to prepare for your travels?
Somehow I always got the cart with the squealing wheel. I wrestled it through the twists and turns of the grocery store, throwing in rattling boxes of macaroni and cheese, rubbery hot dogs, chicken nuggets, whole milk, white bread, peanut butter, giant slabs of frozen pizza, and pastel-colored breakfast cereal in enormous plastic bags.
At the last aisle of the store, I stopped and turned around. The final aisle was the forbidden zone, a foreign and mysterious territory, a place I thought was off-limits to poor moms like me.
The produce aisle.
We can't afford it, I told myself. We won't eat it, and it will all go bad anyway. Fresh produce is for people with money. I maneuvered the cart toward the checkout lane.
Looking back, I know my daughter and I were very blessed. We never went hungry. Though we lived for many years on one minimum-wage income, we always had enough to eat, and for that I am very grateful.
But I have wondered what I could have done differently to feed my daughter more nutritiously on the resources we had.
"It's not all or nothing," says Meg, a Health Coach for the Dr. Sears L.E.A.N. lifestyle and nutrition program. Meg encourages moms to make small changes, small shifts in thinking about the way we feed our families.
"You can't change the way you eat all at once, or it won't be sustainable," Meg explains. She says small changes are less shocking to a family's habits and finances.
Meg offers a few small steps moms can take to provide more nutritious food for their families.
- Add one fruit or vegetable serving a day.
- Scrub fresh fruits and vegetables, or wash them with vinegar. We don't need to buy organic produce.
- Watch for sales and buy less expensive varieties. Apples are still apples.
- Have fun. Try new things, and let your children see you enjoying healthy changes.
- Experiment with small amounts of new, unfamiliar foods. Buy one star fruit and sample it with your children.
"Do what works for your family," Meg continues. "Realize this season of life is not forever, and do the best you can with what you have. Your family will benefit."
The Dr. Sears Wellness Institute offers lifestyle, exercise, and nutrition information and support. The website provides a blog about health and nutrition, pages of recipes and shopping tips, and the opportunity to become a certified Health Coach like Meg. In future posts Meg will share an explanation of Dr. Sears' Traffic Light Foods and guidance on how to read nutrition labels.
My family and financial situation have changed since the days I avoided the produce aisle. More importantly, my old attitude of "We can't afford it" has changed to: We can afford it. We deserve it, and I want to be healthy.
Now the produce aisle is my first stop in the grocery store. I buy bags of apples, oranges, and little baby carrots. I choose Romaine lettuce with sunflower seeds, dried cranberries, and raspberry vinaigrette dressing. We like cauliflower roasted in olive oil and sweet potatoes baked with real butter.
But somehow I still get the cart with the screeching wheel.
What has been your experience in the grocery store? How do you find nutritious alternatives for your family?
I put up my hair; stepped into my swimsuit and flip-flops; collected sunscreen, sunglasses, and a water bottle.
Together we walked downstairs and across the courtyard to the pool area. We found the gate chained.
The weather was perfect, warm, but not scorching. My daughter had taken a vacation day off work so we could spend the afternoon hanging out by the pool. The lounge chairs beckoned, promising peace, relaxation, and conversation; but that gate was chained.
We called the complex office. "Only a couple of hours," we were told. "Maintenance is adjusting the chlorine levels. The pool will reopen soon."
So we waited, frustrated, annoyed, irritated. We walked repeatedly up and down the concrete steps to check on the poolman's progress.
The gate remained chained.
We ate lunch, then checked the gate. We ate ice cream, then checked the gate. We drove to the massive aquatic center across town, then decided against paying to sit beside the crowded pool when we had a beautiful, free pool back at the complex. We drove home and checked the gate. Still chained.
We sat on the couch in the cool living room and watched a few episodes of Brain Games until the rain started. We didn't spend a minute by the pool or gain a degree on our tans.
"There shall be eternal summer in the grateful heart."
I am grateful because I spent an afternoon with my daughter. We ate burgers and ice cream. We laughed about the silliness of walking back and forth to check on the padlocked gate. We shrieked over the dead mouse we found in the parking lot. We learned from Brain Games that compassionate feelings are shared and generated by compassionate actions. And we enjoyed the peace, relaxation, and conversation we had planned, but in the comfort of an air-conditioned living room.
I am grateful for every day I spend in the company of the people I love. I appreciate every moment I have with them, whether in clear skies or rain, sun or shadow.
What are your plans this summer afternoon? What will you do if your plans suddenly change?