The Gift of Loving Ourselves

Today is Valentine’s Day. It is mostly celebrated as a day for lovers. However, whether or not you are in a relationship, it is also a good day to ask yourself, “Do I really love myself?”

Several years ago when I was in an unhappy marriage that was detrimental to my self-worth, I decided to give myself the love that my husband was incapable of giving me. I bought a red, heart-shaped music box that said “I love you” inside. Whenever I needed a reminder, I could open it up and receive that love.

Women tend to do a lot for others, especially spiritual women. However, we need to treat ourselves at times to the kind of care we shower on others. Valentine’s Day will be over by the time I post this, but please continue to celebrate yourself for the beautiful being you are.

I needed some help from a friend tonight and I accepted her offer to listen to me and provide me with feedback. The conversation was very healing for me and encouraged me to take better care of myself–body, mind, and soul. In accepting this help, I was loving myself and reminding myself that self care needs to be a priority in order to have the health and energy available to give to others.

I encourage you to take excellent care of yourself and know that this is actually a gift to your loved ones and everyone you hope to help. Let’s give thanks for and celebrate the Gift of Loving Ourselves on the Journey.

 

The Gift of a Sister’s Heart

I had the pleasure of seeing my sister, Kristi, last night and attending a concert with her and my mom. It was an especially meaningful time together since one of the music groups sang a song about the cross that she co-wrote. We didn’t know if they would sing it or not, so I prayed to Jesus over and over, asking him that they would perform Kristi’s song. When the music started, she and my mom motioned to me that this was the one. We sat in awe listening to her precious lyrics being sung so beautifully. I will never forget that moment.

There is another moment I will never forget. It was Fall of 1989 in the late evening and I had just hastily arrived at my favorite bar after experiencing a flat tire. I ended up depressed and crying in my drink, wondering if this was all there was to life. I had been drinking heavily for six years. At first, alcohol had made me feel better and more sociable. However, now it just made me more depressed.

Unbeknownst to me, my sister’s heart had felt heavily burdened for me a couple months prior to this, like she needed to save me. She had attended a revival service at her church and taken my picture up to the altar, where the evangelist and other attendees laid their hands on her and prayed for me.

After my emotional night at the bar, those prayers were answered. I decided I needed to stop drinking and shortly afterward, entered a rehabilitation center. Although I relapsed after that before finally getting sober on March 10, 1992, I credit my sister’s beautiful gesture for touching God’s heart. Through her prayers, along with those of other family members and several church groups, God helped me achieve and maintain sobriety and a renewed relationship with him. I now, thankfully, have almost 26 years of sobriety.

My sister has written hundreds of songs, but she eventually wrote one describing this story and told me it was my song. Last night at intermission, I also got to meet the man who wrote the music to my sister’s lyrics of my song. He thanked me for sharing my life story through Kristi’s song and said it was an honor to meet me.

What a triumphant night, full of blessings! Please join me in giving thanks for the loving Gift of a Sister’s Heart on the Journey.

The Gift of Connection to Jesus

I am feeling so connected to Jesus that I can’t help but write about him. He is making himself so real to me. I know the picture above may not be how Jesus actually looks, but pictures like this sometimes speak to me and his eyes seem to look deep within me…into my very soul. I just feel love flowing from him.

While meditating tonight, I asked Jesus who he was and I heard in my spirit, “I am love.” I thought of the Bible verse I John 4:7 that says, “Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God, and knows God.” Jesus is love incarnate.

I may not understand the mysteries of God, but I know what I experience and that is a connection to Jesus that no one can ever take away. I know that focusing on him makes me want to be a better person, to love God and to love others as myself.

There is a knowledge that we can have of Jesus from the Bible. That is one type of knowing. However, there is a knowing within that is not just facts about Jesus, but results from truly having a relationship with him. I want to share Jesus with you, not necessarily so you can be saved from a future hell, but so you can know deep inside how loved you are right now. He is the best confidant and guide that you can have on the road of life.

Let’s give thanks to God for the incredible Gift of Connection to Jesus on the Journey.

 

The Gift of Relaxation

I chose a picture of a peaceful setting for tonight’s blog. I don’t know about you, but I need to pause and relax for awhile. I want to quiet my mind and just let the words flow.

My parents’ condo complex has a beautiful lake and it always feels so peaceful there. That is one of the reasons I moved to Florida over 6 years ago. Interestingly, I had to go through a long period of anxiety here before returning to a place of peace. Now I really appreciate moments like this.

My cat, Fergie, certainly has no problem relaxing. In fact, she’s right beside me showing off her ability. She is a great teacher. I can rest my mind while watching her body gently rise and fall with her breath. I think we all probably need this…a few minutes of quiet rest each day. Another way to relax is to meditate. It helps me to meditate with a friend. We set a timer for 5 minutes and silently focus on a passage of Scripture or a phrase.

If you have trouble relaxing, try looking at a peaceful picture, gazing at a body of water, watching your pet, or meditating with a friend. You owe this to yourself. It’s part of taking care of yourself and your health. Let’s thank God for the Gift of Relaxation on the Journey.

 

 

The Gift of Trusting God

Yesterday morning I awoke with some fears after an emotional dream. They were fears pertaining to different types of security. While driving to work I saw on the windshield of the car in front of me in large letters, “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11. I could hardly believe it–a message from God right in front of my eyes! To make it even better, that is my favorite verse in the Bible!

Today I received a letter in the mail that again stirred up those feelings of insecurity. However, I remembered my verse and told myself that I needed to trust God. I also remembered that I have a “God Box.” I used to put my burdens and prayer requests in this beautifully decorated wooden box with an angel on it. I would write my burden or request on a small piece of paper, light a white candle, pray, and then put the piece of paper inside the box.

That box is still full of past concerns that God addressed in miraculous ways. I am excited to go through it and relive all of the beautiful answers to prayer. In friendships we build trust little by little until we know that the other person is safe. If I look back over my life, God has proven himself to be trustworthy over and over again in a multitude of situations. I know that my burdens are safe with Him and He will come through for me in His timing and in a way that is for my highest good.

I can rest with peace in my heart and mind as long as I leave my worries with God…and so can you. I am so grateful for the Gift of Trusting God on the Journey.

The Gift of Friendship

I am so thankful today for my friends. I have lost track of so many over the years. Either I moved or they moved or our interests took us in different directions. However, they remain in my mind and my heart. I do have one friend who I have known since we were twelve years old and whenever we talk, it’s like we’ve never been apart, even if it’s only once or twice a year. That friendship is precious to me. I now have a new friend whose friendship is precious to me as well. 

Close friends have usually gone through several conflicts and crises together, health issues and scares, sorrows and joys. Difficulties simply bring them closer to each other. Deep friendship is a safe haven of protection for us against the storms of life.

I received a beautiful text today from my new friend that was very affirming of me. That was so meaningful, having someone who has gotten to know me well enough to see my shortcomings, share the strengths she sees in me. This is another gift that friendship offers.

Being friends with someone who has different opinions and viewpoints has helped me to grow. It’s challenging, but rewarding as we struggle to understand and empathize with each other. It expands my little world beyond myself, my family, and my job.

How has friendship offered safety, affirmation, and growth in your life? Let’s thank God today for the special Gift of Friendship on the Journey!

The Gift of Memories Salvaged

A week and a day ago my struggling computer finally died. I was concerned that I would lose all of my precious pictures and important as well as treasured documents. Fortunately, the Staples technician was able to transfer all of my data from the old laptop to my beautiful new laptop. I didn’t lose anything!

I am so relieved and happy that all of these memories were salvaged. It makes me grateful as well for the memories in my mind and physical pictures and keepsakes. My maternal grandmother’s birthday was today. I spent the afternoon with my mom and she gave me a Holly Hobbie decorative plate that had been my grandmother’s with the following verse on it, “Always take the time to say what’s on your heart.” It’s my mother’s (and I like to think my grandmother’s) way of supporting my writing and my blog.

Sometimes it’s difficult to decide what items to keep and what to release. I am very sentimental, but with support from my mother and sister, was able to let go of quite a lot while preparing for my move from Pittsburgh, PA to Bradenton, FL over six years ago. I had accumulated 50 years worth of stuff I thought I needed to keep. However, I ended up saving a few items that are close to my heart.

Even among the pictures and documents on my computer are some that I’m sure I can release. However, at least I have the chance to look at them again and take my time in making those determinations. 

How do you decide what to keep and what to let go of in your life? I am so grateful for the opportunity to decide and the Gift of Memories Salvaged.

The Gift of Personal Progress

Sometimes it takes another person to reveal to us the progress that we’ve made. We are so close to our own lives that we only see the day to day steps forward or backward. We may actually be purposely and wisely concentrating on one step at a time…one day at a time. However, family members and friends who have known us for many years have the ability to see our progress from further away. They can see the giant strides we have made over the years.

If you think you are not where you should be in life, contemplate where you used to be. Chances are that you’ve made considerable personal progress. Do you react to situations in a more positive way than before? Have you become more self-aware? Have you met challenges with greater ease and wisdom? Are you more loving than you used to be?

Tonight I was speaking with my mother on the phone when she pointed out that it is a miracle that I have such positive self-esteem now, regardless of the number on the scale. I struggled with a poor self-image growing up. As an adult, my sense of worth was often tied to external circumstances like my weight, my looks at the time, being liked by the opposite sex, and whether or not I had the approval of others. Even in middle age, I often wilted at any hint of disapproval. Before my mother reminded me of my past struggles, I hadn’t realized how far I’d come. I thank God for this beautiful healing within me.

I encourage you to ask someone you trust who has known you for a long time to share with you in what ways they have seen you make progress. Then celebrate that growth.

Let’s thank God for the wisdom we have gained and the Gift of Personal Progress on the Journey!

 

The Gift of Nutritious Food

Like many women, I have had a love-hate relationship with food and my weight. Right now I feel bloated and uncomfortable. I am only 5’1” (used to be 5’2″) and am at one of my highest weights. Fortunately, my self-esteem is at an all time high despite this fact.

At the age of fifteen I was slender, but felt that my tummy needed to be flatter. I studied and memorized calorie amounts and got down to 102 pounds. I was also into nutrition to some extent. I gained the weight back in high school and although I was a healthy 117 pounds, I compared my body to my more petite friends’ and decided I was fat.

In college my “freshman fifteen” ended up being my freshman twenty-five or thirty! I had been experiencing a deep clinical depression and was using food to make myself feel better. I first started binging and eventually became bulimic. My parents took me to get help for the bulimia. It worked in a way, but I ended up just transferring my addiction from food to alcohol.

In my thirties, forties, and fifties, my weight has fluctuated within a 50 pound range. Thankfully, I no longer eat for emotional reasons. However, I still have trouble consistently choosing lower calorie, nutritious food over junk and sweets. I am now trying to be more mindful of what I put into my body. I hope to be able to get down to a more comfortable weight. It’s not about looks for me anymore. It’s about feeling good in my body.

If you are on a similar path, I pray that God will help us to take better care of ourselves and feed ourselves life-giving, energy-producing foods. Let’s give thanks for the Gift of Nutritious Food on the Journey!

 

The Gift of Mature Love

After a two year engagement, my fiancé and I are finally ready to set a wedding date. We are not the typical twenty-somethings that get married and start a family. He is sixty-three and I am fifty-five. He has a grown son. We have each been married and divorced twice. However, I have known Jim for six years and we are coming into this marriage with a more mature love than I have had in the past.

This time I chose compassion and kindness as two qualities I wanted in a man. I opted for mutual respect and tender affection. Neither one of us is perfect. However, we may just be perfect for each other.

Marriage is a risk at any age. It requires trust and commitment, especially after two past attempts. We don’t know what the future holds. Yet, I know that God meant for us to meet here in Florida after our last marriages ended. Jim moved here from New York a year before I moved here from Pittsburgh. Our parents are friends and live in the same condominium complex. We met on Christmas day in 2011 at his parents’ condo. I like to think of him as my Christmas present! Our first date was on New Year’s Eve of that year.

We have already survived trauma, surgeries, job loss, and other struggles and we have grown closer through them. I anticipate more struggles to come, but also a kind of peace that comes from having the Gift of a Mature Love on the Journey.