40 Days Lighter – Day 25: Finding A God-Honoring Rhythm (Part 1)

 

Rest

If there were any two areas along this journey to becoming 40 days lighter with which I have genuinely struggled and truthfully feel like an utter failure, it would be in finding times of rest, and moments for self-care.

I am constantly on the go, if not in the care of our family, for work, if not for work, then for school, and the list goes on. Even when I attempt to build in moments of down time or quiet, I somehow find a way to fill the “gap” in my schedule with something else. It’s so easy to plan to just sit in silence so that I can find the words for my writing, yet as I’m passing the kitchen sink to put down my laptop, I have a “let me just do these dishes really quick” moment. And before I know it, I’m sweeping, then I’m cooking, and a host of other household tasks not related to my writing.

I have put the baby down for nap, saying this is a good moment to rest myself, or sit and read, and before I know it, I’ve grabbed my phone or laptop to take care of “one last thing”, which mysteriously transforms into 10 more things, and before I know it, the baby is up, blinking at me with those beautiful brown eyes. And I haven’t read a single page or slept a wink.

I have taught myself to see rest or downtime as “optional”, or a thing I do when I’ve taken care of everything else. 

And eventually I crash.

And I become irritable, unfocused, frustrated, overwhelmed, and overall, so tired it seeps into my bones. And I am forced to pause, because my body and mind refuse to go another step forward without recharging first.

Adele Ahlberg Calhoun says, “Lack of adequate rest can ruin our families, damage our souls, even kill us. When we burn the candle at both ends we:

  • lose sight of what we enjoy in our work
  • find even the things we enjoy doing become a chore
  • fail to give people the gift of our attention and presence
  • impair our ability to hear God’s voice and discern his movement in our lives
  • become obsessive about the to-do list
  • lose touch with the human limits that are meant to keep us in touch with God

This last point struck me to my core.

When I neglect my need for rest and forget about my limitations as a human being, I lose touch with God. Could it be that to reject rest, is to see ourselves as wiser than God – since even He has given us a model for work and rest by doing so Himself?

I will close with this, and invite you to join me in reflection – and repentance if you find yourself rejecting rest as well:

“God created us in his image. He is a God who works and then rests. When we rest, we honor the way God made us. Rest can be a spiritual act – a truly human act of submission to and dependence on God who watches over all things as we rest.”

~ Adele Ahlberg Calhoun, Spiritual Disciplines Handbook: Practices That Transform Us

 

40 Days Lighter – Day 23: Build Muscle & Burn Fat

Post Workout

This is going to hurt in the morning, isn’t it…

Over the next 2 nights, I want to share with you a few key observations from my journey that I believe will encourage you as much as they have encouraged me!

As I am on this journey to healthy living, exercise has become a critical part of what I do, an integral part of my daily routine.

This in itself is almost hard to believe, because prior to only 6 weeks ago, I would easily make all kinds of excuses not to work out for weeks or months at a time! And if I did manage to get myself moving for a period of time, the trend over the last few years was to fall off right around week 4.

(We’ve passed that now – woohoo!)

I have become aware that for me to achieve my weight loss/fitness/strength goals, I need to build muscle and I need to burn fat. So I need to spend time working out, doing intense enough exercises to build up my muscles, to strengthen them, to help them work harder and faster, so that they will burn fat even when I am not actively working out, just going throughout my day. I need to build muscle and burn fat.

What is the fat? It’s the stuff that doesn’t belong – at least not in the quantities that I am storing it. I have had years of unhealthy eating. I have had a love affair with cake… cookies… brownies… honestly, I didn’t discriminate as long as it fit in the category of sweets. I loved these empty calories, which brought me great pleasure and momentary satisfaction, but if we’re looking at the facts, were doing far more harm than good to my body. They were my go to! Yet now that I am not eating them, (regularly anyway), and have committed to making healthy food choices, along with exercising, I am now attacking the fat.

I’d like to think that I am going through the same process in the rest of my life. As I’m decluttering my life, I’m trying to build muscle – I’m working on the areas of my life that need to be Strengthened, stretched and sustained to get me and my family to where we desire to be, to where God desires us to be. But I need to burn the fat – the distractions, the “stuff” that does not matter, that doesn’t build us up or help us to achieve our financial goals, our spiritual goals, our academic or professional goals, our entrepreneurial goals.

This is the unhealthy “stuff” we need to burn away – the doubts, the fears, the insecurities. We need to build our trust in God, that’s how we’re building our faith “muscles”.

**Stay tuned for part 2 entitled “Something’s Got to Intensify!”**

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

40 Days Lighter – Day 17: Is It in the Right Pile?

Hangers

In my efforts to declutter my closet and dresser, I have repeatedly come across items that I was, at first, either sure I wanted to keep, or I was seriously considering throwing out. This internal wrestling with myself became cumbersome, so I followed the instructions of decluttering expert Marie Kondo, and simply pulled everything out into the open, covering my bed in clothes and accessories.

Now, with all of my belongings in one heap, I was able to form 2 more accurate piles: what I loved and would keep, what I no longer needed/wanted and would remove. That second pile was then split into two more piles – items in excellent condition to be donated, and a “straight to the trash” pile. I would never have guessed the amount of will power it actually takes to  properly prioritize one’s clothing.

I had jeans that I haven’t worn in years – whether it was because I was too big, or they were too small, no need to point the finger – but I still struggled to put them in the donate or trash pile! I wish that I could say that they were only a size or two away, but I found a pair of jeans that were upwards of 3 sizes from my being wearable, so even with my recent weight loss adventure, it would be quite a while before I could even squeeze a leg in them!

I asked myself why it was so difficult to part with items that I was not using, and simply did not need. I came up with a variety of answers – one pair was the most comfortable jeans I had ever owned; another was a design and color that just have not seen anywhere recently. I had tops that – if I’m being painfully transparent – were a style that I liked…on other people… but I probably wore once… or would never actually get around to wearing. Because sometimes, we wish we could embrace someone else’s sense of style…right?

As I thought about my reasons for hesitation with my clothes, I realized that these were often the same excuses that sometimes keep us from making transformative decisions in life. This particular role, or way of living is so comfortable. That’s just my style, just the way I am. Or the opposite – I want to try doing it like “So and so”, because they did it that way and they were successful – not realizing that another person’s style or life will never be the “right fit” for us. 

Some of us are afraid to make the difficult decision to let relationships, jobs, downright messy and unhealthy situations go – because we’re afraid we will never find another one like it. Even though that person isn’t helping us grow, even though that job is clearly dead end, even if our very future is in jeopardy, we simply can’t let it go because it’s familiar.

Tonight, I am challenging myself, as I encourage you, to make sure that we are properly – and prayerfully – prioritizing our life, so that we can be positioned to fulfill our purpose!