Tag Archives: women

What if you’re still writing the rest of your story….

23 Jul

I’ve recently listened to a series of messages entitled, The Rest of the Story.  Different leaders shared their story and then what they decided to do which resulted in the rest of their story.  These messages were inspiring, encouraging, empowering, motivational, and real.  Each speaker was honest, transparent, and vulnerable about darker times in their lives and shared how they made decisions that resulted in the rest of their story.  Each message ended with how they survived, triumphed, and moved forward.  Each week, I learned so much.  It’s always good to hear how a person makes it through challenging times.    However, as I sat there today, I realized that not everyone, myself included, has seen the “rest of the story.”  Many of us are still in the writing process and the waiting process.  The speakers talked about seeing their promises fulfilled.  What about those of us who are still waiting on the our promises to be fulfilled?  What about those of us who have dreams and hopes and have had them for a while but haven’t seen them turn out like we’ve hoped and dreamed???

This is where I believe in the power of sharing and being vulnerable while we are in the process of writing our story.  I believe it’s very powerful to hear someone say, “this is what is going on in my life right now…I’m not sure how it’s going to turn out and I’m not sure what is going to happen…but this is what my mindset….this is my perspective on things….this is how I’m not giving up.”

It’s very inspiring to hear how people have made it through financial difficulties and are on the other side and have achieved success in their financial goals.  But what about being open and honest while going through the financial difficulties???  What if people were to be vulnerable and say, “Right now, I’m trying to figure out job situations and I’ve had some unexpected bills arise and finances are tight; however, this is what I’m doing and how I’m meeting the challenges.”

I know that every person has some challenge or situation he or she is facing right now.  Myself included.  So, it’s very encouraging to hear someone share his or her story of being in the middle of his or her current chapter with no knowledge of how the rest of the story will go and to share how he or she is counting wins and moving forward in the direction of his or her dreams and goals.  I know for my clients who have weight loss goals it is much more effective for them to hear from others on the weight loss journey….not from people who have already lost the weight but from those who are currently on the journey of losing weight.

Sharing our stories…even the ones we are in the process of writing and have not yet seen the rest of the story….is powerful.  When we are going through struggles, it’s easy to feel isolated and alone and as if we are the only one who has ever went through that situation.  It’s always assuring to know that others are right in the trenches with us working towards a dream, a goal, seeing a promise fulfilled.  Yes, I want to hear from people who know the rest of their story; but I also want to hear from people who have no idea how the rest of the story will end up.

How are you choosing to hope in spite of broken promises?  How are you choosing to believe when it looks like your dreams are shattered?  How are you moving forward towards your goals in spite of challenges and setbacks?  These are the stories I want to hear, too.  Yes, I want to hear the stories of people who have made it – who have conquered illness – who have attained financial security and success after going bankrupt  – who have a wonderful marriage after having broken relationships and suffering.  I want to hear them all.

We need to know that there is beauty after hardship but we also need to know there is beauty during hardship.  We need to know about the mountain that someone climbed; however, we also need to hear from the person in the process of climbing the mountain.   We need to know that there is life after illness; however, we need to know that there is life during illness.  We need to know about the successful entrepreneur; however, we also need to hear the story of the entrepreneur who is struggling during the process of building his or her business.

I don’t have life all figured out.  My life isn’t all packaged nicely in a beautifully wrapped box with a bow.  I have dreams that I haven’t seen come to pass, yet.  There are financial struggles – there are career struggles – the single life has lasted a lot longer than what I thought it would – there are moments of uncertainty – my chances of motherhood seem to be slipping away.  Yes, I’m looking forward to the rest of the story and being able to tell the rest of the story.  However, I am writing a beautiful book…the story of my life.  I get to write it.  And I’m enjoying the process of writing it.

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Mowing Musings

30 May
Mowing musings:
 
As I was out mowing my yard this evening, I had time to ponder some statements and situations that have come to the forefront of my life the last few weeks. And I just kept thinking, if only every person could have empathy, kindness and understanding for the people in their lives and the people that cross their paths.
 
You see, we all have different stories – we all are at different stages of life – we all have different levels of responsibilities – we all are on this journey called, LIFE. And to each of us, our struggles are real – our worries can be overwhelming at times – there are things we wish we could change. We all have experienced loss of some kind – there are different kinds of loss…. loss of dreams, loss of health, loss of finances, loss of relationships, loss of loved ones. Every loss leaves a hole and an empty space in our lives – no matter what kind of loss it is.
 
The world would be such a better place if we didn’t place more value on what we are dealing with and where we are in our present situations bigger and more difficult than everyone else and his or her situations and place in life.
 
My story is not your story – your story is not mine. For me to think my story is better than yours or more important than yours is very selfish. To each of us our story is big and important and hardships are difficult. I should never place more value on what I’m going through over what you are going through. To each of us, our hurts are real – they cut to the bone. To each of us, our loss is very painful…no matter what that loss is.
 
When we say, well, people just don’t understand where I am and what I’m facing and what I’m dealing with”, we are really staying stuck in a pity party that is going to do nothing to move us forward. I may not have gone through exactly what you have gone through but I can empathize because I’ve had my own disappointments and struggles.
 
Each of us is writing a story and our story is very real. Let’s respect one another’s story and let’s not compare. But instead, let’s extend kindness, understanding, and empathy. Let’s not demean or place lesser value on other’s stories and think that our story is the most important story. Let’s build up, support, and encourage and truly listen when someone else is sharing where they are and what they are feeling.
 
I hope we will place value on every person in our life – whether it’s family, friends, colleagues, the person at the grocery store, etc. Every person has worth and value – let’s recognize that!
 
From my heart……
Thanks for reading!

Haiti, Thursday, February 23rd

28 Mar

Thursday was the “off-day” for the team.  It was a free day and we discussed the night before what we would like to do.  The options were presented and we chose to visit the Musee de Pantheon National Haitian in Port-au-Prince so we could learn more of the history of the country we were visiting.  

The city was in the middle of celebrating Carnival days so the drive from Bon Sam was full of things to see.  Lots of traffic, lots of sidewalk vendors and lots of trash from the festival goers.  Again, I was grateful that I was not the one having to drive!!! Driving in Haiti is not like driving in the US.  I know the Haitians understand how it works but I would be in multiple accidents in just one hour’s time if I had to drive.  I was in amazement at how the traffic works and that the vehicles were not full of dents and fender benders!!!  We could still see some of the devastation from the 2010 earthquake; they haven’t been able to fix all the buildings.  This was very evident in the Cathedral of our Lady of the Assumption.  It was destroyed but part of it was left standing.  There are talks of reconstructing it but nothing has been finalized.

The Museum only took about one hour to go through but it was very informative.  Of course, I love history and love learning about other countries so some people may not have found it as  fun 🙂  We walked to one of the areas that had been one of the tent cities where people lived in after the earthquake.  It was eerily quiet even though it was in the middle of the city.  At one time it was a very nice park in front of the presidential palace.  There were several monuments but there’s a wall around it and not many people are allowed in there.  Delta, our security man, was able to argue his way and allow us to gain access and walk around the grounds.

We left there and headed back to Ti-Marche so we could check on the lady who had suffered the stroke on Tuesday.  We were also going back to the house where we had left Bruno.  I had already determined that they may have chosen to use Bruno as food and was prepared for that reality.  I was SO excited when we turned the corner and I could see Bruno under the tree munching on some grass.  The lady came out and greeted us with a beautiful smile and she came to me and took me back to see Bruno.  I can’t even describe the joy I felt that shewas happy to see us and remembered me and wanted me to see Bruno.  We were saddened to hear that the lady whom had suffered the stroke did not make it – she was only 52 years old.   Grim facts that the average woman dies at age 65 and the average man dies at age 60.  Strokes are the #1 killer.

We left there and went to a fishing village on a beautiful lake.  I do not know the name of the village.  Our drivers could only go so far on the dirt road and then we had to walk.  It took us about 30 minutes and was downhill as it took us to the water’s edge.  Lake Azuei (or Etang Sumatre) is the name of the lake and it is simply breathtaking.   As we made our way towards the lake, we attracted village children, teens and animals.  Most of them could not speak English but that didn’t keep them from trying to communicate.  They all knew what a phone was and all knew how to pose for pics.  They loved seeing the pics of themselves after we would take their picture.  Their smiles were beautiful and it reached into their eyes – they may not have much but they are happy.  Their was one young man – about 17 years old – who knew English so he walked with me and chatted for a while.  His name was Francois.  He wanted to know where I was from, what we were doing, etc.  We caught up to my friend, Dena, and he wanted to know her name and asked her if she was a grandmother.  She replied that she was.  He then turned me and asked if I was a grandmother.  I replied, no, I’m not…I don’t have any children.  He was astonished and quickly asked, “What’s wrong with you???”  I laughed and laughed – I’ve never had anyone ask that directly of me…although, I’m sure people have wondered.  I told him that I wasn’t married and really didn’t want to have children without a husband.  That question was the highlight of the night as I shared it with the team at our evening devotion time.  

There was a old wooden boat pulled up to the shoreline.  We gathered around it and the wind was coming off the lake and the waves were choppy and we could hear the waves coming up to the shoreline.  We could hear the laughter of the children – the bleating of the goats – and the sky was blue with puffy white clouds and the sun was just radiant.  Ashley asked if we could have some prayer time, so the team stood in a circle and one by one we just openly prayed what was on our mind at that moment.  It was the most peaceful, serene moment I have ever experienced.  It was almost as if we were experiencing what Jesus may have experienced on the shores of the Sea of Galilee.  We just stood there for a few moments taking in the scene, the mood, the peace.  I wish I could truly share with you all what it felt like.

The sun was beginning to go down so we needed to make our way back to the vans.  It was uphill all the way and we all had several children holding our hands and wanting to help us up the hills.  I had a little boy on each side of me and another little guy tried to come up and hold my hand and the other two would not let him.  It was as if they were my personal bodyguards and were taking it upon themselves to make sure I safely got to the top and didn’t stumble on any rocks.  When we got to the vans, we shared all the cookies and snacks we had and then we began our way back into the city.  We knew that we were going to stop at Vol cafe and have pizzas (it’s a cool little cafe that serves various food…including pizza AND they had an espresso machine so Dena and I were able to get a much-needed latte!!!) but what we didn’t know was that the kids from Bon Sam were going to meet us there.  After not seeing them all day, it was so much fun to have them surprise us and then we were able to see them enjoy the playground and eat pizza.  It truly was a full day and one filled with so many blessings.

As I was trying to find the name of the village we stopped at, I came upon this website – click on the link and go read about Dr. Abe who is helping to bring sustainability back to the fishing families who live in these fishing villages.

 

www.poutimoun.org/empowerment

Haiti, Tuesday, February 21st

7 Mar

The day started bright and early as we loaded up the vans to start the day.  We collected the chickens and the goats and loaded them into the vans and on top of the vans and began our 45-minute drive to the village of Ti-Marche.  As we turned off the main highway, several team members chose to ride on top of one of the vans. So, again, we were very noticeable in our vans with the blancs on top of one and goats on top of another.  Lots of smiles and lots of waves as we drove through small housing areas and the “town” part.  

We arrived to the church where the pastor is the one who lets Second Chance know who in the village could use some extra help.  We began our parade of blancs carrying chickens, leading goats, and weighted down with 15-25 pounds of beans and rice in our backpacks.  And as we walked, our parade grew because kids and adults would join us to see what we were doing and where we were going.  They were also very quick to lend a hand to help us jump over a ditch filled with water or help us with a stubborn goat or cranky chicken.  Kids wanted to hold our hands and wanted us to take their pics and then see themselves on our phones.  I quickly learned that I couldn’t give something to one child because I would then be surrounded by 10 more and I didn’t have enough to give.  So, I will be making an Oriental Trading order before my next trip so I have something to give everyone!  They love watches, sunglasses, and bracelets.

We were out traversing fields and crossing little creeks for several hours as we were led to the homes of people who needed some extra love, some prayers and a little reminder that there are people in the world who care.  Most of the houses were one-room shacks made out of mud and straw….others were a little bigger made out of concrete block and tin roofs.  The views, however, were spectacular.  Mountains in the distance.  Lush vegetation – trees of coconut, mango, avocado, and lime.  Crops of beans, sugar cane, corn, beets, potatoes.  There were chickens, cows, pigs, and goats.  The children could run around and play and not have to worry about traffic and “city” dangers.  Far away from the loud noise and the hustle and bustle of the city.  It was so peaceful and quiet.  Beautiful blue skies – palm trees – sunshine – I’ll share some pics later…or go follow me on Facebook or IG.

We would give one goat to a family because they then would allow that goat to breed their neighbor’s goat and then the baby goats would be shared with others in the village.  I think that is what I found so overwhelming and humbling is that even though they don’t have lots of material goods…what they do have, they share with one another and will share with you.  I think we Americans could learn a lot about it being more blessed to give than to receive and how we really don’t need all that we have in our houses and homes – wealth isn’t measured by what we have but by the relationships and love we have in our lives.  We left Bruno (the goat) with a mother of 7 who is a widow.  If I had to guess the size of her one-room house, I would say it was a square of 10 feet by 10 feet.  I know it wasn’t very big at all.  Our translator would translate what our spokesperson would say and would translate our prayers, as well.  I was able to hug her and be the recipient of one of her beautiful smiles.  The $30 it cost to purchase Bruno seems so small in relation to what it means to be given that goat.

It was such an incredible experience to be introduced to the various villagers….to see their smiles…to feel the love that was so evident in everything we said and did that day.  We may not speak the same language but a smile and hug says the same thing in any language and crosses all cultures, ethnic groups, and language barriers.

We came to a house where a lady was being cared for by her daughters and we found out that she had been out in the field working that morning and had suffered a stroke two hours prior to our arrival.  Nate and Jeff are first responders and have careers here in the US in the medical field so they were able to explain some things to the daughters and to give some recommendations.  However, we all knew it wasn’t very probable that she would survive.  Strokes are the number one cause of death in Haiti – the risk factors are high blood pressure and sickle-cell anemia.  Average life expectancy is age 60 for men and age 65 for women.  It was a sobering moment as we realized she was only 52… Yes, there are lots of moments where the reality of things can be very overwhelming and seem so hopeless; but then you see the eyes of a child light up when you give them a piece of candy or a pair of sunglasses or take their pic and your heart begins to feel hope and purpose again and you know that those are life changing moments for everyone..and that it is your life that will be changed the most profoundly.

You have to have moments of fun and laughter – otherwise, the sad emotions could be overpowering.  We had lots of those during our days.  I think of D’Anna passing out bags of beans and rice from her backpack and instead of her backpack getting lighter…it seemed just as heavy as when she started.  What she didn’t know is that every time Nate took a bag out, he put a big rock in.  She just kept trudging along while leaning forward because of the weight on her back.  After a while, Nate finally fessed up, and she, along with the rest of us, had a really good laugh.

We left the village and traveled to a lookout point where you could see the mountains of the Dominican Republic in the distance (we were only about 45 minutes from the border) and could see Lake Enriquillo….it’s the largest lake and the lowest elevation in the Caribbean. It was breathtaking!   A stop to meet the baby boy born to Roger, another of their translators, was a precious reminder of the circle of life.  We drove back to the orphanage a tired, dusty, exhausted team but with happy hearts and grateful spirits.

I also have to share how one always wants to travel with Second Chance Haiti board member, Mike.  He brings the sour patch kids and the twizzlers.  He was on our van so we were the ones who got to travel with the good stuff! Lol!  On Sunday afternoon, the people in the other van thought they could confiscate the bag of sour patch kids and that would be permissible.  We tried to get them back to no avail…even sending our security person over to use her authority to hand them over.  Well, all it took was Mike walking over and holding out his hand – they had to return the bag to its owner.  That is why you want to be on the van with Mike! In all seriousness – sour patch kids, twizzlers, peanut butter, nutella, tortillas to the side and not taken into consideration – Mike is a man with a servant’s heart who is willing to use his skills and talents to make life a little easier for those with whom he comes in contact….whether it be helping a little girl get her stubborn donkey to start walking, constructing trunks so the orphanage has storage, or praying for a person in the village. Just don’t ask him to go back to the market to carry chickens!!! lol

Addition for Monday’s blog:

I forgot to mention one of the most important things we did that day at the FOSA orphanage (in my opinion).  One of our team members wanted to carry on a ministry that her friend’s mother had started several years ago.  She has passed away and no one has carried on this ministry.  Britt had purchased stuffed animals for all of the children there; however, as people who believe in the power of prayer and in the love of a Heavenly Father who can watch over these children, she wanted several of us to join with her in prayer.  We all held several of the stuffed animals and then took turns praying over those animals – we prayed that these children would be comforted when they were feeling sad and that they would feel peace on days when everything seemed chaotic.  We prayed that they would feel love on the days they felt alone and uncared for and that they would remember there are people in this world who care about them and love them so much.  Tears fell from our eyes as we listened to the heartfelt prayers of our fellow team members.  Knowing that we cannot be there in person to brush the tears away from these children’s eyes and we cannot be there to give them a hug and we cannot be there to comfort them in the middle of the night when they have a bad dream.  However, we know a God who can do that and we knew that the power of prayer can transcend miles and distance and can do more than what we can do in our own human effort.  So, I would ask that you remember these children every time you pray for your own children, grandchildren, nieces, nephews, godchildren.  I know that it will make a difference!

Haiti, Monday, February 20th

6 Mar

We started our day in the Croix-des-Bouquets market.  We were educated the night before and were told that we couldn’t take backpacks, purses, cameras, phones, etc.  We needed to stay in a line and with the group at all times – we were not to stop to look at anything.  It’s always a challenge for our security to take such a large group to the market and we needed to do all we could to make their jobs easier.  Well, they could tell us all they wanted to but it truly couldn’t prepare for the actual market.

If you’ve ever watched, The Amazing Race, when they go to a local market in a third world country, then you have some idea.  Even watching it on TV, I was not ready for the actual craziness.  I would never attempt this on my own and am glad for our security and our translator.  There were vendors, people, motorcycles, cars, jeeps, truck, BIG trucks, wheelbarrows, live animals, dead animals, etc.  Anything you can think of was being sold.  There were thousands of vendors.  I was trying to take it all in but it was very difficult because you had to look down at your feet to watch where you were stepping.  There were a few times that we had to grab the hands of the people in front of us and the people behind us.  BUT i loved it!!! And can’t wait to go back!!!

We were purchasing live chickens, live goats, beans and rice.  We went to the chicken lady first and let Ashley and the translator barter.  I think we ended up with 10 chickens.  They were tied together as pairs and we had to carry them by their feet.  You can imagine that this was quite the feat 😉  They didn’t really like being carried upside down and would get a little agitated.  Plus, from the time we bought them until we got back to the van was about one hour.  So, they had lots of time to get unhappy.

We went to the meat section next…..that is the area that I didn’t like.  Tables and tables of raw meat, organs, etc. It was warm so lots of flies and not a pleasant aroma to take in!!!  But, that is where we had to purchase the live goats.  I used some of the money given to me to purchase a goat.  So they got me a little male goat – I named him, Bruno.  And then I was able to parade Bruno all through the market.  He actually was a good goat – he didn’t like to get his feet wet so any time we came to a little bit of water, he would just stop and I would have to pull him to get him to move.  He also was quite hungry so would try to nibble on anything green that he saw.  Of course, the Haitian vendors didn’t like that so I had to make sure he didn’t “steal” anything!  You can imagine the fun we brought to the market.  There were 15 of us “blancs” and we all were parading goats or carrying live chicken all through the market.  One of the goats would just lie down in the middle of the road and refuse to move. So, our translator proceeded to just drag her as she bleated loudly! Yes, there were lots of smiles on the faces of the vendors and lots of laughter, as well.  We crazy white people parading with our menagerie!

We took the animals back to Bon Sam orphanage and then drove over to FOSA orphanage to spend the rest of the day.  Some of the team worked on getting the clothing and shoe sizes written down for all of the children.  The guys started building some storage trunks.  And then some of us went to another market so Mariflor could purchase the items to make us dinner.  Of course, I went with that group.  I loved the market experience and wanted to see a different one.  This second one was nicer and not as chaotic as the first one.  After that we went to a very nice grocery store, and we enjoyed some cheese, some bread, and a bathroom with running water!!! The rest of the day was spent having a Valentine’s Day Party with the kids, giving the kids their sponsor gifts and then enjoying a fabulous dinner made by Mariflor.  We had okra, plantains, potatoes, bread, spaghetti with a meat gravy and onions, peppers and garlic.  It was SOOOOO good!  Our van stopped at a cafe on the way back to Bon Sam to get food for a volunteer who had been ill – it was quite fun because the cafe is called, Vols Cafe, and is decorated in orange and white…but it has nothing to do with the state of Tennessee. Dena and I were happy girls because they had an espresso machine and we were able to get a latte.  It’s the little things, folks!

It was a great day – lots of fun memories made.  Some discovered that the market was not their thing and they don’t ever want to go back 🙂  Others of us loved the adventure and the chaos.  We ended the evening on the roof under the starry skies and shared our highs for the day, lows for the day, prayers, and devotion.  Then went to bed and fell asleep to the sounds of the Haitian city.  Nothing like it!

What do you do when you fall down

30 Jan

What do you do when you hit a bump on your fitness journey or when you have a bad eating day? Do you just throw your hands up and say, “i’ve blown it so I may as just eat everything in my frig and pantry!!” or do you say, “Ok, I had a moment but now it’s time to get back on track and continue making good choices!” Which one are you?

We all have those days – those moments. It’s normal – we’re human and we mess up. However, it’s what we do afterwards that counts.

For example, last Saturday, I had one of those days. I had been getting up every morning between 4:30 and 5 and not getting to bed until after 10. Friday evening, I hosted a painting party to help me raise money for my upcoming missions trip to Haiti; so that meant planning and preparing for the 21 ladies that were attending. I had early morning prayer, fitness classes, and an afternoon of errands and preparing for the event. I didn’t get home until 11:30 that night and then had to be up early on Saturday to teach fitness classes. When I arrived back home Saturday morning after classes, I was tired and I was hungry and lack of sleep had my brain all foggy. None of these were conducive to making a good choice. I grabbed some chocolates that I had leftover from my party and ate them. Yep….on an empty stomach. And they were delicious!

Now….what did I do afterwards? Did I beat myself up for making those choices? Nope. I knew there were a lot of components that had led to my decision and that I’m human and once in a while I’m going to eat chocolate for breakfast! However, I also knew that I would get right back on track with my lifestyle and how I eat 90% of the time.

Again, it’s okay to have those moments. We all do. It’s what we do the next day that matters. If we continue making the choices we know aren’t going to bring us mental, physical, spiritual and emotional health and wellness, then that isn’t okay and we need to have someone help us get back on track. On the other hand, if we go right back to making those daily choices that will bring us life and well being, then all is well.

It’s not how many times we fall down, it’s how many times we get back up! So, get back up and keep walking!!! You can do this!

Friday Fitness Tip for 12/16

16 Dec

Friday Fitness Tip:

1) Have a bite before you go out.

Many times, people will choose not to eat because they know they are going to a party where there will be lots of food. That is the worst choice to make – by the time you get to the party, you’ll be ravenously hungry and won’t be able to make good choices and will end up overeating and feeling horrible the next day. Eat normally throughout the day – breakfast with protein, a great lunch (big salad with lean protein) and even have a snack before heading to the party…An apple and some almonds. This will keep you from eating too fast because you’re hungry and will allow you to enjoy the foods you want to eat.

2) Keep each celebration limited to one day.

Don’t go into Holiday mode and just eat everything and anything when you want and skip all of your workouts. This will cause you many tears on new year’s day when you realize you’ve gained five pounds!!! Go to your Christmas party – and then the next day go back to making your good choices AND make sure you get in a workout!

A review in the British Journal of Sports Medicine found that the longer it takes you to re-focus on fitness, the more your enthusiasm for it will dim, and the harder it will be for you to get back on track. In short, a day off won’t hurt you, but a week or two off can derail your progress toward your goals. It can also inflate your waist size, according to a study in the Journal of Applied Physiology. The researchers found that just two weeks of inactivity can increase belly fat by seven percent. So, skip one day but then get right back on track!!! Your 2017 self will appreciate that!

3) Keep calories in perspective.

All of these tips are not meant to make you frantic and not enjoy the season. They’re just meant to help you be aware of your choices and how to keep from gaining the typical 5-7 pounds between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day. A few high-calorie meals during this season will not sabotage your fitness goals.

A better strategy: Focus on how many calories you burn during the course of a week, not each day. As long you are making good choices and eating healthy 80 percent of the time, you can cut yourself some slack during the other 20 percent.

What are some ways you stay balanced during this time of the year???