"....I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full." ~James 10:10~

Friday, August 31, 2012

{Duck, Duck....RUN!!!}

Little Miss Makayla was ready to go to the "Castle" playground when I picked her up from daycare yesterday :) Upside down sunglasses---check!

The Civic Center in town has an awesome playground (built like a HUGE castle) and a pond with a boocoodle ducks. A perfect place to spend the evening chasing around a 2 1/2 year old!
As soon as they spotted us, we were surrounded.
As they came from near and far to get our bread, we had to seek shelter on the bench:)
Makayla said "hungry ducks!" That was an understatement. They must've been FAMISHED!
I pet this one with my feet:) Sweet lil' fellow!
"Bye Bye Duckies", says Makayla. "Time to play in my Castle!"
I told Makayla that she could be the leader and I would follow her. She stomped her foot and huffed "No, I NOT the leader, I'm the princess!"

Oops---my bad!  :)

Then Mommy showed up and Makayla told her about the hungry ducks---
---and I don't think Mommy realized quite how hungry they really were until she was surrounded by 20 of them, squawking, pecking, and flapping each other out the way for the last morsel!

RUN Mommy!!!

P.S. Hands down the best workout I've had in months---and the best part is that Makayla said "Wa Wa" could be the Queen :)


Thursday, August 30, 2012

{To-Do List---check!}

Thursday's TO-DO List:

10. Get a Diet Mountain Dew---ASAP! It's gonna be a busy day:)

9.-----and then drink more water!

8.  Eat Healthy Foods! My diet the past week month has been overly sprinkled with candy bars and french fries. Eeek! Notice I said "overly" sprinkled---I'm the first to promote a moderate sprinkle---because you only live once:)

7.  Go by Publix at lunch to pick up Salmon and veggies for the grill. Gotta start off College football season right with a little cookout:)

6. Unload the dishwasher.

5. Continue looking for my $180 text book that I've already lost :(And I've only had 3 classes so far). I truly think it just vanished into thin air....

4. Practice progressive relaxation---probably the "floating on a cloud" script that I love!

3. Repaint my toenails. More than two days and I'm more than ready for a change :)

2. Watch Vandy beat South Carolina! While preparing for a huge Clemson victory on Saturday night!!!

1. Take Maykayla to feed the ducks after work---this will most likely certainly be the BEST part of my day!

Walking to the drink machine now to get started on #1!


Wednesday, August 29, 2012

{My Inverted Pyramid of Positivity}

I woke up this morning with the following on my mind and put it on paper so I wouldn't forget it :)

Affectionately titled "The Inverted Pyramid of Positivity".

I am…

STRONG. I can do anything. I can push my mind and body. I can keep going.
SPECIAL. My gifts to the world are unlike any other. I make a difference.
LOVED. I matter to people. I matter to God. I matter to myself.
KIND. I give of myself. I cherish the value of others.
HARDWORKING. I do not quit. I finish strong.
UNIQUE. There is no one exactly like me.
HUMAN. I am not perfect. And that’s ok.
BLESSED. I have more than I need.
PERFECT. Just the way I am.

Sometimes we just need to remind ourselves of how valuable we really are. Print this and carry it with you. Pull it out whenever you need to remind yourself of how incredibly awesome you are!

Be BLESSED Friends!


Tuesday, August 28, 2012

{My Christian Perspective on Yoga and Meditation}

A friend, one I know has nothing but my best interests at heart :), had some concerns about the possible spiritual implications for Christian believers and meditation practices. Here's part of her comment (which was welcomed lovingly):

"I would also add a word of caution with experimenting with anything that has its roots in something other than Jesus Christ! Here's why - I had a couple of roommates who were from India (and of Hindu belief). For me it began as a ministry and honestly, it was an incredible experience (not to mention the food! YUMMY!) But, after several months I realized that by inviting them into my home, I also left the door open for a HUGE spiritual battle to begin that I never knew was happening. I can tell you stories of things happening that would blow you away (spiritual warfare speaking - but many physical things as well.) After I began to realize what has happening, I did a TON of research on spiritual warfare. Let me say, I had NO idea! The things that we do to open the door to Satan and his demons is mind boggling! Things that we might think are harmless, can really be an open door for Satan to wreak havoc in our lives. As someone who lives in the good ol' USA, it wasn't on my radar, but now it completely is!

So, I'm not here to criticize, please don't hear that! But I do, from personal experience, want to say please be cautious and know your stuff!!! The battle we face is not against flesh and blood and the enemy we face will use anything to destroy us! Even the things we think are harmless and even the things we can often use as ministry!"

After reading that, and considering much of these same concerns even as I began this practice, I came across a good article that I'd like to share. I was able to think for myself, interperet Scripture, and come to the conclusion that for me, Meditation and Yoga are not a path to any type of new spiritual enlightenment, pantheistic world view, or suspension of rational thinking patterns. I'll inject my thoughts throughout the article in bold italicized type:) Let me explain....:)
Dangerous Meditations
What harm is there in achieving a higher state of consciousness through meditation?

Many Eastern religions teach that the source of salvation is found within, (I long ago decided that MY salvation is in CHRIST ALONE) and that the fundamental human problem is not sin (it is in my opinion)against a holy God but ignorance of our true condition (not me, I'm totally aware that I need a savior!). These worldviews advocate meditation and "higher forms of consciousness" as a way to discover a secret inner divinity. (I know that NOTHING in and of myself is holy or worthy---I give all the credit to God!)
Yoga, deeply rooted in Hinduism, essentially means to be "yoked" with the divine. (Is there something WRONG with being yoked to the Divine? I like to think of myself as yoked with Jesus!) Yogic postures, breathing, and chanting were originally designed (hint hint---originally!) not to bring better physical health and well-being (Western marketing to the contrary), but a sense of oneness with Brahman—the Hindu word for the absolute being that pervades all things. This is pantheism (all is divine), not Christianity.
Transcendental Meditation is a veiled form of Hindu yoga, though it claims to be a religiously neutral method of relaxation and rejuvenation. Initiates to TM receive a mantra (Hindu holy word) (I don't do this part and do not practice it in a group where others are) to repeat while sitting in yogic postures and engaging in yogic breathing. The goal is to find God within their own beings, (my goal is to CHILL OUT!)since God (Brahman) and the self (Atman) are really one.
Differences in various forms of Eastern meditation aside, they all aim at a supposedly "higher" or "altered" state of consciousness. (Well, if that means feeling emotionally WELL, having more energy, and feeling more connected with myself in ALL areas of my being then I'm all for it!)Meditation guides claim that normal consciousness obscures sacred realities. Therefore, meditation is practiced in order to suspend rational patterns of thought. (Nope, for myself, it's to suspend irrational thinking such as excessive worry, stress, and anxiety)
This helps explain why so many Eastern mystics claim that divine realities are utterly beyond words, thought, and personality. In order to find "enlightenment," one must extinguish one's critical capacities—something the Bible never calls us to do (Rom. 12:1-2). (Let's pause here. Romans 12: 1-2 says "Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.(ok, yes that sounds good to me!) Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is —his good, pleasing and perfect will."This verse seems to support Christian Meditation if done to help renew the mind and offer the body as worship) In fact, suspending our critical capacities through meditation opens the soul to deception and even to spiritual bondage.(I'm going to have to do more research into this)
The biblical worldview is completely at odds with the pantheistic concepts driving Eastern meditation. (agreed) We are not one with an impersonal absolute being that is called "God." Rather, we are estranged from the true personal God because of our "true moral guilt," as Francis Schaeffer says. (Yes, I believe my sin separates me from God and nothing but the blood of Jesus can correct that) 
No amount of chanting, breathing, visualizing, or physical contortions will melt away the sin that separates us from the Lord of the cosmos—however "peaceful" these practices may feel. (I'm not "melting away sin" when I practice mindfulness, I'm melting away STRESS!) Moreover, Paul warns that "Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light" (2 Cor. 11:14). "Pleasant" experiences may be portals to peril. Even yoga teachers warn that yoga may open one up to spiritual and physical maladies. (I think anything can open one up to spiritual and physical maladies---not just Yoga. That's why we have to be cautious and resist the enemy.)
The answer to our plight is not found in some "higher level of consciousness" (really a deceptive state of mind), but in placing our faith in the unmatched achievements of Jesus Christ on our behalf. If it were possible to find enlightenment within, God would not have sent "his one and only Son" (John 3:16) to die on the Cross for our sins in order to give us new life and hope for eternity through Christ's resurrection. We cannot raise ourselves from the dead. (Amen!)

The biblical concept of prayer assumes that rational and meaningful communication between God and humans is possible. There is no summons to suspend rational judgment even when prayer through the Holy Spirit is "with groans that words cannot express" (Rom. 8:26). (Let's pause again. Romans 8:26 states
"26 In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans." Should we limit the Spirit to interceed for us during wordless sessions of quiet meditation? I think not.) Nor should we repeat words meaninglessly to induce a trance (Matt. 6:7). (Pause again! Matthew 6:7 states " And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words." One commentary on this verse states " Use not vain repetitions - To repeat any words without meaning them, is certainly a vain repetition. Therefore we should be extremely careful in all our prayers to mean what we say; and to say only what we mean from the bottom of our hearts. The vain and heathenish repetitions which we are here warned against, are most dangerous, and yet very common; which is a principal cause why so many, who still profess religion, are a disgrace to it. Indeed all the words in the world are not equivalent to one holy desire. And the very best prayers are but vain repetitions, if they are not the language of the heart. ")
 With all that said, (and there was lots of it:) I think the decision to practice meditation and/or yoga is a personal choice based on personal convictions. Who I am to say that a Christian is wrong to believe that meditation, or anything that has even anceint roots in another religion, is inately harmful and should be avoided? That is their opinion and their choice. Also, who is to say that a Christian who practices yoga/meditation is, in fact, not searching for solitude and stress relief but instead for a new or different spiritual experience? I believe the scripture confirms my thoughts---

"38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord"
~Romans 8:38-39~

I am His and He is mine. Nothing, not a sitting loctus nor a sun salutation---not the devil and all his evil schemes of destruction and separation. Nothing---absolutely nothing---can separate me from the love of God.


{Getting my "Ohm" back}

If I can stop one heart from breaking,
I shall not live in vain;
If I can ease one life the aching,
Or cool one pain,
Or help one fainting robin
Unto his nest again,
I shall not live in vain.
- Emily Dickinson

Isn't that a beautiful thought!

I better get started because there is SO much to catch you up on since I haven't blogged for over a month!!!

I enjoyed my hiatus but I'm ready to share a little with you about what's been happening in my world:)

I started back to school and I'm really loving it! It's nice being a student and feeling way more dedicated and interested in what I'm learning compared with my undergraduate experience. Maybe it's maturity or the fact that I'm paying for it with my own money (lol!) but it seems that I'm putting much more in and getting much more out of it, too:)

Since I'm getting my MAT in Education at good ole' Anderson University, it's super convenient (about five miles from my house:) and I feel at home there. They have made so many upgrades since I graduated almost (gasp!) 6 years ago! hehe! My first teacher has been incredible and that's made the experience even that much better. I'm also in class with a past AU roomate and current BFF so I just couldn't ask for a better experience so far. I feel BLESSED!

Along with school, I've also started to practice Mindfulness Meditation and Yoga. “Mindfulness practice is simple and completely feasible. Just by sitting and doing nothing, we are doing a tremendous amount.” (Tried to find the source for this but couldn't find the original author.) For someone like myself, who has struggled with anxiety, distracted and racing thoughts, and an inability to just "be"---it has been a livesaver! Though most meditation techniques haves roots in ancient Buddhist philosophy, I don't think there is anything wrong with practicing meditation as a Christian believer. I tend to focus on my body, as a perfect gift from God, who designed his creation with a capacity to heal itself, along with our minds.I often focus and Jesus and his sacrifice for me during my medication times. It's just about being STILL and clearning you mind, allowing negative energy to flow out and allowing positive energy and thoughts to come in. If you've suffered with any mental health issues, I highly suggest you atleast give it a try because it can really be healing!

You can practice Mindfulness Meditation on your own. All you need is yourself, a calm room, peaceful melodic music (optional:) and you are ready to go. My teacher has encouraged me to sit on my bed or couch, feet touching the floor to facilitate good posture and blood flow, and to then begin taking deep breaths in through my nose and blowing them out through my mouth. Before exhaling each time, alternate saying each word out loud---Relax, Quiet, Blank. As you say "Relax" you are reminding your muscles to relax and the tention in your body to lessen. As you say "Quiet" you are quieting your mind, and as you say "Blank" you are erasing thoughts. Though you can practice this on your own, you can choose to find a psychotherapist or counselor to guide you in the beginning. Click HERE for some more information:)

The Yoga, on the other hand, hasn't come so easy for me! :) My body is a tight ball of tension and I can FEEL it big time in my poses. But I've already seen good results! I have had shoulder pain for over a month---bad enough that I thought about going to the Dr. several times but never did. It was a feeling that I can't really describe other then it just needed to "pop" or something and I never could get it to give any. All that said,  a couple hours after my very FIRST yoga session, I streched my arms in class and my shoulder "popped" releasing so much discomfort and tension. I'm definately sticking with it!

I would love to hear other opinions on the practice of Mindfulness Meditation and Yoga----please share your thoughts!

"You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you."
~Isaiah 26:3~