Grateful Heart stays the course.

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Good grief, it takes so little these days to truly MAKE my day. Yesterday I posted the second little blog I’ve done in years. It was with a bit of trepidation, because I am such a perfectionist! (I have a hard time showing anything that I do not deem to be my personal best.) I did it though, because I am attempting to challenge myself in new ways; ONE of which is to relax my standards a bit. (Who am I kidding, that’s really never going to happen the way it sounds! ha ha) It’s probably better to say I am currently challenging myself in all sorts of new, uncomfortable ways.

Anyway, before I hit that “publish” button, I held a silent pep-rally for myself.

“It doesn’t matter-no one is going to see this anyway. It’s just practice. You can share the links later when you are back in the saddle, etc.”.

Soon after I hit that button, I left my home office determined not to think about it again; just happy I could cross, “write something” off my list.

Then last night something happened. I started getting email notifications that people were subscribing to and liking this blog. I nearly cried. It’s such a small thing, but truly, I am so grateful. It’s the little things that count, right? ♥

So with this tiny boost to my heart, I was able to get through last night without veering from my current eating plan. (Protein shake for breakfast; chalky protein shake for lunch; sensible dinner.) Instead of my planned menu, I made perhaps the best meatloaf I’ve ever made in my life (recipe below), steamed broccoli and regular baked potatoes. The plan had been to make naked burgers and sweet potatoes, but I wasn’t feeling it. (Also, long about four PM, I was starting to have food fantasies, so I made a salad of romaine, tomato, artichoke, onion and light Caesar dressing. It hit the spot.)

(Did I fail to mention I’m a foodie? I probably should have said something. Soon you’ll be seeing photos of my creations!

Tonight is the biggest challenge of the week. Wednesdays are always hard as my hubs and I cook the Fellowship meal for a hundred church people each week.  (Of course today, I FORGOT to pack my lunchtime caulk – I mean shake- but that’s not the real challenge.) Wednesday’s we get into the kitchen around 1PM. Dinner is served promptly at 5:15, so it’s a lot of running around in between. (Did I mention it’s four thousand degrees in the kitchen right now?) The challenge comes when we hit the door at home and it’s almost 7PM and we’re tired. The last thing I want to do is eat, but we’re so wired from working, we don’t want to just lie down either. So what do we do? Usually Wednesday night we have a well-deserved, delicious celebratory cocktail. Not tonight.  I made a vow to stick to this program for 2 weeks, so no imbibing for me this evening.

How will I manage? Determination, dedication and prayer and lots of it. This morning before I got out of bed, I had my morning convo with Jesus. Later, when I went downstairs, I got out my prayer journal and wrote for a while. It’s making a huge difference. There is something to be said about keeping prayer in the forefront of your heart. There is something to be said about keeping a journal just for prayers and intentions. For me it feels as though it’s written on my heart as well as in that journal and it helps me STICK to the PLAN!

Tomorrow I will start to include photos of the things I’m talking about in the hopes that you are currently in the midst of a challenge, you might think about the things that are working for me and give them a try! (I even keep the cutest mini journal in my purse for times when I feel I need a boost. Yes, I do jot down notes and prayers to God there. You’d be surprised at how often the answers come in all sorts of ways.)

OH and…ALSO tomorrow, I have to share the coolest thing EVER…one of my new favorite things…a piece of art that someone rescued from a dumpster for me! (perks of working part-time for a church!) Stay tuned!!

If you are following me, THANK YOU! You make my heart smile! If you have a blog, I will be visiting soon!


Best little Meatloaf Ever 

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Ingredients:

  • 1 lb ground beef (we had a grass-fed 80/20 on hand so that’s what I used)
  • 1/2 cup tomato sauce (I had organic pizza sauce on hand so I used that)
  • 1/2 minced onion
  • 1/4 grated Parmesan
  • 1 egg beaten
  • 3/4 c. steel cut oats
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
  • 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • Dash or two organic ketchup for the top (optional)

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  • Combine all ingredients (except the optional ketchup).
  • Press into a 8″ x 4″ loaf pan, top with a slathering of organic ketchup if you so desire.
  • Bake 45 minutes.

This recipe will serve 4 – 6 people depending on how large you like your slices. Since it’s just my hubs and I, he will have leftovers for a couple of lunches!

PS-I adapted this recipe from one I found on the Internet.

 

 

Raw

take the stepYou know how your face feels so strained and flushed when you are fighting off a serious bout of tears?  Your heart physically aches and the muscles surrounding the eyes are tense and hot to the touch.  One wrong look or kind word threatens to tip the scales and the dam will burst; so I get quiet within, put on my brave smiley face and march on. It’s exhausting and humbling and often times I cannot help but beg the question,”Is this really my life?”.

As soon as I see these words on paper I can hear one of you saying, “You have a choice as to how you want to feel at any given moment.”  Yes, I hear you.  (I probably taught you this, in fact.) The reality is that I am making the choice to use every tool in my box to fight a depression that wants to pull me under. This is why I will not succumb to the wailing fest that wants to get started any minute. Instead, I continue to slap a fake smile on my face, find things to occupy my heart and mind and try to immerse myself in being of service to others. Most of the time it works, but today, the dull ache is still there.

I remind myself that life has turned the corner and am heading straight forward in the right direction. It’s day two of my “reinvention”. I not only succeeded in meeting my goals yesterday; I slayed them. I learned I am not a fan of protein shakes, but I’ve made the commitment to drink two per day for the next two weeks in place of breakfast and lunch. Here I sit with my lunch shake and I have to say, it’s not good.  LOL! It’s supposed to taste like vanilla but instead, it tastes like chalk. (EVEN WITH fresh strawberries in it!) On a positive note, it IS very filling. When I get home I can enjoy a sensible dinner. I am looking forward to it for two reasons: it will be nice to have real food and I love to cook. Tonight “sensible” translates into naked burgers, steamed broccoli and baked sweet potatoes…perhaps with a nice spinach salad or something. Yeah, I know it doesn’t sound like much, but when you’ve had two meals of chalk….well, you get it!

Last night when I lay my pillow to head, the last words I spoke were, “Thank you, Jesus, for being by my side today. Thank you for helping me follow through. Please be with me tomorrow as well. Help me to fight my way back. I know you will. Thank you”.

When my eyes opened this morning I again thanked the Lord. it helps me to remember that this is a process and I am to take each day as it comes. I feel sad about things that are absolutely out of my control and this is okay provided I remember (and I will) to count my Blessings (there are many) and to be grateful for all that I have and am.

While I still have plenty of hours left in this day where I may be faced with temptations, right now, I’m doing just fine.

I think I’ll stay the course!

Start Where You Are.

Since most people who are reading this blog are here for the first time, my inclination is to do “the back story of who I am”.  I try to write it and then I erase it.  I write it again and then I erase it again.  It’s too long and too involved and I’m having a hard time finding THE one right place to begin.

I keep hearing, “Start where you are” in my brain. So here I am sitting at my desk. I’ve just had my second Usana protein shake of the day and I must say I’m glad that’s over. Today is Day one of my clean eating, clean living, “return to me” project.

I’m feeling hopeful because it’s Monday (I love the clean slate this day brings each week.) It’s the day I have on my calendar slated to “start again”.

What on earth does that mean?

I quit smoking almost nine months ago, which is huge considering I’ve smoked 40 of my 52 years. I did it “cold turkey” with the absolute resolve in my gut that I just was NOT going to be a smoker any more. It’s been one of the hardest things I’ve undertaken, but I’ve stuck to it and I refuse to go back. Oh, the cravings still hit me from time to time but I’ve realized smoking is more of a “brain habit” than a physical one for me. If I sit and think about the act of inhaling cigarette smoke, I immediately know I really do not want a cigarette; I just think I do.

Over time I’ve gotten to a place where I feel out of sync with who I really am, so I picked a date and today’s the day it’s time to start peeling the layers back. One step at a time.

Writing used to be such a huge part of my life. Whenever I take one of those silly Facebook surveys and it asks what my dream job is, the answer is undeniable:  “author”. To be an author, however, requires a person to write and I haven’t done much of that in quite a while. So part of getting back to “me” means exercising the part of my brain that puts words out for others to read. (This is the first installment.) Words used to flow effortlessly out of me. Now, it takes me an entire day to make one page make sense. It will come.

Lastly, no “return to me” would be complete without more regularly exercising my spirituality. I have always been in touch with my other worldliness, and I have always prayed, but I need to get back to my daily talks with God, my communing with the angels and Saints and my being the all-time best “Angelic Troublemaker” I can be! I think somewhere along the line I let this silly physical world take up too much space in my heart. I know how it happened. I know how to make it better and I so I will.

So to recap:

  1. Work on Health
  2. Begin to write again
  3. Exercise my spirituality regularly.

Today is the first day.

Here I come world!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Our Feature Film, Dino.

I know I’ve been away and I’m long overdue to post and share what all has been going on in my world.  I promise to do that over the weekend.

Right now I’d like to share an INDIEGOGO campaign that I just launched last night.  This is for a film written by myself and my husband. It’s a family friendly, action packed, faith based film entitled, “Dino”.  I’d be appreciative if you would go through and read all about it and support us either by donation OR sharing through your social media feeds.

I strongly believe in this project and want to make it happen.

Thank you for your support!!

With love,

Bobbe

Click here to get to the Indiegogo page for Dino

Nay Sayers Beware!

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I have such a problem with “Nay-Sayers”. I work part-time in a church that ministers to all people, but there is a special interest with people from foreign countries who are adjusting to life here in the states.  These are not people illegally crossing borders, rather these are political refugees, who have had to flee their own countries because of unrest and inhumane treatment.

From a wee tot, according to my own mother, I’ve had an affection for those not of my own race, creed, color etc.  It’s a no-brainer for me to LOVE, period.  She says that I came out of the womb trusting and loving everyone.

So when I start my weekend with a few extra kids in tow, I’m happy. In fact, I’m happier than I usually am, because I’m getting to have an experience where I might get to enrich the life of someone else, give hope, give love and just have FUN. Yes, it’s tiring, but what is a better tired than helping, healing and having fun?

It bothers me very much when people say to me, “Don’t get too invested.”; “You need to rest”;  “You need to stop caring so much.” (Really?!!) My personal pet peeve is this statement, “Don’t make this a habit; you cannot afford it and you need to rest-you have too many jobs, all ready.”

Usually this stupid advice comes from people who have bigger finances (or agendas for me) than I do. Okay that’s great advice, but then, WHO is going to reach out and touch people?  Yes, I am not a rich person, but do I need to wait until I reach a certain level of financial security before I act in order to help make another life a little happier or better?

And then I wonder, what makes people so ridiculous that they cannot understand that we are supposed to help one another whenever and wherever we CAN.  We don’t WAIT until we have a certain bank account. We don’t WAIT until we FEEL like it.  We are supposed to act when the situation presents itself, period. The reward for this so out-weighs anything my imagination can conceive.

I went to Catholic school all of my life and one of the themes we were supposed to learn was, “Whatever you do for the least of my brothers, you do for Me.”  I took that to heart from an early age and I have lived my life accordingly.  I have never had a lot of money to give, but I’ve always given of my time and heart and I will continue, no matter WHAT any one tells me.

There IS no greater joy in the world than in sharing of oneself with someone who needs it.  The reciprocation comes in the love exchanged and yes, I think I’m a junkie with regard to this. Sue me.  I like to have fun. I like to give. I like to feel that in some, small way, I’m doing my part in this world.

God sees.

I spent the weekend with beautiful children, whom I adore and love. We didn’t do a lot more than just eat, giggle, play games and watch movies.  Today, we went swimming. The weekend cost me a lot in energy (and some sunburn), but what does THAT cost? I can get that back in a little lotion and one night’s good smiley-sleep. (Yes, I smile in my sleep after every weekend like the one I just had.)

I wonder what makes people discourage people from doing what’s right? I know if the situation were reversed, I’d be the first one begging to get involved. (Wait.  That IS how I got involved in the first place!) Still, that doesn’t always happen on the flip side. I often receive the nay-say comments telling me to stop it, “you don’t have time for this- you do too much all ready.”

Really?  If everyone listened to this advice, how would the world even work?

I will not post photos of the smiles from this weekend.  Instead I will just say that yes, I’m tired, but my heart is FULL and I WILL do it again and again and again.  God sees and I know in my heart He’s happy, because I didn’t have to do this. I did it because it was what I wanted to do to make a few little people smile and they did.  I repeat, I will do it again.

Nay-Sayers beware. WHY are you telling me NOT to get involved? What does this say about you?

I try so hard to figure it out.  I know on some level, it’s not about me or my actions. It’s always about the Nay-Sayer and what he/she feels about herself.

Whatever it is, telling me not to do something that I know in my heart is right, will never deter me from action. Instead, I’d rather just have people ask me if I had fun and when I say, yes, simply answer, “Good. I”m glad.”

Even better? Figure out how you can be of service as well and if you don’t know just ask me.  I have a million ideas!

Disclaimer: After having read this over to myself, I want to be certain to say that not everyone in my life discourages me. Also, that I am in no way trying to say that I am a better person than anyone else. I’m just having a rant about the people who try to discourage me from taking action when I want to.

Some people have a passion for sports; some have a passion for art; some have a passion for relaxation.  I just have a passion for feeling good and I get that from being of service.  It’s really nothing more than this. I often tell people who are on the out-skirts of a bout of depression that the surest way to avoid it, is to BE OF SERVICE to someone else. It’s tried and true in this girl’s life.

Amen.

“The King will answer and say to them, ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.’  -Matthew 25:40

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Down but never Helpless

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Oh wow, am I in a MOOD for the past few days!  I try to take my own advice most of the time, but still there are things looming in the air that are beyond my control and sometimes, I cannot help but feel a little bit down.  Read this:  I said I feel a little bit down.  I did not say I feel helpless.

While I know I give good advice, in all honestly, there are times when the tools do not seem to work and we continue to feel icky about the things over which we have no control.  (That’s the down part, not the helpless part.)

I’m in several situations right now where I would like to open up and give a firm talking-to to those involved but it’s not my place, so I have to keep silent.  The fact is, that often in life, we’re presented with situations where it would be easy to just let go and spew what’s in our hearts, but it’s absolutely not appropriate.

It’s these times that it’s important to recognize the difference between down and helpless.  We’re actually never helpless.  That’s a total illusion.  When situations are beyond our control, the choice not to let it grab hold and pull us under is an action step that is within reach.

These are the times it’s perfectly okay to go into cocoon-mode.  Do nothing.  Pray hard.  Talk to a trusted friend or family member.  Do what feeds the soul.

I was just sharing with a close friend that I believe these are the times God uses to work on our faith.  Sometimes fear can cause us to act on impulse because we’re looking for a quick solution.  (I can’t count the number of times in my life where if I’d just waited a little while longer before doing something drastic, my situation would have improved on it’s own.)

Most often if we can find the self control to sit on our proverbial hands and wait while God is at work, the results are miraculous. He can see what we cannot.  He has solutions we aren’t aware of.  His healing has a much further reach than ours and so on.

Just recently I had a financial situation that seemed to have no explicable answer. Instead of obsessing over it, I gave it to God because, based on my past experience, giving it over and refusing to worry over it, always works. Yes, I absolutely did have a “Plan B” in mind, but rather than implement that plan, I went with “Plan A” which is always, “Trust that  God sees and knows and will respond.”

Today He did. Unexpected funds appeared and financial issue averted. Amen.

PS–That image up there?  This was a dollar bill actually received in the collection plate at the church where I work. Just love it!

 

Day Three – More on Community

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I grow weary of hearing people say, “All organized religion is nonsense created by humans, for profit and control”.

First, I hate generalizations.  It’s funny because I can remember a time growing up when that’s all my father used to say to me, “Stop generalizing”.  At the time, I didn’t really understand what he meant, but he was right.  I used to make statements like, “You always find fault in anything I say”; “This person is always wrong.”; “You never listen to a word I say.” etc… At fifty, I finally understand what my Dad meant.

I admit for a time, when I was being lazy in my faith and wallowing in self pity, I used to say things about organized religion too. I would tell myself that I didn’t need to go to church because God lives in me, etc.  “Church is a building”; “Faith is what’s in my heart.”; “God lives everywhere, I don’t have to go there to talk to God.”, etc.”

I was right (on some level), until I landed in the finance office of a church that isn’t of my own religion. (I laugh these days, because God absolutely does know what He’s doing at any given time.) I started there as an account temp because they lost their finance secretary to a full time job. I thought this job would be pretty clear cut: I’d do their finances and leave each day. NOT.

I never expected that as the finance secretary of a church, I would be the only person who got to see what good “a church” actually does in a community. As a lifelong Catholic, my only experience with church was going to Mass on Sundays, receiving the Sacraments and tithing each week or month.  I never stopped to think or find out just where my tithes went.  I thought they were supporting the church building and the school, period.  I never went beyond this in my thinking. Why would I? I just showed up on Sundays, gave what I could, and left.

Until I landed at my current work place.

Yes, it is true that tithes do go to the upkeep of the building and the staff. Church’s are non profit organizations, which means that they do depend on weekly/monthly tithing and gifts from estates and outside entities.  Without the kindness and faith of others, they don’t get to exist.

I worked for about six months just trying to find my way in the finance office. No one could help me because the business of the finance office of a church is completely confidential. Thankfully, my life long accounting background afforded me the experience and knowledge to be able to create the statements etc.

What I did not expect, however, was learning just what it means to be a church.  What I get to experience every single day is happiness and love.  While we do have a small number of staff, who are paid, the place where I work is largely governed and staffed by volunteers who give of their time freely and willfully day in and day out.  This doesn’t mean that they just write checks to the church.  It means that they come into the office to answer phones, they write thank you notes when we receive memorial donations, they go out to visit the shut-ins and those who are hospitalized, they organize visits to the home-bound, they plan picnics for new members, they create ministries for the elderly and the youth and the children, they buy beds and clothes for people new in the country, they walk in parades, the list is endless.  In short, wherever there is a need, they are there.

My “ah-ha” moment came one day the first year of my employment, when a random envelope of cash was received and on the outside it simply said, “Please give to the church”. It was a substantial amount of cash and we worked hard to find out where it had come from so I could give tax credit. In the end, a random person had given this envelope to a congregant who was leaving Sunday services…he didn’t care about “credit”.

The day we finally figured this out, my heart just opened and I cried. Not knowing the story, I envisioned some stranger saving his pennies until he felt he had enough and then he gave it to the first person he saw coming out of services. The person who received this money and turned it in could only say that this was a foreign person who offered the envelope.

My workplace caters to foreigners and refugees and I love it.  Several times I’ve gotten to use my Spanish to help visitors looking for the “English as a Second Language” classes, which are hosted by the church. (I have a degree in Spanish yet have never gotten to use it for any reason until now.) (PS-Thanks God!)

The Minsters of this place work 24/7.  If a person has a medical emergency in the middle of the night, they jump up and go. Often times during the day, I witness the Minsters going on countless “appointments” to pray with the sick, the lonely, the depressed or those who are trying to figure out “God”, period. They go when they are called, period, and it doesn’t matter how many times per day they are called…they GO.

In short, I’ve been at this place for three years part-time. I’d be there full-time in a heart beat because I’ve finally learned what a church really is. It’s LOVE actualized.

Yes, you can love and pray and worship God all on your own and HE IS there, but a church is a community of people all working together to help others.  At least, this is MY experience.

Lots of times I’m the only person who gets to read beautiful letters attached to checks that talk about what this church has meant and why “this donation” is being made and I feel so honored.  I look at it as God entrusting me as the go-between.  I make sure the donation gets where it’s supposed to, I get to write the thank you note and I get to keep the secret of who gave it.  (That’s between God and me and the donor and it’s so fun!)

So.  Yeah, I’m weary of hearing that organized religion sucks because it doesn’t.  I didn’t even mention all of the money that my workplace donates to local charities OR what it does to take care of refugees from other countries. We receive calls daily from people wanting help on their rent or utility bills and we work in conjunction with other area charities to help as much as possible. I’ve seen our Ministers (and members)buy clothes and shoes for children  (sometimes out of their own pockets), buy a bus ticket to get a stranded traveler home, deliver food to those who need it; I’ve even seen them invite a person in to sit in our church parlor to eat a meal and just chat with a fellow human. I could go on and on.

If you think, for one moment, that organized religion sucks.  I hope you will do some more research.  We give away most of what comes in and what we don’t have to give away, we make up with our own money, time and effort.

I’m so Blessed.

Those who used to know me on Myspace have to KNOW that God led me here to this place and that I’m happy as a clam.  I don’t make much money, but my heart is FULL times infinity.  I haven’t even scratched the surface here.

I think it’s time for all of us to either re-discover or discover for the first time, what it’s like to be a real member of a real community.  Church might just be the first stop.  No. I’m certain it should be.

Praise God. (I do.)