abundance of color

I have written and rewritten a response to today’s prompt (using the word hope), but I just can’t get it to work. I think my brain is too distracted, my thoughts too scattered. Nothing’s coming together the way I want.

I’ve saved it, because it might gel into something coherent someday. Just not today.

For now, I’ll change to the alternate word abundance. I have an abundance of beauty in my part of the world right now. This photo is actually from a few years ago (when I had a good camera instead of just an iPod camera), but the scenery looks similar now.

fall foliage tree

I love the abundance of color autumn brings–so much beauty to behold. My girls and I get excited pointing out all the gorgeous trees we see on drives. It doesn’t matter that we’ve seen ten already–we still exclaim over the eleventh. I love that they see and appreciate the beauty around us.

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the one with the lists

Yeah, I’ve been watching too many episodes of Friends on Netflix. Sorry.

But when your assignment is to make a list, what else is there to title this post?

Besides, I like Friends. So you can put that on my list.

Actually, since the goal of this blog is to explore the various aspects of health, I’ll list things that help me stay sane, healthy, and whole. Three separate lists for your reading enjoyment (although some things obviously overlap and could fit on more than one list).

Things that make me feel healthy spiritually:

  1. a good, in-depth, inductive Bible study–lots of “meat”
  2. singing hymns
  3. reading and/or praying Psalms
  4. a good church service, with powerful worship and teaching and Communion
  5. a deep discussion of theology
  6. being able to help someone in some way
  7. reading a piece of rich Christian writing
  8. seeing beautiful stained glass windows
  9. seeing answered prayer
  10. seeing God’s handiwork in nature (especially fall leaves and spring blossoms)

Things that make me feel healthy physically:

  1. remembering to drink adequate water
  2. walking
  3. yoga (I’m not really good at it. It doesn’t really matter.)
  4. being well-rested (No, it doesn’t happen often.)
  5. green smoothies
  6. big green salads
  7. grilled fish
  8. being outside (fresh air and sunshine)
  9. not having a headache (I cherish those days!)
  10. herbal teas, supplements, essential oils

Things that make me feel mentally and/or emotionally healthy:

  1. coffee (Seriously, you don’t want to deal with me if I haven’t had coffee.)
  2. a long chat with a friend
  3. a good novel, where the characters seem real and I can get lost in the story
  4. a good nonfiction book, where I learn something or I’m challenged in some way
  5. writing (You knew it had to show up somewhere.)
  6. music
  7. remembering to be thankful for all that I have
  8. laughing–really, really hard
  9. the various fandoms I’m involved with–really. I need my fellow geeks and nerds and flailing fangirls.
  10. coloring! What did I ever do before adult coloring books were a thing? I’m sure I don’t know.

What keeps you sane, healthy, and whole?

I write because…

I love words. I love words that are interesting, impressive, or unusual. Learning new words excites me, and subtle differences between synonyms fascinate me. “Word porn” really is a thing for me.

I love grammar. I can make the stupidest typos known to man, but I love grammar and all its minutiae. A good friend of mine gave me a plaque that reads, “I am silently correcting your grammar.” I frequently am. But my mother’s training in manners and etiquette ensures that I don’t do it out loud.

I love stories. I’ve created stories for as long as I can remember. My playtime as a kid involved creating characters and settings and elaborate plots. My favorite toy for years was a tape recorder. I dictated more stories into that thing than I could ever count. Sometimes I wonder whatever happened to all those tapes. I should probably try to track them down and burn them. But oh, the hours I spent crafting crazy tales.

The first time I recall really putting a story down on paper was in fourth grade. We would get these worksheets each week with either vocabulary or spelling words (I don’t remember which). We were supposed to use each word in a sentence. I wrote a story instead. It was a short story, only a paragraph, but I created a story with the words. And I kept doing it, week after week.

It only took a few weeks to grow frustrated with the limitations of those school assignments. So I wrote my own story–pages and pages, divided into chapters. I can still see those pages in my memory–misspellings, bad handwriting, and all. The story itself was melodramatic and rather imitative (like most first stories, I guess), but I was hooked. I declared that someday I would be a writer.

It’s now many, many years later. I’ve been a bit slow in following that particular dream.

But I am pursuing it. I’m slowly getting more comfortable with calling myself a writer. Maybe not a great one, but a writer nonetheless.

What do I write these days? Stories, still. They will always be my first love. I’ve posted some on various corners of the interwebs, and the feedback I get makes me smile. I blog (obviously). I journal. I’ve written a few paid items and am working toward expanding my portfolio there.

The question as to why I write is a bit trickier. I’m not sure I know entirely how to answer it. Why do I breathe? I can’t not. Writing is much the same–I don’t know how not to. It’s always been there, a part of me, and I don’t know how not to do it. Even if I don’t get it all down on paper or on a computer screen, there are dozens of story snippets rattling around in my brain at all times. No offense, but even when I’m in conversation with you I’m probably talking to myself in my head. Sorry. I try to control it. Sometimes.

But I also write because it helps me wrangle some of those thoughts and ideas flying around in my head–helps me sift through them and figure out what they are. I write because my ideas come together so much more cohesively in this format than they ever could in conversation. I’m actually a rather wretched conversationalist–I never outgrew the socially awkward phase. But in writing, I have time to sort through what I want to say, and it comes out much clearer. This is why I prefer email to the phone.

I write because I believe in the power of words. I long to make a difference, to influence the world for good, and I think words are an incredible way to do that. Words can challenge the intellect and sway opinion. They can cut to the heart. They can soothe and comfort. The pen truly is mightier than the sword.

I hope to wield it well.

Version 3

yoga for migraine


When it comes to migraine, an ounce of prevention is definitely worth way more than several pounds of cure. Treating all the symptoms of migraine while in the throes of it isn’t always that effective–and is never pleasant.

So over the years I’ve developed quite the arsenal of prevention techniques. So far I’ve seen the biggest impact from daily doses of magnesium (500 milligrams) and riboflavin (400 milligrams) and from regular yoga practice.

One day I wondered if anyone had ever done a specific yoga routine for migraine. I had run across yoga for back pain relief and a few other specific conditions; why not migraine as well?

I did some searching. I found dozens of routines.

So I sat down with pen and paper (I’m old-fashioned that way) and made notes on the poses each recommended sequence mentioned. When I finished, I realized that some poses showed up over and over again.

I marked how often each pose showed up. I studied the sequence orders given. And I noted which poses were ones I already liked or was familiar with or at least thought I could do.

And I created my own yoga for migraine routine.

I won’t pretend that I do the sequence every day. And I won’t pretend it’s the only yoga routine I follow. But if I’m consistent about including it in my rotation on a regular basis (my goal is at least a couple of times a week), I do find myself having to reach for my migraine remedy less often.

Maybe it will help someone else as well.

Yoga for migraine practice:

  1. Cat pose
  2. Mountain pose
  3. Mountain pose with upward stretch
  4. Side stretch right and left
  5. Standing forward bend or an easier version
  6. Wide-legged forward bend
  7. Triangle right and left
  8. Tree pose right and left
  9. Downward facing dog
  10. Upward facing dog or cobra
  11. Child’s pose
  12. Seated spinal twist right and left
  13. Seated neck release (first pose shown on this list–which is a great list, by the way!)
  14. Seated side stretch (number 5 on the same list as above)
  15. Seated forward bend
  16. Bridge
  17. Happy baby
  18. Knees to chest
  19. Reclined butterfly/supine bound angle (my all-time favorite! I basically can’t do yoga without doing this pose)
  20. Legs against the wall (this was the very first pose I found recommended for migraine. Highly recommended)
  21. Straddle against the wall (basically just how it sounds–stay against the wall, but move legs to a straddle position–at this site, scroll down to find “wall straddle”. Again, feel free to browse here–it has a whole routine of poses done against the wall. Kind of different)
  22. Corpse

If you decide to try this, please let me know how you like it. I’d love to learn that it helped someone else! I’m also open to suggestions–poses to add, things to change around, whatever.

lessons learned from fasting

The church we attend started thirty days of fasting. I just completed Week 1.

This isn’t a “don’t eat anything for thirty days” (thankfully). Instead it gives recommendations for each day–fast one meal, fast two meals, fast from technology, etc.

Some things I’ve learned about fasting:

  1. Most people don’t like fasting.
  2.  Many feel they can’t fast from food. Dizziness, headaches, and other ill effects seem to be common side effects.
  3. Jesus seems to indicate that fasting will be a regular component of the Christian life. (Matt 6:16-18)
  4. The fact that fasting makes me weak and needy is probably a large part of the point. Every time my stomach growls, every time I shake or feel faint and foggy, I am reminded of how utterly dependent I am on God. I am reminded of how much I need Him and His provision.
  5. Fasting doesn’t obligate God to do anything for us–but sometimes He does choose to honor our dedication and grant our requests.

By the end of the second day, I was pretty much falling apart. In attempting to prepare supper, I spilled beans, milk, pasta water, and finally the pasta itself.

And then I swore. A lot. Fasting certainly wasn’t making me holy.

But isn’t that the very heart of the gospel? I’m weak, I’m a mess, I’m falling apart, and I’m far from holy.

And God is there in the mess and the muck, redeeming and providing and sustaining.

It made me think of the song “If I Stand” by Rich Mullins. If we stand, if we manage to obey or to be holy, it’s because God is working in us. And when we blow it (when, not if), He’s there with the same grace that saved us in the first place. Either way, it’s all about

Him. It’s all through Him and because of Him.

And if you’re wondering about point #5 up there–God did answer part of a prayer I’ve been praying for about six years now. No idea on when the rest of that prayer might get answered (if it does at all), but it was still pretty neat to see a piece of it answered in the midst of a time of fasting and seeking Him.

how to get your kids excited about Bible study

IMG_0861

I had a post planned for today. It’s partly written.

It will have to appear later this week. It’s been preempted.

The church we attend is doing a period of prayer and fasting. Each day has various instructions–fast from one meal, fast from non-work-related technology, fast a certain number of hours.

I don’t do overly well with fasting, but I’m doing my best and participating as much as I can or with modifications.

As a result, my girls have seen me missing meals and doing extra time in Bible study.

I had a birthday recently and used some gift card credit to order some pens and highlighters designed for those thin Bible pages. They don’t bleed through. I’ve had my current Bible long enough that it’s a little late to address this, but it’s still nice to have good supplies.

The highlighters

The pens

Both girls have been intrigued by the new tools. Today Sarah (age 10) asked if she could use the highlighters in her own Bible as she studied.

Then she asked how I used them, what I marked.

We talked about the importance of observation, interpretation, and application–and the importance of that order.

IMG_0860

I don’t know how I managed to take a mirror-image photo. It looks weird! Sorry about that!

I had grabbed this book at a homeschool sale a couple of years ago. Today I pulled it out. Sarah really wanted to read the whole thing in one sitting and absorb all there was to know about Bible study at once. I told her she couldn’t eat the whole elephant in one go and added that even though I’ve been at this for years, I’m still learning new things about Bible study and about the Bible itself.

And that’s the point.

So she did the first lesson. And she’s excited to do more. She wants to do her Bible study at the table each morning, just like her mom.

Natalie (6) pulled out a Bible of her own and had me read a few verses to her so that she could highlight as well.

I’m crying. It’s true what they say–it’s caught rather than taught. I myself caught the Bible study bug from my dad years ago. (Thanks, Dad!)

“Hear, O Israel! The Lord is our God, the Lord is one! You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. These words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand and they shall be as [b]frontals [c]on your forehead. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates. (Deut. 6:4-9, NASB)

The Lord passed before him, and proclaimed,

“The Lord, the Lord,
a God merciful and gracious,
slow to anger,
and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness,
keeping steadfast love for the thousandth generation (Exodus 34:6-7a, NRSV)

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be careful what you pray for…you might just get it (and not in the way you’d expect)

I’m a writer.

Not a published one or anything (unless you count a letter to the editor in a magazine years ago and several stories posted to the internet), but I write. A lot.

I finished the first draft of a novel last year, and I’m now in the editing/revising process.

I love stories, and I believe in their power. Stories connect us to each other. Stories touch our hearts, change our minds, shape our communities. When I was a kid and first declared that I wanted to be a writer someday, my brother told me to write something meaningful. I guess it’s stuck with me all these years because that it is what I want more than anything–to write a story that would matter to someone. A story God could use in a person’s life–a story that might, in some small way, point them to Jesus.

So I’ve been praying for a while now that God might choose to use my writing in this way–to somehow bring Him glory and to speak words of life to someone who needed it.

Recently our pastor preached a sermon on evangelism. The lovely lady and dear friend whose son I baby-sit during the week later told me that the sermon had inspired her to pray for me. She was praying that God would use my writing as a witness.

Well. She is clearly one of those righteous people whose prayers are effective (James 5:16).

See, I always thought I’d polish up this novel and get it out in the world somehow, and THAT would be how God would use me. Or maybe I’d write devotionals or Bible study helps or something similar for magazines and journals, and THAT would be how God would use me.

That isn’t exactly how it happened.

Those stories I mentioned posting on the internet? They’re fan fiction. They’re good fun to write, you get to play in a universe you love, you get valuable feedback to improve your craft (because internet readers are brutally honest), and I’ve made friends in the process. An all-around win.

You also post a brief bio, to let people know a little about who you are. Just a short little thing that most readers don’t pay attention to.

I got a private message from a reader of one of my stories. She’d read my bio, and she had a question. She wanted to know why I mentioned being a Christian there. Certainly that tidbit has nothing to do with fandom or fan fiction or anything else. Why had I felt the need to include it? Did my faith really matter that much? Did it really affect my life that much? And if so, why?

So I’m doing my best to reply to her questions. Absolutely nothing whatsoever may come from the exchange. But it’s an open door, an opportunity. And I’m laughing at myself for thinking God would ever do anything the way I expect. Really, you’d think I’d know better by now.

So yeah…God answers prayer. And it’s not always with a yes. And sometimes even the yes you get isn’t the yes you thought it would be.

color me de-stressed

Like most things, I first saw it online. Someone was talking about some new coloring books they’d gotten.

These were not your children’s coloring books.

Next I saw a sizable collection of coloring books for adults at Books-a-Million. They looked pretty cool. Patterns designed to help with focus or to be calming–couldn’t we all use some of that?

And suddenly adult coloring was everywhere.

Amazon. Facebook ads. Even an author-entrepreneur I read was talking about “cashing in” on this hot trend.

Several of the health problems I struggle with mention the importance of stress reduction. I’ve never been all that good at dealing with stress, to be honest.

So I’ve printed a few of the freebie pages I’ve found (I don’t have a real book yet). They are quite relaxing. I enjoy them.

I see some people who post their coloring work, and they are far better colorers than I will ever be. They know which colors look good in combination. They make pretty patterns. They get these fantastic pieces of artwork when they are done.

That isn’t me.

I have no concept of color or design–I just use the colors I like. Lots of pinks and purples, truthfully, because I like pink and purple.

No one’s ever going to hand me any awards, but the process is enjoyable and the results make me smile.

Which I think is probably the point.

(You can see where the two-year-old scribbled a little on this and also a smudge–I don’t even know what that is! This is real life, baby!)

A Facebook friend posted this article. I found it interesting.

Another friend of mine loves crayons and bought herself her own set to use for her coloring, much like the article recommends. I have colored pencils that I use.

But every time I print a page for me, my two girls request that I print copies for them too. My older actually has more artistic talent than I do, so she may be posting those pretty pages one day. She uses colored pencils as well and puts a great deal of time and effort into it.

The younger uses markers and ends up with about what you’d expect for a six-year-old. But she enjoys it. And again, isn’t that really the point?

the kingdom belongs to such as these

I had a headache yesterday. A I’m-trying-not-to-cry-because-it-will-only-hurt-more, I-hope-I-don’t-throw-up-or-maybe-I-do-because-I-feel-better-afterward, don’t-ask-me-to-do-anything type headache.

It stinks. You probably know that.

And it reminded me of this post, which I started weeks ago (after my last headache).

I started it on a Sunday, then never got around to finishing it, then completely forgot about it.

So, many days late and several dollars short, here it is.

I have two children. Some days, due to migraines or menstrual issues, I’m not capable of being a very hands-on mom.

As a result, I’m quite familiar with mommy guilt.

Someone told me that my children would learn empathy and compassion.

I caught a glimpse of that today.

I had a headache yesterday and spent most of the day on the couch. I felt well enough today to go to church. The official medical term for the period following a migraine is “postdrone.” I just call it a migraine hangover–far more descriptive, don’t you think?

I definitely had that today.

I arrived at church and took my usual seat in the back of the sanctuary. The band started to play the first song.

It was loud. Painfully, unbearably loud.

My husband runs the sound board, so I know it wasn’t really as loud as it felt to me. He keeps a tight rein on such things and is good at his job. But oh, for my post-migraine self, it was torture.

My ten-year-old noticed me wincing. She knew what that expression meant.

So she brought me a pair of the earplugs that the sound booth stocks.

I never asked her to do that or told her I was hurting. She just saw me and brought me something to help.

I’m grateful.

Sink reflections

I know, last week I posted my view out the side kitchen window. This week I’m posting this:

Yeah, it’s my kitchen sink.

I promise not to stay stuck in the kitchen every week, okay?

But I love how shiny and clean it looks once the dishes are washed and out of the way.

It gives me a sense of accomplishment–the work is finished. The dishes are dealt with. This pretty, shiny sink is smiling at me for a job well done. (Or done, at least. Maybe not always well.)

Still, I have proof of my labor. And it makes me smile.

Mundane, to be sure.

But still quite lovely.