Category Archives: About Me!

Fit Friday // Small changes

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Now that I have incorporated a steady amount of exercise into my routine and am enjoying it (rode about 40kms all up last weekend! yay!), I have started to make small but sustainable changes to the way I eat.

Here they are:

  1. Slow down: I tend to eat fast, I suspect it has come from being a mum with two kids close together. When the boys were babies I had to eat fast otherwise I either didn’t get to eat, or I ate cold, congealed, revolting food. The habit became ingrained and I have continued to eat quickly even now, all these years later.The problem with this is that it takes about 20 minutes for the brain to register that the belly is full, so I’ve been eating far too much because I haven’t given my body enough time to recognise that it’s had enough. Now I am trying to remember to take smaller mouthfuls and put my fork down between each bite to force myself to slow down.
  2. Portion Control: Flowing on from the previous point I am controlling the *amount* I eat by using a smaller plate. A little amount of food on a big plate just looks sad 🙂 A little amount of food on a little plate looks like more, and fools my brain into thinking that there’s enough food there.
  3. Caffeine: I’m reducing the amount of coffee that I drink by replacing it with green tea, which has many more health benefits. I still have a cup of coffee in the morning, but the rest of the day is tea. I’m not sure if there’s any science to back this, but I feel less hungry on the days when I manage to stick to this one. Next step is to cut out the Coke Zero 🙂
  4. Counting: You can only change that which you can measure. No idea who said that…but it applies here. I’ve found that it’s really easy to completely underestimate the amount of calories I’m actually taking in. The only way to make sure I’m reducing my intake is to count them. It’s a pain in the butt, and where I fall down most often, because I just can’t be bothered half the time, however I’ve found an iPhone app that makes it a much less arduous task. So we’ll see how this one goes.

I’ve lost half a kilo this week, so at least the scales are moving in the right direction.

My dear friend has challenged me to consider surrendering my eating to God, which is in line with  my current thinking and desire to live a 100% intentional Jesus-focussed life in ALL areas of my life. It’s something that I will be praying about and pursuing.

How did you go his week?

Blogiversary Giveaway // Thank you!

My blog is one year old!

In the past 12 months I have written 130 posts, you guys have left 205 comments, and there have been somewhere in the vicinity of 5400 page views. Wow! I am so grateful to you all for stopping by to read what I have written! Thank you!

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You have read about Introversion, Fit Fridays, and my Adventure as I discover what God has for me in this next phase of my life.

There has been celebration and fun, there has been achievement and there has been debate.

There are those of you who are faithful, regular commenters, and there are those of you who are lurkers in this little community of ours.

I am really excited about what the year ahead holds…there will be some changes to the way the blog looks, there will be an exciting project that I hope you will help me out with, and we’ll keep rolling along with our regular raft of posts about life.mad-church-disease1

I’d like to celebrate my blog’s first birthday and say thank you to all of you who have been a part of it so far, by giving away a copy of Anne Jackson’s best selling book Mad Church Disease to one lucky reader!

How can you win?

All you need to do is leave a message in the comments section of this post introducing yourself and telling us something interesting about yourself. At 7pm on Thursday 23rd July (AEST : GMT +10) I will lock the comments and choose a random commenter to receive the book! Make sure you register an email with your comment so I can contact you!

Go on…leave a comment for your chance to win!

Thank you again for being a part of my life!

Love you all!

Michelle

Fit Friday //#FAIL

failConfession:: I didn’t do my Fit Friday post last week because I was depressed about my weight.

Confession 2:: I nearly didn’t do it today either for the same reason.

Physical health, fitness and the associated control of what goes into my mouth is where I fail most often in my attempts to live a godly life. This failure of self-control is sin. I’m not going to sugar-coat it. It’s a sin in the same way that adultery or stealing are sins.

My body is the temple of God…I am defiling it by letting it get overloaded and unkempt.

My life is to be the embodiment of Christ in this world…I’m pretty sure God is not obese.

Our physical selves are often ignored as part of the whole picture of who we are in Christ. Our overeating or lack of healthy habits is ignored in favour of the “more” spiritual acts of bible study and prayer. In reality these things must be balanced.

I think that this area of our lives is one of the biggest strongholds of the enemy in today’s world, and I am struggling with it.

On my escape from Mad Church Disease, this is the next frontier…time to circle the wagons and jump into the fight with both feet.

Do you struggle with the same things? Is this a stronghold in your life?

Michelle

What is Sabbath for? // Restoration

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If my private world is in order it will be because I have chosen to press Sabbath peace into the rush and routine of daily life in order to find the rest God prescribed for Himself and all of humanity.

– Gordon MacDonald

I don’t know about you, but I have a tendency to get into the rhythm of the merry-go-round of life and operate on autopilot. I am just focussed on making it through the work week, then making it though the things that need to be done around the house on the weekends, I fall in a heap on the couch half way through Sunday afternoon and sit there like a blob, desperately trying to “relax” before Monday morning rolls around, and then when it does…I wake up tired and apathetic and just as worn out as I was on Friday afternoon after a week of work.

I have discovered over the years that if I don’t make a conscious decision to do anything differently, I continue on this cycle until I crash and burn.

Our society, and dare I say many of our churches, are focussed on “doing” and “achieving”. Unless you’re crazy busy, you’re not doing it right. We need to remember that our value does not come from what we achieve or what we acquire. Our value comes from who we are, from our position as adopted sons and daughters of God. I believe that we really need to guard against workaholism, because ultimately being a workaholic is potentially damaging both to your personal health and to your family relationships. The problem is that it is really hard to go against this culture, but I’m beginning to see that the benefits of being intentional about observing the Sabbath far outweigh the blank stares and outright sneers of those who do not see the need.

I believe that the Sabbath needs to be made up of a balanced combination of both leisure time and biblical/godly rest.

Leisure time and activities are like the lollies of life. You only need a little bit in order to remain healthy. Leisure time and doing fun things is great, and they give you a quick little pickup from time to time in terms of bringing serenity to your inner world…but it is really not enough to sustain you in the long run. It’s a quick hit of energy, like a chocolate bar, but like that chocolate bar, there’s a low after. Leisure time, while it’s nice to have, and definitely required; doesn’t really provide the long term, sustaining nourishment that our inner world requires.

We need godly rest as well as leisure time. God was the first one to have rested and you can read about that in Genesis at the end of the creation account, and again in Exodus 31:17 where Moses talks about God resting and being refreshed. The Israelites were commanded to keep the Sabbath day holy as part of the Ten Commandments (Ex 20) which were essentially a set of guidelines to teach them how to live in community again. They had just been set free from a life of slavery where their every waking moment was dictated by someone else — that was all they knew — and they needed some instruction. God was teaching them the best way to live; He wasn’t giving them a set of rules for the sake of it. It’s for that reason I believe that having a day set aside to focus is a legitimate biblical principle for us to observe as modern followers of Jesus. We have been set free from the slavery of sin and need to learn to live in community with other believers. For me, the parallel is obvious.

This rest lets us sort through all of the thousands of pieces of information that bombard us each week and weed out the things that aren’t aligned with the truths and principles that we live by. And the thing about humans is that if we are not intentional about doing this refocussing activity we are prone to drift away from God. Godly rest allows us to be tough and resilient if we have laser focus on our life’s purpose.

Our soul-deep tiredness can only be overcome by catching a fresh vision of the purpose that God has for our lives. If you have the space in your life where you can do that on a daily basis…I am deeply jealous! But for me, I need to intentionally stop the routines of my daily life and give special attention to this refocussing and reconnecting with God’s vision for my life. Taking a Sabbath day is how I do that.

So what does this look like on the ground for me? Before I go on I want to say that Sabbath activities will be different for everyone. For example, many church workers take a week day as their Sabbath, and for parents of very young children it may be an hour once a week.

As I mentioned in the first post, I’m in the development phase for this spiritual discipline, but at the moment my Sabbath day consists of:

  • worship — prayer, bible reading, singing and playing music, drawing, meditation etc.
  • connecting with other believers— whether that be at a physical church or an on line one or through another form of community gathering.
  • weekly review— closing all the open loops, refocussing on purpose and direction (see GTD for more information on this one).
  • journalling — examining what has happened in the week just gone and looking for God’s hand, pausing and asking myself questions about what my life means, working through any issues that need to be dealt with.
  • time with my family — Sabbath was instigated at the time of creation just as the first family was initiated at the time of creation…I’d like to think they are related…and even if they’re not, my family is my primary ministry and part of my purpose in life.
  • physical exercise — I need to renovate my temple, I see this as an act of worship too.
  • relaxation — being an introvert I need a good amount of alone time to restore balance.

For this one day of the week I put aside my regular routine (I have a highly regimented weekly routine in order to get everything done as a full-time worker and mother) and go with the flow of what God has for me. This disruption to my regular programming is like hitting the reset button, and even though it may look like there’s a lot on that list, they are all things that are designed to soothe my soul and refocus me for the week ahead. I’ll talk more about the preparation aspect of Sabbath in the next installment.

Sabbath is no longer a guilt-laden legal requirement. Nor is choosing to observe the Sabbath an excuse to live however you choose during the other six days…all of life is “christian activity” there can be no separation between spiritual and secular. Sabbath is a gift that God is offering. A gift of refreshing and restoration. He personally demonstrated this better way to do life, as any good leader does if He intends his people to follow. If it’s good enough for God, it’s good enough for me. Where He leads I will follow.

What are your thoughts. Do you observe a Sabbath day? How do you intentionally refocus on what God wants for you?

Michelle

Too busy to “do” Sabbath? // Part 1 // Beware! It’s a disease!

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How long has it been since you really took a regular break each week?

If you’re anything like me…I was far too busy and important to take a break for years…I even took “work” ( it was usually church stuff or writing I wanted to get done) away with me on holidays, and Sundays were more often than not busier than regular work days.

Right up until a couple of months ago my work ethic was my crowing glory and my sense of whether or not I was a good person/Christian/worker was wrapped up in how busy I was, how productive I was, and let’s be honest here shall we…how stressed I was feeling. I was getting some kind of sick self-righteous satisfaction from being continually under pressure and feeling as though I was always running from one thing to the next. I felt needed and affirmed when I was doing everything for everybody. Which, looking back at it now, is totally pathetic.

It has taken some not-so-gentle prompting from a friend and some stress-induced medical problems to make me wake up to myself. Life was never intended to be this crazy, and that in fact, it is counter-productive in the long run to be so frantic all the time. It is not sustainable, and the only ones that suffer are you and your family, who often get steamrolled or completely forgotten in your misguided quest to be all things to all people. And from a broader perspective…if you go until you crash and burn, it will take a long time for you to recover and come back to the point where you can function normally again.

We were designed to work hard. That is not in dispute here. I think it is absolutely necessary that we be productive and effective in everything we do. But in order to do that we MUST take time out, we must find the point of balance where we can maintain our pace for the long haul.

Over the course of the next week or so I’ll be posting about what I’ve been learning about Sabbath, sabbatical, rest, focus, leisure and balance.

Do you take time to rest regularly? Or do you go full-tilt until you’re worn out?

Michelle

God wraps his arms around you when you least expect it

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This post is part of my adventure series…click here to make sure you catch the whole series.

I have started writing this post three times so far this week! Maybe today will be the day it gets written 🙂

When I went away for my solitary retreat the other weekend I had an idea in my head about how I thought it might go and what I wanted to cover. But God had other ideas.

During the drive down to Jindabyne on Saturday morning I was feeling very stressed and agitated. My chest was tight. My head hurt. My mind was racing a million miles a minute and by the time I was two thirds there I was beginning to wonder exactly how productive the weekend was going to be if this was the state I was in.

When I checked into the chalet, I was still feeling more than a little cranky and I had pretty much decided that I wasn’t going to be able to get any thinking or writing done while I was so wound up. I figured I’d try to relax for the remainder of the day and get into things on Sunday morning. So I unpacked my gear and stacked the fridge with supplies and headed out for a walk. I didn’t even take my iPod, my head was too busy to even listen to music.

The resort has a network of sealed roads weaving through the grounds. Everything is beautifully signposted and it’s easy to see where you’re going and how long it’s going to take to get there. These roads were busy with walking couples and families and cars speeding by. These roads offered easy walking. But I didn’t want to be around people and feel like I had to smile and play nice. Lucky for me the resort also has a spiderweb of barely visible bush tracks that weave through the grounds. These are the tracks I decided to explore. They were difficult to navigate and in the early stages they were so hard to follow that I had to stop and think hard about which way to go. The tracks wandered through alpine fields and through stands of snow gums and through scrubby bushes by little creeks. Gorgeous scenery…but I  had no idea how long it was going to take me, I didn’t know if I was going to get messy, and to be honest, I didn’t care…I was out there to clear my head…if it took half an hour, GREAT…if it took two hours…GREAT..I didn’t care. And there was no way of knowing one way or the other anyway. I just knew I needed to walk.

As I walked I started to notice that even though I thought there wasn’t any way of knowing where I was going, there were markers along the way that were providing guidance. Some of them were little arrows on stakes in the ground that were easy to see. Some of them were the same little arrows that were hidden in clumps of grass. Some were wooden arrows hanging in trees that sort of wobbled as the wind blew, but still pointed generally in the right direction, and some of them were like the one in the photo…a big red arrow painted on the rock and completely unmistakable.

As I walked I realised that these little bush trails and the markers were an allegory for the adventure that I found myself on. I’m off the beaten trail, there are very few people on the same path, and I have no idea how long it will take me to get where I’m going. As I progress on my adventure there are (and will continue to be) markers along my path that are easy to see….there will be markers that are hidden in the weeds along the path that are only visible if you know what you are looking for, there are the signs that point the way, but are a bit wobbly, and finally there are the directions that are so firmly rooted in the Rock that they are unmistakable.

I would never have seen these markers had I stayed on the easy roads. I had to step away from the easy and the mainstream to follow what God has for me in the next little while. Both roads lead to the same endpoint, but only one path provides challenge and reliance on God-given direction.

At the point in my walk where I connected the dots and saw God’s confirmation of my adventure, my mind started to race even more. I was excited that God would meet me in my moment of chaos! My mind was racing in a whole new way, but as I walked I felt compelled to just stop. “Be still and know that I am God” was the only thing that occupied my thoughts.

I stood still. I quieted my mind. And I heard something that I was completely oblivious to before. I heard the sound of the river that was rushing over rocks beside me.  I know that sounds cheesy. And I hate cheesy. But the sense that God’s love was rushing over me and washing away the things that occupied my mind was overwhelming. It was a physical sensation of release and relaxation. I felt a warmth and a comfort that told me that I was completely on the right path. I felt as though I was in a warm embrace that said. I love you. You’re where I want you to be.

By the time I got back to the chalet I felt as though I had been on holiday for a week. I was blown away that God had chosen to meet me in my most chaotic moment. It was powerful and wonderful and affirming. My plans for my weekend were turned upside down in the most wonderful way. I’m right where I need to be right now.

Are you where God wants you to be?

Michelle

Worship with your eyes open when walking!

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This post is part of my adventure series…click here to make sure you catch the whole series. Click on the photo to see more photos from my weekend away.

Just wanted to say thank you to those of you who were praying for me this past weekend.

My weekend was good. It was very relaxing but at the same time very challenging. I have a lot to work on! Most notably I learned that you can’t close your eyes when you worship while you’re walking LOL

Here’s a brain dump of what I came away with:

  • I’m in the mess I’m in because of the decisions I’ve made…take responsibility for them and then take responsibility for recovering
  • Don’t rush the restoration, “Be still and know that I am God”, it will be a gradual process…it won’t happen overnight. Rest and enjoy the adventure.
  • Take a more conscious and intentional approach to a holistic life of faith, watch for subtle separation of spiritual and other stuff…It shouldn’t be separated…ever.
  • Dream big
  • Work at eliminating distractions

I also want to tell you about what I discovered about signposts and seeking direction…but that’s material for another post…or two. 🙂

Please continue to pray as I work through the rest of the Mad Church Disease book, and as I put my plans into action to make this stuff happen, and to heal.

Michelle