Last year a tornado ravished through our neighborhood, flipping roofs off houses and uprooting trees within minutes. It felt like a train was driving through the neighborhood causing stuff to fly everywhere. Being uprooting from our home and returning for Thanksgiving I wrote the posts Where Do I Find Calm In the Storm? and A Salty Thanksgiving Back Bend. Last week I noticed twisted metal clanging from a naked tree as I enjoyed an evening walk. I found myself grateful to be strolling through a neighborhood with scars. I quite don't remember how I felt during my walks before the storm, however, I know now I have more gratitude for my home and my neighbors' home post tornado. Hardships will create gratitude, though, you don't have to wait for a storm to realize your life wasn't that bad after all.

Here are 3 simple strategies to create gratitude...everyday!

 

1. Appreciate the Ordinary--There is so much good in our days and lives. The good is so overabundant it appears ordinary...until the storm comes through. It's amazing what we take for granted. I'm completely guilty of rushing through the after school taxi-mom service and forgetting to notice how awesome each one of my kids are. Yes, it's the ordinary after school chaos of somehow managing 4 children to simultaneously arrive at 3 different places. Yes, they're still awesome and evolving...everyday!

 

2. Give a Compliment--Yesterday a Senior Lecturer took time to warmly share with me that she has heard some great things about me and the University was fortunate to have me as faculty. This took me by surprise as I said thank you. She of course didn't have to say this, however, I suspect as a teacher of many decades, she is always looking to compliment and empower her students and junior faculty. It feels good to be appreciated. Taking time to compliment...everyday!

 

3. Fill Your Prayers With Thanks--It's been said that "Thank You" is the best prayer anyone can say. Truth. Of course we all have a need for divine intervention to change a circumstance, however, when we stack the list of needs next to the stack of blessings, we find the lists are more about our attitudes towards life. We had a friend over for dinner recently and as I was sharing a story and trying to describe my elated heart response, he genuinely interjected, "Praise God!". Those were the words I was looking for! So Praise God...everyday!

 

Yoga and meditation has certainly helped me cultivate the mental organization to cultivate habits of gratitude. I definitely want to grow in gratitude because I know it will continue to multiply the joy and abundance in my life. As you sit down for Thanksgiving Dinner this year, I hope your list of blessings is longer than your list of needs and that you feel joy in gratitude. Happy Thanksgiving!

Need GREAT faith in your life? Jesus tells us in Mathew 17:10, "if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, 'move from here to there' and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you".

I remember a few years back when my baby was ill and his army of doctors were unable to keep him healthy. Thousands of dollars in testing and long lonely nights haunted me as the medical experts tried to figure out the cause of illness. I needed a mountain to move and it did...with 3 steps.

 

1. Envision the Outcome--The truth is that everyone has faith. Unfortunately, we often have faith in the worst possible scenario or negative outcome. During my son's time of illness, I had faith and believed he would be ill, because that is what I saw and nobody was giving me answers that were helping him. As long as I believed he would be ill, he remained ill. Finally it occurred to me that he could be well, despite the circumstances, I was able to believe he had the possibility of becoming a healthy, happy child that would play like a normal kid with the rest of the kids (he was significantly delayed in development too). Though Jesus was not around to heal my son (I would have traveled on foot many miles with a sick kid for this miracle), I remembered that Jesus left us the church with elders who anoint the sick with oil (James 5:14). We drove to Chicago to meet with the elders (the Bible said elders so I requested at least 2). Soon there after we met with a doctor who had a reasonable theory and immediately prescribed an easy but rare treatment. Within days my toddler son became healthy by taking an over-the-counter body building supplement 3 times a day. Who would have known his body does not produce enough of a specific amino acid essential for muscle development? I believe faith opened the door to find the answer.

 

2. Follow Through--Actions reveal our faith and desires. Wanting and finally believing my son could be better wasn't enough, I had to follow through on giving him his medication. Because of the illnesses, he did have other medications at the time. Being in the emotional state I was and having to take care of 3 other children as well as myself, house, husband and more, it was difficult for me to be compliant with the new medical routine. As a healthcare worker experienced in teaching people methods of compliance for a medical routine, this was embarrassing to me. I humbled out and got a home health nurse. She helped me develop a routine to dispense the meds ahead of time with a chart for the family. Yes I knew how to do all of this, yes I was too paralyzed to do it, yes I got help and yes it was worth it! Whatever your desired outcome, align your actions accordingly and this sometime takes sacrifice and a bit of humility.


3. Give Thanks--Most of the time results don't occur in a moment. Though my son's response to his new treatment was immediate with better health, it has taken several years to see him develop into a normal child. He is now 6 and runs around the playground, makes jokes and pulls pranks like any other boy. It's always a miracle to see him thrive and I give thanks! He still takes his medicine 3 times daily, fatigues quicker and requires a lot speech therapy to be understood. His doctor count has reduced from 5 to 3. He's still developing and the mountain is still moving in his life and mine. Giving thanks through the process allows me to enjoy the journey.

In fitness I frequently deal with people who want to change their health bodies. Often this task appears to be an unmovable mountain. The mountain can of course move but will not move overnight. Having the maturity and patience to envision a desired outcome, follow through, and give thanks through the process, will creat faith and move a mountain.

Life is full of circumstances and events that often paralyze us. The repercussions of untimely deaths, abuse, injustice and more continue to resonate in our lives as if they are happening now. We believe the message our past reminds us on how powerlessness and insignificant we can be. The more I navigate life, I realize a growing need to accept Christ's forgiveness and grace; though, somehow it's hard to let go and let the past be the past.

Letting go of the past and knowing Christ's grace frees us to embrace the future, no matter our age or circumstance. This is an ongoing process as we are people with memories and baggage and some memories and baggage weigh heavy in our subconscious.  I personally am still letting go of who I was and embracing what I am and who God has called me to be--my voicemail is getting full, can I say delete?  From this process I share with you 3 tips of what has helped me let go of my past:

 

1.  Meditate

It's hard to know what you really think if you aren't taking the time to listen to yourself.  Meditation can be very scary for people for just this reason, we think some scary things sometimes.  Sitting still and breathing as we listen to our irrational and condemning selves gives us courage and teaches us to have grace upon ourselves.  Through meditation I have learned not to spend $500 dollars on a $5 problem from the past (even when it was a $50,000 problem at the time!)

 

2.  Gratitude

I often tell my son, "When you think of good things, you will have a good life; when you think of bad things, you will have a bad life."  The apple doesn't fall far from the tree and sometime the advice we give our kids is just the advice we need for ourselves!  Taking time daily to give thanks for the smallest of things builds the foundation to outweigh and push out negative things that ensnare our spirits.  Jesus gave thanks before each miracle which tells me miracles aren't going to happen without an element of gratitude.

 

3.  Vision

Whether you want better relationships, a new career or added blessings, it takes a lot of courage to believe the best is coming because that involves change and trying new things that we will likely not be successful in, at least at first. Creating a vision for what you want, even if cloudy and distorted, allows you to bring that to God and manifest in your life. When starting my business, I had to take the time to envision what I wanted to accomplish with my business and how this would fit into my life. My life was already full so it required letting go of some of my present, and well, dropping the weight of my past. Making decisions and working towards your vision is your responsibility in faith. 

 

Letting go of the past is certainly easier to discuss than do, it takes an incredible amount of emotional energy though allows you to find God's grace. Daily practice of these three tips will send your past to voicemail, filling it up--delete!

Being uprooted from my home for a few days and living in the aftermath of a violent tornado that literally destroyed my neighborhood, has required a new degree of flexibility for myself and my family.  Lets face it, nobody likes change.  Now back at  home, my neighborhood is a square mile traffic jam of bulldozers, front loaders, dump trucks, and other  machines that I will likely never drive in my lifetime.  I'm not real concerned about the piles of rubble lining the streets or that the school bus isn't servicing the area for my children.  The United Way volunteer team cleaned up the mess of shingles, fence and who knows what from my yard;  our family and church friends decided to give back and clean the neighbor's yard.  My friend lost her house and scavenged her personal belongings along the roadside for all to see...how humbling.   When bringing her family a meal at their new rental home, the children had an especially flexible view on the situation:

Kid:  "Hi Mrs. Galles (hug) our house blew away so we get to live here now."

If it were only this easy, but maybe it is this easy?  According to his mom, immediately after emerging from their basement closet bunker to find their house destroyed, this child was overwhelmed about not having Thanksgiving, and is now VERY excited to be in a new home to celebrate Thanksgiving in tomorrow.

“Salt is good, but if it loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again?   

It is fit neither for the soil nor for the manure pile; it is thrown out. 

Luke 14:34-35.  

This scripture has always intrigued me because Jesus is literally saying that losing saltiness is like being a rejected piece of crap that is not useful to be included with the pile of bull crap that is at least useful for something!  The Bible translators didn't make it so crude (and in my opinion lost the saltiness) for our tender over righteous politically correct ears...shoot!   I'm glad to have a home this Thanksgiving.  I'm grateful my family is safe and all of my community miraculously survived this storm.  My schedule is careening all over the place and I'm bending over backwards to keep normalcy.  Good thing I practice back bends in yoga!  I'm keenly aware of the pity party I've had in previous Thanksgivings during this "difficult time of year".  Another friend of mine just lost her young niece to a car accident and was lamenting how it always takes a tragedy for her to realize how grateful she needs to be in life.   Seasoning our gratitude with saltiness requires pain, or at least a bit of inconvenience and flexibility.  As you sit down to feast on Thanksgiving tomorrow, bend over backwards to season your gratitude with some salt.  Salt on a wound never feels good, though does sterilize, which is better than being a lonely piece of poo-poo!

Facing storms in my life, I have found God either quickly calms my storm or allows it to rage to calm me.  Returning from a wonderful yoga retreat weekend in northern Indiana, I arrived home just in time to watch panels of my privacy fence fly and explode into the air from a wind storm.  Fortunately I was traveling with a friend whose novel and intriguing presence seemed to calm and entertain my children as we huddled in the basement watching mature trees blow over outside. The next day news helicopters were flying over my neighborhood and I received a call from my sister-in-law who was in Mexico and saw the rubble on TV--guess my house made international news. Why did the world have to see my yard so messy?   My house is one of the fortunate homes in the small tornado touch down area that was deemed livable and not evacuated.  It has been over 48 hours since we have had power and by the looks of the neighborhood, I'm guessing it will take at least 48 more hours to see the light of my curly florescent Eco-friendly bulbs.  Being the weather is getting colder, we decided to evacuate for the night and pray the police curfew and barricades to the neighborhood are enough to keep our home safe while empty and dark without working alarm.  Did I mention that I have a large fir tree down in my front yard, perfect for a Rockefeller Plaza Christmas Tree (hopefully they saw this ideal tree with the root system intact on the news and will come pick it up soon).  And too, I need to confess that I am having generator envy toward my retired neighbors with light in their back windows. 

 God is our refuge and strength,an ever-present help in trouble.  Psalm 46:1

God seemed a little scary to me when that storm was blowing hard enough to break the window of the SUV I was riding in.  God also waited until I was home to let the storm go full throttle.  Living moment to moment with the uncertainty of where my family will eat our next meal or sleep, I'm grateful to find calm. Approximately 24 hours after the storm hit, I taught a yoga and meditation class full of women without electricity at home.  Even at 6:30AM, 36 hours after the storm, people were keeping their yoga and meditation class a priority, despite being displaced or inconvenienced by the storm.  One woman told me, "We all need a little yoga right now."  God is ever-present and I believe the people in my classes understand when we slow down to breathe, we experience that ever-presence.  Experiencing the help, refuge and strength of God requires calming the storm within ourselves.  Like I said, God either quickly calms the storm or allows it to rage on in order to calm us.  Creating and developing calm in our lives is essential when God is bigger than us, and allows unpredictable storms in life to pop up.   So take a moment, or better yet a few moments and breathe to see if you can find calm in your storm.