My Blog: New Year, New Name

 

I decided that for 2018 I would change the name of my blog from God, Faith, & Fitness to Feathers for Your Journey.

When I started this blog four years ago my interests were in losing weight, becoming healthier, and doing so while integrating my faith. After a short amount of time I realized I didn’t enjoy writing about fitness or weight loss, but for whatever reason I kept going and with each passing year I contributed less   posts to this blog.

In 2017 I was happy to go an entire year for the first time in several years without having to go for physical therapy, my pain remained, but it had decreased significantly, and I managed to lose some weight and keep it off (so far). I think 2017 was more successful for me in this area because I didn’t focus on weight loss, food, exercise. I turned to meditation and mindfulness and I believe this helped significantly.

I kept daily reminders to eat healthy posted within sight (in my day planner, on my phone), I was mindful of what I was eating, and regular (not strenuous) physical activity was based on things I enjoy. I decided I wanted my blog to focus on life, learning, and goals without being too narrow and specific.

I discovered the word ‘novaturient’ today; it is when you desire or seek powerful changes in your life, your behaviour, or situation. I learned that I lived in a novaturient manner during 2017. I listed the things I wanted to change, achieve, and eliminate for that year. The best that we can do in life is live with intention without being so goal oriented that you prevent yourself from being flexible. There will be times when your goals have to be altered, eliminated, or put on the back burner for a while.

There is another word I recently learned, it is ‘meraki’ [mey-rah-kee]; it means to do something with creativity, soul, or love. It is the act of putting a part of yourself into whatever it is you are doing.  I realized by the end of 2017 that I had lived with novaturient and meraki in my life. Not everything went as planned, but I was able to grow from unexpected changes and opportunities because I did things with meraki.

Three weeks into 2018 and time feels like it has flown by quickly. I won’t encourage you to make new year’s resolutions; I don’t believe in them. However, I will encourage you to live intentionally this year.

What values are most important to you?

What are your goals and desires?

Who are the kind of people you want closest to you? Who are those you want to spend most of your time with outside of work?

What does money and material items mean to you and how important are both of these in your life?

These are questions we can ask our self any time throughout the year. It’s important to check in with ourselves regularly not only during holidays, birthdays, and tragedies.

However you choose to live in 2018, I wish you all a year filled with pleasant surprises, blessings, spiritual growth, and success.

At Christmas, Free Time is Precious

The Christmas season involves a lot of food, not just any food, but good food! Plenty of drinks, lots of baked goods, and appetizers galore.

I can’t complain about the abundance of food, I enjoy it as much as the next person. I enjoy consuming these festive treats, but I certainly don’t enjoy making them. I, like many other people in my age group and demographic, are more likely to purchase ready made goods rather than make them at home.

Photo by: Helen C athcart

I enjoyed making apple cider this year, but I cheated. I started off wanting to make it from scratch, but the recipes seemed time intensive. Who knew making a beverage could take so much time and so many apples? I decided that my free time was more important than the end product. I have a feeling there are others who feel a similar way.

I believe food is absolutely necessary at any Christmas get together or function, no food, no fun. Others would argue that alcohol is necessary as well, but I don’t drink, so I will peacefully disagree on that point.

All this to say; don’t feel pressure to make home made goods for holiday parties. If it is less stressful for you to go into a bakery or grocery store and walk out with everything already prepared, then go for it! After too many stressful holiday seasons trying to fit in festive events, I learned that I enjoy Christmas much more when I’m not having to spend too much time in the kitchen.

I have to continue watching how much I eat because all my weight loss and discipline can be easily lost to the mindless eating that occurs when hanging out with others. I intentionally make an effort to bring healthier treats and food to gatherings. The last thing I want to do is waste mental space worrying about how much I’m eating and what I’m eating. If food consumption matters that much to you, bring some tasty fruit and vegetable dishes to potlucks; there will always be people who want healthier options as well.

My desire to save time by purchasing ready made items extends to crafts and decorations as well. If making hand made Christmas decorations doesn’t appeal to you, there are plenty of department stores selling items to suit every taste. I eventually got rid of my Christmas crafts board on Pinterest, it was too tempting. They were great to look at, awful to make. If craft making leads to frustration, then give it up. Again, the idea is to make the best use of your free time and energy.

As a child I remember stringing popcorn for the tree. It was a fun activity as a child, but as an adult, I know that I’d rather eat the popcorn. What I find more exciting is going out and purchasing decorations. I save both time and money as well.

Don’t forget to have fun during the holidays. Time is precious and vacations at Christmas is short for most of us. Allow that time to be restful, fun, and fulfilling; only you can define what that is.

Preparing Your Mind for Advent and Christmas

 

It’s almost December and the first Sunday of Advent is fast approaching. Christmas parties and events have already begun and with each week there is increased busyness related to the holidays.

As a culture our time is not filled with the story of Jesus’ arrival into the world, instead, we are often consumed with celebration of the secular holiday season and commercialism. I’m not about to pretend that I somehow become extra holy during Advent and Christmas, but I can certainly feel the tension between focusing on Christ verses focusing on the secular celebrations and habits of the season.

I don’t have a problem with making “Jesus the reason for the Season”. I feel an increased need to draw closer to Christ during these busy times because I am tempted by corporations that try to convince us that Christmas doesn’t exist without all the small appliances and toys they are offering for sale. I need to call on Jesus so I don’t allow myself to become a bitter and angry person when family issues surface due to holiday pressures. My prayers increase because I see the desperate needs of people who live on the streets and those who are living in poverty and I remember what Jesus said to us about our relationship with those who are poor. I remember my identity in Christ when the thief of comparison pays a visit, reminding myself and others of the material things we don’t have.

I invite Jesus into the holiday season by engaging in Advent rituals. Without these daily reminders it becomes easy to spend more time focusing on Christmas instead of Christ.

There’s nothing wrong with having fun during the holidays, personally, I think it’s necessary for our well being to do so. The winter season is long, dark, cold, and sometimes depressing. Gathering together and having fun is the best way to beat the winter blues.

So, what are some ways you can invite Jesus into your holiday?

Advent Wreath: With an advent wreath in your home, you have a visual reminder of the seasonal themes Love, Joy, Peace, and Love. You can light the candles every day or once a week. You can even take things further by doing a reading or prayer each time you light the candles.

Advent Daily Devotional: These devotionals focus specifically on the story of Christ’s incarnation, the prophecies of the Hebrew scriptures with foretold the story of Christ, and provide reflections on how to live as Christians waiting for the advent (coming) of Christ.

Decorate your home with religious symbols: Christmas is filled with beautiful trees and the equally appealing decorations they hold. Adding religious decorations such as nativity scenes, angels, and art depicting the Christmas story serve as reminders that Jesus is a part of our holidays.

Listen to Christian Christmas Music: There are many winter songs that sing of warming up by the fire, Santa Claus and loved ones, but throwing in some songs that reflect the hope and joy of the season help to create a spiritual atmosphere. Christian Christmas music is found across many genres and are produced by both Christian and non-Christian artists.

Give-Give-Give: Christmas brings out the charity in all of us. A great way to celebrate the holidays is sharing with others whether it be by giving financially to a charity of your choice or by donating goods and your time to organizations.

The Horror of the Cross and Women’s Monthly Flow

In the city I live in, there is currently a shortage of free menstrual items for women and young girls who are homeless, low-income, or living in poverty. It has been so problematic that a woman and her friends took the initiative to start a donation campaign exclusively to collect pads and tampons.

Over a year ago I had asked a local church if we could do a women’s hygiene donation drive, the response of one of the women’s ministry leaders was that it had to be at one of the women’s events. This caught me off guard. Why did this important need have to be regulated to women’s ministry? What would happen if this need was advertised in the Sunday bulletin. Would it really make both men and women uncomfortable? Are periods only a woman’s issue?

I sometimes feel that that Church is only comfortable with blood if it is associated with Jesus being tortured on a cross. Not many seem to object to images of a bloody Jesus hanging from the cross despite the fact that he is no longer on the cross. Jesus defeated the cross, he is resurrected in heaven, free from the blood and gore caused by the Roman torture devise. Yet we can’t let go of that bloody image. In fact, we are so attached to the blood of Christ that we celebrate it and pretend to drink it during the Eucharist. I’m not saying we should not remember how gruesome the crucifixion was; that would be minimizing the amazingness of Christ’s sacrifice; what I’m getting at is our acceptance of a bloody Jesus and the rejection of a bloody woman.

Niddah is a Hebrew word used to describe a woman who is menstruating or a woman who hasn’t completed her ritual bath requirement. The literal word niddah means “removed” and is also used to mean “cast out”.

When a woman has a discharge of blood that is her regular discharge from her body, she shall be in her impurity for seven days, and whoever touches her shall be unclean until the evening. Everything upon which she lies during her impurity shall be unclean; everything also upon which she sits shall be unclean. Whoever touches her bed shall wash his clothes, and bathe in water, and be unclean until the evening. Whoever touches anything upon which she sits shall wash his clothes, and bathe in water, and be unclean until the evening; whether it is the bed or anything upon which she sits, when he touches it he shall be unclean until the evening. If any man lies with her, and her impurity falls on him, he shall be unclean seven days; and every bed on which he lies shall be unclean.” Leviticus 15:19-24

If she is cleansed of her discharge, she shall count seven days, and after that she shall be clean. On the eighth day she shall take two turtledoves or two pigeons and bring them to the priest at the entrance of the tent of meeting. The priest shall offer one for a sin offering and the other for a burnt offering; and the priest shall make atonement on her behalf before the Lord for her unclean discharge.” Leviticus 15:28-30

How nice of the priest to make an atonement for the SIN of a woman having a period. Something that she has no control over, something that is a healthy part of being a woman.

Christianity doesn’t have any purity laws, but when it comes to menstruation, we certainly act as if it is impure by not allowing it to be a topic that is openly discussed among both men and woman. We treat women and their periods as impure when we glorify the bloody stories of war, murder, and genocide found in the bible, but then shame anything that has to do with women who bleed.

If there are food banks, domestic violence safe houses, or shelters in your area; consider finding out if they need any menstrual products and donate proudly without shame or embarrassment. Let’s change the discourse about women and their periods from one of sin to that of being a gift from God. Sometimes periods don’t feel like a gift from God, but they are. Consider that without a proper menstrual cycle some women wouldn’t be able to get pregnant. Similar to the beauty of the cross, is the beauty of menstruation.

 

 

 

 

 

A blog about life, learning, and goals!

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