Monthly Archives: February 2012

It’s Contagious!

Pam’s Journey ~ Day: 145

Miles Walked: 365

Miles Remaining: 635

Days Remaining: 221

You may have heard that probably due to our mild winter weather, the yearly flu outbreaks are running a couple months late this year. Usually, the flu peaks in December and starts fizzling out in February. This year, it’s peaking in February. If you have never had the flu, and especially if you have had the flu, you do not want to get it! My daughter has had it twice and I’ve had it once.. It pretty much stops your life for a few days and makes you feel like a feverish, coughing, walking bruise.. everything hurts.

So, just a reminder of flu/cold courtesy… Keep it to yourself :). Seriously though, Please don’t go out spreading your germs on purpose… Even Kristen has been suffering with the flu and has been SICK!

Obviously I’m not going to dedicate my entire blog to germ courtesies.. I have some other contagious concerns on my mind. Maybe it’s just me, but there are some other things spreading as fast or faster than this flu. Contagious attitudes, moods, and personalities. It’s quite unpleasant and may make you feel as bad as the flu but there are ways to cure this problem. It’s up to the owner of these attitudes to just decide that they want to fix it. If left untreated it can cause sometimes unrepairable damage to your life or those around you.

On more than one occasion, I’ve been told by friends that I tend to be “annoyingly optimistic”. Is that a bad thing? The friends that said this are, more often than not, a little grumpy or they actually like to complain about things regularly. Do they notice my positive outlook because their’s is so negative?

Let me share my devotion for today.

Guarding Your Heart – Proverbs 4:23 says to guard your heart “for it determines the course of your life” (NLT). Think about that. Whatever is in your heart is eventually going to show up in your everyday life. Whatever’s inside will eventually find its way out, where anyone and everyone can see it.

That alone makes it extremely important to monitor the things we allow to shape our hearts. I don’t want something nasty, sinful, and selfish finding its way out and damaging my relationships with others, and I doubt you do either.

A large part of guarding your heart means learning how to control your thoughts, your words, your disposition and your general outlook. What you think usually comes out in what you say. What you say affects how you feel, and that shows up in your overall attitude. 

In the course of everyday life, this is what determines how you handle your circumstances, whether you’ll have peace or fall apart in a stressful situation. It governs how you respond to others, either with compassion and understanding or with judgment and arrogance, especially when you disagree with them!

You can try and keep your inner thoughts from altering your words and attitudes, but I find it’s much easier to have godly thoughts to begin with. Spend time in God’s presence, and let the Holy Spirit fill your heart with His goodness.

Wow! That says pretty much everything that I was thinking of on my walk this morning when the idea for this blog popped into my head.. how funny that it’s also my devotion for today! If you’re a Grumpy Gus, a Debbie Downer, or a Negative Nancy, maybe you should evaluate yourself, your thoughts, and your life. Maybe making some changes in your life can get you out of that puddle of pessimism. If you’re not happy with yourself or your life, why would anyone else be happy with you? 

I’ve known people who enjoy complaining and being in a bad mood, and they are perfectly content to stay in that bad mood. I can’t imagine it. They want to complain about their life or even other people’s lives and they have no problem dragging you into a bad mood with them.  How selfish is that? I refuse.. sometimes politely, sometimes not so politely but I won’t join in. I will guard my heart against it.

But you belong to God, my dear children. You have already won a victory over those people, because the Spirit who lives in you is greater than the spirit who lives in the world. ~ 1 John 4:1

The Spirit who lives in you is greater and can overcome a negative life if you ask and let it! You don’t even have to do it all on your own because that’s what has you in that grumpy mess in the first place. 

I may be genetically optimistic but it’s gotten even worse since starting this walk with Jesus (and that’s not a bad thing)! You may be wondering what reasons I have for being so positive. Why the annoyingly optimistic lifestyle? Am I blessed? Heck Yes!!! We all are! Do I have an easy life? It is what you make it, right? Do I have problems and worries weighing me down? Not when I give them to the one that can handle them!

We’ve probably all heard this verse but one day it just clicked in my head and made a huge difference in my outlook.

I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.” ~ John 16:33

The battle is already won. I”m a child of God and He has already won the battle. If I believe this, then what is there to worry about? Not a thing. Worrying won’t change a thing. Being negative about everything won’t help it go away… but it might help some of your friends go away because no one enjoys being around a Grumpy Gus. God loves us and wants us to enjoy the life He gives us. You just have to make the most of what you have. Live your life with Joy.. What do you have to lose? 🙂

I will praise the LORD at all times. I will constantly speak his praises. I will boast only in the LORD; let all who are helpless take heart. Come, let us tell of the LORD’s greatness; let us exalt his name together. I prayed to the LORD, and he answered me. He freed me from all my fears. Those who look to him for help will be radiant with joy; no shadow of shame will darken their faces. In my desperation I prayed, and the LORD listened; he saved me from all my troubles. For the angel of the LORD is a guard; he surrounds and defends all who fear him. Taste and see that the LORD is good. Oh, the joys of those who take refuge in him! ~ Psalm 34:1-8

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Death of a Friendship

Pam’s Journey ~ Day: 138

Miles Walked: 350

Miles Remaining: 650

Days Remaining: 228

So, I have this friend who is divorced but has remained, for the most part, good friends with her ex-husband. They have a daughter and even though it’s odd to have an amicable divorce and even a little complicated at times, they have tried to remain friends for the sake of their daughter.

This friend of mine was married to her (now ex) husband for almost 13 years when they divorced. They were high school sweethearts, and have known each other since the 8th grade, so that’s about 27 years. They divorced because of a nasty little demon named “alcohol”. Her husband used to be amazing… when he was sober. They almost never argued, they enjoyed spending time together, and even appreciated each other but the demon living with them eventually tore them apart. They have now been divorced for almost 8 years. Their daughter lives with her mom and the dad lives less than 5 miles away so you would think that she would have easy access to him.. Not exactly.

Recently, this friend has been having several bumps in that friendship and they have now called it quits. You’re probably wondering if it was the work of the above-mentioned demon, right? Nope, the ex-husband has been sober for over 18 months now. It seems that the unforgivable wedge this time is a different demon. Let me tell you the story.

The mom and daughter have been going to a wonderful church near where they live for over a year now and they have invited the dad (and his fiancé and her daughter) several times. He grew up in church, they have very similar beliefs, and he has even mentioned wanting to get back into a good church.. so, what’s the problem here? I mean, the church is amazing, it’s the best message I’ve ever heard, the daughter absolutely drinks it in and shares it with her friends, but amazingly enough, “Church” is the problem.

Wait.. did I just say it has the best message that I’ve ever heard? UGH, ok.. you probably guessed already anyway. The friend is really me.. It’s me, my daughter, and my ex-husband. It was getting confusing anyway so let’s get on with the story.

The problem? Church. We go to LifeChurch. It’s not a soft-spoken, all dressed up in your Sunday best, conservative little baptist church like I grew up in. It’s a head over heals, on fire for God, go to the extremes kind of church that makes you want to live your life for God, doing what He has planned for you to do!

The excuses:

  1. “the music is too loud”. Really? This from the guy who has always had an amp and an extra speaker box in his car to feel his music..  Sorry, I’m not buying it.
  2. “it’s too rock & roll for me”. Hello… we grew up in the 80’s, 90’s, etc.. and I know that you have a very wide variety of music preferences.
  3. The fiancé would probably feel awkward in church with his ex-wife… There are 6 times to choose from every Sunday and I don’t go to all of them!
  4. “It’s just not my kind of church”… It’s church. Church. Our daughter has practically been begging you to come with her.. It’s just church. Can you put your ego aside for an hour and join your daughter at CHURCH?  How many teenagers actually want to go to church and want their dad to go with them?
  5. There really are more but they’re just as silly as these so I forget all the other excuses ….

But the people’s minds were hardened, and to this day whenever the old covenant is being read, the same veil covers their minds so they cannot understand the truth. And this veil can be removed only by believing in Christ. Yes, even today when they read Moses’ writings, their hearts are covered with that veil, and they do not understand. But whenever someone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away.17 For the Lord is the Spirit, and wherever the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. ~ 2 Corinthians 3:14

Let me give a little more detail on the status of the father/daughter relationship. The “demon” that caused our divorce, also caused a dad gone missing for over 5 years of our daughter’s life. He missed birthdays, he missed holidays, school activities, graduation from elementary school.. he missed a Lot. The demon also helped him damage their relationship by saying horrible things to our daughter. Yet, she still wants him to come to church with her.

Church is what has led to the death of a friendship. In my efforts to convince him to go to church with her, I told him how hard it is for me to keep giving him tips on how to be a good dad when he won’t make the effort to be one. He decided that he’s done being a dad. Shocking… and heartbreaking. There is definitely a demon at work here and he is succeeding in breaking a relationship that was already bruised and bandaged.

Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour. ~ 1 Peter 5:8

Most likely, we won’t invite him to church anymore. There comes a time as a parent that I need to protect my daughter from some unnecessary hurt and I believe this is one of those times. How many times do I let him crush her little heart? Already one too many.

If you’re thinking that I give up too easy and that I’m letting this church rejecting demon win this fight, then you don’t know me very well! I will continue to pray for my ex-friend, my ex-husband, my daughter’s father. I will pray that whatever hold Satan has on his heart be removed. I will pray that he realizes that he’s missing the best thing that’s happened to his life… his daughter. I will pray for his fiancé to realize that he is a dad and she should encourage him to build that relationship up again. My prayers for him occupy a large amount of my morning walks with Jesus. I walk every day and talk with my Jesus, praying for this man to find his heart and give it back to God.

When my prayers are answered, I will most likely find my old friend again. I would never give up.. my daughter deserves more than that. I’m working on walking my first 1000 miles, so I’ve got plenty of miles left to keep praying these prayers and that demon might as well pack his bags and move on!

The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet. May the grace of our Lord Jesus be with you. ~ Romans 16:20

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Dare to Fail!

Pam’s Journey – Day: 133

Miles Walked: 343

Miles Remaining: 657

Days Remaining: 233

I’ve been having a nagging feeling of failure the past few days. This nagging feeling is weighing on my heart because I haven’t walked for 6 days. I know it’s silly and I know that it’s not a failure but I also know that Satan isn’t happy about the purpose for this walk and he will take every opportunity to put a wedge in this growing relationship with my Jesus. I know my nagging feeling is his work.

When we first planned to start this walk there was a lot of talk about the “what this walk means and what it is and what it’s not”. I wanted to do the walk the second that Kristen mentioned it. The more we talked about it and then decided to blog our journey, I started getting a little nervous. Blogging? Me, writing? and other people actually reading what I write? I wasn’t so sure about that. I mean, writing is not something that I have ever enjoyed or felt that I was good at. My fear was giving Satan a plowed field to plant doubt… but 4 months into the walk and what do you know, writing isn’t so bad.

The other thing that made me hesitate even more about this walk was when we put a time limit on it. 1000 miles in 365 days. I had no doubt that I could walk 1000 miles… but in 365 (actually 366 this year!) days was a little intimidating. It averages to 2.74 miles every day or if we round up and walk 3 miles every day then it gives us 32 days overage to play with. So, if we are sick or weather prevents us from walking or any other unforseen reason would occur then we have 32 days of grace.

You may be wondering why this stresses me out.. you might say that it’s just a walk, and we have God’s grace and just the effort of doing this is kind of  inspiring. But it’s more than that. It’s a commitment. It’s a promise that I made to the One I’m walking with. What if Jesus didn’t follow through on His primary purpose? What if God had changed His mind, which would be completely understandable to me as a parent. Giving His perfect son for a world of sinners… I couldn’t do it. So, His promise means everything to me… and in my mind, my promise might mean something to Him.

I often refer to myself as “an unfinished project just waitin’ to happen”. I mean that literally and spiritually. Literally – I am famous (at my house) for starting projects and not finishing them.. like the almost finished paint on one of my dining room walls from last spring, the almost finished kitchen remodel from 2+ years ago, the multiple almost finished scrapbooks that are always “a work in progress”. I’m really good at starting projects and have every intention of finishing them but… the dining room has a vaulted ceiling so the wall is like 16ft tall and that’s a pretty good reason for putting it off.. and the kitchen remodel was a joint effort with my ex-husband and he kind of decided not to help me finish it and I never got around to it.. and well, scrapbooks are like a never ending hobby so that’s understandable too… right?

Spiritually – we’re all a work in progress… and I love this because it makes me feel better about my projects!

Oooops, I forgot about the wood trim that we replaced in my daughter’s room last summer and there’s 1 piece that goes above her closet door that never got put up… it’s in the garage, next to my nail gun and is just waiting for me to finish it. We won’t even mention my almost finished refinishing job on my coffee table.

The upside to this is that when I do get around to finishing my unfinished projects, they usually turn out amazing! I get compliments, I feel good about my work, and I can say that I accomplished something that maybe in the beginning I didn’t know if I would be able to do… which comes back around to this walk. I know this is one “project” that I will finish. But then again, I know that this will be another one of my famous unfinished projects because once the 1000 miles is finished, there is no way that I can stop this walk with Jesus. It’s like air and I don’t know that I can live without it.

Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves. Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you–unless, of course, you fail the test? ~ 2 Corinthians 13:5

Sooo… I’ve already watched the weather and there is no snow, ice, rain, or freezing fog in the forecast for tomorrow morning. You know what I’ll be doing at 6am, don’t you? Walking.. yes, walking!

Dare to Fail…

Try something new, start an unfinished project!

What we may think of as failures,

are sometimes God’s masterpiece…

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Parenting 101

Pam’s Journey – Day:124

Miles walked: 332

Miles remaining: 668

Days remaining: 242

It’s pretty obvious what this blog is about.. the title gives it away. This is something that is very dear to my heart and has been burning inside of me for awhile now. I know some amazing parents and I had amazing parents but I know it takes a lot of work to be a good parent. It’s more than a full time job and it takes selfless sacrifice, patience, humor, and lots and lots of love.

Does anyone really know what they’re getting into when they decide to become a parent? Unfortunately, it’s not as easy as it looks on TV. Sorry to disappoint anyone who clicked to get the easy guide to parenting. This isn’t a quick fix, I’m not a parenting expert, and there isn’t a one-size fits all parenting technique. What I do have to offer is how I feel about being a parent and some of my successes and struggles. Being a parent is my very most important job in the world.. I tell my daughter this frequently. Like when she wants me to stay out of her business, or when she tells me to quit stalking her Facebook, or when I want to know where she is, who she’s with, what she’s doing, and when she will be home. It’s my most important job and I desperately strive to do a GOOD JOB!

Where to start… I think it’s important to show your kids that you are human. You make mistakes, you learn from your mistakes, and you try to improve. Many parents want their kids to think they are always right and that they never went through the things that our kids are going through now. How can kids relate to someone like that? They can’t. How do you get inside the walls they put up and stay involved with them if they can’t relate to you as a human? Tell them when you make a mistake and apologize to them if you do or say something that you shouldn’t. Let them know that you’re not perfect.

I also disagree with the parenting books that say you can’t be friends with your kids. Yes, you do have to be their parent but you can have some friend time with them. Drop the role of supreme authority, stop being a dictator, and do some friend time with them. Be silly, do something that they want to do, laugh with them and let them laugh at you, get to know them and don’t judge everything they say and do during this time but listen and learn who they are and what they’re going through in this time of their life.

Pick your battles – Parents often think that their kids must obey everything that we as parents think are “the rules”. Yes, as a parent, you are “the boss” but is it really going to hurt anyone if your child wants a lime green bedroom or purple streaks in their hair? Let them express themselves in areas that won’t hurt anyone or they will be so smothered that they may pick more dangerous ways to show their independence. Blonde hair, red, black, 2 or 3 colors, poppin lips, maybe even a piercing… none of this will ruin their lives but they might just feel empowered that they were allowed to make a choice.  This is also the perfect time for them to learn that they get to live with their choices. Don’t fix all of their mistakes. Lead them and let them figure it out sometimes. Give them advice, teach them how to pray when they feel alone and like there’s no one on their side. Take all of these opportunities to show them how to lean on God. Raise them to know that Jesus was given to us as a man so that He can walk with us. Show them how to walk and talk to Him.

I have found that the fastest way to get your kids to do something that you don’t want them to do is to “forbid” them to do it. I try really really hard not to forbid things. After all, it is in our nature to want to do what is forbidden..

I meet a lot of teenagers who have no respect for their parents. As a parent I teach my daughter respect and I give her respect since I expect her to respect me. Many kids who act out have no respect for themselves. Our babies aren’t born knowing all of these things, it really is our job as parents to teach it to them! Don’t be shocked or disappointed when your kids don’t act the way you want.. teach them. Don’t be upset when they treat you the way you treat them or say the things that they hear you say.

Encourage your kids, they need it. We could all use to hear some encouragement sometimes but our kids desperately need it. They have so many people telling them what not to do, they need you to tell them how good they are at something that they do well. Help them find ways to express themselves that will keep them out of trouble. Art, music, sports, writing, tutoring, anything that keeps them doing something that will help them feel better about who they are… and please, please don’t tell your kids that they’re not good at anything.

Don’t tell them to leave and then be surprised when they do. Don’t tell them that you’re done with them and be shocked when they are done with you too. Don’t tell them that they’re worthless or a mistake. Don’t tell them that you don’t want to deal with them. You may think that parents would never do this.. but I’ve heard some parents tell their kids these things. Don’t break their hearts.. you may not be able to fix it.

Build your kids up, empower them, teach them, encourage them, love them up and don’t tear them down. Make being a parent and raising your kids to be good, responsible adults with strong values your very most important job in the world. Let them know that they’re your most important job and try to do a good job… they deserve it.

Just love them… Love them like God loves us.

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A walk at the farm

Pam’s Journey: Day 119

Miles walked: 324

Miles remaining:676

Days remaining: 247

When I walk at home, I typically walk the same route pretty much every day. You may think this sounds boring but it’s actually really nice. My house is on the 3rd street of my neighborhood so I do a figure 8 route, except I just added a 4th street so now it’s like a figure 8 with an extra loop. I make 2 full 3 looped figure 8’s and I’ve walked about 3.45 miles. I walk these same streets at the same time every day in the dark with my MapMyFitness (MMF) app telling me how fast I’m walking every time I reach another mile. I walk this same route so that I know what to expect. I know who leaves for work, who starts their car or truck and lets it sit in the driveway for 20 minutes, and who puts their trash out in the mornings. I don’t usually have any surprises on my walks and can concentrate on whatever it is that’s needing concentrated on that day.

It’s easy to get absorbed into my walk, or my conversations with Jesus. That’s the reason for my MMF friend to tell me how far I’ve walked because sometimes I forget which loop I’m on. There are days when I need that time so much that I could just keep walking.. of course, those are the days that I’m usually late for work because I do just one more loop. One more prayer, one more question, one more thank you to the one that’s walking with me.

When I go to visit my parents, I look so forward to my walks at the farm. There’s nothing around, except cows mostly, for miles. I mean they do have a couple of neighbors a mile or so away and the cemetery is about 3/4 mile down the road but there is no traffic, no sirens, no airplanes, no horns, no lights, nothing. It’s just quiet country.

The last time I walked there was at Thanksgiving last year. Yes, I know I’m well overdue for a visit. I didn’t walk in the dark because I wanted to be able to see all of the nothing.. just the quiet country. My dad mentions that I might see a doe down the road where it turns to go to my uncle’s place and not to worry about the neighbor’s dog, it’s all bark. I get my layers of clothes on and I set off, up the white rock road. Care to join me?

My choice of routes include East/West which is crazy hilly and I figured if I walked 2 miles East then I would be crawling back up and down those hills coming back West. So I choose North/South.  This was not a much easier choice because it was really cold and windy that weekend. I head off south from my parent’s place. The sun is coming up, it’s amazing. The country air is so fresh. Even in the late fall when all the grass is dead and yellow, the colors of country is still beautiful. The deep earthy greens of the cedar trees, the blue sky with enough clouds to turn the sunrise into a blue, orange, pink, and purple spectacle, the gray-green of the sage brush, bright reds of the sumac bushes, the bright green winter wheat.. it’s just gorgeous.

I pass the Prarie Bell Cemetery.. I think that’s the cutest name ever for a cemetery 🙂  and look to the west where there used to be a little white country church, the Prarie Bell Church. It was tore down years ago because it was falling down, such a shame. I keep heading south where I come to the corner that turns to go to my uncle’s place and what do you know? A doe… seeming to just be waiting for me to see her. She walks across the road ahead of me and jumps the fence and disappears in the field. I pass the neighbors and sure enough, the “all-bark” dog comes to greet me. I hear water trickling in a creek next to the road, and find that I have a herd of fans (cows) that follow me as far as their fence allows, and just as I’m about to come to the highway where I’m going to turn around, I say a thank you because the strong winds I’ve been fighting will now be at my back! I’m also greeted by the friendly sign directing people to the cemetery.

On my way back, still thankful to have the wind at my back and glad Jesus didn’t have a sense of humor that day to give me wind in my face both ways, I found myself keeping an eye out for the mountain lions my mom told me about since the road is lined with trees in several places. I have no idea what I would do if I found one stalking me, but blaring my Itunes was the best plan I could come up with. I notice that some of the trees that haven’t lost all of their leaves yet are flapping those little brown leaves in the wind and it sounds like clapping. I imagine that they’re cheering me on as I walk my walk. I’m so involved in my walk with nature that I don’t notice a big black horse coming down the hill at me until it’s maybe 50 feet away and of course it startles me. The rider, also decked out in black coat and black hat and bundled up against the wind, tipped his hat at me as we passed, because that’s just what country folk do.

I continue back up and down the small hills that lead me back to my parent’s place, the farm. Past the cows that once again follow me as far as their fence allows, past the dog that’s all bark, past the Prarie Bell Cemetery where everyone is welcome, past the sun that’s standing higher in the sky but still shining it’s glorious colors on me, and back to the white rock road that leads to the house. What a walk.

There will be a day when I get to walk this walk every day. For now, I’ll walk my 3 looped figure 8’s and know what to expect on the same streets at the same time every morning. I’ll dream of the day when I get to live on the farm and walk this beautiful walk in all of God’s country glory.

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