G.U.E.S.T. Star Life Coaching

Frog Blog, Grace, Hope, Love, New Starts, Troubled Waters

TREAT MEANT

I often use Socrates’ questioning method of teaching to encourage new answers to surface. As I mindfully floated on the lily pad today, I asked what the word treatment means to me? Dividing treatment into two parts, what examples do I associate with the word “treat?” What treats have I received that remain memorable? What treats have I given that generated unforgettable responses?

The dictionary defines treatment as “the act or manner or an instance of treating someone or something. The method in which it is handled.” This definition allows ample room for several prospective treatment options. I return to Socrates’ questioning style to dig deeper for ideas. What are the parameters I use to measure when I’m treating others how I want to be treated? Using examples of my treat desires (dark chocolate, candles, spiritually engaging conversations), do I gift others with their favorites? Does the energy I release toward others indicate a treat I’d like to receive?

I recently watched Marie Forleo interview Tim Ferriss who invited the audience to think about “treating others the way you want to be treated.” Ferriss suggested an alternative consideration. He asked if you treat yourself the way you treat others? Do you speak to others the way you speak to yourself? Do you respect margins and display grace for yourself with the same frequency as you allow for others? Self-care often overflows to more easily support other people and activities.

Ferriss isn’t promoting selfish love or self-serving treatment. He recommended viewers to practice compassion on themselves to experience what treating others kind-heartedly looks and feels like. He questioned how someone could understand what treating others thoughtfully looks like if they don’t treat themselves with courtesy. I’ve experienced Ferriss’s observations in my life. When I’m impatient or severe with myself, I struggle against irritability or harshness toward people and projects. When I speak slower and build larger margins between thoughts or schedules, I’m gentler with others.

To respect my 500-word FROG blog limit, I leave my lily pad to review more answers from my treatment plan. I hope you will invest time to discover what treat means to you. What is your treat-meant? To treat yourself, to treat others? I believe your answers will translate to upgraded treats!

Leaping with care, Christina

Frog Blog, Grace, Hope, New Starts, Troubled Waters

WINNIE THE POOH AND BILLY GRAHAM

I’m reading the Tao of Pooh by Benjamin Hoff. A friend loaned it to me with a suggestion to pay attention to people showing up for life through the characters of Pooh, Piglet, Tigger, or Rabbit. As an animal lover, I was eager to learn more from our furry companions. The book confirmed a simple but firm observation from a mentor, “Christina, you’re trying too hard. You’re complicating life. Just let it happen.”

The excerpt from Tao of Pooh that stood out: “When we learn to work with our own Inner Nature and with the natural laws operating around us, we reach the level of Wu Wei. Then we work with the natural order of things and operate on the principle of minimal effort. Since the natural world follows that principle, it does not make mistakes. Mistakes are made–or imagined–by man, the creature with the overloaded Brain who separates himself from the supporting network of natural laws by interfering and trying too hard.”

In a dialogue with Pooh, the author teaches how Tao doesn’t force or interfere with flow. Instead, Tao allows life to work in its own way, organically producing results. I read Tao of Pooh during a work break and after work, I paged through a Decision magazine. “The Time is Short” article featured an interview with Billy Graham who said, …”There are billions and billions and billions of planets and stars. And as far as we know, this is the only planet in rebellion against God.”

Ouch! Rebellion? Ouch! Going outside of what my Creator crafted in His blueprint for my life? I never expected a connecting message between Winnie the Pooh and Billy Graham. A mentor’s insight, the Tao of Pooh, and Billy Graham’s interview in one day invited me to consider what I am filling and flushing out of the purity of life. I am discovering that any unrest and chaos is generated from living my will, (not Thy will) be done!

Seeking ponds to soak and flow without artificial coloring or (self) preservatives, Christina

Frog Blog, Grace, Hope, New Starts, Prayers, Troubled Waters

JOB SECURITY

“Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things” (Mt. 6:34).

Tomorrow will worry about its own things. Ah, tongue in cheek reassurance. Matthew’s gospel teaches that each day assures job security on the worry line. Today’s storms are not to steal tomorrow’s thunder. I understand how I’m not to borrow tomorrow’s troubles. What about when thoughts bypass borrowing upcoming quandaries and I head straight toward stealing future concerns?

My study bible notes that worry represents division and distraction. Worry and faith cannot simultaneously exist. I’ve been practicing more single-hearted thinking so I can increase whole-hearted living by starting my morning walks whispering, “Think slow.” In the hushed darkness, I repeat those two words slowly until eventually that whispered repetition calms me.

As I walk, when my thoughts accelerate and tangent, I choose one piece of inner dialogue and whisper it. For example, if marriage, work, or parenting concerns overpower a peaceful state, I whisper, “Work project. Think Slow.” I find it cathartic to quietly expose the wayward thought so I can declutter my mind.

With consistent effort, I’ve gradually learned to convert my thinking into praying. If I’m talking, I might as well be talking to God rather than allow my thoughts to bounce around in my head. God can take my chatter and train me to change slippery worry into grounded action. I’m learning that if a thought is big enough to worry about, it’s big enough to pray about. Just as I monitor my walking pace to avoid injury, I’m adjusting my thinking pace to decrease inner jarring.

Matthew 6:34 teaches that tomorrow will have its own concerns. God will have new assignments every day and instructs me to “be anxious for nothing” (Phil. 4:6). Nothing means nothing. I have the freedom to choose worthy over worry. That decision depends on how strongly I seek peace. I am invited to live care free, full of His care.

Jesus, thank You for speaking to me in whispers. Guide me toward single-hearted thinking today so I can concentrate on whole-hearted living tomorrow. Align my needs with Your wants. You provide peace and clarity when I think slow (er). Help my thoughts follow Your worry-free instructions.

Whispering praises of new understanding from a thoughtful lily pad, Christina

Frog Blog, Grace, Hope, Love, New Starts

CHEVRONS

My Mom taught me to crochet when I was in elementary school. We began with single crochet chaining, double crochet stitches, and eventually created more elaborate patterns. In her crafting projects, Mom gravitated toward chevron patterns. Her blanket colors and sizes were different, but Mom’s handiwork often displayed her signature “V” stitch.

I remember Mom looking peaceful when she crocheted. I’d sit on the couch beside her and pull yarn from the skein at a pace to match her stitching flow. Her hands moved rapidly but she was silent other than quietly repeating patterns in a definitive tempo style. Her chevron “cadence” was, “ten crochet up, top the peak with three doubles, chain one, top the next peak with three doubles, and head back down the V with ten double crochets.”

As I became more skilled in crocheting, Mom used yarn patterns to teach life lessons. Using the chevron shape, she taught about life’s ups and downs. A crocheted mountain requires counting to ten when stitching up and down. Both sides of the mountain are vital because each offer a different view of the tapestry. At the chevron points, there’s a double trinity and to finish the blanket with excellence, you cannot stop at the top or bottom of the “V”.

I watched Mom rip out several rows of a project because she made a significant error in her pattern’s foundation. She told me how one additional or missed stitch creates an off-centered blanket. I learned the importance of counting stitches and fixing a mistake as soon as you find it.

It took me one difficult lesson of not heeding her instruction. I figured with two extra stitches, I could drop one on each side, so the end number remained the same. Instead of correcting my work at that point of miscalculation, I moved forward. My first chevron afghan turned into a V shaped blanket with a small base and large fanned out top. Crocheting, as in life, is seeing how an unfixed mistake can expand and “unravel” over time.

Mom taught that when working with darker colored yarn (i.e. life’s valleys) stitches sometimes needed to be pulled gently apart for visual clarity. She adjusted to lighting limitations by using daytime to crochet dark colors and evening hours to crochet brighter hues. She taught me to relax if I didn’t see a pattern take shape until several rows were completed. She’d gently repeat, “Just keep working through it. Don’t worry about future stitches, you can only crochet one stitch at a time.”

When I start any crochet project, I still “hear” Mom’s reassurance about weaving shape into my life tapestry. Foundations are vital, all colors matter, each stitch counts, all details make a difference to the Creator.

Casting a life hook and line from my crochet and pray lily pad, Christina

Frog Blog, Grace, Hope, Prayers

SHOW AND TELL

“Refuse no one the good on which he has a claim when it is in your power to do it for him. Say not to your neighbor, “Go, and come again tomorrow I will give, when you can give at once.” (Prov. 3:27-28).

Author John Maxwell teaches about how the happiest people don’t always appear to be the most worldly successful. Dr. Maxwell observes that when success is measured by the daily amount of value someone adds to others, overall joy increases (from his message, How to Have your Best Year Ever, January 3, 2019).

Before accepting or declining an invitation to serve others, I factor convenience, sweat equity, and time commitment into the equation. Sometimes, I use spiritual sounding embellishment such as, “Thank you for asking. I’ll pray about this ministry and let you know.” Seeking wise counsel is important. Over calculating excuses as a delay to avoid depleting my comfort levels is selfishly unwise.

Being a bridge sometimes means being walked all over, but if I want to develop credibility as a Christ follower, I need to disregard my hobby approach to serving others. Opening today’s service door could build tomorrow’s bridge, even when an invitation may be inconvenient or scary to step into new arenas.

In my writing business, my schedule includes multiple deadlines, speaking engagements, and occasional author conferences. Sometimes, without warning, an editor offers me a job I’ve previously requested. The timing of that job may not be according to my plan, yet I can’t imagine candidly answering the editor, “Thank you for this project contract, but could I get back to you after I think about it?” The editor is asking me to use my writing gifts and resources to supply the publication’s current needs.

As a professional Christian in training, every time I’m called to live my values in the way Proverbs 3:27-28 instructs I serve the world with integrity. Showing surpasses telling. To stand up for my beliefs, I need to consistently engage backbone that strengthens my core character.

Jesus, thank You for faithfully meeting my daily requirements. Thank You for servants who positively respond when I ask for their assistance. As people reach out with requests, encourage me to wisely and willingly meet their need. Open my heart to intentionally listen and look for ways to add value to others.

From a lily pad that supports a servant in training, Christina

Frog Blog, Grace, Hope, Love, Troubled Waters

WORTHY PERSEVERANCE

I’m adding another story to a zillion “tales” about dog owners loving their K-9. For the record, I lay a wager to win any dog lover contest and am fighting against changing today’s FROG blog to DOG blog: replacing Fully Rely On God with Depend on God. This reflection shines light from a lesson I learned through my favorite dog.

A parent from a school where I used to work brought a black lab puppy to the front office. She requested help in finding homes for a new litter of 10 labs. I saw the dog and knew I’d adopt him and name him James.

The name James means perseverance. James (the human) wrote my favorite book in the Bible. James (the puppy) had to be “divine intervention.” I was distance running at the time and practicing increased stamina. Labs require much exercise and I needed running endurance. A match made in heaven.

There are 1000’s of reasons why I loved James and 100’s of ways my heart broke when he died at seven years old. One habit James had was whenever I entered any door, no matter how long I had been gone, he’d stop what he was doing to search for something to show me. He’d grab any item that was in his path to display his enthusiasm for my entry. He was insistent on bringing tokens of love, including a toy, sock, bone, or occasionally a couch pillow.

One day, James looked panicked while he hunted for a show and tell object. The house was spotless and loose items weren’t readily available to retrieve. He ran up and down stairs, whimpering as he darted from room to room as if to say, “Just wait. I promise I’ll find a gift to bring.” His quest turned from cute to sad, so I said, “James, just bring me yourself and that will be plenty.” He continued living up to his enduring name and persevered until he found a doorstop as that day’s prize.

That observation prompted me to understand how God wants me to live. He doesn’t require or ask me to make a name for Him. He’s done that (and more) without my assistance. Like James, I mistakenly think I must persevere and produce to get God’s attention or approval. Eph. 1:5 teaches that I am adopted as His child.

I wonder if God watches me in the same way I observed James as he painstakingly searched to produce an unnecessary-for-love-sacrifice. I picture my Creator gently but pointedly telling me, “Christina, just bring me yourself and that will be plenty.”

Father, thank you for adopting me into Your eternal family. Remind me (often) how You made me complete in Christ and You love me unconditionally (Ps. 35:5-6). Help me yearn to show others the love You’ve relentlessly shown me.

Searching for You with perseverance, Christina

Frog Blog

SEASONAL COLLISION

Readers: We interrupt the FROG blog to break an “under 500 word” guideline today. This is an excerpt from my upcoming book, “Life’s Too Short for Dull Razors, Cheap Pens, and Worn-Out Underwear.” I believe that the message is important for this time of year. (This 1014 word piece may require two mugs of hot chocolate)!    

I think there are certain times of the year when my actions are more in sync with the way my body is designed. As a person who requires a lot of light, I notice how much more willing I am to run during spring and summer. Outdoor light, no matter how intense, beckons me toward activity, defaulting to overall optimism.

During Thanksgiving and Christmas one year, I received enlightenment from a friend who shares my need for much daylight. We were talking about holiday traditions and anticipated time off from work.

I confessed being unmotivated to face shopping crowds and filter through noise. She chimed in that she most wanted a soft blanket and an evening alone with a book and mug of hot chocolate. I wanted to hire someone to wrap presents and decorate. She approached her family’s gift exchange with project manager logic: “Why would I stand in Target with my $20 wondering what to buy Suzy Q, while she’s standing just a few aisles down with her $20 wondering what to buy me? Why not stop the insanity and use the $20 for what we need most?”

She and I laughed and steered the conversation toward Thanksgiving and Christmas outreaches. We listed our favorite seasonal delights including peppermint bark, Christmas shows, the smell of pine, pumpkin anything, happy faced reindeer, Angel Tree gifts, and warm sweaters.

I’m not a Scrooge. I have a generous spirit. Why then has it become my uphill climb to greet the holiday season with wonder? I embrace gratefulness being a key to deep rooted joy. Our family focuses on Jesus’ birth. There’s a magical sense when jingle bells or a Christmas song introduce a commercial. I empathize with people who have suffered loss and the holiday season can add weighted anxiety. I understand some people’s pressure to create memorable gatherings. There are people who cannot financially provide a holiday meal, much less gifts. I’m blessed to have my needs covered so why do I foster such a sour outlook in November and December?

As I continued mulling over my source of holiday heaviness, I concluded that the American calendar year of large events collides with a body’s natural rhythms. Bears, groundhogs, skunks, bees, and other animals use winter months for hibernating. They use dark cooler weather to hunker down and sleep deeply. If animals are awakened during hibernation, they become agitated, not unlike yanking a teenager out of bed before 10:00 a.m.

With hibernation for creatures coinciding with climate and daylight patterns, I relate my daylight savings’ behavior to animal instincts: grouchy as a bear; casting an attitudinal 5:00 groundhog shadow; smelly as a skunk when I venture outside past dark; sting like a bee because I get painfully cold easily. The year’s peak holidays arrive when the only thing I want to wrap is my body under a blanket. I’m grab flannel sheets from our bedroom closet while the material world is grabs holiday deals from store shelves. I look outside for the wintery moon’s brushed glow, but neon Christmas lights flash instead. Silent night seems mocked in comparison to the ho-ho-ho’s and amplified electronic gadgets in surround sound. The mall traffic drivers seem like the greatest flurry of flakes.

During the time when my body is designed to operate in lower gear, the marketing world thrusts me into four-wheel drive. This collision between a physical season and the perceived expectations of the Christmas season invites an element of chaos. Just as each person is affected differently when awakened, the holidays affect people in disparate ways. Not all animals hibernate, so the squirrels, elk, birds, and rabbits of the world, may be less affected by blizzards of holiday activity. For those who trek like groundhogs and bees during winter, the season of lights can be emotionally dark.
In many Christian churches, Advent begins a time to intentionally prepare our hearts for the birth of Christ. It’s a time designated to reflect, to recreate the anticipation of Jesus’ birth. The Advent season continues as we eagerly await Jesus’ return to restore this broken world.

Our pastor preached a seasonal message from Luke 2’s account of the Christmas story. He asked us to determine which story character we related to most. He offered how the innkeeper’s response to Mary and Joseph’s plea may be equivalent to December’s busyness. When we don’t make time to acknowledge Jesus’ birth, or that Mary was even pregnant while Joseph stressed to find a place for Mary’s labor and delivery, it’s like saying, “there’s no room at the inn.”

I pictured a knock on the door of my heart’s inn. Do I make room to fully welcome Jesus, especially to host Him for His birthday party? Into which rooms do I invite Jesus? Is He front and center in the living room, or do I limit Him to a spare closet where I mingle with Him between entertaining other guests? Do I meet Him in the garage for an alignment when His party isn’t tuned-up to my expectations? Maybe He can do a quick wash up in the guest bathroom. Are there parts of my “inn” where Jesus is off limits?

Between Thanksgiving and Christmas, I’m tempted to do a reaction check when someone asks if I’m ready for Christmas. Instead of a summarizing our Christmas preparations or gently share Christian holiday witness, I want to ask, “What does ‘ready for Christmas’ look like to you?” My intent isn’t to create awkwardness, but hopefully gain understanding about people’s values, traditions, and maybe a story about a seasonal memory.

Back to front and center. What spirit am I selling during the holidays? I want to give away an upbeat Christmas spirit. Not everyone will buy this gift but they could make good use of it when I freely give it like Christ did on Christmas morning. How can I step out of hibernation and tend to the human “sparrows”? I want to be someone who helps restore holiday joy. To light from the inside no matter how dark it is outside!