Natural Objects of My Bounty

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1 Timothy 6:7 (NET)
6:7 For we have brought nothing into this world and so we cannot take a single thing out either. 

Ecclesiastes 5:15 (NET)
5:15 Just as he came forth from his mother’s womb, naked will he return as he came, and he will take nothing in his hand that he may carry away from his toil.

On occasion, I practice the art of adulting. One of my most recent treks into this realm was when my husband and I met with an attorney to asseverate our wills, power of attorneys, and trusts paperwork. It was mostly “decree this” and “declare that,” but a particular term jumped out at me.

“Natural Objects of My Bounty”

Per jurisprudence, this term is applicable to widows and children. So basically, the people you leave behind that stand to receive your estate. It’s so interesting how these are also the people God gives us stewardship over. Of course, we’re to take care of strangers, foreigners, and the least of these. However, stewardship is different. Stewardship is more personal. But… stewardship is NOT ownership.

So, do we own anything of value? Anything that’s truly ours, we control and can keep forever.

Even if we pay off a house, what happens if we stop paying taxes on the property? The same goes for a car.

If I absolutely owned my property, I may have decided to take it with me, instead of willing it to my family. Or, I may have decided to take my family with me, so we could stay together. It’s hyperbole, but you get the point.

Bottom line, we really don’t own anything.

So why do I have this insatiable desire to “have” more stuff? Why do I try to figure out ways to acquire more income? I’d like to say it was for noble causes. In an “if I have more, I can give more” kind of way. But I like getting and having.

Don’t get me wrong, I am a giver. I LOVE to give (in a nonobligatory way). However, if that were the source of this drive, wouldn’t I have sat down and calculated what’s the absolute minimum my family can live off of, so we can give away the rest?

Have you?

We marry owning things to ataraxia. Debt bondage wrapped as happily ever after. Our current debt crisis is the offspring.

For example, I was in Sam’s one day and laid eyes on a beautiful steel constructed swing set. I fell in lust. My baby boy was GOING to have that swing set. My older girls had one when they were younger, (wooden) so he had to have one. Plus, it’s made of steel!
Never mind with the girls:
1) we lived far from a playground
2) that neighborhood was full of kids that would come and enjoy the set
3) it cost a fraction of what this one cost
4) my husband could put the wooden one together but we had to have the steel one put together by a professional, further upping the price.

Never mind all that.

Now, we have a beautiful steel swing set in our back yard, where the novelty has mostly worn off and my youngest would rather go to a park. Quite frankly, so would I. And it’s already paid for by tax dollars.

Plus, visiting parks, libraries or borrowing tools from a neighbor promote more of a sense of community and teaches my natural objects the importance of sharing. Sharing is still important as we get older. We tend to continue to share but usually with those closest to us, unless in a sententious way. It’s good to give and receive from “others.” Trips to the local playground are lessons in diplomacy, mercy, and grace for kids and parents. These kinds of exchanges are invaluable to personal growth and well-being.

Owning more stuff isn’t.

In contrast to my example, let’s look at the example of Jesus’ life. He did not own much. He traveled a lot and there was one donkey between him and the twelve disciples. He even borrowed his crib and his tomb! His life and death focused on giving. All the while, being the true owner. Willing to purchase us with His blood. A payment we can’t afford. So, He entrusts us as stewards.

In His obedience to His calling, we were bought with a price. He inherited us as Spiritual Objects of His Bounty forevermore.

Be well, Beloved.

 

Modern Day Slavery

img_2612Luke 16:11 Common English Bible (CEB)

11 If you haven’t been faithful with worldly wealth, who will trust you with true riches?

Uh oh! My period is late and it has been right as rain since I was 12 years old. It’s not like we don’t know what we have been up to. Time to get a pregnancy test… and it’s positive. Not that it’s needed, but as medical school students, we know how this happened. What I didn’t know was he already had a ring.

He purchased it for the girlfriend before me.

Yep! That’s right, Beloved. The ring I still adorn today, was initially for someone else. Like the relationship, it didn’t fit her. But like him, was a fit match for me.  

He has purchased me other diamond adornments since then without my prompting. However once received, I became awe struck. I never thought of myself as a diamond person but tastes can be acquired.

Off and on over the years, I have checked out replacement rings. I have dropped not so subtle hints about replacing the center stone with a bigger one. One purchased for me. One that shows our new status. One that would be a “true” talisman for my marriage. One that would stroke my pride.

It wouldn’t be cheap, but if we really planned and budgeted, we could swing it.



In our drive for more, we happen upon a divine detour down Simplify Lane. And on that road, is a stop called Own Less Junction. It’s there we learn what true riches are. It’s there we learn everything we have is given (1 Chronicles 29:14). We are stewards such as in the story of the talents (Matthew 25:14-30). When we focus on what we have in our hand, we tend to rationalize and limit.  When we focus on His endless supply, we freely give of ourselves. It’s like a child who is OK with spending their parent’s money freely but is afraid to spend their own. 

Because the Earth is the Lord’s and the fullness therein (Psalm 24:1), we don’t have to live a duplicitous life, preoccupied with getting (Luke 12:15). We can focus on freely giving; a cornerstone of simplicity (1 Timothy 6:17-19). We’re no longer fearful of being givers. The short-lived satiety from stuff loses its savor. Our palate no longer enjoys the feigned sweetness of acquiring things. Liberty can be found at Own Less Junction.

What can you do without to help simplify life?

Be well, Beloved.

 

IU

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To mark the one year anniversary of Be Healed and Whole, I’m reposting my first blog. Enjoy, Beloved!

Intolerance of uncertainty or IU infiltrates every corner of my mind. Guised as a salubrious spirit, it reminds me of what ifs.

What if there isn’t enough time to get it all done?

What if it ends up hurting my family?

What if this is just another failure?

What if it’s actually successful?

What if he forgets again?

What if she lied to me?

What if I get sick?

What if

What if

What if

I accept the unknown and its constant state

What if

I accept that you will fail me and I will fail you

What if

I choose to focus on my values and not my unknowns

What if

I placed others before I

What if

U joined me

What if

Oui replaced I U 

Rich Young Ruler in the Mirror

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Money talks – It’s on a bail bondsman’s car.

We were hooked! It was hard to look away. There were 20,000 square foot homes in picturesque settings. Their garages, that only held luxury cars, were bigger than most homes. And everything was pristine. Plus, Robin Leach’s British accent as host of Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous was slightly intoxicating.  The grumble heard wasn’t our stomachs for food but our desire for that life.

But wait, there’s more!

Just a few channels down, we were welcomed into our favorite artists’ homes on MTV cribs. One had a full-sized refrigerator just for bottled water! Today, we’re in a race to Keep up with the Kardashians and the Real Housewives. Not to mention the Joneses.

The other day, I came across a book proclaiming I can get rich and only work 4 hours a week. I need it. In my current plight to reach the 1%, I run out of day before obtaining my goals. Apparently, so do you or the percent would be much higher.

Time is running out.

          Children are growing up.

                    Parents are growing old.

                              Test results aren’t always normal anymore.

Will we reach these plebeian goals in time?

Goals set by someone else. Goals that complicate life. Goals that make us self-reliant and therefore selfish. (Maybe there’s a *TED talk for that).

If we could only have joy in our day to day, regardless of what’s in our bank accounts. To live the simplified life.

Why have we been myrmidons to the god of this world? he only takes and never gives.

And if that is true, we need to do the opposite.

We need to be givers. To be like the One who gave all.

No longer to use the world’s ideals to measure ourselves.

We need The Stable Ruler. Not a rich young one.

If we say we’re open to giving our lives away for Christ, then everything we own is also up for grabs. What is more dear to us than our own lives? It seems a rhetorical question but there are things we covet and keep. Things we have a hard time parting with, if we part with them at all. Things like:

  • Money
  • Comfort zone
  • Ideas
  • Food
  • “Undeserved” gifts
  • Heirlooms
  • Heritage**
  • Being right
  • Place in line (especially at airports or when waiting a “long” time)
  • Position/Status
  • Mercy
  • Grace
  • Time
  • Monochromatic environment (look around or better yet through the photos on your phone or your FB page, does everyone look like you, are they all the same race, religion, sexual orientation, political party, economic status)
  • The last piece of gum.

We etiolate our existence while building “wealth.” But it doesn’t save us.

He does.

 Be well, Beloved.

 

Mark 10:17, 21-27 King James Version (KJV)

17 And when he was gone forth into the way, there came one running, and kneeled to him, and asked him, Good Master, what shall I do that I may inherit eternal life?

21 Then Jesus beholding him loved him, and said unto him, One thing thou lackest: go thy way, sell whatsoever thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, take up the cross, and follow me. 22 And he was sad at that saying, and went away grieved: for he had great possessions. 24 And the disciples were astonished at his words. But Jesus answereth again, and saith unto them, Children, how hard is it for them that trust in riches to enter into the kingdom of God! 26 And they were astonished out of measure, saying among themselves, Who then can be saved? 27 And Jesus looking upon them saith, With men it is impossible, but not with God: for with God all things are possible.

 *Ted Turner once said he’d like to see a list of the biggest philanthropist as opposed to the world’s richest people. 
 **Heritage- Our birthplace may not need to be the place we live out our lives.

Place in line

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I’ve been standing here forever! So many people showed up! I don’t care. There’s this guy I want to see. They call him Jesus and say He can perform miracles. They say He speaks like no other Jew. They say He’s the Son of God. Well, I’m not sure if all that’s true but I want to find out if it is. I mean I’m blessed. I have many cattle, sons, daughters, and land. I keep the law and remember the Sabbath. I’m in good standing with God. But they say this guy is here to fulfill the law just like the prophet Isaiah said. If he does, I won’t have to mete out every grain and spice. My life would be much simpler. I wouldn’t have to worry if he’ll strike me down for messing up.

No more comparing my efforts and offerings to others.

No more worrying about fairness.

I can have peace in my dealings. Peace in my days and nights. I lose so much sleep worrying. Boy, do I worry! I worry about those sons and daughters. I worry about if I really am keeping the law.

Wait a minute! Is that a woman walking about? Oh no! Is that a Gentile trying to get in? Neither have a place here. Neither have a place in this line. And look at that guy being carried by his friends. There’s no way they can get him in here. What were they thinking?! He’s obviously not been following the law or he wouldn’t be in that sad state. His parents probably don’t keep the law either. None of them deserve to get in here.

Oh, good the line is moving. I was starting to worry I wouldn’t get in and have a seat. I’ve been waiting and for that I should get a seat right in front. Maybe God’s blessing me for keeping His laws.

Time elapses and Jesus begins to teach. The narrator has a seat up front and is thoroughly enjoying himself.

Crack! CRACK! CRAAACK! What is going on up there on the roof? Is that the guy being carried? Those fools are lowering him from the roof!

Mark 2:11-12 King James Version (KJV)

[Jesus says to him] 11 Arise, and take up thy bed, and go thy way into thine house.

Jesus looks at him with compassion and heals him.  

12 And immediately he arose, took up the bed, and went forth before us all; insomuch that we are all amazed, and glorified God, saying, we’ve never seen love like this before.

I’m glad I can see it up close but just being here is enough. That man is being blessed for his faith and his friends’ faith. He has good friends.

Friends who don’t care about a place in line.

They gave of themselves so their friend could have a place in eternity. I want to give up my place in line obtained by lawful deeds. I want to simplify.

I want to receive His love and I want to give it away.

Be well, Beloved!

 

I scored 38 out of 100!

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Ok, ok. So, yesterday’s post was about some scary stuff. Are we on our way to being like the people in the movie WALL-E? Are we setting ourselves up to be taken over by our computers? Some say that has already happened. But let’s look at our current state in a more scientific way. Before going into that, a little disclaimer. The measurement of internet usage from normal to pathological is debated. However, there are widely respected and well researched tools available. Dr. Kimberly Young, founder of The Center for Internet Addiction, uses these tools as part of the first evidenced-based Digital Detox™ recovery program.

I took the Internet Addiction Test (IAT) and scored a 38. You can share your score but this is no competition. I doubt many of you will score high but it’s good to be familiar with the symptoms of misuse.

Hosea 4:6 King James Version (KJV)

My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge

Regardless, of whether you score high or not, you may know it’s time to cut down on your gadget use. (I know less media indulgence would help simplify my life). Here are strategies to assist us:

  • Schedule gadget time between must do events or activities
  • Set goal time but get there in a step-down manner
  • May need to totally abstain from media if unable to control yourself
  • Evaluate when during the day you use media and schedule other activities at those times
  • Write down things you would do or used to do before using this level of media and do them (get to bed on time, finish tasks quicker, etc.)
  • Write down your ROI for changing this habit (better mood, feeling of accomplishment, etc.)
  • Get an accountability partner to help keep you honest and motivated

For those interested, there is a Parent-Child Internet Addiction Test to help assess your child’s level of internet engagement.

 

Be well, Beloved.

 

 

Go, go gadget!

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My car is running on fumes. But I need to deposit a check and drop off tax papers before work. It can wait until I get off. I know I’m driving but let me check my calendar first. Oh, no! I forgot this is my carpool week, I have a conference call at lunch, and the kids are staying after school. If I’m only 5 minutes late to work, I can still run my errand. “Ding!” Who is texting me? I’ll check it at the gas station. While pumping, I watch the TV provided by the gas company. Today, Steve Harvey talks to married couples on the cusp of divorce. Wow! A TV at the pump. I pray for those couples. Let me check this text. Remind text from your child’s teacher, “Genetics test tomorrow.” I hope she’s ready. We’ll need to go over it with her tonight. She was working on Punnett Squares yesterday. Let me put that in the calendar.

The traffic lights are against me today.

“Ding!” That is the tone I get when someone likes or comments on my blog. I wonder if it was my hubby. I like getting those but they’re kinda obligatory.

“Ding!” Weather alert: Snow predicted in our area. I’ll need to go get provisions. I have a few minutes before work.

What is the other thing I am supposed to do before going to work? I know it’s important.

 


 

In this current age, we are constantly in touch with technology –literally and figuratively. Technology has blessed us by making us more intelligent. We know way more than prior generations. But are we smarter and at what cost?

In researching this topic, I was inundated by information. Most of it negative. We have markedly increased our internet usage over the past 5 years. In a Kaiser study, 8-18 year olds are taking in almost 8 hours of media daily. Even more disturbing is due to concomitant use of devices (e.g. tweeting while watching TV), they are getting in 10 hours and 45 minutes of media content. Heavy media users (>16 hours, 21% of test group) are more likely to make C’s, become bored, get into trouble and experience sadness than light users (< 3 hours, 17% of test group).  

An article in the journal Addiction, Hormes et al found that 10% of the college students studied experienced disordered social networking use: an addiction-like condition. Also, alcohol misuse was more likely in this group.

This affects more than kids. Regular social and mobile media users age 35-64 spend more than 13 hours a day with media.

The most disturbing result from too much internet time is brain shrinkage. The areas impacted control our attention spans, emotional lability, and empathy/compassion—among other things.

Increasing gadgetry usage also generates side effects that have a global impact on resources.  The US is less than 10 % of the world’s population, yet we consume 1/3 of the world’s energy.

Technology has made our lives more enriched. But like any other tool, it must be used wisely.

1 Corinthians 6:12New Living Translation (NLT)

12 You say, “I am allowed to do anything”—but not everything is good for you. And even though “I am allowed to do anything,” I must not become a slave to anything.

Simplifying our amount of media usage will make us smarter, healthier and happier.

Be well, Beloved!

Connection…lost

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Matthew 14:29-31New Living Translation (NLT)

So Peter went over the side of the boat and walked on the water toward Jesus. 30 But when he saw the strong wind and the waves, he was terrified and began to sink. “Save me, Lord!” he shouted.31 Jesus immediately reached out and grabbed him. “You have so little faith,” Jesus said. “Why did you doubt me?”

Storms will come.

This scripture is about faith, but it is also about distractions. As long as Peter kept his focus on Jesus he could do the miraculous. In this journey of the simplified life, distractions must be brought to a minimum. Of course, there are things not under our control, but much of what distracts us is the byproduct of our choices. Choices that lead to self-sabotage.

My biggest distractor -and I’m not alone -is the amount of connectivity I have to the world through gadgets. They can be a useful tool. For example, I am dictating this post into my phone. But checking the screen every time there’s a ding, using it as a replacement for memory or connecting with it instead of real people, are simple illustrations of it being a task master. When problems arise, do we go to our phones or to our knees?

Storms will come.

Like Peter, if not affixed, we lose sight of Jesus too. The side effects are quite deleterious. The sequelae, a lack of faith. We check with our gadgets and TVs and computers and Facebook posts and apps to see if we were in right standing instead of checking with the One who knows. We get distracted and start to sink. We sink under the weight of the problems presented. Problems we were never meant to carry.

Philippians 4 tells us exactly where our focus and thoughts should be.

Philippians 4:8 New Living Translation (NLT)

And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.

Are these the thoughts that fill our days? Our conversations? Our prayers? Our minds?

Or are our thoughts crowded with Faustian ideals?

I don’t want to spend another day with more time fixed on a gadget than time I spend in prayer. Let us be slaves to it no longer.

Be well, Beloved.

 

 

Day 8 – Why Do I Keep Touching the Stove?

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As a child, like most others, I was taught to dangers of touching hot things.

Mom: Mayisha, don’t touch that eye. It’ll burn you!

Me: Ok.

When the food was cooking, I had little to no interest in approaching. I mean the eye was glowing red hot and looked to almost want to come and get me. But when turned off and the pot removed along with my mother’s presence and attention, it seemed to beckon. “Touch me, touch me. I’m not hot anymore. Don’t you want to see for yourself? I promise I won’t hurt you now. Look! I’m loosing my glow.”

So what do I do?

I touch it.

And what happens?

It burns me.

It hurts me.

It teaches me.

And what happens next?

My mother tends to me.

She covers to heal.

She reminds me of her words.

 

My curiosity was and still is a gift. The way I viewed the situation was problematic. I did not recognize the danger.  I did not trust the instruction. I did not accept love’s “constraints”.  

For too long, I believed only bold, red, hot “supersins” were dangerous and that the enemy is dressed as someone in a red suit with two horns and a tail. In reality, he is far more subtle and successful in promoting a salubrious nature. He is likened to a charismatic leader clothed in divisive rhetoric, false humility, comparisons, and judgeful mentality. He is the accuser of the brethren, tricking us to see ourselves as deficient. When that occurs, we look to false gods for answers. Addictions develop while our faith wanes.

This is how we complicate our lives. This is how we lose focus. God wants to change how we view things.

Romans 12:2 New Living Translation (NLT)

Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.

 

He does not want to change us or others.

Psalm 139:14 King James Version (KJV)

14 I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvelous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well.

 

He has inundated us with His grace. All deficiencies were nullified on the cross.

Ephesians 2:8-9 New Living Translation (NLT)

God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it.

 

All these exchanges teach me to have faith in God.  Faith in who He made me to be. Faith in His instruction. Faith in His love.

Living simply means learning my standards are not His. I learn my standards are arbitrary and His are obtainable only through His son. I learn that following my standards leads to defeat and to follow His son leads to victory in this life and the next. I learn that throughout life I will continue to “touch stoves” and that His grace and word will always cover, tend, and heal.

Be well, Beloved.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Day 7 – A Damning Delusion I Control Things (ADDICT)

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Matthew 26:41 King James Version (KJV)

41 Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.

No doubt you have heard of or know of someone effected by the opioid crisis. As a PM&R physician, this is close to my heart as we are specially trained in treating chronic pain. As a consultant for a worker’s compensation company, I’ve been on the two sides of this issue. (Thankfully, I haven’t been on the patient side). In this role, my duties are to review charts, deem whether I think the dosage meets or exceeds the patient’s needs, and discuss my findings with the team and the prescribing provider. I also treat addicts. As you can imagine, it’s all been quite a learning experience.

What have I learned?

We have all succumb to addictions.

Our addictions are vast: money, screens (TV, phone, computer), substances, complaining, shopping, food, exercising, likeability, rationalizing, etc. Be they strange or otherwise, are the offspring of entitlement, comfort, self-righteousness, anxiety, fear and pride.  

In scripture, addiction has different names.  Paul called it the old man or old self. We are instructed to put off the old self. Thankfully, scripture gives us guidance on how, the reward is great and we’re not alone.  

Romans 8:12-14 New Living Translation (NLT)

Therefore, dear brothers and sisters, you have no obligation to do what your sinful nature urges you to do. For if you live by its dictates, you will die. But if through the power of the Spirit you put to death the deeds of your sinful nature, you will live. For all who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God.

So, let’s hand over the reigns to the One who saves us. Only then can we be free from our addictions.

Be Well, Beloved.