Craving a Connection

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Leaning Into Lent

Chocolate, Diet Coke, Social Media, time on my phone, complaining, or snacking. I wondered what I should give up.  On the way home from school Tuesday, it dawned on me that Ash Wednesday and the season of Lent was soon approaching.  Throughout the years I have given up several different things, although I realized that in the last couple of years, I have not taken the time to meditate and dwell on why I want to sacrifice something for 40 days. 

As is the reason so many people do things, the connection is craved. 

Determined to Find Connection

As Tuesday evening drew to a close, I was determined to do something for Lent.  I searched Pinterest in hopes of finding a creative idea online. I stumbled across a website that talked about fasting, sacrificing and giving each day.  I was intrigued. I thought to myself, “I could commit to sacrifice and giving during each day of Lent.” I like the idea of not allowing myself to complain.  It will be difficult to commit to a complaint-free 40 days.

Focus on Giving

But, with an intentional focus, I will be better than before. Generosity also feels important. Since the message of Easter is about giving (He gave his life so we could have ours). Giving up the ability to complain is a gift I can give other people.  When I think about all of the times Christ could have complained so many different times throughout his life on earth. I am in awe of his sacrifice for so many reasons.

I crave a connection to someone who did what seems impossible.

And He was in the wilderness forty days being tempted by Satan; and, He was with the wild beasts, and the angels were ministering to Him (Mark 1:13).

I crave connection to Christ, what he stands for, and everyone else who leans into his or her faith during this time of the year.  

Tap Into Your Strength and Unique Style

Everyone has different tendencies, styles, and strengths.  God has given us opportunities to lean into ways that will connect us to Him.  It’s not really about what we choose to give up, what we fast from or take on. The method used should be something that inspires you and works for you to stay focused on why you are participating in Lent.  

It is about your desire, and the connection you crave during the season of Lent.

Imagine a World Without Waste

Why I Choose to Shop Second-hand

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Solving world problems is a challenge.

I want to contribute to making the world better than I found it. I am passionate about a number of ways this can be achieved. I know my faith, parenting, commitment to education, and the writing I produce will certainly make a difference for future generations.

I also want to contribute to making our planet better.

Women’s Clothing is Hardly Worn

Speaking in terms of averages and general information, it is not uncommon to see women donate clothing with tags or pieces that have been hardly worn. Overall women seem to go through clothing more than men. Styles change, clothes fit differently, and women tend to want to update a wardrobe more regularly. Clothing continues to be designed, created and produced at a rapid speed. Unfortunately, the abundance of clothing produced are never really used to its full potential. Once the items is no longer of interest it is either donated, passed along or thrown away.

I am a Critical Part of the Cycle

If an item is donated to a or sold to a consignment shop, the original owner feels great. He or she has completed the first step. However, the third part of the cycle is critical. If there is nobody to shop for items that have been passed along, they will ultimately end up in the garbage. Buying from a thrift shop allows me to be part of making the world a better place.

Up-cycling allows for Creativity

Using what we have requires us to be creative. It makes us smarter. We have an opportunity to use pieces of our wardrobe in different ways as well as combine items that we may not have originally thought about when the purchase was made.

I love the opportunity to look through racks of clothing and find a unique piece. I have found that when I buy something second hand, there is a pretty slim chance that someone else will have an identical item. I can take this creative mindset into other areas of life. Rather than focusing on purchasing a new item, it is a lot more fun to see if things in our homes can be rearranged in another location, or for another purpose.

Buying something new does not stretch our creativity.

I Can Be Picky

Thrift store shopping requires a level of pickiness. I do not choose items that look worn-out, stained or ripped. It is about being selective and realizing that you can always find something worthwhile if you are willing to look for it. I am showing my kids how to choose what they want, and realize that they are in control. They are exposed to several ways to purchase items and can determine which way works best for them.

Other Benefits

In addition to focusing on my carbon footprint, I can save money. Sometimes there are items at a thrift store with tags still attached. I have also scored unique hockey and soccer and football jerseys for an affordable price.

I have found that I enjoy nice brands of clothing that last for a long time. I like the way several name brands fit and find that they last longer.

I am excited about the effort I am making to make the world a little better than I found it. As Theodore Roosevelt says, “We have to do what we can, with what we have, wherever we are”.

I enjoy the opportunity to contribute to passing my knowledge as a thrift store shopper to my kids so that they can continue the legacy.

When to Turn Back

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The Quest for the Summit of Everest

I recently watched a documentary created by Rizza Alee, an 18-year-old mountaineer who filmed his journey climbing mount Everest. He had spent years preparing, dreaming and saving money in an attempt to reach the highest point in the world. The cost of the trip averages between 50 and 75 thousand dollars, not to mention the time, an average of 40 days involved in the climb, and emotional energy invested in the quest to accomplish the dream of a lifetime.


When the Unexpected Happens

Alee shares his experience crossing some of the toughest sections of the mountain to find himself at a crossroads after his oxygen regulator failed. The traffic jam of climbers sharing the same rope created an unsafe experience. Devastated, he listened to his guide who advised him to abort the climb.

He was only 1,000 meters from fulfilling a life-long dream when he decided his life was valuable and Everest would always be there.

When to Turn Back

There will be moments where a lot of money, time and effort have been invested. These might be moments where you get a chance to reach the summit, or they might be the moments when you have to turn back.

Did Alee fail in his attempt to climb Everest?

After contemplating his story, my students and I decided that he did not fail, but spent two months learning resilience, perspective, humility, bravery and found a way to share a story that continues to inspire people to not only reach their goals but realize how valuable life is.


Your Life is Valuable

Your life is valuable. You matter. You have a story to tell. Indeed the very hairs of your head are all numbered (Luke 12:7).


Interested in a Daily Faith Boost?

This post comes from a devotional series called 4:00 AM Faith. It is written each morning and sent in a condensed format to several people. If you are interested in receiving a daily faith boost, email me at lmcdonell2001@yahoo.com and specify if you would like it to be sent as email or text, and if phone number, provide the number.

Fall in Love with the Hard Work

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Dreams of being a World Famous Gymnast

Before I turned 11, I was determined to become a world famous gymnast.  I was enrolled in an acrobatics class at the local recreation department, and practiced my cartwheel and round off on a regular basis.  On the weekends my sisters and got up early to put the movie, “Nadia” into our VCR, and made our way to the floor to practice the splits in our pajamas.  

Hard Work is the Secret

Determined to be the best, Comaneci became the first woman to score a perfect 10 in an Olympic gymnastics event at the 1976 Olympic Games, at age 14.

She is quoted saying, “Hard work has made it easy.  That is my secret. That is why I win”.  

I Remember the Scenes Filled with Dedication and Work

As I got older, I chose new sports over gymnastics.  However, several scenes from Nadia’s story are still with me today.  I remember the dedication and the hard work she did to prepare to win at the Olympics.  I can still see her jogging with her coach, navigating endless core exercises, and facing the reality about which foods would help her compete at an optimal level.

Nadia fell in love with the journey, and most importantly, the hard work.

Like Nadia’s mindset, I like the way 2 Chronicles 15:7 reads,  “But you, be strong and do not lose courage, for there is reward for your work.”


Interested in a Daily Faith Boost?

This post comes from a devotional series called 4:00 AM Faith. It is written each morning and sent in a condensed format to several people. If you are interested in receiving a daily faith boost, email me at lmcdonell2001@yahoo.com and specify if you would like it to be sent as email or text, and if phone number, provide the number.

The Perfect Sports Hero

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I Thought I Found My Hero

I thought I had found him. It was the year 2000.  I had just finished reading, It’s Not About the Bike, by Lance Armstrong.  I had been following Armstrong’s Tour de France accomplishments for a few years and was so excited to have a role model to aspire to in the Sports world.

I was really impressed by this athlete who had battled cancer, created a foundation, continued to train no matter how tough it got, and ultimately kept winning races.  

I was Devastated

Fast forward to 2013.  I remember the way I felt watching Lance Armstrong’s interview with Oprah Winfrey.  When Lance admitted to using banned performance-enhancing drugs, my heart sunk. I was devastated.  I had looked up to this sports hero and had been seeking his example for determination, grit, and resilience for a long time. 

I remember telling my Dad how upset I was that Armstrong had lied. That day my Dad told me something I have not forgotten. He said, “It doesn’t matter how important, athletic or famous a person is, he or she will always let you down, simply because the person is a human.

You won’t find the Perfect Sports Hero. It’s God who won’t let you down.” Ecclesiastes 7:20 says this exactly. “Surely there is not a righteous man on earth who does good and never sins.”

Compartmentalize the Strengths

Whether it be Kobe Bryant, Lance Armstrong, or Tom Brady, athletes, just like each one of us are not perfect. Let an athlete’s strengths inspire you.

Compartmentalize what he or she does well, and do not give attention to the negativity.  


Interested in a Daily Faith Boost?

This post comes from a devotional series called 4:00 AM Faith. It is written each morning and sent in a condensed format to several people. If you are interested in receiving a daily faith boost, email me at lmcdonell2001@yahoo.com and specify if you would like it to be sent as email or text, and if phone number, provide the number.

You Are More Optimistic Than You Think

A New Perspective on Optimism

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I Used to Think

I used to think that being an optimistic person meant you had to live in a mindset where you were constantly positive and had to strive to be happy no matter what was happening to you

Now I Think

Recently, I read a quote from author, and television host, Mel Robbins that changed my thinking, and honestly made me feel a lot better about myself. 

Mel explained that optimism is believing in your ability to handle what happens to you. Bad things will happen, but optimistic people know they have what it takes to get through tough situations. 

A Good Day

Rather than deciding that a day was good, because it had little conflict, see a day as positive when you were able to handle the situations that took place. 

Even if you didn’t do the best job at everything, you faced it, survived it, are still here and gained information about how to handle things better in the future.  You are more optimistic than you think you are.

Scripture Reminds Us

 Romans 12:2 that reads, “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect”.

Interested in a Daily Faith Boost?

This post comes from a devotional series called 4:00 AM Faith. It is written each morning and sent in a condensed format to several people. If you are interested in receiving a daily faith boost, email me at lmcdonell2001@yahoo.com and specify if you would like it to be sent as email or text, and if phone number, provide the number.

Self – Awareness

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How I This Topic Came to Be

Originally I had plans to chase other things this week.  Through reading a book called, Lead With Faith by Sarah Johnson, I happened upon a few different tests that were intended to reveal and tell more about who I am at my core.

During the month of January, I took the 4 Tendencies Quiz by Gretchen Rubin, and discovered that I am upholder.

How I Applied the Four Tendencies

I think I probably knew this, but having my kids and husband take the quiz was really interesting and helped me to see everyone in a new light.  It even changed my thinking as far as how I assigned work and thought about my students.

I Wanted More Insight

Sarah Johnson’s book, Lead With Faith provided a few resources about the Enneagram test. I really liked taking this test.  It gave me a really comprehensive and specific idea about who I am.

The test

I found out I am a 3.  Thoughts on Being a 3

I am only beginning  to unpack the ideas, and big concepts when it comes to being a 3.  I suppose that is what happens when you give yourself a week to explore a topic.  I have two different books, and a few podcasts I plan explore and more as I read and listen to more.  But, I am in the middle of unlocking something big.

10 Things I learned About French Ways of Eating

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Week 3:  I chased French Ways of Eating

Picked up the book French Kids Eat Everything in hopes of finding new strategies to introduce m kids to new foods.  What happened over the course of the week surprised me.

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I actually listened to this book. The narrator was good, and it kept my interest.  I listened to it during a 10 mile run on the treadmill.  That says a lot for the narrator’s voice!

I tried to apply some of what I read in my  own life.  I figured if I could master it, then I could branch out and try the rest of the family. The week was incredibly successful, and I have to say, I have a new system for eating.

Here are 10 Things I Learned and Committed to

  1.  Eat 3 meals a day without snacks.
  2. Remind myself that my next meal will be in _____ minutes when I feel hungry.
  3. Eat enough to feel satisfied at meals.
  4. Spend time eating slowly at meals. (This is still one I am working on). This is a tough one in the morning.
  5. Enjoy slowness of dinner with family.  I am working on this- the first night I thought about how quickly we were eating, I got upset.  The second night, I was much more intentional and timed our dinner- it was only 14 minutes long.
  6. Set a goal to increase the amount of time we spend savoring food around the dinner table.
  7. Be open to trying new foods.
  8. Snacking is pointless at times and leads to not being hungry at meals.
  9. Feeling hungry is a good thing.
  10. French ways of eating feel more intentional, mindful and focused on good food.
  • I think I am going to challenge myself to keep eating like the french.  Bonus: It is not restricting, and I get to eat dessert.

 

His Dream…Your Dream

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Protect Your Dream

My favorite line from the Pursuit of Happyness is when Will Smith tells his son, “You got a dream, you gotta protect it. People can’t do something themselves, they want to tell you that you can’t do it. You want something? Go get it. Period”. 

Fight for Your Dream

If you aren’t ready to fight for your dream then don’t want it badly enough. God gives us the energy to meditate on something that matters to us.

When we do for a period of time, it becomes evident that we have a dream that matters.

Martin Luther King Jr. had a dream and was willing to fight for it. He was determined, made his thinking visible and did not quit when it got tough. 

His Promise

I love God’s promise to us about our dreams. Ephesians 3:20 says, “Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us”. 

No matter how bold our request is, God can fulfill it. And, he doesn’t stop at the things we ask for, he is ready to give us more than we could have imagined.

Elephants

Does Remembering Help You Survive?

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The Wonder of Elephants

Elephants are fascinating animals. They can pick up a grain of rice with a trunk that weighs over 200 pounds, can recognize themselves in the mirror, have tusks that never stop growing, and are extremely emotional animals. One of the most interesting things about elephants is their long-term memory.

Memory Linked with Survival

An elephant’s ability to recall details long-term is intended for survival. They can live a long time as a result of being able to remember people and animals that they have interacted with years prior. In addition to keeping the herd safe, an elephant can use long-term memory to guide other elephants to water over very long distances.

Is your long-term memory helping you survive? Hang onto the details that will enhance your life, not the ones that weigh you down.


Philippians 3:13 says, “But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on”.


Interested in a Daily Faith Boost?

This post comes from a devotional series called 4:00 AM Faith. It is written each morning and sent in a condensed format to several people. If you are interested in receiving a daily faith boost, email me at lmcdonell2001@yahoo.com and specify if you would like it to be sent as email or text, and if phone number, provide the number.