Peanut Butter And Peace

A day without peanut butter is like…

…Just kidding. I have no idea.

It has been an interesting week and it is not over yet. With my husband out every night with various commitments, I have had a lot of time alone to think.

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Jokes aside, between the deep thoughts (and evening baking sprees!) I have also helped friends with various challenges, from where to buy peanut butter in bulk, to how to pursue peace when you’re waiting on God. After chatting back and forth, we had success and all parties left feeling satisfied.

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I am more of an expert on peanut butter than peace, but I hunger for both and am willing to make great sacrifices to have them! I am far from perfect but making progress.

Yesterday was World Mental Health Awareness Day and anxiety was a hot topic. Anxiety is a problem for many people and I relate to this struggle too.

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Constant worry is also something that drains us and is totally useless. Usually we worry because we are afraid things in life won’t turn out as we hope. We even worry about things like a traffic jam, which we cannot control, and being upset won’t change it. We worry about what others think of us. What the future holds. If we want to have peace, we have to give up worry.

At first it may feel strange to let go and enjoy each day, without trying to figure out tomorrow. We get addicted to stress, strife and being busy, without even realizing it. It takes courage to say yes to rest, in a culture where exhaustion is often seen as a status symbol. If you sincerely want peace in your life, you have to pursue it and make this a priority. It doesn’t just come. We need to trust God in all things, beyond what we see and beyond what we know.

Peace is power. Peanut butter is too. And in my humble opinion, both are good for you!

A Spoonful Of Peanut Butter

Our attitude plays a big part in determining the kind of life we are going to have. Today I choose to keep my thoughts and words positive (it’s a daily decision!) but this wasn’t always the case. God has really helped me in this area and I have had to work hard, as it didn’t come naturally to me.

I know now that I need to focus on God and this gives me perspective of my situation, but it doesn’t mean I ignore what is happening or deny that I have tough times ahead of me. I am always honest with myself and others about being real about my struggles and having days when I want to give up, but maintaining a positive attitude is vital if we are to enjoy our lives. Often it is not our circumstances that make us miserable, it is our attitude toward them.

Some days it is simple and you just have to put a peanut butter smiley face on your crumpet to cheer yourself up (peanut butter has tremendous power to brighten even my darkest days!) Other times you have to remind yourself that God is greater than your circumstances and instead of wasting your time being upset and worried about the future, trust Him and go out and enjoy your life.

If you let Him, He will use your problems and let them be a testimony to others.

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Mourning Sickness

For the first time this year I wrote some poetry yesterday. Putting pen to paper is always healing for me. The words poured out without much effort and although there is often a risk in exposing my thoughts, I am sharing it on my blog anyway (and if you think I am a little strange after reading it, you’re probably right!)

Mourning Sickness

When my daily intake of peanut butter declines, you know I’m not well.

I normally have several spoons at a time, but now could barely tolerate the smell.

A chronic stomach virus was doing the rounds and everyone was falling prey.

Suddenly I was feeling sick too and it seemed the bug was here to stay.

To be honest, as time went on, the possibility of pregnancy crossed my mind.

A metallic mouth, swollen stomach, what other evidence could I find?

Nausea and fatigue crept in, I seemed to be building a good case,

And all the while still training cautiously for my upcoming marathon race.

You see, despite the many years that go by, I never give up hope,

Continuing to believe in miracles while I wait, helps me to cope.

I had mixed emotions when I felt better and the symptoms slowly subsided.

My body was playing games with my head. I had been misguided.

Free from the fear of causing any harm, I could now focus on my run.

(I had debated skipping the race, despite all the training I had done).

I ran with all my heart and let the pavement absorb the disappointment and pain.

As I crossed the finished line I knew, running was a good way to keep sane.

Many of you will think I am crazy and my imagination is wild.

How could I jump to conclusions and believe I was carrying a child?

The truth is, I have felt this way before, as real as can be,

And losing those children is a scar that will always remain with me.

We all have battles we are fighting, some we win, some we lose.

Things may be out of your control but a good attitude you can choose.

So have a little compassion and be kind to those you meet.

You can’t always judge someone, simply by passing them on the street.

Needle In A Haystack, Part 2

“Never apologize for being sensitive or emotional. Let this be a sign that you’ve got a big heart and aren’t afraid to let others see it. Showing your emotions is a sign of strength.” (Brigitte Nicole)

I was hesitant about going ahead with “part two” of my post, as I felt vulnerable after last time and the responses I received left me overwhelmed. When I was told my blog played a role in helping a reader recognize a destructive pattern in their own life, prompting them to make a positive change, it encouraged me to not be afraid and keep talking about these things. I am a work in progress when it comes to learning to express myself and although writing has given me an outlet, I have to regularly fight the urge to return to my safe place of being quiet and invisible.

A few weeks ago I felt like I had lost my joy and nothing would satisfy the ache inside. No amount of positive thinking, pep talks or peanut butter could make it better. (I eat peanut butter on a daily basis because I absolutely love it and recently upgraded my humble jar to a 900g bucket instead.) It does require self-control and when I am having a tough day it is tempting to let the regular couple of teaspoons turn into one too many! Thankfully I recognize I have a choice about how I am going to feed my pain and a short-term fix, like giving in to my craving for example, will not solve the deeper problem.

Healthy appetites or hobbies, like food, work, shopping or relationships can become destructive if we let them get out of control. If we look around there is plenty evidence that this kind of behaviour if rife in our world today. Often we don’t need to look further than ourselves to realize many of us have activities and habits that we use as buffers, instead of expressing our emotions appropriately. I used my peanut butter as a light-hearted example because ‘cravings’ often mask some negative emotion, be it depression, anger or loneliness that we’d rather not experience. Always ask yourself what you are feeling before indulging in a craving and don’t shy away from facing that emotion.

We are never going to be perfect and our lives are always under construction (and that’s okay!) Spending time with God is essential to helping you stand firm against temptation as only He can provide the lasting fulfilment you seek. Remember what was said in the beginning too…don’t be afraid to show your emotions and let us be a community that supports each other and opens our hearts to those that are struggling.

Comrades Ate My Cheeks

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I didn’t plan on writing a blog today. This is a spontaneous entry to clear my scrambled thoughts, which means you are in for a bumpy read with no clear direction or destination! Exit anytime.

Last weekend I ran the Comrades marathon. It was an honour to be a part of it. The training this year has been tough (both physically and emotionally) and a few days before the race, I was still not convinced that lining up on that start line was the right thing to do. However, I was blessed with a strong run, an improved time and incredible memories. I even achieved my goal to ‘finish with a smile’ and was told I looked relaxed and happy throughout the day.

After all the exercising leading up to this point, it felt strange to relax for a week, re-feed the body and brain and reflect on the hills we recently climbed. Repetitive long distance training takes a toll on me physically and naturally as Comrades drew nearer, my face started to look rather hollow. However, I am pleased to report that my peanut butter and couch potato script has had a positive influence on my cheeks, which started to fill out again almost immediately. I am highlighting my cheeks here, and being a bit silly, because my cheeks (or lack thereof) became a hot topic of conversation last month, which I suppose is human nature, but it was hard to swallow and eventually gave me indigestion!

If you are constantly worried about what other people think, you will be distracted from your destiny. I had other medical factors that came into play last month, which had nothing to do with Comrades training, but also negatively impacted my appearance. Those details are nobody’s business, yet we are creatures who love to speculate and I understand why people did. Luckily, my hollow cheeks were a temporary side effect, and we also have short attention spans, meaning #debbieneedsafacebra soon moved further and further down newsfeed. Despite my outward appearance, I was stronger than ever been before and could run 87kms sensibly and comfortably. Case closed.

One’s physical appearance is a personal subject and being called names triggered memories of rejection, which is never fun. Everyone has hurts from their past. Although my heart is healed, there is still a human part of me that feels incredibly sad when I think back on certain events in my life. Sometimes I can brush them off but other times it makes me angry, defensive, even hungry (this is where pity parties are tempting, and they usually come with an abundance of tasty treats too!)

I am taking a risk, being vulnerable as always, no tongue in cheek here, and hope in doing so it encourages you to do some reflecting too. Is there something in your past that causes emotional emptiness, even today? Does this trigger you to numb your longing for healing with a temporary physical pleasure? Often issues are big and complicated (I know mine are) and you overcome one layer, only to realize there are many layers still to go. Like peeling an onion, it leaves you in tears every time. There is no easy solution, but I find it helps to think of something good that has happened despite the pain from the event. (I used everyone’s doubts and rude remarks as fuel on my run and I never ran out of energy!)

With chipmunk cheeks or chiselled cheekbones, I can smile either way, despite what the crowd has to say. I have learnt to pay more attention to what God says about me, than what the grapevine does and I challenge you to do the same.

More Peanut Butter, Less Peanuts

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I love peanut butter and can easily eat an entire jar in one sitting (but generally stick to a few teaspoons a day!) A large helping of ‘peanut gallery’ gossip on the other hand, leaves a bitter taste in my mouth and I do my best to avoid such indulgence. I am responsible for controlling my appetite and these temptations but I can’t control the actions of others. This is hard to swallow at times, especially when the peanuts are being thrown my way.

I have felt embarrassed because of what people have been thinking and saying recently and my confidence level has been tested. I have learnt from experience that not everybody is going to approve of me and God will give me the grace to keep going, even when it is emotionally hard. It is far easier to add fuel to the fire, instead of taking the high road and being kind and courteous. Forgiveness is something we have to do on purpose, sometimes daily, even if we don’t feel like it.

I may not want to share my last teaspoon of peanut butter with the gallery just yet, but I am working on it and keeping an open heart, as communication often clears up confusion. I don’t always get it right, and I desperately want to defend myself against my critics but I trust God to take care of things. Everywhere we go people are hurting and discouraged, even those sitting in the peanut gallery. They often have their own unresolved issues that have nothing to do with us. It is hard not to let bitterness take root when we are wronged but we need to persevere, spread God’s love and compassion (thick and generously, like we would peanut butter on toast!) and help heal those wounded hearts.