Posted in Thankful

Thankful Thursday – Post 20

Last summer I posted an interview with Rachel Held Evans, blogger and author of a spiritual memoir, Evolving in Monkey Town.

Rachel is now working on a new book project called the Biblical Womanhood Project. For that, she is following many of the Biblical guidelines for women, along with researching various religious groups from Orthodox Jews to Mormons to Amish (and many groups in between) to see how different women live out being a Biblical Woman.

Rachel, modeling the latest fashions at the Amish store

Rachel describes the project as “John Piper meets Martha Stewart meets Julie & Julia meets A Year of Living Biblically. Just enough crazy to interest everyone.” (Will be published in 2012)

A few months ago, Rachel asked if anyone has connections to any of those groups. I volunteered to connect her with Amish and Mennonites, never imagining how sweet it would end up being for me. This week I am spending a few days playing tour guide for her. She keeps thanking me … but I am the one getting the better end of the deal!

So today I am thankful:

  • To be spending time with Rachel.
  • To talk about writing (trying not to drive her crazy with questions)
  • Connecting with other cool folks who live nearby that Rachel and I both met online … Maile & Shawn Smucker and Erika & Bryan Allain.
  • For an informational visit with my friend’s Amish aunt.
  • For a good visit with my brilliant, hard-working Mennonite cousin … who not only runs her own bakery, but also has fabulous gardens.
  • To spend time thinking about where I’ve come from (I grew up traditional conservative Mennonite, which is similar to Amish)
  • To go to the Mennonite Information Center with Rachel today.
  • .

    So it’s a different week for me – have you ever had a unique week/day that you are grateful for?

    And what are you thankful for today?

    No Abuse Ever – Body, Mind or Spirit

    The final Celebrate Women prompt asks what still needs to be done to raise awareness about women’s rights either locally or globally. What women’s causes really need to be addressed and how would you address these issues?

    That is such an overwhelming question. There are so many women’s issues locally and around the world that I would like to see solved.

    freedom ... !photo © 2010 Kalyan Chakravarthy | more info (via: Wylio)


    I have freedom, peace and hope … and I want that for every person.

    That does not mean they need to have a life like I do. They don’t need to change themselves or any part of their world that they like. And that honors them. They don’t need to believe everything I believe.

    I want freedom for them to be who they were created to be. To fully realize the value they have … not for what they do, or what they believe, but simply because they are human.

    I want women across the world and women across town to never be abused … body, mind or spirit.

    Right now I feel overwhelmed. It’s hard to imagine how that will ever happen. But for a time, it was hard to imagine that I’d ever run again.

    But step by step … I did.

    Running happened after I accepted my reality … through tears, anger and prayer. While crying and cursing, I focused on the truth of the tough obstacles ahead of me. Then surrounded myself with doctors, counselors, and supportive friends that could help me move forward.

    Slowly one step at a time … I ran again.

    So now as I feel overwhelmed … I pause, take a deep breath and remember that same principal can be applied to helping others find hope in their lives … whether that is a woman forced in a lifestyle she doesn’t want in India or in rural Pennsylvania.

    My wish for every person is … freedom, peace and hope.

    What can I do today to make that an active wish? What can you do? What can we do together?

    Go here to read posts from others that Celebrate Women.
    My first Celebrate Women post - Are Girls as Valuable as Boys?
    My second Celebrate Women post – No to Labels & Yes to People
    My third Celebrate Women post – More is Caught Than Taught
    My fourth Celebrate Women post – Books, Books and more Books
    Posted in Mind

    Help Yourself – Stop and Think

    When something sounds too good to be true … it usually is.

    The get-rich-quick deal … guaranteed to double your money in a month.
    The car that is for sale for thousands below all the other cars like it.

    The get-thin-quick diet … lose ten pounds in a week.

    The book that promises to answer all your questions.
    And the list goes on …


    When we hear someone else talk about one of those scenarios, we can usually see every flaw in the plan five seconds after they begin talking.

    Thinking... please waitphoto © 2009 Karola Riegler | more info (via: Wylio)


    Yet each of us has probably looked at a too-good-to-be-true offer and wondered if maybe this time, this one would be different. Maybe it would actually work. Maybe, just maybe. Imagine if …

    At this point, we begin to hear a loud sucking noise …

    That noise is us being sucked into an unrealistic promise. Hopefully, it will shock us back to reality and a voice in our head will say,

    When something sounds too good to be true … it usually is.

    This is a good time to stop and think.

    A few minutes of honest thinking about a scenario that has enticed us should help us look at it objectively and realize that it’s one of thosethose things that sound too good to be true.

    Of the scenarios I mention at the beginning, the one I can most easily fall for is the last one. Too many times, I’ve found myself thinking that a certain book will hold all the answers and/or change my world. Don’t get me wrong … books can be amazing and life-changing! Some have greatly affected my life. But time has taught me that no matter how great a book is … no one book will answer/solve everything.

    Have you ever fallen or hopefully caught yourself falling for something that sounds too good to be true?

    Posted in Guest Post

    What do I have Perseverance For?

    Perseverance … a necessary ingredient to life.

    In every area of life.

    A light bulb but no (good) ideas... (17/365)photo © 2011 John Liu | more info (via: Wylio)


    I like to listen to music, but I’m not musical. My sons would be quick to tell you I can’t “carry a tune in a bucket.” I also can’t play any musical instruments, but I’ve always thought playing a guitar would be cool.

    But I don’t want to go through the process of learning. I have no desire to spend hours practicing … I just want to jump to playing great music.  Because I don’t have the desire, I probably won’t have the perseverance to ever turn myself into a guitar player.

    And I’m okay with that … because there’s other things in life I would rather develop perseverance for. One of them is writing. So I blog (blogging is a writer’s gym) One cool part of blogging is guest-posting.

    I’m happy to be guest posting on Jeff Goins’ site today.

    Jeff is a creative guy, who enjoys writing, sharing ideas, and helping people make a difference. If you are a writer (or want to be) check out his writing tips.

    Thank you Jeff … for giving me the opportunity to post on your site.

    And you, the wonderful, faithful reader, go over there to read my post … Painful but Possible: A Story of Perseverance.

    Other guest posts I have done:
    Word by Word at Shawn Smucker
    It all Started with a Book, a Blanket and a Flashlight at Andi lit
    Posted in Body

    Help – My Head is Not Screwed on Straight!

    I look like a robot these days … let me explain.

    Since January, I’ve been training to run the Garden Spot Village (GSV) half-marathon (13.1 miles) on April 9th. I’ve eaten right (most of the time). I have followed my training schedule. I’ve had some perfect running moments and I’ve had some lousy runs … but all in all, I am was feeling ready for it.

    Over the past decade, I’ve had some annoying neck and shoulder tightness. This annoyance has increased over the years … either from the accident, age or both. Recently it’s become continual pain. I’ve decided to be at my best for the race, I should get it checked out.

    I’m not anti-surgery … but I don’t think of surgery as my first choice. I prefer to look for non-invasive options. I’ve had standard chiropractor care over the years, which has helped the rest of my back tremendously … but it has not taken care of the neck/shoulder issue.

    My massage therapist recommended a different type of chiropractic care … called atlas orthogonal. This treatment focuses on making sure one’s atlas (the first vertebrae) is level. (The TV show, The Doctors, has showcased this treatment)

    My head tilts left in many pictures - now I know why.

    X-rays showed that my atlas is not level, not anywhere near level … it’s off by 3.75 degrees. (the doc said the worse he’s seen is 2.5 degrees off) So for those of you that have been wondering … the truth is, my head is not screwed on straight.

    I’ve been receiving treatments for a week now and my neck/shoulder feels much better. But there’s one major drawback …

    During the first few weeks of treatment to ensure that the adjustment holds, I’m supposed to hold my head as still as much as possible. That’s why I look like a robot. I need to turn my whole body, not just my head. I’m not supposed to move  abruptly or do anything to jar my neck.

    That means I’m not supposed to run. Yes, not supposed to run a few weeks before a half-marathon. I knew this could be the case so right before my first treatment, I did a nine-mile training run.

    I’m so thankful for all the training I’ve done … but this saying is true,   . If you don’t use it, you lose it. If I don’t workout during this time, I will not be at my best for the race.

    So I’m compromising … I’m going on walks, instead of runs. I’m not going to yoga class, but I’m doing modified yoga stretches at home, mostly for my legs, while trying not to move my head.

    But for both my body and my mind, I need to get a few runs in. So twice a week, right before I go back to see if the adjustment held (treatments are only done if the atlas is off again) I’m going to go for a run. Then if I throw the adjustment off, it can be readjusted within the next few hours.

    My chiropractor doesn’t necessarily like my plan, but he understands … or at least I took it as understanding when he said, “If that’s what you feel you have to do, okay.”

    My hope is that on April 9th less pain in my neck/shoulders will make up for my compromised training in these final weeks before the race.

    UPDATE 3 days later: I was hesitate to give the name of where I was getting treatment from until I knew if this process works for me. Today I did eight miles … and my neck and shoulder felt better than they have in a long time, so I think it’s working – yay! After the run, I went in for another treatment with Dr. Marc Calicchio at Atlas Chiropractor of  Wyomissing and I’m happy with how I’m feeling!

    Have you ever balanced the advice of your doctor with your personal wishes? How did that work out for you?

    If you are in the area … join the party on the 9th. GSV has a full-marathon, a half-marathon or if you aren’t up for those distances, grab a few buddies and form a relay team. I’ve done the relay the past two years (2009 and 2010) GSV has great shuttle service to take relay runners/walkers to and from the transfer spots.

    Is “Goals” a Dirty Word?

    I’m creative. I can be spontaneous. I like to “go with the flow.” So for a time in my life, goals was a dirty word to me. I didn’t need or want goals, I wanted life to happen on its own.

    La Jolla Goal Wallphoto © 2009 lululemon athletica | more info (via: Wylio)


    I dreamed. I wished. I thought about many things. I envied others. I got frustrated. But I didn’t set goals.

    I wanted to do things that were healthy for my body, mind and spirit. I wanted to write a book. I wanted an organized house. But I didn’t set goals.

    Guess what … many things I wanted did not happen.

    I decided I’ll give goals a try. So I set some. Great goals. Super goals. Unattainable goals. Then when I couldn’t reach them, I was discouraged and upset. And decided my earlier opinion of goals was correct. Goals don’t work.

    Frustration with life forced me to re-evaluate the way I approach life. Many times it was with an all or nothing approach … so what would happen if I tried a middle road?

    A healthy balance.

    I set a few small goals. Take a short walk three times a week. Spend ten minutes a day “being still.” Clean out one drawer a week. To my surprise, I was able to reach some previously unattainable goals. Then I looked at some long-term goals I dreamed of reaching. I made some step-by-step plans and did what I could to meet them.

    Surprise … more things happened in my life.

    Not magically. Not overnight. But slowly, one step at a time … I saw some of the things that I was never able to reach before come into fruition.

    Your goals have to be firm. You have to hold them loosely. Yes, two sides to the same coin. Firm in that you do everything you can to stick to the realistic goals you’ve set, while at the same time realizing that you may need to make adjusts along the way. Maybe due to others, life’s circumstances, how you feel, etc. But that does not mean you quit,  it simply means you re-evaluate and make adjusts to your goals.

    Also, for a time, since I was setting goals for myself, I wanted to set them for everyone around me (especially my husband). News flash … it rarely works to set goals for someone else (unless you are a coach) you only have control over yourself.

    I still have unreached goals, but they don’t stress me … because I know if I set realistic goals and keep “Doing what I can, with what I have, where I am” (Roosevelt) I will reach them someday.

    Are you a goal-setter? If so, what plans/projects/things have you accomplished through step-by-step goals?

    This is part of a blog carnival hosted by Peter Pollock. This week’s word is Goal. Click over to the carnival to read more entries.
    Posted in Health,

    Is It Hard Work to be Unhealthy?

    While in the hospital post-accident, I sent most of my food trays back untouched. Between the pain meds and the antibiotics, my stomach was so stressed, food had no appeal. (I lost over 20 lbs in a few weeks, which gives a whole new meaning to the term crash diet)

    The caring hospital dietitian frequently visited me, encouraging me to eat well and offering to make special dishes for me. She kept telling me that I need good nutrition so help my body heal. “Janet, what you eat will determine how well you heal … or not.”

    flying towards the sunphoto © 2009 Heather Aitken | more info (via: Wylio)


    That advice has stuck with me and if it mattered when I was injured, it matters during the rest of life also. So slowly over the past few years, I’ve eaten less sugar, white flour and processed food. It’s not that I never eat them, but I try to keep them to a minimum.

    I don’t remember when I last ate fast food (unless Chipotle counts). I still have some vices to conquer … it’s been hard to break a diet coke habit and at times, I still turn to food for comfort when I’m upset.

    In January 2010, after researching meat and the effects on our bodies, I decided to go without eating meat for one month, to see how I would feel. At the end of the month, I felt great and I’ve stuck to an almost  vegetarian diet ever since. (I occasionally eat fish, usually salmon) (Update: I’ve since quit eating fish also)

    I am also an avid exerciser … I walk, run, hike, bike and kayak. I’ve always believed that our bodies were meant to move and if we don’t use them, we lose them. After being injured, I realize the truth of that even more.

    I’m a big believer in live and let live … so I’ve never felt the need to tell others what they should eat or whether they should workout. I figure everyone can decide what works for themselves.

    But recently after a few people said something about how they could never eat or work out like I do, I began thinking of the other hard things people do … without realizing it.


    You can do the hard work needed to be healthy.

    Or you can do the hard work of being unhealthy.


    When unhealthy… Stairs are harder to climb. Finding comfortable shoes and clothes is harder. Playing games with kids is tough. It can be harder to sleep well. Travel is more exhausting. Embarrassment at wondering if a seat will hold you. Not being able to keep up with others when walking somewhere. More time off work. Time and money spent at doctors or in the hospital from avoidable health issues.

    And the list goes on.

    I read this post recently and love the way she (and the commenters) spelled out all the things she could never do to herself or her loved ones.


    Have you ever thought about the hard work and the cost of being unhealthy?

    Does the Moon Make You Healthy, Wealthy and Wise?

    I’ve always loved the moon. As a young girl, I would ‘study’ it through my bedroom window. I always assumed that there were other people studying the moon at the same time … and I wondered about them.

    Full Moon Behind The Pinesphoto © 2009 Audrey | more info (via: Wylio)


    My childhood boxes (authoritarian family and strict sheltered religion) started feeling too tight at an early age, so I would ‘escape’ through moon viewings (and reading) I wondered about other peoples’ lives. I dreamed I could miraculously change places with someone else. And I’d imagined a whole different life for myself.

    Life moved forward and between a business, too many bills and three babies … I rarely had energy left to notice it, much less spend time studying the moon. But from time to time, I’d happen to see it while driving or up late … and it would be a pleasant familiar feeling.

    In 2005, when I turned forty … I noticed the moon again. I was in the middle of a season of trauma and depression (from an accident, not from turning 40) and I spent many hours unable to sleep.

    The moon and I became friends again.

    So it was with mixed emotions that I read this information one day … a forty-year old person, who lives to be an average age, will see about six-hundred more full moons in their lifetime.

    Six-hundred. 600. Six-hundred. 600.

    Some days it sounded like a lot … other days it didn’t sound like enough.

    With time, help from counselors, re-evaluating my life and allowing renewal to happen helped me move from depression to enjoying life again. One key to a full, meaningful life is embracing every day … and every night.

    I’ve become intentional about noticing each full moon. I put it on my calendar. I don’t want a single full moon to happen with noticing it. So every full moon night, I’m on my porch or inside a big window in my living room … sipping a glass of wine and studying the moon.

    So I am one happy gal today.

    It is “Supermoon” Night!


    Today the moon will make its closest approach to earth in 18 years … so it will be fuller and brighter than normal. More info here.

    I encourage you, if at all possible … pause tonight. Lie in the grass or find a comfortable chair. Sip your favorite drink. Take some deep breaths. Be still. Study the moon.

    The circumstances of your life won’t change. You won’t be thrown answers (trust me, I’ve begged and pleaded) There won’t be world peace. You won’t see a little green man. You won’t find love. You won’t become healthy, wealthy and wise.

    Then again, maybe you will … I think it depends on your definition of  healthy, wealthy and wise.


    More is Caught Than Taught

    The prompt for today’s post to Celebrate Women is … “sharing how feminism or being a strong woman affects our parenting style for both our daughters and sons.”

    Jonathan, Joshua, Janet, Jerry, Joseph - 2009

    I’m a believer in the idea that “more is caught than taught” and my parenting strongly reflects that. Not having daughters might mean my views aren’t as balanced, but I’ve attempted to show my three sons the value and potential of everyone by how I live, rather than with parenting lectures. Since my boys are 18, 20 and 22 right now … there is no final grade on how I did or didn’t do with that, but generally they respect others. (though I long for the day when they all mature past inappropriate jokes)

    During our early years of parenting, my husband and I leaned more towards the traditional view of men and women, but as our views evolved, so did our parenting. I knew we were on the right track when one son complained that in six grade home economics class he was the only guy that knew how to wash dishes.

    I became intentional about not showing (in words or actions) any difference about the potential of a man or a woman. And we didn’t have many discussions about the proper way to treat a girl/woman … instead we’ve had many conversations about respecting all people for who they are and the choices they make.

    I’ve attempted to show them that while I think everyone is equal, not everyone is the same. And the best way for them to respect another person is to get to know that person and find out who they are and what they like or dislike.

    I think it could do more harm than good to tell them “all girls want you to buy them chocolate” or “all girls hate spiders” or “all girls want to be moms” or any other “all girls …” statement. Assuming certain things about a girl that may or may not be accurate is not healthy for any relationship … whether the girl is a friend or a girlfriend.

    Now that my older two are in college … our conversations about equality and differences are more varied as they share what they’re hearing and processing. Though at times, it feels slightly odd (and I feel old) I’m enjoying this new two-way education and I assume it will continue into the future. I look forward to what we’ll learn together … about celebrating the value of each person.

    Go here to read posts from others that Celebrate Women.
    My first Celebrate Women post - Are Girls as Valuable as Boys?
    My second Celebrate Women post – Saying No to Labels and Yes to People
    Posted in Uncategorized

    Dear Everyone in Westboro Baptist Church (except Fred Phelps),

    I hear you are coming to protest a funeral in my area. I don’t know you and since I’m a skeptic by nature, I don’t believe everything I read. I wondered if you are really as angry a group as the media says you are. So I did some research.

    I discovered there truly is anger in your group, along with fear … both of these stem from Fred. That is why I’m ignoring him … I don’t have time for people that are driven by anger and fear.

    But after watching this well-done documentary by Louis Theroux about your family, I do have a few questions for the rest of you. Have you thought about any of Louis’ questions since he was there?

    It’s okay to think … seriously, it is okay!

    You believe God created you, which means he gave you a brain – right? Don’t you think he might want you to use it?

    When a corner of your brain raises questions, don’t squelch them. It’s not evil to think for yourself. And you can doubt what you (and other people) do without doubting God. Separate the two.

    No person should be controlled another person.

    Have you ever noticed how you tense up when Fred’s around? How you often wonder what he’d think about this or that? How you tell the young children to behave extra nice when he’s around? That is NOT healthy behavior. That is Fred controlling you.

    Since you are a person with a brain, why should anyone else control you?

    Fred might be right about some things in life, but he is not right about everything. He is someone who has combined anger/fear with a few extreme religious ideas. More than likely, he is driven by a fear of failure, because time alone doesn’t heal and it had to be painful when his first church failed due to internal conflicts. At that time, everyone that wasn’t family left. (Allow yourself to think about that for more than two seconds!)

    When the whole world seems wrong, you might want to take a look at yourself.

    At this time, you are allowing Fred to force you to live in denial. Denial about who the real you is. You have been stuffing the true you for so long, you are buried. You don’t even know who you are. But you are there … and you can be found again. It’s never too late to change!

    Pause, breathe, ask questions, allow yourself to think …

    Seriously, it’s okay. You are allowed to think. Find a way to talk to someone outside the group …. maybe a counselor or a family member that has left. They are not evil. They aren’t selfish. Instead of fearing wrath and death, they are loving and living life … as we are all meant to, including YOU!

    Think often – Think deep – Think!


    Janet Oberholtzer