Sunday, January 8, 2012

Who do I follow?

Choosing how we spend our time has to be one of the most important decisions we make.  Especially as a mom with small kids.  It seems like the minutes run into each other and fly by until the day is gone and I collapse into bed exhausted.  Most of those minutes are not 'mine': the time dedicated to serving my family and performing the duties required to keep the household and mini-farm running.

But then there are those brilliant silver flashes of time where the children are playing in the other room, or the unlikely event happens where they are all sleeping at the same time, or the 2 1/2 minutes behind the locked bathroom door, or finally, bedtime.  The temptation in those moments is for me to grab another gear, kick it into overdrive and get things done!  And sometimes that is what I need in order to get through the day.

Sometimes, though, I need a little boost; something to feed my soul, encourage me, make me feel and think like an adult, to keep me on the right path.

So what do I read, listen to, who do I allow to influence me in those brief silver moments?  Whose philosophies, theology, parenting advice, humor, and decorating advice do I allow to change my thinking?

I was affirmed in my quest for saturation by Julie Ann Barnhill, author of She's Gonna Blow!  The first strategy she recommends for conquering the volcano - achieving control over anger in mothering, is to 'Stay in the Word'.  I believe her strategies are effective for overall self-control, not just anger.  She explains that it 'is possible to be both a busy mom and a woman of the Word.  But you might need to be flexible in your expectations during the years when uninterrupted time simply doesn't exist.'

She goes on to list many practical ways to help accomplish this goal, one way being to find a way to 'help you devour Scripture in manageable "bites".'  I've been making use of my smart phone to help me to this end, subscribing to a daily scripture reading through Google reader.  I nearly always have my phone on me, so whenever I have a minute, I whip it out and feed my soul with a little bite of truth.

I'm also subscribed to several blogs, and am fed by the encouragement, challenge, humor, and much practical advice applicable to my life from the keyboards of other men and women.  However, it seems that everybody has a blog these days, and no particular education or credential is required.  As is evident by my ramblings! :)

So who am I going to allow to influence my thinking?  While many of them are good and based on the truth of Scripture, some appear to be, however upon closer look or when a bit of research is done on the author, there are  discrepancies between their beliefs and the Truth.

I don't think that I should only read things or listen to things that only line up with my own beliefs and convictions, after all I have been made aware many times that what I believe is not complete and have had to do some additional study to realign my thinking.  But it is important to be wearing the "goggles" of Scripture when reading or listening, to test what is said with the litmus paper of Christ, and keep the good, throw out the bad.

Keeping in the Word, God's word, is the best way to evaluate the rest!

1 But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will also be false teachers among you, who will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing swift destruction upon themselves.  2 Many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of the truth will be maligned;  3 and in their greed they will exploit you with false words; their judgment from long ago is not idle, and their destruction is not asleep.  2 Peter 2: 1-3  NASB

Thursday, January 5, 2012

One bite at a time

I am humbled, encouraged, and deeply grateful for the response to the cry in my last post.  Your facebook posts, emails, prayers and comments have been taken to heart, I've smiled, cried, and have felt the cyber arms of comfort surround me from your caring words, and feel the peace that only the One who made me can give.

As I have gone about my tasks today, I have pondered the big picture, my overall goal in this venture, and how I can have incremental victory in the steps to get there.

Under the title of my blog are/were the descriptors, "Fifty pounds in five months, that's what I've got to lose.  What I'm hoping to gain is self-discipline in all area in my life."

I'm coming to understand that the first phrase is secondary while the second phrase is the key.  Practicing and learning self discipline is the only thing I have any control over.  Self control.  The weight loss will hopefully be an outcome of that, but it should not be the focal point.   So how do I keep on the right track and avoid the valley of discouragement?  It's going to take a lot of God-given strength, and a little partying!

Every day, every moment, every second, we make decisions, some biggies and some so insignificant we don't really consider the effect they may have.  The culmination of these decisions determines our direction.  Even the smallest choice matters.

To put this in food terms, how does an overeater eat cake?  By believing the lie that one crumb won't hurt, it's just a taste.  Temptation.  The minuscule amount of calories won't make a difference overall, right?  Then another taste really is harmless, after all, the first taste didn't hurt. Then a fork full, then a piece with ice cream.  Until the cake is gone.  At what point was this a bad idea?  Right from the very beginning.

Even so, the good decisions have the equal but opposite effect.  Saying 'no' to the crumb prevents me from eating the whole cake.  How much better off am I than if I had succumbed to that temptation?  Infinitely!  That moment deserves a celebration!   Getting through a day without loss of self control in any way is a major victory!!  Running to my heavenly Father instead of to food when things go awry, I can be jubilant knowing that he is there all the time, and has promised amazing things to his children:

No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it.  1 Corinthians 10:13 (NASB)

Did you catch that?  Even before we're tempted, there is already a way out provided!   There's always a choice, no matter how appealing or alluring the temptation!  No matter how creamy and chocolatey the icing is on that cake.

I choose to celebrate every victory, every day, every minute, every second!

By God's grace.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

The facts of life

I have been writing over the past few days, but nothing that hit the screen on this blog, rather I uploaded some pictures and did a little writing on my hobby farm blog.

It was escapist in a way to fall into the familiar groove of 'how to' writing.  I'm most comfortable writing facts; my background in agricultural research has promoted that skill - reporting on findings, interpreting research, writing standard operating procedures.  Nothing personal, just history, unbiased.  It's quiet, dignified, and a step back from the things that really matter, the raw things.  The things that hurt.

To get into the guts of the matter, discouragement is crouching at my door.  It's been almost a month and I haven't seen any significant progress, physically.  Surely my abs of flab should be sculpted into a lean, mean, ripped, 6-pack by now!  I struggle with that disappointment, arguing with myself about the importance of the physical.  Is not the soul more important than the body?

There have been other changes through learning discipline, I am searching scripture, interested again, eager for the truths gleaned.  Emotionally I feel stronger, more in control.  I've had a really good week with the kids despite my husband being gone for 3 days, strengthened by my heavenly Father whom I am slowly, oh so slowly, learning to lean on in everything.  And I can feel changes physically; my body is stronger, my back hurts less, my knees can handle the trip up and down the stairs a lot better thanks to the workout routine I've been doing.

Yet this debilitating disappointment hangs like an anchor on my ankle, reminding me constantly that I'm failing to accomplish my goal, prompting me to just give up and eat, who's going to know, I'm here alone... Lies, but irresistible to a weakened will.  I even looked at some advertising for a new miracle cure for fatness, guaranteed to trim the pounds off like magic.  Tempting, especially on this side of the weigh scale. 

I'm resting in the knowledge that there is always reward in doing the right thing.  Now I question if I'm doing the right thing... sigh.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Saturated... fats?

I'm glad that losing weight is not my New Year's resolution, because how long do those ever last, really?  It's been a great Christmas, pretty low key but busy none the less.  I've been told I'm nuts for starting with this before Christmas, but I'm glad I did.  I would rather have it on my mind and show some restraint, and even if I only maintained, it's better than gaining 10 more pounds to try to lose in the post-new-year-resolution failure period!

Today is an exciting day, the beginning of a new calendar, blank pages all crispy and clean.  I smell those pages, run my fingers over unmarked paper.  What events, meetings, appointments will be scrawled in those little squares?  What milestones and achievements will our family see?  What are the unwritten things that come between those calendar lines that will irrevocably change us, shape us, build character?

In thinking forward to the new year and the promise and mystery that it holds, a word comes to mind that encapsulates what I feel called to in 2012, and that word is SATURATE.

When I think of something that is saturated, I envision a sponge that is so wet that if any additional water is dripped onto it, the equal amount leaks out the bottom side!  The Bible refers to this state as being 'filled'.  Filled to the top, brimming over.  Ephesians chapter 5 has an excellent example:

"15 Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise, 16 making the most of your time, because the days are evil.  17 So then do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. 18 And do not get drunk with wine, for that is dissipation, but be filled with the Spirit, 19 speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord; 20 always giving thanks for all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God, even the Father; 21 and be subject to one another in the fear of Christ."

Don't you just love Ephesians?  It's so full of practical advice on living for God, and this passage is so applicable to me at this time.  It starts out with a 'Therefore', indicating that this passage is an outcome of what came before it, click here to read the context about being imitators of God.   Those first few nuggets are great,  be careful how you walk, making the most of your time, understand the will of the Lord.  

Then comes the part that is really relevant to me in the context of this blog as I've often thought that if I didn't eat, I would likely drink.  A lot.  Both weaknesses or addictions often stem from the same root, described in the next phrase as 'dissipation'.  When I looked up dissipation in the Merriam-Websters dictionary, it was described as 'an act of self-indulgence'.  Self indulgence vs. Self control.  My paraphrase of verse 18 is "Do not eat to feel good, for that is self-indulgence..."  And what does it say to do instead?  Be filled with the Spirit.  Allow God to SATURATE!  How?  The how is described clearly in the following phrases, 

"speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, 
singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord;
always giving thanks for all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God, even the Father;
and be subject to one another in the fear of Christ."
The saying that what goes in will come out is so true.  What I saturate or fill myself with is what will drip out and transfer to those around me!

How does this translate into my daily life?  That's the tough one.  With 3 kids 5 and under, a garden, animals, domestic duties, and a home office job to keep my day busy with seldom a quiet moment, where do I find the time or place to get soaked in God-likeness?  I'll keep you posted!  I'd be very interested in hearing your ideas or successes too!

By the way, I was rather amused by the ad that showed up in the MW dictionary website while looking up the word dissipation:  a Weight Watcher's ad... coincidence?  I think not!