Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Choosing My Obsession & Standing my Ground

Weight loss often eludes me.  I can be derailed by a Girl Scout cookie...to be truthful...the whole box of cookies.  Is polishing off a bag of chips because I already ate too many cookies acceptable behavior?   No?  I didn’t think so.

It is insane how food/weight obsession destroys a person from the inside out!   It is also very misunderstood because "normal" folks can't fathom why we don't just "stop doing that."  When we fail, we beat ourselves down with guilt until we slide down that very wide channel that leads straight to The Pit, where hopelessness, despair, and discouragement claw at us like the demons they are.

I say “we” because I am not in this pit alone.
I don’t plan to stay here.
I hope no one else does, either.

The Pit is a cesspool of tormented thinking, where we tear ourselves down until we have absolutely no faith in ourselves and little faith in God.   Those of us in the pit who have prayed and prayed diligently for relief, deliverance…freedom…feel ignored by God.   I wish had concrete answers.

Oh, wait.  I do.

I have to quit making it about the weight loss!
Well, yes, of course, I know it is about weight loss,
but the real culprit is the obsession.
Get rid of the food obsession, the weight loss will follow. 

Too often, when trying to lose weight, we will trade one obsession for another.   When we are consumed by every calorie/fat gram/carbohydrate that goes into our mouths, carefully following our new plan to the letter, we do not have freedom.  What we have is temporary and limited success.  And we have insanity.  The bigger the success (the more weight loss) the harder the fall (regain).   Then we punish ourselves, our weapons of choice being more food and more guilt, because what better way to remain in this vicious cycle but to feed it?    

Some of you reading this really, truly understand what I am saying.  You know the heartbreak of obesity, obsession, and addiction. 

You know what it’s like to trade a food obsession for a diet pill obsession (perhaps you think that’s the only way you can lose weight)...
  • Or alcohol. 
  • Or sex.  
  • Or spending 92% of our day planning what we can or cannot eat.
  • Or…whatever
And as long as we are relying on the same way of doing something that never worked long-term in the past, it probably won’t work long-term in the future. 

What I know is this:  We will have to find something that we can live with for the rest of our lives.  Can I go without sugar, fast food, bread, etc., for the rest of my life?  Yes, truthfully, I suppose it is possible to live that way, but will I?  I know can I work my way up to exercising two to three hours a day or walking 15 miles a week, but that is not doable for me for the rest of my life.  (I hate exercise!  I am willing to admit I do need some…but I recognize that extreme exercise will never work for me.)  Better slow and steady with a few bumps than to get derailed completely because I ate a cheeseburger and fries. 

Sugar?  That’s another story.  As I already mentioned…one Girl Scout cookie means the whole box, and if the truth be told, two boxes in as many days.  Sugar addiction is real, my friends.

How can we get out of this vortex of self-loathing and binge eating? 
How, indeed?   We are feel beaten and weary.  
Weary, I tell ya!
But we cannot believe everything we feel because feelings lie.
Tomorrow is March 1.   I am going to choose my obsession and stand my ground.  It’s just one day.  I can do all things with Christ giving me strength, and I only have to deal with One. Day. At. A. Time.  

Today’s preparation: 
I will remind myself strongly that I am not worthless just because I don’t like how I look or feel.
…Or because of what others say or think, or what I think they think.
I will remember to not worry about tomorrow.
I will cut bitterness and unforgiveness loose, even toward myself. 
I will recognize that I do not have to rely on myself, but remember that I can always rely on God.
I will read Psalm 51, out loud, and mean every word.
I will demand that this pit release its grip on me, and…
I will ask God to pull me from The Pit, fully believing that He will.
Believing is the important part. 

I choose my obsession:   
Scripture memorization.   
Here is a passage from my own Bible, a very good place to start:

As an afterthought:
The Pit is a real place, and it is a horrible place to be.  It's where our identities are stolen and we believe the worst of the lies about ourselves.  It's where we question God's goodness and love.  It's where we drown in the mire of hopelessness.   It's a dark place, and it's very easy to slip into and extremely hard to get out of...until you realize that God is listening and His hand is already stretched out.   But when we are sinking in the quicksand, it's so much easier to believe His hand is not there, and that we are truly on our own.  I know what I'm talking about...I know it all too excruciatingly well.  The first step is making the decision to get out of the pit.  I have to believe...it really is as simple as that...Faith as small as a mustard seed that God will meet me right where I am.   To believe anything else would be one more lie.   Jesus died to set me free, and who the Son has set free is free indeed.  If I remain in the pit, it's my choice, and I choose to leave the pit behind me and the lies under my feet.

So I say it out loud...and type it here as a proclamation...

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Elementary, My Dear Elementary...School

I came across these memories from elementary school on Facebook that I had written almost 7 years ago!    If you didn't go to Underwood Elementary, you may not be too interested in my rambling thoughts...but I'm sitting here tonight, on my 53rd birthday, mentally walking down memory lane....

*IF* my mind works correctly…and that can definitely be iffy…I’m going share a few Underwood Elementary memories. Since I am relying on faulty recall, forgive me if I have names or grades wrong, and feel free to correct or add to my story.  Proceed at your own risk through my rambling words and jumbled thoughts in print of the years 1970 – 1976.
When I first started at Underwood, drink machines had 6 oz Cokes for  5 cents and 10 oz Cokes for 10 cents.   Maybe the 10 oz drinks were only 8 cents that first year. The school secretary, Mrs. Quillen, ran a little candy store out of the school office, where penny candy was actually candy for a penny.   As I was picking out my stash one day, I once rudely told third-grade teacher, Mrs. Poole, to “Move!”  She promptly gave me a (much needed) lecture on courtesy.  I believe it was Mr. Myhan who handled the popsicles…it seems like there was a popsicle of every flavor.
Around the third grade, Ms. Sewell became our first art teacher, and we had a music teacher that year, as well.  Mrs. Beck was our PE Teacher in fifth grade.  She was a maniac with her paddle...after seeing her use it one time, I made sure I didn't do anything to meet it cheek-to...board.  But I believe Ms. Lewis taught PE before Mrs. Beck...possibly fourth grade, she was only there one year.  Mrs. Broadfoot, (Laura’s mother) was my favorite substitute teacher.  There was another substitute I liked, too. I think it was another classmate's mother…Denise Hill’s maybe?
My introduction to school wasn’t a pleasant one.  My teacher, Mrs. Moore, wasn’t always nice to me. Was it possibly because I was precocious and loud and got on her nerves?  Whatever the reason, I suppose it’s my own unforgiveness that I need to face. I remember Sharon Risner was on crutches for a while, and Laura Broadfoot had a bicycle wreck that resulted in a hospital stay…and when she came back to school, she had a badly bruised face. I remember Mrs. Moore gave each child a chance to be “Teacher’s Pet” for a day, and we were often given orange juice. However, I think that was a school thing, not a Mrs. Moore thing.
Wasn’t Mr. Terry a scary man to reckon with? I’d never heard of a first name being a last name…and I dared to say “Hey, Terry!” as I passed him in the hall. (In my defense, I really wasn’t trying to be disrespectful.) He quickly set me straight, and I didn’t do that again! I also remember they gave immunization shots at school in those days. I hated that, and everyone within earshot knew I hated it, too.
Second grade was a much better experience. Mrs. Hall genuinely liked children. There was a new girl named Beverly Holden in our class for a while. She didn’t stay long…but when I was a senior, I got a job at Shoney’s, and Beverly was working there. By then, she was called Chita, but I knew I remembered her from somewhere. When I finally heard her first name was Beverly, I was able to put one and one together and came up second grade. There was also a girl named Mary Christmas in our class.
Once, when Mrs. Hall was out of the room, for some unknown reason, I was running around and knocked the record player off the counter…thankfully it still worked. I was scared to death of the trouble I was going to be in when she came back in….but I wasn’t. I stole 5 cents from Selena Middlebrooks that year…oh, the times I have thought about that with shame. I have never again stolen from another individual.
One of the best things about that year, though I didn’t know it then, was that every morning, Mrs. Hall had us say the Pledge of Allegiance and the 100th Psalm. I have never forgotten that Psalm, and I rarely recite it without thinking of Mrs. Hall.
Third grade gave me Mrs. Poole. I thought she was so pretty!  She didn’t have her classroom set up in the traditional rows of desks….there were short rows of about 5 or six desks, strategically placed about the room, and I sat beside Laura Broadfoot and behind Jay Cruise for a while. I also have a memory of sitting very near the teacher's desk…hmmm. Wonder what I did to get that special place in the room? This was the year I fell in love with Laura Ingalls Wilder and the Little House books because Mrs. Poole read us The Little House on the Prairie in the afternoons. I read all of LIW’s stories, and I loved the TV show.  (I visited her home in Missouri a few years ago. Laura wasn’t there…)  Years later, when my daughter was at Underwood, Mrs. Poole, who became Mrs. Griffith, was the principal.
My fourth-grade teacher was Mrs. Witt…possibly my most favorite teacher of all my years in school (I had a few favorites). I think this was the year that Kathy Thompson broke her toes. I remember she didn’t let that stop her from playing PE…kickball and softball. She fell down once, and I could tell it hurt her…but she didn’t cry. I was really impressed. 
This is a memory I am really not sure of, and I may have it all wrong, but at the risk of my embarrassment:  In fourth or fifth grade, Lori Olive hurt her arm during PE. The PE teacher, who I believe was Ms. Lewis, told her to “sling it” and she didn’t mean put it in a sling!  Turns out, it was broken pretty badly...
Pam McInnish and I sang “The Church in the Wildwood” to the whole class. I say “we” but I didn’t sing very much at all. I had told Pam that I would help her, but I must have developed some sort of stage fright when faced with the whole class looking at me. Tammy Irons and Cindy Townsley, I believe, put together a magic show for us.  It was actually pretty good, and I still remember two of the tricks they did. I asked Tammy how they did it, fully expecting her not to tell me, but she did.
Fifth-grade…we were the big kids and started changing classes!  I liked both Mrs. Hudson and Mrs. McGuire… That was the girls and boys really started noticing each other and pairing off…though it had started in third and fourth grades.
Sixth-grade teachers were Mrs. Pierce and Mrs. Alexander, and I like them both as well. Mrs. Pierce was my homeroom teacher, and she used the phrase “Woe be unto you…” when she was threatening us for whatever reason. I think we realized that's when she meant business. Early mornings would find many of us (Jeff Yerby, Julia Richards, Mark Davis, and others) playing softball before the bell rang.   There are classmates I would really like to see again from Underwood, like Julia "Renee" Richards, and and then there are those who I have run into, like Melanie Cox, who stopped me in WalMart one day because she recognized me, just to say hello...and we connected on Facebook...like I have with so many other former classmates.   Facebook is very handy for that...so many I have "found" like Robin Lovelace (love her!), Tracey Tyler...I remember spending the night with her...she had huge dobermans!
Sadly, sixth grade was the year that I learned that children aren’t immortal with the freak accident that claimed the life of second grader Tyra Townsley.  Her cousins were in my class, and I remember them crying.  A 12 year really doesn’t know what to say in times like this.
My years at Underwood are very special memories. I met a girl there named Carol Belew. She left Underwood to go to Cloverdale after only a year or two, and it wasn’t until the 9th grade that I saw her again. She became my High School "BFF" and is still my very dear friend to this day.  We’ve lost a few classmates along the years, including Mark Davis, Mark Hanback, Anita Looney, Tim Smith, Lisa Hill (who left after the 4th grade), Cindy Crews, and Sharon Risner.  I still live near the school…though it looks a little different these days, one thing remains the same, memories are being built, lifelong friendships are being formed, and America’s bright future are learning and discovering life in those elementary classrooms.

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Committed Thoughts: Choosing Those Thoughts

It all starts with a thought, both failure and success. Thoughts become actions, actions become habits, and habits, a lifestyle. We are going to have uninvited thoughts…and if you are like me, lots and lots of them. It is our choice what we do with our thoughts; we can choose to arrest thoughts that are detrimental to our mental and physical health, such as thinking we are insignificant or unloved.

We can’t ever let the actions of others make us feel like we don’t matter. We also have to accept the fact that there are times when we don’t matter to a particular person, and when that time is realized, it is time to make changes in more than just our thoughts.

No, I’m not telling you to get a divorce if you are having marital problems. I am also not telling you to stay in an abusive situation. But there are things you can do to help yourself even in bad situations, and one of the first things to do is not let yourself believe you are worthless because someone may be telling you that. You are worth much! Just ask Jesus, He’ll tell you!

However, I am telling you not to marry that person who doesn’t treat you with love and respect.  Run away as fast as you can!  If he or she hits or shoves you, or is mentally abusive, don't stay there.  I wrote about domestic violence here.  (I have had the hardest time getting this link to work correctly!)

Success involves choices. More directly, it involves making the right choices. I know that the right choices are often the hardest choices, but when the temptation has passed, the joy for choosing correctly far outweighs the fleeting pleasure that comes from giving into the temptation. And there’s no guilt, no self-loathing, no wallowing in hopelessness and discouragement after the fact.

I used to think my problem was food. It’s not. My problem is me. I have quit begging Jesus to free me from an obsession of food, and have come to know that He is my freedom. All that the Bible says is true, and if He sets me free, I am free, indeed. If I am not walking in freedom, it’s because I’m not close enough to the source. And He is so much more than just the source. He is…my everything.

This is a poem I wrote some years ago. I’ve tweaked it over the years, but if we want true liberation from whatever chains have us bound, we must recognize Him as our all in all.

My All in All

He’s my Teacher when I ask for wisdom,
Crying out in an unashamed voice, 
My Forgiver when I’m off my knees,
And knowingly make a wrong choice.
Patient endower of knowledge, 
While in ignorance I seek to know,
As I grasp, at times rather blindly,
Trying to learn what He’s trying to show.

He’s my Defender when I need protection,
My Freedom when in chains I’m bound,
An ever present, calming deliverer,
When my bonds have kept me down.
He picks me up and helps me stand
When finally I submit;
A solid Rock to place my feet 
When He pulls me from my pit.

He’s my loving Lord, the giver of grace,
My strong and mighty tower.
Ready Redeemer who rescues me,
Protecting me with His power.
Heavenly Father, who is my rest;
Counselor to ease my mind
He’s both Lamb and Lion, the Great I Am,
My all in all combined.

The above poem I have reworked several times because I never
could get the last verse to say what I wanted it to say.
I may just leave it as this:

Monday, February 6, 2017

Monday, Monday, Rainy Days and Mondays

It’s not been my day.

I didn’t sleep well, and finally gave up around 4:30 a.m.   The longer I was up, the more mad at the world I became.

So I cried to Ole Boy and subjected one other person to my poor, poor pitiful me tales of woe, and may have felt a little better, until… 

I wanted to drown my sorrows in Samoas, but someone is refusing to sell me Girl Scout cookies.  You know who you are, thank you very little.

It is pouring rain…and storms are rolling in tomorrow.   My mom used to refer to brewing storms as “coming up a cloud.”   I do not like storms, but this system shouldn’t be too bad. 

I got spammed by Google photos…not sure how they got my cell phone number, but I am accusing Instagram.  The text ended with “text STOP to XXXX” if I didn’t want their messages.  Duh!   But when I tried to text “stop,” I got a pop up box telling me if I replied to the message, I would be charged.  I blocked them. 

My shoe is eating my sock.   I got a heel pad think it would help, and it did, but only a little.   Shoe still trying to eat my sock.   With all the rain, I should have worn my hiking boots anyway, they are waterproof.

And it’s still very early in the morning.   I’d say it can only get better from here, but I know better than to fall for that trick, so I’ll just say, “Thank You, Lord.  The sun will shine again!”


Thursday, February 2, 2017

Thursday's Thoughts

Deibert Park
We are now into February, going on three months since Donald Trump was elected president, and still people are acting like imbeciles.   It’s very hard to remember we aren’t fighting flesh and blood as I watch the disrespectful rudeness…and I hate to say it…mostly from women.  Reading comments on Facebook from some college aged girls (and regrettably, some older women), so rude and overbearing, repeatedly accusing others of being exactly what they are, well, it gets disheartening.  These young women may grow up and be the kind of females to wear lady-part hats and have meltdowns when they don’t get what they want when they want it. 

And UC Berkeley?  Those students involved in the “Become Ungovernable” violent protest against letting a republican speak at your college?  America is watching to see if you do nothing and allow this, and if you do, Federal funding should be completely cut off for your university.  What is going on there is not a protest, it is a riot.

Enough is enough, and rational people are tired of the insanity.
And I guess we are also tired of posts like this.  

Speaking of insanity, Hollywood is threatening to go on strike.  But since we know the love of the dollar outweighs their hatred of President Trump, they will only talk about a strike, not do it.  Hollywood on strike would be one of the top five best things that could happen to our country!  Imagine no more Hollywood trash polluting the minds of our citizens!   I only wish they would.  Then maybe some of the production companies who produce good material will put more great choices out!  I hope they produce more whether Hollywood is on strike or not.

About the refugees…America simply must be careful in today’s world.  There’s no choice, we must!  People are having meltdowns over a temporary ban like it is a permanent solution.  This is not the first time we’ve had bans in place, and I imagine it won’t be the last.   Perhaps some are inconvenienced, but we simply must get a handle on who’s entering our borders, and if it takes a temporary ban to protect our citizens, then people will live through it.  

We should help those in need, no doubt about it, but we are also to be good stewards of what God has given us…our freedom, our land, our resources, and we should be taking care of our own first.  When letting others in, we have to use wisdom and caution because there are people who hate America and seek to destroy our great nation.  One protestor, when asked if they were concerned when President Obama put a ban in place, said, “No, because I loved President Obama.”   Really?  Really.

I must remind myself again, “We aren’t fighting flesh and blood.”  We have to remember that, and keep praying for America.  Again, we MUST KEEP PRAYING FOR AMERICA!

And Starbucks!  Does the CEO really think he’s going to sell enough of that overpriced bitter bean juice (laden with sugar to make it drinkable) to cover 10,000 new refugee employees?   That’s a pretty tall order no matter who it is you hire.

One last thought:  We don’t get to choose whether or not the Bible is true…God already did that, and He meant what He said in His word.  We only get to choose whether or not we believe it. 

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