Saturday, November 26, 2016

OA- I'm Not in Charge of the World - Thank Goodness

Step two - Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.
Step three - Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.

I've been listening to a podcast step study and reading the AA Big Book to solidify my recommitment to the program.  In the Chapter called "How it Works" I found myself:

"..any life run on self-will can hardly be a success."

That sounds reasonable.  Not too many people hold up selfishness as a positive attribute.   Not many of us claim to be selfish, but...

"Each person is like an actor who wants to run the whole show... if only people would do as he wished, the show would be great.  Everybody, including himself, would be pleased.  Life would be wonderful... "

 Ouch - how many of us think life would be better if only people would listen to us?

"What usually happens? The show doesn't come off very well.  He begins to think life does not treat him right."

That sounds like my favorite complaint - It's not fair!!!

 "He decides to exert himself more."

  Me - I just have to work harder.

"He becomes... more demanding or gracious... Still the play does not suit him... He becomes angry, indignant, self-pitying... a producer of confusion rather than harmony...sure all would be Utopia if the rest of the world would only behave..."

So - yeah that pretty much sounds like my pity-party depression episodes. =(

So the real problem is "self-will run riot, though he usually does not think so."

I have been so busy trying to keep things running smoothly at work and at church that I did not realize the "I" was the problem.  I'm not responsible or capable to run the world.  I don't get to hold the reigns unless I want to crash. (and I have been crashing) 

So - what is the solution? 

"Above everything, we alcoholics (Me- dare I say, we humans) must be rid of this selfishness..."

How?

"God makes that possible... we had to quit playing God... in this drama of life, God was going to be our Director... He is the Father and we are His children.."

So when I am tied up in knots trying to please everyone and do everything that needs doing, I am trying to be in control  I am the director of my play.  It's about what I want.  I'm being selfish.  Big ouch.

Does that mean I don't do anything?  Nope - "We had a new Employer.  Being all powerful, He provided what we needed, if we kept close to Him and performed His work well."  My job is to stay close to the creator and do His will and His work, not mine.  Not my "little plans and designs" but instead "contribute to life". 

Giving my will and my plans over to God is the "triumphant arch through which we passed to freedom". 

So - I can have freedom and peace and purpose.  All I have to do is resign as the Queen of  the World? 

 I'm in -God, teach me to surrender each and every situation to you.  Help me to do your will and let go of the results.  Help me to remember You are in charge of the world.  I am only a servant - thank goodness.


Wednesday, November 23, 2016

OA - Starting Over

Step 1 - We admitted we were powerless over our addictions - that our lives had become unmanageable.

I recently came to a place where I needed to ask some hard questions about what did and did not belong in my life.  I was running too fast and trying to 'fix' everything.  Of course, it wasn't working out too well.  Depression was taking over and I was having other stress-related health problems. 

On advice from my counselor, I cleared my schedule and spent some time alone to decide what was really important to me.  I cut back on some of my commitments at work and at church.  I decided to focus more on my family and listening to God. 

During this time, I began to question my relationship with food.  I was avoiding certain foods and going to meetings but still starting to gain weight.  It just wasn't working for me anymore so I decided to quit.  I didn't know what to do so I abandoned my food rules.  It was not an emotional giving in to cravings, it was a calm decision to go back.  Maybe I was not an addict.  Maybe this was no longer the plan for me.  I had to find out.

Well, it only took a few days before I was eating handfuls of candy every time I walked through the kitchen, half a bag of cookies for snack, and two sundaes a day.  I also had a constant stomach ache and continual cravings for more.  OK maybe I did have the allergy of the body and the compulsion of the mind.  Maybe I really was an addict. 

I began to think about if and when I would be ready to 'quit'.  Realizing that I could not control food was step one but returning to the program would be a full commitment.  About that time a friend/mentor texted me to see if I would be coming back to the recovery meeting that week.  I told him what was going on with me.  He asked me what I had learned and what I was going to do about it.  That was what I needed at that moment - not a shoulder to cry on but someone to ask the tough question and help me face reality.  That night I had one last bowl of ice cream and the next morning I began a new day one.  I still felt sick and draggy.  I had no desire for food (totally strange for me)  It was almost my own version of a hang over.  I'm pretty sure my friend was praying for me. 

Four days later I returned to my weekly recovery meeting.  (It's a Christian 12-step group for people with various addictions.)  I told them my story.  They gave me love, support, and advice.  I like the person I am when I am there and I am honored to have such amazing people in my life to share my journey.  It's good to be home. 

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Lost

Usually I blog when I've had a breakthrough or a victory.  I try to share things that will help others.  Not today.  Today I just feel lost. 

 Depression, anger, fear... all my old enemies have been creeping in for about a month now.  I feel like I'm losing ground in all areas of my life and I don't want to care.  I just want to hide.

You would think something major must have happened, but you would be wrong.  It's just lots of things building up.  My mom used to say that everyone has a shelf in their mind for their problems and you can put them there and ignore them for awhile, but if the shelf gets too full it will break and you end up dealing with everything at once.  So, keep clearing off your shelf whenever you can.  I think mine is just about full. 

I'm tired of lots of things...  I want lots of things...

I want positive attention.  I want to feel appreciated.  I want to be good at things.  I want to lose weight.  I want to be happy.  I want to run away.  I want my children to be happy.  I'm tired of someone snarling at me.  I'm tired of watching people crash and burn. I'm tired of caring.  I want to stop feeling the darkness glide in.  Please make it stop hurting. 

I am still broken, I don't have it all figured out.  I still need healing. 

Sunday, September 25, 2016

OA - I'm a Recovering Human Being

     I am a Compulsive Overeater.  I am in recovery.  I go to meetings for food addiction and meetings set up for people of all addictions.  I hear people introduce themselves as recovering alcoholics, recovering drug addicts and other things. 

     This week I heard the best introduction ever.  My friend introduced herself as a recovering human being. 

     See this is how addiction works.  We were all born clean and free and full of hope.  Then life smacks us.  Maybe it's abuse or poverty or neglect.  Maybe it's rejection or abandonment.  Life can be painful.  So we look for help.  We may look to family or friends or social programs.  If and when these things fail us we look to something else to cover the pain.  It might be alcohol, drugs, food, sex, shopping, gambling or any of a number of escape agents.  They provide pleasure and excitement and take the pain away... for awhile.  Then the coping strategies become a trap and addiction sets in. 

     In recovery we learn to let go of our 'drug of choice' but more importantly we learn to live life.  We learn to walk through the ups and downs of each day without our blanket of comfort.  We learn to accept our problems and work on them instead of avoiding them.  We learn to smile and to cry.  We learn to feel.  We learn to be human.

     So, really I'm not a recovering food addict.  That does not define me or who I want to be.

     I am a recovering human being.

Monday, September 19, 2016

What's with the title?

I realize I have never explained my blog title - Jaki's Next Right Step.

One great piece of advice my OA sponsor gave me was to 'just do the next right thing'.  I think this was probably in response to my incessant habit of trying to plan out and/or worry about the next ten years of my life.  It might also have been during a time when I doubted my ability to complete a certain step in the 12 step process.  Either way her advice was to stop looking at the big picture which was paralyzing me and just do the next right thing.

Some days the next right thing is choosing a healthy food or exercising regardless of lack of desire.  Sometimes it's admitting my fears or helping someone else.

Sometimes the next right thing gets you in trouble.  I did something hard this week.  I did it to protect someone I love but they may not see it that way.  Sometimes the next right thing makes a situation worse for awhile.

This happened to Moses.  He told Pharaoh to let the Israelites go and instead, Pharaoh increased the slaves workload.  Their difficult lives got increasingly worse and they were angry at Moses for it.  Did Moses (who had an insecure, people pleasing personality) give up and go home or pull the covers over his head and cry like I would?  Nope, he went to God.  He did complain but he did it in prayer.  And then, at God's instruction, he did the next right thing.  He confronted Pharaoh again. 

That story is for me this week.  I don't know what the day/week/year has in store for me, but I can keep putting one foot in front of the other.  I can do the next right thing.

Saturday, September 3, 2016

The Future is Uncertain

     The day before yesterday I went to the doctor.  My knee has been hurting off and on for months.  I was afraid I was going to need surgery and/or physical therapy.  Instead I got a diagnosis of osteo arthritis.

     This hit me a lot harder than I thought it would.  I've been expecting this conversation all of my adult life.  My mom and my uncle were both disabled with arthritis.  My mom started using a wheelchair in her late 30s and my uncle before then.  I guess at 45 I hoped I had eluded the family curse.  I should have know better.  It runs rampit in my mom's side of the family and even makes appearances on my dad's side. 

     So - no surgery, no PT, and ...  no cure.

     There are things I can do to limit the impact of the deterioration in my joints.  I can eat foods that lower inflammation (colorful fruits and vegetables).  I can exercise (oh boy) to strengthen the muscles around the joints, and I can lose weight.  Yeah, that sounds easy. (sarcasm) I guess there is nothing in my life that is not related back to my issues with food. 

     Before I can fight this thing I have to deal with the emotional impact.  I have to be honest.

     I am afraid .... I don't want to be on a cane in a few years.  I don't want to be confined to a wheelchair.  (I know many people who live amazing, full and successful lives this way, but I also know how hard it is.)  I don't want my girls to watch me losing mobility and losing the ability to participate in their activities because my body won't let me.  I don't want to be in pain every day.

     Then there is the fact that my best chance to fight this thing lies in areas where I am weak - healthy food and exercise. 

     Still, this morning I woke with a peaceful spirit.  I was reminded of an old hymn I love.  To paraphrase it says, 'I don't know what the future holds, but I know who holds the future and I know who holds my hand.'  There is no certainty that this disease will cripple me.  It could stabilize and be simply a chronic irritation.  Even if it puts me in a chair, I can still watch my girls grow up and cheer them on.  God has a plan for me and nothing can change that.    

     Uncle Arthur as my mom used to call it, has made an appearance in my life and he's not going away.  That first night as I was falling asleep I envisioned an ugly, angry monster attacking.  Then I envisioned a hand stroking the monster and soothing it.  In the end it was a funny looking character just sort of looking up at me. 

     I can't make this go away, but I can do what it takes to minimize the effects, and I can live my life to the fullest each and every day.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

OA- My Story of Healing from Food Addiction and Depression

My name is Jackie and I am a Compulsive Overeater and a recovering food addict.  I am also a semi-recovered perfectionist and control freak.  I have a long history of clinical depression.  Most importantly, I am a child of God who is in the process of healing.

I was born into a troubled marriage - sort of the 'child will fix it' kind of thing.  I learned early to hide my emotions and not cause trouble.  My parents eventually divorced.  They were civil to each other and I got to spend time with both of them.  However, they had very different views on life.  I spent most weekends arguing/debating with my dad about religion, money, and any other topic he and my mom disagreed about.  In retrospect, I think he was just trying to show me a different perspective, but at the time I just felt criticized and rejected.  I began to believe that I could never do enough or be enough to earn his love. 

In school I excelled and enjoyed learning.  Here was one area of my life I could earn the gold stars I so desired.  If I worked hard enough I got validated and I could believe that I had value.  I don't know when this deformed belief that I was only loveable if people loved me started, but I cannot remember a time when I did not feel that way.  Consequently, I was a deep-seeded people pleaser.

I also do not remember when I first started turning to food for comfort.  I do remember being at my grandpa's house in the summers.  He was a loving, sweet man who doted on me.  He had a drawer in the refrigerator that was always filled with mini-candy bars and I was allowed to have some anytime I wanted.  Somehow his love and the candy got connected in my mind. 

I also remember how every year at Easter  I would take my basket to my room and eat until I was sick to my stomach.  These were my early binges.

Thankfully I was young when I dedicated my life to God.  This faith was a great comfort to me and gave me guiding principles for my life as well as an extended family to love and support me through the tough teen years.

Junior high was a nightmare.  I was the geeky, plain-looking, shy, clumsy girl all the boys loved to torture.  I did not seem to fit into any of the typical cliques.  I ended up with other kids who did not fit in.  I guess we were the misfits, but we were good for each other.  We clung together in the waves of teen angst and at least we were not alone.  I think I cried every day, but at least I had shoulders to lean on. 

High school and college were better.  I found friends who drew me out of my protective shell.  I continued to wrongly blame all my 'issues' on my father and on a tough move my third grade year that resulted in changing schools and losing many friends.  It was not until college that I began to take responsibility for my own choices and direct my own life.  I finally began to realize that I could not change the past, but I was in charge of the future.

I married the weekend after college graduation.  One year later we moved to the other end of the country for a job opportunity.  My entire life, my mom had been my rock, my cheerleader, my best friend.  Moving away from her was the hardest thing I had ever done.  Living in a very isolated area with a new job and a new marriage that were not living up to my perfectionistic expectations made it more difficult.  Until then I had been able to control my weight.  I was a little heavy and I sought comfort from food, but I could abstain and diet long enough to keep it down.  After the move things changed.  I indulged more and more and packed on pounds.  I went through my first major episode with depression.  It lasted off and on for years.  With medication and counseling I eventually got stabilized and my life resembled normal.  Still, my weight told the story of how much I was relying on food.

When my step-dad passed away we made plans to have her move in with us.  This new family, including our one and a half year old daughter, relocated together.  We came to a family-friendly town that was not nearly so remote.  We found a great church family and good jobs.  Things were calm for awhile.  One down-side was that my mom and I were binge buddies.  We gave each other permission to eat however we wanted without hiding or feeling judged.  I think we both gained weight.

Then she got sick - very sick.  My mom was disabled and had various chronic illnesses, but nothing life-threatening until then.  We lost her very quickly to a colon infection that poisoned her body.  In just a few months my world shut down.  At first all I could do was hide in my house and hold my children or cry with my husband.  We did bond in a new way as we clung to each other, but I also sunk into the darkest depression ever.  I moved through life in slow motion with no life in me.  I felt my very heart was gone.  What else could I do but wrap my pain up in food and hide beneath the covers?  For four years I didn't really function. There were bright moments, mostly involving my kids, but even those could not part the clouds for long.  I was blessed with friends and family who cared, but still I mourned in my dark place alone.

It was my girls that saved me.  I realized that I was not enjoying them the way I wanted to.  I was not feeling the brightness that their sweet faces deserved.  I went to the doctor and I went to counseling.  I wanted to live my life again. 

God blessed me with an amazing counselor.  We worked through all the painful memories of my life.  I was able to uncover the lies that I was believing that were destroying me.  I began to see that I had value all by myself.  I began to like me. 

The depression had to be dealt with before the food.  I could not let go of my best coping strategy until I had other tools to live my life.  Skipping ahead for just a moment - I am thankful that I had food as my crutch.  I never turned to more drastic forms of self-harm.  Food solved my problems until it became the problem.  It could have been so much worse.

Finally my depression was in remission. (I don't say healed, because it still raises it's head occasionally.  Thankfully, now I have strategies to get through an episode and diffuse it.)  I was ready to face my issues with food.  I was ready for Overeater's Anonymous.

I have written in this blog about my experiences with the twelve steps of recovery so I will just summarize here.  OA taught me to dig out the reasons I was binging on sugar.  I was gently guided through a process of looking at my fears and resentments and learning to accept life as it is.  I learned to surrender my crutch and lean on God.  I learned to let go of the food and grab onto life.  Life isn't always easy but living it is so much better than hiding.  I'm not afraid of my own emotions or those of other people (most of the time anyway.)  I'm not angry and blaming other people for my own character defects.  I had to let go of my trigger foods.  I had to surrender my will.  In return I received peace and joy and compassion as well as meeting so many amazing people on similar journeys.  Now I know how to feel my feelings, how to ask for help, and how to forgive.

I am learning how to live.




Saturday, July 16, 2016

I'm not enough

It's been a weird week. 

It started Tuesday.  I was awakened by the doorbell.  One of our church members had passed away.  My phone was in the living room so my husband and I slept through several attempts to contact us.  As a fairly new pastor's wife I feel responsible for the folks in our church.  (I also felt pretty guilty for being so hard to get ahold of.)  I have grown in my love and respect for each one of them.  We have had four funerals in our first nine months of service and each one hurt deeply. 

Sammi was sick on Wednesday.  She is also very clingy knowing I will be gone to teen camp next week.

Summer is drawing to a close and the hopeful to do list I created is still way too full.

Several other church members are having health issues and I feel guilty for not contacting them as well as concerned about their situations.

I'm worried about teen camp next week.  I am looking forward to spending time with the girls that are going and developing a closer relationship with them.  However, my husband gave me a 'pep' talk that totally deflated my anticipation.  He explained that along with going to bed late and dodging pranks, I will be getting up way early for counselor meetings.  (I am VERY attached to my sleep.)  Then I will be leading two Bible studies a day with a group or 10-15 teens I don't know.  Oh, and I should mention how all the other teen leaders on the district are the fun, exciting, big personality types and I am not.  So, yeah, insecurities abound.

As the week progressed I felt the beginnings of depression creeping in and I couldn't seem to shake it.  I know that if I can get ahold of what is upsetting me I have a much better chance of heading off the dark emotions and seeing the truth, but things just seemed cloudy this week.

Today I finally figured it out.  I'm not enough.  I'm not talented enough or kind enough or smart enough to deal with my life.  Don't get me wrong.  I have strong talents and lots of things I like about myself, but I'm not the person I want to be - the person who can fix everyone's problems and make everything ok.  I have what I have to offer, but it's not enough.

The crazy truth is that it's not supposed to be.  I can't heal my friend's skin graft or make sure a new widow has the financial resources she needs.  I probably won't make teenagers laugh or tell a story they will remember in ten years.  Those things are not my job.  My calling is to love them and point them to the savior who can meet all their needs.  I need to let go and let God because -- He is enough.
 


Saturday, June 11, 2016

Dear John Letter to my Excess Stuff

I like challenges and experiments. They seem to motivate me to move forward on various goals.  So, I was listening to a video by Courtney Carver today that was part of her 21 day Declutter Challenge.  She recommended writing a goodbye letter to your stuff.  I've never heard this idea before and I probably should have done it years ago, but here goes....

Dear excess stuff,

We've had a long relationship.  Growing up I had a small bedroom and it was pretty full.  I especially loved my stuffed animal collection.  As an only child the animals served as my friends and confidants.  My parents did not have a lot of money but they spoiled me at Christmas.  It was an expression of love.  I also saved much of my school work as proof of my accomplishments.  So, I guess you, my stuff, represented love and accomplishment.

During the early years of marriage, I went through my first episode of depression.  I was in a very isolated environment and my husband and I both turned to acquiring things to fill a void.  (I also turned to food but that's another story.)  We collected movies, books, crafts, electronics, and much more.  It filled our free time but not so much the loneliness.

Years later, I looked around our house and felt like I could not breathe.  See, even as much friendship, love, and pride as you had given me over the years, it had slowly turned to suffocation.  I was buried under piles that no longer gave me joy.  I could not share my home with my friends because it was embarrassing.  I spent way too much time looking for, taking care of, shifting, organizing, and buying more stuff.

So, I began to dig myself out from under your cover.  I gathered the first bag of things that I was no longer using.  I sent it to a thrift store and got a huge surprise.  It gave me great joy to know that you, my stuff, were going to go to live with other people who needed you and would find uses for you.  Instead of sitting idle in my house, you would be helping someone else. 

Also, I discovered that the more excess I cleared out, the more useful space I found.  My house felt clearer and more peaceful.  I began to find new priorities in my life that I did not have room for before. 

So, thank you for serving me so well, but now it's time for me to send you on a new journey as I continue mine. 


Monday, June 6, 2016

Don't Rob People of Their Problems

Several years ago a counselor told me that I had all the knowledge and resources I needed to solve any problem in my life.  In my mind, I was thinking "If that were true, I wouldn't be here."  Years later, though, I began to realize the truth in his words.  I wasn't paying him to solve my problems, I was there to learn the tools that would allow my to do it myself.   

Nowadays, I have lots of coping strategies for analyzing my own issues and facing life's problems head on, but I still have a major issue with trying to fix other people and situations.  I hate to see anyone in emotional or physical pain.  I rush in and do whatever I can to rescue them.  However, often times I do not have all the facts and my solutions are ineffective.

For example, there is a wonderful family that I know through church and school that was in deep crisis last year.  There were mental health problems, financial need, and academic issues.  I was able through my position at school to get the teenager on homebound services, but he still was unsuccessful.  I tried various other strategies and sought out community support services.  The husband was working two jobs and I feared for his health.  Nothing seemed to be working.  Eventually the husband got a third job doing something he loved.   I could not believe it but adding something to his already heavy schedule did the trick.  His emotional state improved because he had an enjoyable escape which allowed their finances to begin to improve as well.  Later we found a tutor who bonded with the son and he ended the year with two A's.  All of my striving and worrying was fruitless, but the right solution (one I never would have considered) came from the people themselves.

Other times my solution may seem to work, but it creates other unwanted consequences.  For instance, I might walk through the living room and pick up a few toys or socks so that my husband doesn't reprimand the children.  (I hate conflict.)  This solves the immediate problem, but does not teach my kids to be responsible.  Also, they do not have to face the consequences of their actions.  This gives them no reason to solve the problem themselves.

Here is another example - a coworker sees that you are not doing your job effectively.  He knows from experience that this will cause problems for you and for the company in the future.  He may or may not try to give you guidance.  Eventually, he jumps in and does the job for you.  By fixing the problem, he doubles his own work and assures that you never see the natural consequences of your mistakes.  Thus you see no need to change your behavior or, worse yet, you expect him to always bail you out.

For me, it comes down to boundaries and choices.  I want to give people tools to solve their problems like my counselor did for me.  I want to share my experiences and advice if it applies.  However, I do not want to rescue people any more.  I can't neglect my responsibilities to take over what someone else is capable of doing for themselves.  Besides, I have plenty of my own issues to keep my busy. =p





Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Simplicity has Layers

    I joined a cyber-class a few weeks ago on decluttering and minimalism.  It's led by Joshua Becker and the primary theme is eliminating things that are useless and distracting from your life so you can focus on what is truly important.

    So, I'm going through my house again looking for more items to get rid of.  I will soon have to rename my book - The Journey of 200 Bags.  As I revisit each room emptying every cabinet and drawer and physically touching all of my possessions, I still find a few things I don't even remember owning.  I also find things I bought to try out but they no longer serve me. (I'm talking about you, corn stripper.)  These easily go in the donate pile.  I also find various collections of items that I set aside last time when I was not quite ready to let them go.  Many of these now hold no emotional value or usability now.  Time has proved I am ready to let them go.  Some other items have been set aside again, put on probation a second time.  I am beginning to see that this is a journey.  Each time I go through the process I peal back another layer.  I dig a little deeper and find new value in the process. 

    The other day my husband, seeing me fill up another bag from the kitchen, asked if I was giving more things away.  It was sort of like the time my child asked me when I would be done organizing the house.  The answer is yes, I am still finding things in my home that hold no value for me but might serve someone else quite well.  I am still finding great joy in giving away my excess to help others.  I am still learning to let go.  I am still finding peace in the space and order that is created.  I am still moving forward. 

Friday, May 27, 2016

Feeling Enlightened

I  currently listening to this amazing audiobook called Essentialism by Greg McKeown.  It fits in with my journey of less - less stuff, less junk food, less waste, less stress and it is fine tuning some of my ideas. 

He talks about how most of us spend our lives focusing on and working on so many different and sometimes unimportant things.  We do not define and focus on the 'vital few'.  Like most minimalists, he espouses ridding your life of all the extraneous junk so you can truly 'go big' on the important dreams. 

What's different is that he does not start with decluttering your house but with defining your focus.  Now I have never been a fan of mission statements.  They always seem boring, fluffy and a waste of time.  McKeown, however, talks about establishing your essential intent.  What is it in life you are passionate about, have a talent for, and meets a need in the world?  Then filter all opportunities, tasks, and requests through that screen.  There will be tradeoffs but this will allow you to let go of the trivial many and embrace the vital few. 

So - what does this look like and why am I so excited about it?

At work this year I have carried some resentments about jobs I was doing that I felt where not my responsibility but were not getting done if I didn't do them.  Then there were tons of time-consuming things that seemed meaningless and actually kept me from teaching.  Then there were things I ignored but felt guilty about. 

While reading this book, I asked myself - what is my purpose here?  What do I want to accomplish?  My answer is that I want to empower students to graduate.  Then I started looking at everything I do at work and asking whether it directly affected a student's ability to graduate.  Lots of my tasks do fit directly into that goal.  Those I can feel good about giving my time and energy too whether or not they are in my job description.  I can choose to do them rather than feeling put upon.  Lots of tasks do not fit that direction.  Some are not part of my talents or my passion.  Those should be given to people who better fit that need.  Some are someone else's job and I don't need to rescue them from their responsibilities.  Some are just dumb and should be minimized or eliminated. 

This shift in perspective is so empowering.  I feel lighter.  I feel permission to be true to myself and my calling.  I feel an excitement about next school year that usually does not come until after weeks of summer rest.  It is amazing! 

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Does our wealth still separate us?

In my devotions today I read a familiar story.  Abraham and Lot were traveling together as God led them to the 'new land I will show you'. 

Then I got to Genesis 13:6 "But the land could not support them while they stayed together, for their possessions were so great that they were not able to stay together." NIV  They had to separate because the land would not support both their herds.  Their servants quarreled over who got to use the limited wells first.  They had to go their separate ways.

I never before realized how sad this was.  These two men were family.  They lived close to each other all their lives and now they might never see each other again... because they had too many possessions.  Wow.

So, I wonder, does wealth separate us today? 

I know I am uncomfortable visiting people who's houses are fancier (and cleaner) than mine.  I don't envy their pretty stuff but I also don't invite them over to see my humble abode.  That too is sad.  I am embracing a more simple life and I should be willingly sharing it instead of hiding and fearing someone else's opinion.

Most of the time I don't let someone else's poverty keep me from spending time with them or building a friendship.  However, I do know that most homeless people don't get many hugs.  I'm even a little hesitant to smile and wave if I'm not stopping to share food as if that's the only kindness they need. 

Then of course there are the folks who have very different ideas about how much people should be helping, ie. taking care of them and tend to be demanding in their requests.  I guess I tend to avoid them in order to avoid the inevitable conflict. 

So - wealth, or lack of it, does still separate us and it is sad.  Can we find ways to reach out a hand of friendship to people so very different than us?  What amazing new discoveries will we find when we do?




Tuesday, May 17, 2016

TKO

So, do you know what happens when you stand up and tell 164 people (the number who read my last post - amazing!) that you are going to make some positive changes in your life...

'Life' smacks you in the face - crisis at church, difficult co-worker, arguments with husband, children melt-downs, etc.  Ugh.

A friend told me recently that when life knocks you down, God is there to catch you.  I guess that means succumbing to anger, fear, and depression are not the best response - oops.

This morning I read about Gideon.  He was living in a time when God's people were oppressed by the Midionites.  He was threshing wheat and he was hiding to do it so the Midionites would not steal his harvest.  Life was not good - or was it.  He was doing a boring, everyday job in fear of losing his food and profit.  On the other hand, even in a time when God's people were being disciplined for disobeying him, a time when they were in rebellion, God made sure their needs were provided for. 

If I have learned anything through my years of food addiction and depression, it is that nothing is wasted in God's plan.  Every path we tread is preparation for the future adventures He has planned for us.  If I let Him, God will use every event in my life to shape me into the person He wants me to be. 

So - here I come Life.  I am going to chose to look at you differently.  That wheat I don't feel like threshing today is a blessing.  Lord, help me reframe each circumstance, seeing them through your eyes.  Help me be thankful for the life you give me.


Thursday, May 12, 2016

Back on Track

I am amazed that it has been months since I wrote a blog post.  How easily good habits get lost.  I imagine it is no coincidence that this same time span of over four months has been a time of slowly gaining weight and letting my house slip into disaster.  I seem to have an all-or-nothing pattern.  Now it's time to get back on track - back to the things that are important to me. 

I wrote some goals recently as part of a minimalism class I am taking.  I want to be healthy. I want to be generous and spend my time serving others.  I want to write a book. I believe continuing to simplify my life, my house, and even my food will help me reach these goals.  Joshua Becker says that cleaning up your house and reducing your belongings is only the beginning of the journey.  It is a tool to allow you the space (physical and mental) to pursue the things that are important to you.  It is part of the journey, but certainly not the destination.

I want to clear out more of the junk in my life to make room for the plans God has for me and my family.  This might include hospitality, compassionate ministry, and more time together.

Clearing out the junk is an appropriate metaphor for the work I need to do with my food addiction as well.   I get complacent and comfortable and don't press on toward the goal.  Health and freedom from obsession are the goals but weight loss is the signpost that lets me know I'm headed in a positive direction.  It's time to work the steps, surrender my will and search out God's path.  I'm afraid that is going to mean exercise.  The E word.  I have not trained this temple God gave me very well.  It is weak and unfit.  I despise exercise.  Any excuse will do to avoid it.  I am stubborn and adamant in my refusal.  It's time to start letting God have control of this area.  Oh boy...

Friday, January 15, 2016

Are we there yet?

     It's that classic kid's question on long trips - Are we there yet?  The answer is usually, "not even close".  The same seems to be true in the journey of life.  This blog has looked at many areas of my life - decluttering, Overeater's Anonymous, consumerism, health, creation care, cleaning, ministry, cooking, and poverty.  I have made positive changes in so many ways, but some days I sit in my messy, crowded house after looking at the scale that says I gained a couple pounds, and decide to eat a sugary, chemical-laden snack off a paper plate and wonder if I have accomplished anything.

    I know I'm not alone in this.  My daughter asked me one day when I would be done organizing the house.  It was funny at the time.  I told her this was an ongoing project that might never end, but things would gradually get better and better.  A week or so later I could hardly walk through the living room.  Ugh. 

    I try to embrace the OA concept of "progress not perfection".  Every step forward is a blessing and a victory.  I'm not perfect, but I eat more vegetables than I used to.  I use less disposable items and recycle when I can.  I buy more things used, and less things overall.  I am a work in progress.