Zero for Six-ing in Chicagoland

I’ve been in Chicago (Tinley Park, actually) for two weeks with my daughter, Hannah, who’s attending at ballet intensive with Ballet 5:8 (Romans 5:8), and we head home tomorrow. It’s been a marvelous time, truly, but I am ready to go back to my nest.

As to how Zero for Six-ing has worked while traveling, I will begin with my successes. I haven’t watched any non-helpful “entertainment”. Rather, I have seen and heard Creflo Dollar teach powerfully on manipulation (that last night at 2:30 a.m. when I was also privy to a hotel night clerk being read the riot act by an irate guest–don’t be that guest); I have paused to write this post in the middle of an excellent Bill Johnson teaching on the devil’s tactics (see previous post); and past that I’ve just had too much great stuff to do, and important naps to take, to be watching.

But I am doing a sort of watching–I am watching the world around me, noticing the people, praying and praying and praying. It has become not just second nature, but first offensive maneuver. Don’t talk about it, get mad about it, fret and fume and worry about it. Pray. The Word. Now.

Which is why I was up at 2:00. I woke up feeling a heaviness and from an unpleasant dream, and the more conscious I became the more I knew I wasn’t going to put up with it, wasn’t supposed to put up with, don’t have time for the devil’s lies and tricks. They seem so big at 2:00 or 3:00 in the morning.

But they can be vanquished in a matter of moments.

Then there are the negative words, the “non-essential” speaking. I have looked for and found so much to admire and appreciate and enjoy here in Tinley Park, as well as in Orland Park and Frankfort (where Azul Boutique is!) I don’t think I could be negative here if I wanted to. This is the land of Isabella’s, Rocco’s, Ed and Joe’s, Portillo’s, Gatto’s, and did I mention Isabella’s? Isabella’s is magic. It’s in Tinley Park and it’s the place to take those you love. For more love. I figured with a name like “Fat Rosie’s” we should try Mexican food, but we just haven’t gotten past the Italians.

But there is the “non-essential” spending–surely magical Italian restaurants qualify? No. Enjoying the very best of hospitality is essential to the soul, and worth the price. Making memories with a lovely daughter is not even to be considered in terms of dollars. I’ve said all I care to say about this subject, because I have to get it over with and talk about non-essential eating.

Let is suffice to say that when I had a little niggle to forgo the coffee shop this morning and simply make a cuppa tea in the room, I felt quite satisifed with my miniscule victory. Possibly I had one or even two too many sweets these past two weeks (Stan’s Donuts must not be missed, we were told, and it’s true). When in Rome . . . these Chicagoland people know how to cook, and how to enjoy what they’ve cooked and how to share it.

I’m thinking of adding a new Zero For Six category: Expect, Receive, Enjoy, and Give Thanks for the blessings of the Lord!

Sword at the Ready

” . . . to keep that lifestyle of continual connection with God where the sword is always ready.” – Bill Johnson in following video.

“Anytime there is an absence of sacrifice there is an invitation for the enemy to occupy.” – Bill Johnson in following video.

“Out of surrender to Christ comes discovery of purpose.” – Bill Johnson in following video.

Speaking of one of Satan’s tactics, “Intimidation through mockery . . . causes us to become overly self-conscious, overly sensitive to that mocking spirit . . . concerned with how we appear to someone else.” – Bill Johnson in following video.

We are blessed!

I read the following from Jerry Savelle this morning, this after waking up with the thought: We are not a product of our president, of our “leaders”– if and when our leader is Jesus.

We are children of the Most High, and when we walk with Him we are blessed coming in and going out, the head and not the tail, above and not beneath (Deuteronomy 28:13 and 28:6).

Here’s Jerry:

I truly believe there is nothing more enjoyable to God than blessing His people! That is true with every good father. If you ask my children (even though they’re grown with their own families now), they will tell you, “Our daddy loves us!” I love blessing my children and grandchildren…and now my great-grandchild. I want them to enjoy the best life that they could ever imagine. We can see God’s heart in Genesis 12:2 where He declares, “I will bless you…” to Abraham. But His blessing didn’t stop with Abraham, God also promised to bless Abraham’s seed. The apostle Paul explained that “in Christ” you are Abraham’s seed saying, “If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise” (Galatians 3:29 NIV). God always loves blessing you. He is not the one who is withholding good things from you. Don’t ever forget that God enjoys blessing His people.

This 4th of July, let us remember who and Whose we are.

Zero For Six and Coffee? I Can’t be Serious!

I went for LaVazza Super Crema, but when I saw that the yet-untried LaVazza Gran Espresso had “notes” of cocoa and black pepper, I called my partner-in-coffee crimes, Seth. “I would be honored to try Gran Espress,” he responded. I could hear him grinning. “Notes” it would be.

The cool thing was that I could taste the cocoa, and that the black pepper was so good it made me extremely happy. Having gotten my cup first, I said to Seth, “You’re going to like this.” Sure enough. The uncool thing was that I didn’t stop with one cup, and the second one gave me a bit of a headache.

There is so much to be said for, so much to be gained from stopping with that one cup, that one serving. Savoring, enjoying, focusing on, being grateful for, that one lovely cup. More is not always better.

I don’t think I’m alone in over-endorsing the belief that, as Mary Engelbreit put it, “Too much of a good thing is wonderful.” Sometimes definitely yes, sometimes absolutely not. It’s called moderation, it’s called balance, it’s called not swinging from one extreme to the other, landing on one ditch or the other–all or nothing! I won’t have coffee for six months!

Why then, am I doing this, if I’m (obviously) doomed to failure? Because what’s obvious is not always true. I may fail now and again, but I’m still moving forward, still learning how to walk wisely in this high place of grace.

So, it’s about grace. God knows I want to do this, to take care of my health, and He knows I want to enjoy excellent French Press coffee with my son. He also knows that I need to move to a place of quality, not quantity, and believe it or not, you can learn that from coffee!

My Zero For Six adventure, as regarding coffee, is Zero consumption of fatiguing foods for six months. I never supposed I would have 100% on this quest. I am simply taking it step by step, and hoping, praying, believing He is with me.

The Opportunity Cost of Running and Hiding

I wanted John to take me away, to distract me from my wretched selfish self, but there were pesky things like roofers coming, a tow truck on its way to haul the tractor in for a new engine, the windshield man coming to put a new windshield in John’s truck, and I don’t remember what all else. I didn’t get my way, whaaaaaaaaah!

I didn’t get my way,

So it’s come to this–time to pray.

Not getting what I asked for

Life is such a bore.

Artist’s pages reveal

The thief is here to steal.

He’s taught me well to doubt

It’s time to kick him out.

——————————-

I hope you will forgive and bear with my rhyming fun. What I meant by “Artist’s pages reveal” was that when I began to journal (Julia Cameron calls it writing “artist’s pages” in The Artist’s Way) I saw what the enemy (John 10:10 says he comes to steal, kill, and destroy) was up to, and where I was giving him access.

I just so happened to have, lying next to me on the couch, I Never Learned to Doubt by Jesse Duplantis. Yes, I realized, I am doubting, and it’s making me miserable and a misery. I did some heavy duty repenting and heart-cleansing, some delving deep into my heart attitudes and among other things I came up with this: I am not to run and hide from the misery of doubt. I am to root it out!

If John would have taken me out for breakfast it would have been quite expensive–the opportunity cost of doing the one thing (often what we think we need and certainly what we want) is what we miss via that choice. I would have missed a heart-cleansing, a joy refreshing, a time with the One who heals me.

The Art of Conversation Creates Art

It was a lovely morning yesterday. Seth and I tried a new LaVazza variety (falling off the wagon a bit on this aspect of Zero For Six-ing, but more on that later) on the balcony. We likened the rustling of the Aspen leaves to the feel of clean cotton sheets, the breezes in the pines and the birdsong to music.

The conversation went and wound its way here and there, and somewhere in there I had a fantastic idea–a doable, practical example of how to remind our government that indeed, they work for us. I won’t go into the particulars of the idea, because I want to talk about the power of conversation.

We’re meant to have it, and it’s meant to produce ideas, solutions, revelations. It’s meant to connect hearts and minds and put us in the creativity zone. So, if our conversations aren’t producing this magical marvel, especially when we’re talking with our adult children, we can examine ourselves.

Do we listen carefully and thoughtfully? Do we interrupt? Do we have to be right? Are we taking a parental role when our family members are not asking for that? Just as we’re extra polite and considerate in our conversations with non-family folks, are we also with our beloveds? Do we remember that sometimes hearts simply want to be heard–not to hear our opinion?

When we don’t know the answer do we simply say, “I don’t know, but I will pray for wisdom, and I will pray for you to have wisdom, and all will be well”?

It’s helpful to remember that those who talk the most and loudest are often drowning out the words of those with the deepest and best thoughts. Just in case you’re like me, and maybe are a bit chatty, it could be time to put some art into our conversation.

Politics and Zero For Six Don’t Mix

In my Zero For Six No-Negative-Words quest, I find politics not to be my friend. But progress I do make! Today when I heard that yet again, our supposedly mostly-Christian Supreme Court has dropped the ball, and that even Justice Thomas failed us, I didn’t speak negative words. It wasn’t that I kept my mouth shut, but because it was hanging open. Seriously? But then I remembered that we are not to put our trust in man. Oh, right. Christianity 101.

Then there was the letter in the mail from our commander-in-thief paper doll “President” Joe (was that negative?), telling me how he’s going to take care of us all, blahdy, blahdy, blah. I managed not to mention it to John, and to wash my hands after I threw it in the trash, but it put me in a shady gray place for a bit. Fear not. Only believe. Shall I heed Joe and Co., or Jesus? I pick Jesus.

Back to the throne, back to the Psalms, back to prayer. Back to peace.

But then here they come again–those thoughts. Of every single solitary person who had ANYTHING to do with our election thefts being put where they belong–in jail. Turn out the people in jail for bad judgment and dumb mistakes and lock up the real criminals! Rant, rant (was that negative?). And then I remember, again–He sits in the Heavens and laughs–Psalm 2.

And I pray for us all, and for our beautiful and beleaguered country, and remember and notice how He’s at work, and that all will be well, and it’s past time to remember who I am as a child of the Most High–a Life-Speaker!

Back to Philippians 4:8– Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.

Politics? Not on the list.

Zero For Six TV is Play

It’s not deprivation! Not watching makes us more childlike, more apt to play. I find myself delving into old joys, thinking new thoughts, considering forgotten possibilities, simply because I’ve freed my mind from the tyranny of watching.

When I’m not watching a fake world I take in my own. I hear the wild turkeys in the yard, come to see the goldfinch when someone exclaims at its beauty, listen for the lovely sound of the blackbirds. I see the cottontail munch, munch, much stems of grass, sing him a bit of a song and watch his ears twitch as he listens. I’m noting the scent of my beloved’s soap on his skin, of the juniper and sage on the breeze, of the lemon curd just cooked. I’m listening to what plays when I try “Romantic music for daydreaming.” I’m listening to my beloveds. I’m hearing the music of life, and life becomes musical.

When I’m not watching, I’m gracefully and rhythmically getting through those little details cluttering my life, thus freeing my mind for larger and deeper thoughts. Or simply thoughts of play, maybe like being in a play, or learning the rules for Charades and having a tea party. A proper English tea, perhaps, as I share Queen Elizabeth’s 23 rules for living (including play) from Bryan Kazlowski’s Long Live the Queen, and dream . . .

If I can’t go to England right now, I muse, maybe I’ll read James Herriot, or P.G. Wodehouse, or Agatha Christie, sipping Earl Grey. Maybe I’ll nap like a baby all afternoon, and stay up all night, and see what I can get up to . . .

We’re meant to play.

Dull Books, Dull Boys and Girls

“You appear to have absconded with my keys, Mother,” my daughter said. “Oh, no! I’m so sorry.” And I was sorry about it, even as I was delighted in a child who says, “You appear to have absconded,” rather than, “Hey! You took my keys!”

It pays to homeschool, especially when you have a literary approach. That is, approach the teaching of spelling, speaking, writing, and thinking via literature. Put excellent books in every nook and cranny. Read to them and with them. Read books they recommend. Talk about it: What was your favorite part? Do you agree with the author’s worldview? Are there plot holes? If you re-wrote the story, what would you change? If this book were to be a movie, who would you cast as the villian?

DO NOT read below their level. One of the best parts of any book is a new word. Beatrix Potter’s use of “soporific” is a great example. Don’t go into Mr McGregor’s garden: your father had an accident there, he was put into a pie by Mrs McGregor. It is said that the effect of eating too muclettuce is ‘soporific‘.

Perhaps he shouldn’t have been absconding with other people’s property, eh?

Phyllis McGinley, in the treasure of a book, Sixpence in Her Shoe, wrote, “If I had time and courage enough, I’d write a children’s book stuck plum-pudding rich with great jawbreakers of words,” and, “I am certain that children, left to themselves, would prefer a rattling good story . . . to the handsomest volume in the world which brings no glory to their dreams or quickening to their pulses.” She continues, “They are a braver generation than we suppose. So they deserve brave books. They deserve the best that men and women of wit and talent can write for them.”

And they deserve parents who will read to and with them. Books with big stories, big wonders, big ideas, big words.

Zero For Six Going Strong

Mostly. I am not even missing non-essential viewing. Not one minute has been lost to TV since I began my four adventures. To re-cap, I began a quest on June 1: Let’s see what happens when (and if it’s possible) I attempt a six-month exit from the lands of: 1) TV watching; 2) fatiguing food consumption; 3) negative words; and 4) non-essential spending.

About that non-essential spending. Well . . . I bought two new outfits yesterday, and I won’t bore you with assertions of how essential these outfits are, of how long it’s been since I bought anything new, etc. I will say that John was trying to get me to go shopping for new clothes, and wasn’t giving up. I will say that there is no buyer’s remorse. I will say that I didn’t buy these clothes because they were on sale, which can often be likened to eating a bag of cookies because they’re low sodium. The satisfaction just isn’t there.

Moving on to what’s the toughest part–negative words. Boy, is this a process. It is helpful to me to keep on keeping on reading Psalms and Proverbs. Not only do I find therein continual evidence of the importance of words of life, of faith, but the help needed to stay the course.

And I pray. There are those tricky little areas that most people, including me, wouldn’t even notice as negativity. But upon further examination . . . when I think about the power of words, and that what I just said was a pronouncement of power, but not for good, I find so much of what I say is enforcing a feeling of helplessness and hopelessness. “It is what it is,” is a dumb thing to say. It’s defeat. Talking the problem simply solidifies it in our minds as unsolvable.

I’d like to say, regarding consumption of fatiguing foods, that I’m doing soooo well, good, and fantastic! I’ll simply that that I’m making a bit of progress. My coffee consumption isn’t remaining at zero, but like the purchasing of those above-mentioned new outfits, I am making it special. For instance, yesterday. I split a piece of actually and truly made-from-scratch key lime pie with my daughter at Island Grill in Fort Collins, and had a cup of coffee that almost made me swoon when the server set it down under my nose. Since this was the appetizer and followed with a simply divine burger and cole slaw, I was not at all fatigued. Interesting concept: Food that is sometimes fatiguing can, done right, be energizing . . .

I am absolutely loving not watching. Not simply sitting and watching (and munching) I get a little more excited about life every single day. Might I suggest, ever so gently, that you consider a Zero For Six adventure quest of your own?

Thanks for joining me!