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!

Week One of my Zero For Six adventure is over, and here are some conclusions and confessions.

ON NON-ESSENTIAL SPENDING

I tried more than once to buy makeup and skin care, and finally settled for ordering the ingredients to make skincare at home (from Vitacost.com) and a tube of lipstick and some foundation, both Mineral Fusion. This after I trashed all my old (some 14 years old!) cosmetics and was completely out of skincare. I was using Vaseline.

When I say I tried more than once, I mean I filled my cart with some very impressive products on the Net, and then just couldn’t spend all that money, so gave it up. The next morning I drove to a department store to see if there was one of those cool specials where you spend $35 and get a promo package worth $150 of stuff you mostly want and will use. Nothing doing, plus they were blasting cruddy (non-relaxing, non-uplifting, non-melodious) music and I’m just so over going into stores where the customer is obviously not that important.

So, one of the morals of this story is that frugality can either be deprivation, or it can be an open door to creativity, often resulting in a better quality and healthier outcome. And of course, there’s that lovely smug feeling that comes of spending less and getting more. How smart are we? Pretty smart.

ON NON-FATIGUING FOODS

I dropped the ball here a little, both at The Sugar Mouse tea house on Thursday in Laramie, Wyoming, and then again Saturday night, when I made chocolate no-bake cookies (they had peanut butter, so that makes them real food, right?). But then this morning I read Honey, God’s Gift for Health and Beauty, which caused me to sweeten my blueberry muffins with honey rather than sugar, and to give my leftover no-bakes to my son, who has no belly fat and a great love for no-bakes.

From there I researched benefits of drinking vinegar and honey and went to town for organic (with the mother) apple cider vinegar. I already have raw honey, so upon finishing this post I’ll make this amazing elixir and partake!

As to coffee, I actually went to a coffee shop and ordered herbal blackberry tea, iced. Delicious! I didn’t have any coffee at all, all week long, until a very tiny cup (1/4 cup of coffee, 1/4 cup of heavy whipping cream) today, telling myself that I will allow myself one cup per week. So, we’ll see how that goes.

ON WATCHING

I scored A++++++ on this one. There are so many other marvelous and fun and creative things that get done when the TV/laptop/phone is off. I love it. Yes, there were a couple of times when I wanted to watch something, but it was only when I was thinking of eating something fatiguing . . . As I’ve said before, these habits, for good or for not-so-good, go together.

It was helpful that I didn’t take a martyr’s stance, that I checked my thoughts before speaking them. I might have thought a few times that it would be nice to sit down and take a load off, watching something totally fun, such as Decoy Bride, or that it wouldn’t hurt to watch whatever John was watching. After all, it was Friday night . . . But I didn’t speak it, didn’t talk about it. Instead I settled in with a stack of books, my journal, pens, and highlighters, and read old favorites such as The Shape of a Year by Jean Hersey, and Candy Paull’s Abundance. I prayed as I read from the Psalms, and also had a couple of lovely phone conversations. Best of all, I did some some very in-depth listening to my beloveds as they shared their hearts. This simply doesn’t happen when you’re glued to the tube.

Determined not to be even a little bit tempted to watch an episode of Poirot tonight, I made a library visit and came home with Francine Rivers, Victoria Holt and of course, Agatha Christie. I was completely surprised by the ending of By the Pricking of My Thumbs, and I keep marveling at the mind of Agatha Christie, and wondering when my non-watching time will become writing time. Fiction, I mean–the writing that stretches me, calls me, eludes me, and won’t leave me alone. As my daugher Rebekah said when she was little and things didn’t go smoothly, “Oh, sigh.”

ON SPEAKING GOOD WORDS

I noticed and noted that I don’t need to worry about the negative words of others–I have plenty of my own. I read Lindsey Roberts’ free booklet, The Company You Keep and among so much rich and uplifting information, I focused on the idea of being good company to me. I really enjoy myself when nothing but faith, thanksgiving, and great expecations come out of my mouth.

And of course, what you fill your heart and mind is what comes out of your mouth, and then what becomes your life. So, maybe out of all four of my Zero For Six quests, this one of is most important of all.

How to be Weak

If Henri Nouwen is correct in today’s e-mailed deovtional, and he is when he states,”Joy and Resentment Cannot Coexist” and if it’s also true, and it is, that “the joy of the Lord” is our strength. then unforgivness (resentment) makes us weak.

In my current quest for positivity, my Zero For Six adventure against negativity, I am aiming for joy, for strengh. Indeed I am aiming for the acquisition of the very joy of the Lord God Himself!

How is this going? I’m stumbling here and there, and seeking my way in communicating with those who, it seems, would rather be weak. It also seems as though some people prefer resentment to joy. That is entirely their business, of course, but does that mean they have a right to inflict their negativity on me? No.

The trick is in rejecting the negative person’s negativity, but not rejecting the person. Negative people have already rejected themselves, the Word of God, perhaps even God, and they expect further rejection. This is where it is helpful to say something like, “I’m doing a Zero For Six adventure of no negativity for six months! Wanna join me?”

It is also helpful to saturate that person in prayer, whereby we get perspective on their preciousness to God. This helps counter our perspective on their aggravation to us. We need a change of heart, or at least I do. Otherwise, I will not overcome evil with good. Rather, bad company will corrupt me.

Negativity is contagious, but there is a vaccine, a sure innoculation. It’s the Mighty One–Jesus. The only time I feel those sick symptoms of negativity, that debilitating weakening of frustration, is when I hold on to an offense. I am actually choosing Death, rather than God’s mandated choice–Life. I am choosing to fearfully focus on and glorify what Satan’s crowd is up to.

We can be less than worms with fear and negativity, or more than conquerors in Christ Jesus.

“You show me the path of life. In your presence is fullness of joy…”
PSALM 16:11 (NRSV)

Zero For Six–Feeling the Freedom

So much more than time is lost to the screen, to junk TV. As we connect to the entire world we lose connections with our own hearts, and with our Creator. As we watch and see and are programmed by the creations of others, we cease to create. We are stilled. Jailed even.

The great narcotic, the false god, the black box we come before at every opportunity–that is TV. “There’s nothing worth watching,” we hear others lament, and agree. And yet we go. Just as pagans of old throwing the valuable before a dead god to no avail, so we sacrifice our very lives to TV.

That man who was called into politics–he only watches the news and rants. The child whose art was lauded and entered into the World’s Fair at age 6–she can’t wait to leave her cubicle and get home to her shows. And year after year she becomes a bit less picky about the offerings. She’s not even embarrassed that porn (call it what you will) comes into her home day after day. (Note: research reveals there is an inverse relationship between watching porn and a personally satisifying sexual relationship.)

Yes, there are Pride and Prejudice with Colin Firth, Emma, Jeeves and Wooster, Fawlty Towers, and James Herriot’s All Creatures Great and Small. But how many times can you watch these, or Quigley Down Under, Man on Fire, and Rocky? If there’s nothing worth watching, push the “off” button. It can be done. We can just stop rewarding Hollywood by opening our pocketbooks and hearts to insulting excuses for entertainment.

Last night, May 31, was my final movie for six months, and I chose carefully. I considered You’ve Got Mail, and my visiting daughter suggested Bruce Willis’ Red, but we couldn’t find the DVDs (not paying for movies via Internet). I thought carefully. What would be worth the watch–excellent plot, casting, acting, and not a single dull moment? Oh, and one where the guy gets the girl. I chose a movie where I actually did shut my eyes (I take seriously the Bible’s admonition to guard my heart) a time or two for a moment or two. What is this paragon of a movie? Spectre.

Interestingly, given this post’s subject and matter of introspection, Spectre is about James Bond saving the world from being watched.

Could it be that when we do nothing but watch, when we never pause to think, we set the stage for our own demise?

Please consider joining me, if not on a Zero For Six TV adventure, at least on the sensationally rewarding activity of pushing the “off” button. Even if you simply sit still and do nothing, you will begin to reconnect with your marvelous self. Who knows what will happen–you may make a jailbreak!

Zero For Six

It is time. For change. Now. And so, beginning June 1 I am embarking on four Zero for Six projects:

#1–Zero Non-Essential Spending for Six Months

#2–Zero TV Watching for Six Months

#3–Zero Fatiguing Foods for Six Months

#4–Zero Faithless Words for Six Months

I will be sharing process and progress in posts and podcasts, in hopes we will all change our lives–six months at a time. So, if this sounds interesting and intriguing to you, please share the good news, and thanks very much! And remember to take a “before” pic, as you and your life will look very different in six months, if you choose to join me in this adventure.

Tomorrow I will share my preliminary plans and procedures for implementation of this exciting next six months of my life!

You’re Not “Stuck” at Home. You’re Having the Time of Your Life, Homeschooling, That is!

The Home Front Show

Hello and welcome to all parents who are suddenly at home with their kids.  As a veteran homeschooler I have some thoughts, tips and downright excellent ideas for you.

  1.  Begin every day with “The P.J.’s of Power – a psalm, a proverb, Paul’s wisdom from something in the New Testament, and Prayer, and Praise, and then some of Jesus’ words.  If the kids are readers and awake (this is a lovely time for all of you to catch up on sleep by the way), instruct them to do the same, take notes, and let it all be done in P.J.’s!
  2. Make this something they truly enjoy, perhaps all around the table first thing, along with hot chocolate, and begin teaching table manners and conversation arts at the table.  Best of all, you are teaching them to love and enjoy God!
  3. Have all hands on deck for meals

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