What Can I Create?

With this evening’s attitude, not much. Once I start thinking about what’s not perfect, I’m on the way to griping about it, and here it comes–the Biblical “spirit of heaviness.” And who needs more of that?

Well, no matter how many times I try sad, I never like it. It never works for me. And it’s always rooted in choosing doldrums over delight. As someone who, over 40 years ago, chose to join the revolution started 2000 years ago by a really great guy named Jesus, I simply have no business thinking it’s about me.

I know (this I’ve tried as often as I’ve tried sad) that when I start doing the selfish it’s not going to end well. Ah, but when I read the beautiful Word of Life, when I pray, when I repent of my disobedient self-absorption, the very atmosphere of my life begins to change. What a difference a moment makes.

What a difference a bit of good preaching (this evening it was Creflo Dollar talking about the “sin” of selfishness, the miserable life therein); last week it was Bill Johnson saying, “When at war, create.”

Create. I’d no sooner finished listening to Creflo, than John asked me to watch and listen to the story of a businessman turning Central Park into something marvelous for New Yorkers. Create. We’re all born for it, created for it.

Just in putting out the maple syrup and making plans for homemade waffles, scrambled eggs, brats, peaches and tea for a late breakfast tomorrow, I have begun creating something marvelous in the sight of my beloveds.

In writing my evening pages (I scribble my thoughts morning and night to see what’s in my brain) I create a list for tomorrow–assuring that it will begin as it should–first with thanks for the Author of all Beauty and Creativity, and then with the getting to it.

What can we create tomorrow? Why don’t we let it begin with smiling at ourselves in the mirror and remembering we’re created in the image of the The Creator. Who knows what we’ll get up to (I might start a book, or at least another blog post, do a YouTube thing. I might even clean the junk drawer!). Or maybe I’ll just create joy by giving smiles and good words to all.

Thanks for letting me share with you!

P.S. You can still get The Maker’s Marriage (on Amazon) before Christmas–if not for Christmas, by New Year’s Night.

Zero for Six Update

In case you didn’t know, Zero for Six is about doing zero of something(s) for six months. I’ve been experimenting with four areas in this adventure: spending, diet, words, and TV.

As usual, the TV isn’t really a thing. In weeks and weeks, the only thing I’ve watched, with and at her request, was Emma with my daughter. This the Romola Garai version and in two sittings. That’s it. I’m not counting watching excellent preachers and motivational/inspirational speakers such as Jennifer L. Scott, Creflo Dollar, Benjamin Hardy, and Terri Savelle. But even these, helpful and positive as they are, can become excessive escapism. How to know: Do I go and do what they’ve inspired me to do, or do I just go on to the next video?

What to do, what to do? Read, don’t watch! Read books by these people (Madame Chic books by Jennifer L. Scott should not be missed!). Write, don’t watch! Write your morning pages, your artist’s pages, your scribbles. Until those thoughts going through your brain–up, down, and all around and all the time–are put down on paper, you’ll struggle to sort them and make sense of them. And then speak–the solution, not the problem.

Words. I’m learning that less is more. Less problem speaking, opinon spewing, and “news” spreading makes for more victory. This is a battle I refuse to lose, and I’m willing to crucify pride in the pursuit of positive, life-filled, scripturally correct speaking. I’ve given my family not only permission, but a request to call me on it, when less than helpful words come out of my mouth. So, I’m not at zero negativity, but that’s the unchanging goal.

I’ve found that what I speak about diet, or as I’ve put it in past posts, not eating fatigue-inducing foods, is helpful. I’m not only speaking that it’s easy as pie to do intermittent fasting, but that I don’t really even like sugar. At all. I’m finding that speaking that I’m simply no longer interested in less-than-healthy and delicious foods makes that so. In talking about how high the cost and how low the benefit of eating out so often turns out to be, I am cooking with greater care and more satisfying outcomes.

A most satisfying outcome of eating at home is the money savings. I do consider eating out, in many cases, to be unnecessary spending. I’m making progress here. I’ve come to the place where I pay attention to my instincts, and where my stomach doesn’t rule me.

If I have a bit of doubt, I get out! While traveling in South Dakota, (80 mph speed limits on Interstate!!!) for instance, my daughter and I stopped at a steakhouse. We went inside and the decor didn’t wow me. Way too gray and minimalist, and an attempt at authenticity via a sawdust-covered floor that didn’t impress. We gave our names to a snarky hostess and I went to the rest room. In there two women were carrying on about their husbands, and it was evident they didn’t know about positive words. They were well versed in the various and creative ways to denigate their husbands with the F word, but past that their vocabularies were limited. And so their lives.

“Let’s get out of here,” I said to Hannah. We left town, ended up at a marvelous destination in the middle of the South Dakota prairie, where we had the best night’s sleep in two weeks–The Dakota Prairie Hunting Lodge. I’d made an excellent soup the day before and it came out of the ice chest and into the microwave. We then dined on the deck where we watched the sun set, listened to innumerable critters sing their evening songs, and enjoyed the breeze along with our delicious and satisfying meal.

The next day, after leaving Mount Rushmore (soooooooooooo marvelous) we had peanut butter and honey sandwiches in the car rather than stop and spend. We made it to Fort Collins, where John met us at the car rental place. I was so ready to go on home, and to not spend any more money, but when John said, “Are you hungry,” Hannah answered with a vigorous nod and “Yes!” Off we went for a delicous and delightful meal at 3 Margaritas. Was that unnecessary spending? Not at all.

My Child was Sad, and that was BAD

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There was lots of fun stuff happening, and I was loving every single minute of it, except when I looked at Rebekah’s tight, sad, face.  I gave her hugs, I asked her if she was OK, I mentioned it to John (husband/dad), and I queried her siblings, “Do you know what’s bothering Rebekah?”  I gave her more hugs (she seemed to want lots of them) and finally, I prayed.

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Rebekah is a writer, and we’ve had an ongoing issue about her using up school, chore, family and personal time on the computer–not writing, but looking up and reading about the somewhat ridiculous antics of various celebrities.  Recently when I asked her if she was writing she fibbed to me about it.  I don’t mind lies as much as I mind a child acting like I am the village idiot.  “Shut the laptop,” I instructed firmly.  “Do NOT get back on there until I say so.  You can write in longhand on your legal pads for now.”

And I went about the business at hand: celebrating:  Hannah was born on my and John’s anniversary and this year was, as all years, a celebration of the unmerited, beyond-all-I-could-ever-ask-or-think-or-imagine LOVE of Jesus.  Still, I noted and pondered and watched the expressive and beautiful face of Rebekah.

Hannah had her birthday date with John, John and I had our anniversary date, we celebrated both with a steak dinner and birthday/anniversary party, I went on my Hannah date, and finally, last night about midnight, Hannah, John and Seth were off to bed, and Rebekah found her way to a bit of quiet with me.

“Mom,” she said, “I got on YouTube today.  And yesterday. And the day before.”

“Why?” I said a bit sharply, reluctantly looking up from watching Creflo Dollar teaching about what the Bible says about speaking in tongues (very interesting stuff).

She looked utterly miserable and I was filled with compassion.  I scooted over on the couch and told her to come curl up next to me.  I took her in my arms and kissed her head.  “Rebekah, God forgives me absolutely when I make a mistake, and I forgive you absolutely.”

She began to cry, and I recognized that look, the sound of those sobs:  I try and I try and I just can’t seem to do what I say I will do.  I’m such a loser, blah, blah, blah.

It’s OK, Sweetheart,” I told her.  “Tomorrow we will talk and pray and make a plan about exactly what you want to be learning and doing and enjoying.  I want to see you practicing your violin.  Do you want that?”

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She began to cry again.  “I don’t know why I haven’t been doing that.”  Back to the self-chastisement, the recriminations and condemnation.

I was inspired as I thought of the “roaring success”  of breakfast (cooked by her and her brother, Seth, while Hannah and I were gone).  “There’s no reason you and I can’t cook more together (she loves doing things with me).  We’ll put that on our petition of things we want to learn and do.  Now, you just don’t worry about anything at all.  We’ll work everything out tomorrow.”

She was still curled up next to me, in my arms.  She sat up.  “I feel better now.”

I did a few things right:  I paid attention to my child, amidst all kinds of diverting activities; I responded correctly to all those hug requests; I shared my concerns with other family members, so that everyone would be kind, aware that “something’s bothering Rebekah”; I made myself available; I listened and suggested solutions, and she listened to me, because of the most important thing of all:  I said, GOD FORGIVES YOU ABSOLUTELY AND I FORGIVE YOU ABSOLUTELY.

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The Bible tells us that it’s His kindness that leads to repentance.  In receiving His kindness, we are able to extend kindness to our children and to our mates, and to ourselves.  Let’s do it! Amen.