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.

A Valentine’s Day Thought or Two

I always get a card for John that makes me cry – it’s the one that reminds me what’s in my heart, way deep under the crud that’s not real, and not really me.

This year, I vow, I will speak much more often like that card.  “A smart girl,” I reason, “should be able to do this.”

So, that thing that I’ve spoken (groused, grumbled, murmured) so often about, and thereby made it a real thing, needs to just go away.  Because experience teaches me that until I put it away, and give it to God entirely, it’s here to stay.  I’m talking about a little thing, because so much of the time it really is the little stuff.

It’s the little bad stuff crowding out the REALLY BIG good stuff.  In my case, it’s like packing my wicker picnic basket with fried chicken, devilled eggs, potato salad, artichoke dip with radishes and celery sticks, plus nut-filled brownies, thermoses of both cold milk and hot coffee, a bottle of Moscato, and taking it all to the river with my lover, and then . . .  letting one mosquito spoil the day.

SMASH THE MOSQUITO!!!!  SAY “NOT JUST ‘NO’, BUT HELL, NO!!!”

How again, does a smart girl smash her mosquitoes?  With her tongue.  I read Proverbs every day, and I read the tongue scriptures out loud, so my smart self can HEAR and BELIEVE and RECEIVE them.  Amen!

Like so:  Proverbs 6:2 – You are snared by the words of your mouth, you are taken by the words of your mouth (not anymore!!!!); 8:9 – All the words of my mouth are with righteousness; Nothing crooked or perverse is in them; 10:19 – In the multitude of words sin is not lacking; 12:18 – There is one who speaks like the piercings of a sword, but the tongue of the wise promotes health; 13:3 – He who guards his mouth preserves his life (and marriage!), but he who opens wide his lips shall have destruction; 15:1 – A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger; 15:28 – The heart of the righteous studies how to answer, but the mouth of the wicked pours forth evil; 16:21 (especially for parenting) The wise in heart will be called prudent, and sweetness of the lips increases learning; 17:18 (perhaps my favorite) Pleasant words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the bones.

I vehemently exhort you to read Proverbs 17 and 18 for yourself, and as I have, highlight each tongue scripture, and then put a big black “T” next to it.  Then in Proverbs 20 we find that “any fool can start a quarrel (verse 3), and let us not forget the squirm-inducing verses 9 and 19 in Chapter 21:  Better to dwell in a corner of a housetop, than in a house shared with a contentious woman; and, Better to dwell in the wilderness than with a contentious and angry woman.

If that “angry woman” describes you (I think at times it describes all of us), get with God and get free.  “Free indeed” freedom is one of the many treasures Jesus purchased for us on the Cross. (you might begin with singing a little ditty such as, “I’m so free cause it SO aint all about me!”).

Oh, and Happy, Happy, Happy Valentine’s Day.  It’s yours for the saying.

Jesus the Homemaker

The Word of God tells us to “guard our hearts” and that sounds like a defensive posture, which sounds, well, defensive.  But it’s actually a preparation and strength posture.

I think of it in physical terms as the Keep of the Castle.  Guarding our hearts means keeping our hearts.  “Keep your heart with all diligence, for out of it spring the issues of life” (Proverbs 4:23).

The Keep is where the goods are, the sustenance, the abundance.  For out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks (Luke 6:45).  Ah, now we’re getting somewhere.

What is spoken will be.  Proverbs 18:21 tells us that there is the power of life and death in the tongue.  Focus on the word “power” there, and let’s ask ourselves this question:  Who has the power here – are we going to speak for Satan, words that will destroy our own lives, or are we going to speak for the Lover of our souls, the author and finisher of our faith?

James 3:2 says, “If anyone does not stumble in word, he is a perfect man, able to bridle the whole body.”  The only thing more amazing to me than how little Christians know about the tongue’s power of life and death, is how often I speak as though I am a total tongue-power ignoramus.

I know and believe the Word’s admonitions regarding the tongue.  I have read and re-read Joyce Meyer’s Me and My Big Mouth. I know that I guard my heart, indeed my entire life, when my tongue is harnessed to the Holy Spirit via prayer and diligent attention to the Word.  I know and believe and have experienced the devastation wrought when I go ahead and wound my very own soul by speaking death words.

Death words are words of darkness and doom, of doubt and dismay.  Words with the power to open my heart right up to fear.  Then comes the physical manifestation – an actual poisoning of my entire system, also known as stress.

We guard our hearts with our tongues, and we guard our tongues when we guard our hearts.  A lovely life circle.  Or, we can go our own way . . . and say whatever the HELL (that’s where it’s from) we FEEL like saying.

What would Jesus have us say?  “Poor poor pitiful me?”  “Woe is me, I’m so misunderstood and unloved?”   “Why does this always happen to me?”

The answer is “none of the above.”  He would have us say, “God is my refuge, God is my strength, a very present help in trouble.”  He Himself would say, “Get thee behind me, Satan!” and “Where’s someone I can love and bless and heal and help?  Come unto me!” (John 7:37).

“Come unto me all ye who are weak and heavy laden.”  We weaken ourselves when we SPEAK the weakness.  Weakness is only a temporary fact, but it is not the truth of the matter.  The truth of the matter is what the Word of God says about it.  He is my shelter (Psalm 61:3), my strong tower, my very present help in trouble.  Sing the song I Will Arise (listen to Phil Driscoll do it first), “I will arise and go to Jesus.  He will embrace me in His arms.  In the arms of my dear Savior, oh there are 10,000 charms.”

What again, would Jesus say?  He would speak from a guarded heart, words of life.  His heart was guarded by his focus on and love for others.  He freed Himself to the beautiful life that is a life of caring for others.

Like, um, well, a Homemaker.