Sleeping on the Boat

I have a problem with worrying. I latch onto something. Worry it to death, until finally enough time has passed that it is no longer an issue. I take a deep breath of relief. Then I look around and pick up another problem that I can worry about. It has occurred to me that unless something changes, I will be doing this the rest of my life. I can’t relax until this problem is solved. I can’t relax until I know that this is going to be ok. I’ll feel better once I know this problem has been fixed. 

I will never run out of problems to worry about. There will always be another problem waiting patiently for me. There will never be a time when I can just sigh and say, finally, all my problems have disappeared.

Now, in my defense, some of these problems are big whoppers. Giant problems. Anyone else faced with these problems would be just as down and worried as I am. They’re not things I can just shrug off as inconsequential. They are huge. In fact, I’ve got one of those giant worries facing me right now. 

My brain works really hard to fix these things. It plays out every single scenario it can think of. What if it turns out like this? What about that? What about if this happens instead? And I guess that’s probably a form of trying to have control over the situation. If I fully understand every single nuance and variation of the problem, maybe it won’t be so scary and overwhelming? 

I woke up at 5am this morning. My brain instantly focusing onto my problem and worrying it to death. And I could feel myself panicking. And I suddenly remembered a picture my daughter painted.

She called it, sleeping on the boat with Jesus. And I was reminded again. Keep my eyes on Jesus, not the storm. He’s in control. He’s got this. Just focus on him. 

I was thinking about that more this morning and I also remembered the scene from the movie, The Hobbit: The Battle of Five Armies where the bowman shoots the dragon, using his son’s shoulder as support for his arrow. His son is freaking out and he calms him by reminding him to look at his father, not the dragon or the destruction around him. Look at me. 

I was reminded again how much I and my family are loved by God. He’s got this. He’s in control. Just focus on him. The storm rages around us, but we are safe. 

I know I’ve written about worry before. I learn how to let it go. And then I forget and get right back into the habit again. So, this is my timely reminder. Again. Worry does nothing. Doesn’t fix it. Doesn’t make me feel better. And I’m never going to run out of things to worry about. So, might as well enjoy my day, choose peace. Keep my eyes focused on the only one who has the power to fix the problems that surround me. Trust him. And take a little nap on the boat.

Fat Fridays: New Esther versus Old Esther

Yesterday was a really rough day. Like, envision a bloody battle with swords and shields and everyone is wounded and bleeding. That was my day with food. 

Yesterday I hit that place where I just didn’t care anymore. I didn’t care about my diet. I didn’t care about eating healthy. I didn’t care. I’m too tired. Too stressed. I found myself hunting the house for sugar. I just needed something sweet. Anything. There was some cereal and I grabbed several handfuls of frosted flakes and stuffed them in my mouth. I just didn’t care. One of the kids had a leftover ham and cheese sandwich they didn’t want. I ate it. Cause the thought of fixing myself a salad or cooking up vegetables just sounded horrible. And there’s nothing wrong with a sandwich right? Except, it wasn’t even really that great of a sandwich. Something I would usually deem not worth wasting my calories on. But I just didn’t care. 

I had to drop my teenagers off at youth group and then I needed to go Walmart to get some things for my kids. And I started thinking about what I could buy as a special treat at Walmart since I would be out by myself. That is, after all, my old pattern. Go out by myself, get something yummy to eat as a treat. I thought about all the things I haven’t eaten in a long time. Chocolate cake. Debbie cakes. Donuts. Ice cream. A big bag of Chips. Which one should I get? And at the same time there was this sinking feeling going on. I’m doing it again. I’m falling off the wagon. I’m blowing my diet. I’m returning to all my bad habits. And I felt kind of hopeless. Like, I’m never going to win this battle. I will always be overweight. 

I was in the car, still driving, and I had the thought, What are you hoping that food is going to do for you? (Which seems to be a theme this week. I mentioned in a previous blog about asking the question, What am I looking for? when I turn to mindless distractions.) And this is a good question. Why am I wanting to eat all this food and what am I hoping to accomplish? And I had to remind myself that eating food was NOT going to make me feel better about my life. In fact, I was going to feel a LOT worse if I turned to food. But, if I made good choices, I would feel better about myself. This is the place where you imagine two warriors hammering away at each other with their swords. Old Esther verses New Esther. Flesh verses Spirit. 

I sat in the parking lot. Staring at the store. Ok. Make a plan. I will buy some blueberries and some carrots and hummus. And then I will stay away from the food section. 

Walmart is a dangerous place when you are trying to resist temptation. I felt like a nun at a nudist colony. AVERT THE EYES! Dont look there! No! Don’t look over there either! Keep walking! Get away from the food!! 

I needed to get some things for an upcoming car trip and I contemplated getting my kids some yummy snacks, but quickly decided against it. Nope. Can’t do it. If I buy that stuff, I will eat it too. So I bought them some gummy snacks (which they love, and I think are disgusting) and determined that on THIS trip, they will be eating fruits and vegetables right alongside me. 

I finally got out of the store, got in my car, slammed the door, and did some deep breathing for a minute. I made it. I did it. I didn’t binge, splurge, over-do or anything. I bought some healthy food and walked out. Whoosh. 

And I do feel better about myself today. A lot better than if I had just given in. But man, that was hard. And just a quick note. I think what has put me in a bad place was my two weeks when I went low-carb. My personal dysfunction with food cannot handle diets where entire food groups are eliminated. It stirs up a lot of unhealthy emotions like feeling deprived which then makes me want to binge. So, moving forward, I’m going to continue my LowER carb diet where I just try to eat grains in small portions and with moderation. 

New Esther won the battle this time. But I anticipate a lot more skirmishes in the future. 

Fat Fridays: Non Food Rewards

I am almost at the end of my fourth week of this new diet and exercise program. One of the first things I talked about during week one with my trainer was Non Food Rewards. I was explaining that on my nights off, or when I suddenly found myself with some alone time, my first instinct was to eat something special. It’s my night off, I’m going to go get some takeout! I just managed to get an hour to myself, I think I’ll eat some dessert! I just survived a really hard day, definitely deserve some chocolate! 

It is a pattern that is deeply ingrained in who I am. 

Obviously, eating every time you want to reward yourself is not a healthy pattern. It has led to one of my biggest problems, Comfort Eating. No, I’m not hungry, just bored, angry, uptight, tired….I think I’ll eat something. 

So, I have been trying to come up with some Non Food Rewards. It’s been hard. This is what I’ve come up with so far. 

Long Hot Showers

Buying New Exercise Clothes

Watching the Lord of the Ring Movies again.

Taking a walk solo around the neighborhood. 

I have thought about getting a foot soaking tub and sitting and soaking my feet, but that hasn’t happened yet. 

Reading a book (I don’t know if that counts though, I am always reading a book)

Sitting by my fire

I am just getting started on this list. I need more. 

In the meantime, I am also trying to tone down the food rewards. Like drinking a hot cup of tea or sucking on a sugar free hard candy, or munching on carrots and hummus instead of snack food. 

As a parent I am also realizing how I am training my kids to turn to food as a reward. It is such a big part of our culture. You did good today, have a piece of candy! It’s Friday night, let’s eat pizza and ice cream! You’re really sad, want to have a treat to cheer you up? I am not sure how to change this. I think I need a list of Go-To rewards for kids. And then I need to have it posted all over my house, because this is a deeply ingrained habit. 

Last week I lost another three pounds. Today I did thirty minutes on my elliptical, 40 seconds as fast as I could go, 20 seconds slow. I did not think I would make it thirty minutes, but I did! I am definitely seeing some positive changes. I am also noticing that I don’t have an urge to eat all the time like before. I eat, I get full, and then I don’t eat again till I feel hungry again. Yay! 

I’ll see you all next week! 

I’m Ready for a Redo

We have some houseguests at the moment. As my husband and I’s room is the closest thing we have to a guest room, we relocated upstairs with all our kids. This means that we had to start using the “kids bathroom” upstairs. Yikes. Since we moved downstairs, about two years ago, I rarely enter the upstairs bathroom. I bathe our two youngest in my bathroom downstairs, we moved toothbrushes downstairs so we could supervise tooth brushing. I have no reason to go into the upstairs bathroom. Every week or so, I appoint bathroom chores to my older children. You clean the toilet, you clean the sink, you get the trash etc. And every week I assign one of my older girls to clean the shower. I will, on occasion, inspect their work. Nope, toilet is not done, try again…please sweep the floor better…But, I’ve never bothered to peak into the shower to see how that job was done.

Last night, I jumped into the upstairs shower to take a quick rinse off and I recoiled. Oh my goodness. This shower is repulsive. I think we’re going to have to tear this entire shower out and put in a new one. When was the last time someone cleaned this????? It was horrifying. (Just to reassure you, I know that it hasn’t been two years since it was cleaned, I do, on occasion, hire someone to come in and do a deep cleaning for me, so not two years, but definitely somewhere in the months range.)

Today I went down to the dollar store and loaded up on scrubby sponges, rubber gloves, and a shower cleaner that looked like it would melt iron. I also bought a new shower curtain and bathmat. This bathroom was going to get a makeover. Several hours later, many inhaled chemicals later, the shower was sparkling clean: new shower curtain with cute butterfly curtain rings, fluffy blue bath mat. Everything else in the bathroom was sparkling too. At last. A fresh start. A bathroom worthy of me. 🙂

All this cleaning got me thinking about Fresh Starts. Redo. Makeover. Lately I’ve been feeling like I need a fresh start. I remembered back to when we just moved back to the States after living in Chile for a year and a half. We had only been back a couple days and a friend asked me what the difference was between Chile and the U.S. I told her that when I was overseas, I felt alive. I was in tune with Spiritual Things. Everything felt sharp and in-focus. Relationships were life-giving, every-day life was an adventure. When I came to the States and talked to my friends, I got the impression that people  were very distracted, very caught up in the superficial world of entertainment and the acquiring of new stuff. Life felt fuzzy. I didn’t like what I saw and I wondered how I was going to keep myself from falling into the same trap.

Fifteen years later, I look at my life. I look at my priorities. Everything is fuzzy. Though I profess that Jesus is the most important thing in my life, reality doesn’t seem to reflect that truth. Social media, books, the internet, movies, books, interesting thoughts and theories. These all seem to have first place in my life. I feel out of touch with my Bible. I feel out of touch with nature. I feel out of touch with people. I’m existing in a small, insulated world of entertainment. Any time there is a pause in the day, I pull out my phone. Check Facebook. Read my emails. Check in with my blog. In an attempt to avoid boredom, I have instead dulled all my senses, flattened out the highs and lows, and created an existence that demands constant stimulation and is afraid of simply being. In an attempt to avoid boredom, I have become a boring person. A person who only engages on a superficial level. I have lost my First Love, Jesus, and replaced him with the idol of diversion.

I need a fresh start. I think about the hard work I had to put in to reclaim my bathroom. Make it clean and fresh and usable again. It wasn’t easy. Fresh starts aren’t. I’ve talked to my husband about the need to make some big changes. It’s not just me. It’s the entire family. We are all addicted to our wifi. The little kids have tv shows they stream. My teenagers have their shows and sites they must check up on every day. We always seem to have our faces glued to a screen. Andy and I have decided that as soon as school is out, we are pulling the plug on the wifi. No more internet at the house. I have wanted to do this sooner, but the reality is that the kids do need internet to do their homework. We’re going to try it out for the summer.

This is going to be painful for the whole family. We have already heard our teens’ opinions on the matter. I told them I would take them to the library as often as they wanted to go. We just weren’t going to be hooked up at our house. We love Friday Night Movie Night. So, maybe we’ll make trips to the dollar theater or go to the drive-in. We’re not trying to give up watching movies, just turning it back into an occasional special treat instead of part of the daily diet. I am hoping that as we no longer have a screen to stare at, we can wake up from this fuzzy dream we have entered and start having time for real life. Make devotions priority. Get outside. Focus on each other again. We will find out soon. The Restart button is about to be pushed.