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. 

Unneeded Distractions

I haven’t written in a week. Which is weird for me. Not a sign of good mental health. Writing = thinking and processing. When I don’t write, it usually means I am avoiding thinking and processing. Now, some of this week was busy with seeing out-of-town family, and that was a great break. But, the past four days, I’ve kept thinking, I should sit down and write, and then I don’t. Instead my brain has been grasping for distractions. Let’s read a book. Let’s get in some extra exercise. Let’s zone out on social media. I’ve even found myself re-visiting old stories I used to play out in my head for entertainment. And I found myself faced with this question. What are you looking for? What is it that you are so desperately seeking in all these distractions? 

Good question. 

What am I looking for? 

Validation. I’m not just an invisible maid and caretaker that keeps the house running and keeps the kids alive and happy. I’m an individual whose feelings matter and who brings value to the table. 

Recognition. I want to be seen. I want to have people in my life who seek me out and find my presence to be important to them. 

Security.  I want to feel safe and cared for. To not feel like my existence and lifestyle is in any way fragile. 

Purpose. I want to feel like my daily actions have meaning. What I’m doing counts. 

Achievement. I want to feel like I am heading towards a goal and every day I am getting closer. 

Peace. I want to feel like no matter what happens, I’m good. Nothing’s going to rock my boat. 

Joy. I want each day to be a celebration of life and creation. A journey of thankfulness. 

I’m not wanting too much, am I? 

Here’s the thing. I think I have most of those things already. Perhaps not in a steady stream. But, if I look back at even just the last couple months, I can say, yes, there have been moments where I have had each of those things at different times. Sometimes all at once, sometimes just one or another. But they’ve been there. 

I think awareness is my problem. Life starts to get overwhelming and my vision gets really narrow. All I can see are the problems in front of me. The exhaustion I’m feeling. The weariness. And my eyes just sit and focus on what is wrong. This is wrong. And that is wrong. And here, let me make you a list of everything that is wrong and hard in my life right now. And all those good things, all those things on my list that I want and HAVE, they just kind of fade into the background. I forget they are there. And eventually, focusing on the bad stuff robs me of hope and energy and I just kind of melt into a useless puddle. 

So what am I going to do about it? 

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18. Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

These are not simple platitudes. They are more like death-defying challenges. Can you rejoice always??? Pray continually?? GIVE THANKS IN ALL THINGS??? Not an easy path to choose. Which is why it’s a good thing we have the Holy Spirit as our helper. 

John 14:26  But the Helper, the Holy Spirit whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and remind you of all that I said to you.

It’s a battle. A daily battle. In Christ, we already have all that we need. There is no reason to go searching for fulfilment in empty distractions. But it’s really easy to forget. When we focus on rejoicing, praying, thankfulness; we quickly get our vision back. 

Now, I’m going to go put on some worship music and try practicing what I preach. 

Always Failing at Something

Do you have that One Thing that is always ready to jump out of the corner and condemn you? Like, you’re walking along, thinking that you are actually an Ok human being. You are handling life pretty good. In fact, you might even be doing well. And then that One Thing jumps out with it’s jeering face and says, Oh yeah? What about this??? And you hang your head in shame. Oh yeah. I forgot about that. I guess I’m not really doing that great. 

For me it tends to be a messy house. I’ll be assessing how the day is going. Ok, lets see. We homeschooled today, that went well. I’ve cooked all the meals. Had some good quality time reading aloud to the kids. I made a lunch for my husband. I’ve eaten healthy today. Got in my workout. Had my devotions. Yep. I’m doing ok. Then here comes the voice. 

Oh yeah? Have you looked at your house?? It’s a mess! You’re behind with the laundry! Those pots have been “soaking” for a really long time. The kids can’t find anything on their school shelf, it’s such a cluttered mess. We won’t even bring up subjects like mopping and dusting! 

And my little ego deflates. Oh yeah. I actually kinda suck. 

Of course, this is a glimpse into just how performance-oriented my self-esteem is. If I am doing good things then I must be good and have worth. If I am failing in any area then I must be bad. Not really worthy at all. 

And unfortunately, there is always something or some area where I am failing. And this means that my default attitude towards myself tends to be rather negative. 

It makes me think about my spiritual walk. Jesus is all about grace. But my default position, when I think about God, is that he is all about law. If you fail these commandments, this is the list of punishments you will get. If you aren’t careful, you will be burned up in God’s wrath. 

I have heard the sermons, I’ve read the scriptures. I know, in my head, that I am forgiven. That Jesus’ goodness covers over all my badness and cancels it out. I know that the Holy Spirit is living inside of me, slowly changing my heart to be more like Jesus. I know that he sees me through eyes of love and grace. But I still wrestle. My default is still law and punishment. Condemnation. 

I’m a work in progress. I have to constantly remind myself that I am loved, forgiven, a daughter of the King. 

So, today, as my brain started beating me up about what a horrible housekeeper I am, I tried to exercise some grace. Yes. The house is rather messy right now. So what? There’s a lot of good reasons why it’s in that state. Is the world going to end if it doesn’t get cleaned today? Nope. Does a messy house mean I am a horrible person? Not really. Are you ever going to get your house clean? Sure, I’m planning on getting it done this weekend! Ok. Then you are fine. You have permission to ignore the mean voice whispering in your ear. 

Romans 3: 20-24

Therefore no one will be declared righteous in God’s sight by the works of the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of our sin. But now apart from the law the righteousness of God has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference between Jew and Gentile, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.

Life is a Battle

I am a day late in writing. I could have made time to write yesterday, but I had no idea what to say. I am trying to walk a fine line between being real and authentic, and not whining and complaining. Yesterday was all about whining and complaining. So I didn’t write. I am also trying to find the fine balance of guarding the people in my life’s privacy, but at the same time sharing the struggles of parenting, and now foster parenting, and being a wife and friend etc. Bear with me while I try to figure this out. 

 

Yesterday afternoon the school called and said they were cancelling school for the rest of the week due to high numbers of sickness. After getting that phone call, I felt like huddling in the fetal position and sucking my thumb. We have had sick kids home all last week, and yesterday was the first day that I finally had all my children healthy and back at school. We are at the stage of fostering where everyone is settled in and now we are starting to deal with some behavior issues that can’t be tolerated any longer. Even though I have been parenting ten children of my own, these are issues we have never dealt with because we’ve had our own kids from day one, and we have laid some basic foundations from the very beginning that these kids don’t have. And so we stand back and scratch our heads, wondering how we get these kids from point A to point B. I just bought a parenting book specifically for foster kids on Kindle this morning and I am contacting some local resources to see if they have some parenting classes available that would fit our particular situation. And I have a couple friends in mind that I might call today to get some advice. So, I am not in total despair, I am certain that there is someone out there who can help me get on the right track. But, I will admit, having the kids at school during the day was a much-needed mental break. 

 

Extreme stress has also done a number on my blood sugar problems. Yesterday I faced facts that I am in a battle and in order to do my part I am going to have take care of myself to a much higher degree. I can’t do this job if my blood sugar keeps crashing. So, this morning I drank my nasty nutrition-filled protein shake and I got on my elliptical. I have mentally pushed my sleeves back and said, Ok, we’re going to do this. 

 

Over the past weeks I have found my thoughts racing from one problem to the next, doing an anxious dance that never gives me rest. In order to get out of this crazy cycle, I have found myself mentally imagining the throne room of God. And in my mind I imagine myself just kneeling in his presence. And my heart rate slows down and my shoulders lower a couple inches and I feel peace settling on me. And I am reminded that yes, this life is a battle, and my strength comes from the Lord. 

 

So, that is all I have to say today. This is Life With Esther. Signing out.