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Archive for July 17th, 2013

I’ve already bent my self-imposed spending rules by buying cheese – not on the sanctioned list of 7 – but it was premeditated ($4.50 for 2 lbs., for the love of quesadillas!) and not on impulse, so I’m in keeping with the spirit of limiting consumption of stuff just because I saw it and wanted it.  My first trip to the grocery store happened to be with my daughter and husband in tow.  Two seconds into the store, my husband sees a food display that has been set up for the express purpose of derailing committed list-shoppers, like me.

Husband: “Look, they have Kettle Chips.”
Me: “Get behind me, Satan.”

The reason I even had them with me is because I realized that my pared down grocery list did not necessitate a whole afternoon committed to running errands (making space in my schedule – yay!), so I could actually squeeze it into our exciting evening of…bowling.  (If you haven’t signed up your kids for the national Kids Bowl Free Program that enables kids to bowl 2 free games every day throughout the summer, it’s not too late to sign up.)  We went bowling with our daughter because our son is at camp this week and I can only handle so much craft time and princess movies.  Besides, watching her bowl with her little “step, step, step, skip, hop, shimmy, drop” moves is more entertaining than watching TV. (It’s actually part comedy, part horror show when you realize that her crazy moves still gave her a score only 2 points lower than yours.)

Honestly, I marvel at how gloriously unselfconscious she is.  As a child, I was constantly afraid of what people were thinking of me.  (And as a teenager, I just KNEW everyone was thinking about me 24/7!)  My husband recently posted on The Social Media Site That Shall Not Be Named that he “will be so sad when the day comes that his daughter does not dance without shame in the house.”  I don’t know where she gets her ability to shake her booty without giving a thought to what someone might think of her.  I loved to dance when I was younger, but it was always in private and with plenty of shame, like a good Nazarene.  (Joking.  Sort of.)  Yet she does her thing, wearing the same hot pink, sparkly outfit 2 days in a row, exemplifying the definition of unselfconscious as “an unaffected grace.”

I tried to dance with her once.  In a moment of inspiration one December evening, I put in a CD of the Nutcracker and leaped and twirled around the family room with my little ballerina.  Until I lost my balance and fell into the Christmas tree.  (I wish I was joking.)  Even though I love to dance, I rarely cut loose with the kids because those critical, self-conscious voices in my head usually win out.  But not yesterday!  My daughter and I were listening to the Tweeny Bop music station (of which I am a closet fan – there, I said it), and I was jealously watching her get her groove on.  When she stepped outside to ride her bike, I seized the opportunity to bust out my ’90s dance team moves.  (Stop.  Hammer time.)

The song that came on the radio was the Glee song, “Loser Like Me.”  While I don’t condone the intended message of the song (which is basically: Bring it on, bullies, I’m gonna rule you someday), I found that the chorus stirred up something inside me.

Just go ahead and hate on me and run your mouth
So everyone can hear
Hit me with the worst you got and knock me down
Baby, I don’t care
Keep it up and soon enough you’ll figure out
You wanna be
You wanna be
A loser like me
A loser like me

Loser.  It’s a powerful word.  It implies weakness, failure, humiliation, rejection.  No one wants to be a loser.  So that’s just the ammunition the enemy loves to use when you dare to defy the cultural norms.  <insert TV commercial for gadget-of-the-day I don’t own, which invites whispers of “loser”>  Jesus’ radical message of the first being last and the least being the greatest is totally counter to our “all about me” culture of greed and entitlement.  And yet the siren song of the American dream is hard to ignore.  If we don’t actively take a stand and call out the enemy’s tactics for what they are – words and stuff with no power to fill the hole in our hearts that God designed to be filled by him – we’ll find ourselves being sucked in by the lure of being “normal,” and “successful.”  (The “normal” ship set sail a long time ago when it dropped us off on Gluten Free Homeschooler Island, but I confess that I still want to be seen as successful.)  Sometimes you need a good break-up song when you’re fasting from self-indulgence, to help empower you to say no to a love affair with the shallow things the world has to offer.  Sometimes you need to just own the “loser” label and say, “So what!”

I love the way Paul responded when God told him in 2 Corinthians 12:9, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”

Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships,in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

So go ahead, world, label me as a loser because I’m choosing to love my Savior more than my stuff, delighting in my weaknesses that pave the way for Christ’s power to rest on me, okay with “missing out” on all the counterfeit joys I could cram into my life that will never satisfy like the joy of the Spirit.  I’m breaking up with you.  (It’s not me, it’s you.)  Yep, I’m weak – but my God is strong.  And in the end, when Jesus comes to take me home, you’ll wanna be a loser like me.

To follow my journey over the next several weeks, check out the posts under the category “My Fast” on the right.

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When our air conditioner was broken, I started keeping the weather.com page up on my computer so I could monitor the morning temperatures to see when it was time to close up the house.  Our air conditioner decided that full-time work was cutting into its busy schedule of sitting in the dog’s yard, and downgraded itself to part-time.  It would work when it was cool outside, but around dinner time when the outside temperatures climbed above 100 (up to 108 degrees, some days), it was like, “Dude, I’m tired.  I’ll catch ya later.”  This led me to embrace my inner white trash and use binder clips to attach various swaths of fabric and tablecloths to all our west-facing windows – and we have a lot.  (Ironically, I wanted our house on this lot because of all the west-facing windows to display the beautiful Idaho sunsets.  Which are now covered with tablecloths.)  Our air conditioner strike also turned me into the window/heat police to our kids.

“Close that window shade!  Can’t you see the sun streaming in?!!”
“Eastern window shades stay closed in the morning, and south-facing window shades get closed in the afternoon!”

My poor little boy just sat in his dark room, squinting at his Legos, in fear that he would open the wrong shade and HEAVEN FORBID turn on a light.

“No lights!  Light bulbs create heat!  No computers after 10 a.m. because they turn the office into a furnace!”

In an effort to allow the kids some time on the computer, I watched the weather.com page like a hawk to see when the outside temperatures were cool enough to open the house and warm enough to begin my patrol.  We had about a 2-hour window when temperatures were below 77 degrees if I got up at 5:30 a.m. to open the house, take down my “curtains,” and set up the box fan by the back door (which sounds like a 747 is about to take off in my dining room).  Good times.

So what does this have to do with Facebook?  Nothing really, except that I wanted to vent about our slacker air conditioner, who we sent packing last Saturday and replaced with a programmable model that is probably smarter than I am.  Actually, this is the back story to explain why my Facebook fast has left a vacancy that now seems to be filled by weather.com.

You don’t realize how much a particular habit is part of your daily routine until you remove it.  Like last summer, when I moved our silverware to a different drawer, and experienced a month of “Argh!” from everyone as we instinctively opened the wrong drawer 3 times a day.  Facebook has become my early afternoon I’m-done-with-being-a-mom-and-just-want-to-escape-so-please-entertain-me-with-stupid-quotes-and-mildly-amusing-anecdotes, my mid-afternoon For-the-love-of-procrastination-won’t-somebody-please-post-something-ANYTHING break, my early evening Maybe-if-I’m-on-the-computer-my-husband-will-do-the-dishes break, and my pre-bedtime Let’s-see-if-there’s-anything-new-because-I-wouldn’t-want-to-miss-the-exciting-developments-at-11 p.m. ritual.  Take all that away and suddenly you find yourself staring at your email inbox, just waiting for something to appear.  Inbox is fickle, and not feeding your need for constant stimulus, so you remember your old friend weather.com.  With hourly weather changes, there’s always something new.  Whew!

Honestly, the first few days unplugged from the social media machine were the hardest because I was most aware of the absence of constant input.  I had no idea how many times a day I was checking Facebook until I stopped.  Interestingly, it didn’t bother me at all the week before when we were camping and totally unplugged because I was outside of my routine.  (Let me clarify that by “unplugged,” I mean we did not have internet.  We “camp” in my parents’ trailer with kitchen, electricity, TV, DVD player, iPads, laptop…)  But back in my regular routine, I realized how much of a distraction social media is.  If I don’t want to do something or think about something, I can just veg out on Facebook.  It’s an escape.

The first night of my fast, I went through major withdrawals during the excruciatingly painful hour I had to kill before bedtime when the kids were in bed, the husband was reading, and I was in no mood to read parenting magazines and feel like a big fat failure because there’s no way I’m making crafts out of recycled _________ (fill in the blank with whatever ridiculous $.50 item I’m supposed to yank out of the trash, then spend $20 on mod podge and other supplies so I can display this piece of garbage in my home).  In that excruciatingly loud silence, fears were allowed to bubble to the surface.  Fears I didn’t know were percolating while I was busy seeking input.  Tears spilled out and I confessed to God that I’m scared to death about some issues I’m facing this year.  I’d like to say there was an immediate rush of the Holy Spirit to calm my fears, but this night wasn’t about resolving issues, just confessing that they’re there and that I need to deal with them.  Sometimes you have to be broken down before you can be rebuilt, just like a grain (gluten free, of course) must be ground into flour before it can be baked into bread (or in my case, a gluten free bread-like substance – hence, the absence of bread recipes on this blog).

Honestly, I’m looking forward to the next several weeks of space created in my schedule by withdrawing from the endless cycle of input.  I need to quiet my thoughts, deal with some fears, and invite the Holy Spirit to speak.  If my focus is all on me, my life, my desires, and procrastinating through social media, I’m not going to hear God’s still, small voice.  This fast is about desiring less of me and more of God.  In order for him to increase, I must decrease – decrease in importance to myself, and decrease the noise coming into my life.  The only way I will be able to face the upcoming challenges of this year is if I intentionally focus on what God desires for my family.  (2 words: impending teenager.  Prayers appreciated.)

This was in my inbox yesterday.  (Thank you, email, for still sending me stuff.  You’re my new BFF.)

Everything is permissible – but not everything is beneficial. Everything is permissible – but not everything is constructive. Nobody should seek his own good, but the good of others.

1 Corinthians 10:23-24

Facebook is not the anti-Christ.  There is a lot of good that can come from social media (and believe me, I told God all about it when he started hinting at letting go of it).  Facebook is permissible, but right now it’s stealing my focus and is neither beneficial nor constructive.  Instead of seeking my own good, I need to be seeking the good of others.  Like my daughter, who I actually did crafts with yesterday during my usual mid-afternoon procrastination break.  She’d been begging me to help her make a no-sew fleece throw pillow, and I managed to suppress the vomit in my mouth while helping her cut and tie the bazillion knots in her pink doggie pillow.  Maybe it’s time I focused on her in the afternoon.  Maybe it’s time I talked to God about my day before bed, instead of posting highlights and watching for nods of approval.  Maybe God has some big news to share with me, and he’s been waiting for me to shut up about myself and just listen to him.

Thank you, Lord, for desiring to be in relationship with me.  And thank you for weather.com.

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