Archive | February 2012

Lent Week 1

After the first 7 days without TV, I don’t have any earth shaking revelations, but I have had some realizations that I thought I would share.

First, let me say that in the first week, I went cold turkey. I decided that I wanted a full TV cleanse and therefore did not watch the allotted one movie, nor did I watch TV on the treadmill. I exercised outside 3 times and on the treadmill twice. On the treadmill, I found some podcasts to listen to instead of turning on the TV. The podcasts kept my attention as well as the TV and for the outside exercise, as usual, I had no noise. I found that my best thinking of the week came during those times. My thoughts on moderation, patience, etc…all happened when I was running without distractions (well unless you count my misery on that first run as a distraction). Since reducing distractions is the whole point of this, I have now changed my “rules” and will not be watching TV when I exercise. I’m pretty sure I will survive. In fact, this added restriction is in line with something that my pastor said in her teaching on Sunday….if I’m bored, I’ll just be bored. It is ok to just feel what I am feeling, notice what is missing and see what happens with that space that the TV would have filled. Thanks Becky.

I also did some more thinking about moderation. Putting my thoughts into my blog at the beginning of the week had an interesting effect. I no longer feel the urge to push myself on my runs. I have realized that 4 miles is a VERY respectable distance and when I set out to ONLY run 4 miles, I feel so much better for the whole time. The pressure is gone. I know I can run 4 miles, and when I do, I won’t be exhausted when I am finished and will feel good enough to run the next day. When I run 5 miles, I am always much more fatigued that evening and almost never run the next day. So the only thing I get from that extra mile is a day off…which really isn’t the point. I know I can run 5 miles (which was my original goal) and on really good days, may do it again from time to time. But since my goal has never been to increase my distance to run in a 10k or half marathon, 4 miles is just ENOUGH. I’m sure this seems eye rolling obvious to all of you, but to me, it was a bit of a breakthrough. I had to have a couple of quiet, no distractions runs to work that out. This also makes the no TV on the treadmill thing feel less intimidating. After all, how bored could I get in 40 minutes?

Many of you have asked how I’m doing without TV. It has actually been very interesting for me. I can honestly say that there has only been about one 30-60 minute time window when I missed it. It just hasn’t been that hard AT ALL…even last night, when I knew that the season finale of Parenthood was airing, I didn’t even have a twinge. The one time I missed it was just when I was between activities and it was very quiet. As soon as I started doing something else, I was fine again. This has forced me to start asking myself what permanent changes I may have to make in this area after the moratorium is lifted. In the meantime, I have been enjoying reading and Pandora Radio and quiet.

However, this TV fast has obviously become an issue for my sub-conscious. Last night, I dreamt that I forgot about the commitment and watched a bunch of TV. When I realized that I had done this, I felt pretty bad. I was glad to wake up and realize it was a dream. I think this falls into the same category as the dreams I have of being a waitress and forgetting to go to work, or forgetting to bring someone’s food to them, or forgetting a flag corps routine just before a performance or forgetting to put on clothes before being in public. Yes, I have ALL of those dreams on a fairly regular basis. I’m not sure it means, but it is always a relief to wake up!

As for what I have been doing to fill my time, well I have to admit that Facebook has taken up more time than is probably good. I’m going to pay more attention to that this week. But I also read three books and finished another one. I am tackling some weighty subjects in my reading but am reading something fun between every book that weighs me down. So far, it has been a good balance. This week, I think I am going to start to organize my thoughts on the weighty thing. I’m not sure whether I will be sharing that here, but you never know. I will tell you that the book, “Julie and Julie” by Julie Powell is better than the movie of the same name. It is funny and irreverent and flat out obscene at times. (After all, what is sexier than French food made by a Texan who swears like a sailor??) This book has confirmed my love of a new (to me) genre of books…memoirs. I have a bunch more lined up on my bookshelf just waiting for me to get to them.

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My Favorite Mistakes

Over the last 10 years, I have spent a lot of time and energy focused on my mistakes, the sins of my past. I have also spent a lot of time and energy trying to free myself from those mistakes. I have wrestled with God over control of forgiveness in my life….His, and mine. I have accepted forgiveness and then thown it back in a fit of self-loathing. I have given that burden to God and then yanked it back when the peace that I found in my unburdening became too much for my guilty heart to take.

I have thanked God for the grace that is so evident in my life, for the daily proof that He has forgiven me and doesn’t define our relationship by my past. I have felt the guilt that comes when unforgiveness of myself is sharing space with abundant grace and I don’t know what to do with that tension.

Over and over, I have struggled with what my heart knows and what my heart will allow.

I was inspired yesteday, by a video of an amazing young woman, Sarah Kay, who uses spoken word poetry to make sense of her world. When she is trying to help young people to find a start to their own stories, she asks them to make a list. The first list is always “10 things I know to be true”.

Inspired by that and this morning’s message about Lent, I decided that the list was a good way to get my jumbled thoughts started into something cohesive that I could hold on to, and maybe the words in my list will create a space that God can move into. This list represents that intersection between what my heart knows and what my heart will allow. It is what I know about my favorite mistakes.

10 things I know to be true about mistakes:

1. We all make them. From before our faltering first steps to our last ragged breaths, our lives will be filled with mistakes.

2. We give mistakes more power than they deserve. A mistake is just a mistake, no more, no less.

3. A mistake doesn’t define us, but it can define a moment in time. What we do from that moment on has nothing to do with the mistake, and everything to do with us.

4. God cares deeply about our mistakes, because He cares deeply about us. But when His heart aches for us, at the same time, His tears and His blood are washing our mistakes away. Any scorekeeping that happens is done by us, not by Him.

5. When we refuse to forgive our own mistakes, or the mistakes of others, we are living in the past. When we live in the past, we are missing the present and robbing ourselves of the promises of the future.

6. Sometimes our biggest mistakes, the things we did wrong, are exactly what causes us to be in the right place today. A small wrong can lead to big rights.

7. A mistake can cause us to lose our way, but if we keep our hearts tuned in, we can always find our way back. God’s GPS always has a “take me home” button, and when we get there, He will have the lights on and He will be waiting up.

8. A simple apology (to someone else, to ourselves, to God) is the best first step after any mistake. We should never ever underestimate the power, the beauty or the grace that can be found in “I’m sorry”.

9. When the weight of a mistake is weighing us down, there is sweet relief is giving that burden to God. Sometimes we will take the burden back, but it won’t be because God handed it back to us. It will be because we took it. Sometimes it takes lots of tries to give it up completely. We should keep trying.

10. When we are at the precipice of a mistake, just before we take the leap, we should pause, listen then act. If we make a mistake anyway, we should pause, listen, then move on. The next opportunity to do the right thing will come quickly. If we focus on the mistake, we might miss the opportunity.

11. We can’t protect someone from making their own mistakes. Even if we know better. Even if they are about to do something stupid. Our mistakes are ours and they are valuable. Mistakes are how we learn, and when we try to prevent others from making mistakes, we are also denying them the opportunity to learn from their choices, and yes, their mistakes. Just because someone else may find themselves in the same circumstances that we were once in, doesn’t mean that their outcome will be the same as ours and even if it is, their experience will affect them differently than ours did. Mistakes are important for everyone to make because when we are making mistakes, it means that we are living.

I do know how to count to 10, but number 11 seemed important. As a parent, I put a lot of energy into trying to steer my kids away from mistakes. I don’t want them to feel the pain of the mistakes that I have made. But when I am really honest, I realize that my job isn’t to prevent their mistakes. My job is to equip them for their mistakes. It is to give them a place to return to when their mistakes have left their hearts tattered and their confidence bruised. My job is to demonstrate grace to them, and to give them the same forgiveness that I have revceived from my heavenly Father. It is to provide them with a no strings attached kind of love that they can count on ESPECIALLY when they make mistakes. Because depsite my best efforts, they will make mistakes and they will learn from how I react, not just to my own mistakes, but by the way I react to theirs. I can model apology when I am wrong because I will  mess up my job as their mom sometimes. And if I am really successful and I work really hard, maybe I can even show them how to forgive themselves by giving myself the gift of grace.

If you would like to hear more from the amazing Sarah Kay, I have linked the video below.
http://www.ted.com/talks/sarah_kay_if_i_should_have_a_daughter.html

Lent Day 1

I won’t be doing this every day, but I have had some interesting revelations (may be too strong a word) today.

The first revelation is that TV is as much a habit as anything.  I have the TV on when I cook and tonight, the silence was weird.  When I sat down to eat (on a TV tray sitting on the couch), that was also weird, especially since nobody else was home at the time.  So what does one do when they are eating alone…on the couch…in front of the TV?  Reading a book was a little sloppy, but it was the distraction I needed.

The second (and probably more important revelation) was that it has already become clear to me that God is going to do some work on me during these 40 days.  I have a problem with moderation.  A big problem.  This applies to many areas of my life….TV, food and drink consumption, exercise.  I am just an all or nothing girl.  And sometimes when the pendulum swings too far in a particular direction, I use abstinence as a correcting tool.  In other words, I go from one extreme to the other.  My extremes are relative…I don’t go from drunken binges to detox, but I do tend to be more on the edges of what is comfortably healthy at times.  (That was hard to write, but is truth.)  Exercise has been an area that moderation has been a real struggle.  Once I set an exercise goal, I have trouble not turning the goal into my everyday expectation.  For example,  a recent goal was that I wanted to be able to run 5 miles.  I had previously only done this on 2 occasions ever. TWO!  So getting to the point that I could do it at all would be a major accomplishment.   The goal in my head is that I would be able to run that far on occasion and not die.  The reality is that as I increase my distance in pursuit of that goal, my goal becomes the new benchmark. I hit the goal two weeks in a row and then the goal somehow became the new benchmark.  And by the way….5 miles is a once a week deal.   I can’t do it two days in a row, and often have to take a day off after I do it.  It is NOT a good goal for everyday running.  I know this.  Yet, I still feel bad when I “only” run 4 miles.  Mark has tried to use logic to explain why my reasoning isn’t healthy.  Um…no kidding Captain Obvious, I have a problem!!  J

So back to today.  For those of you who are keeping track, my commitment for Lent was no TV with a couple of very specific exceptions.  The exceptions were specifically to address this issue with moderation.  I said that I would be allowed to watch TV when I am on the treadmill.  I need the distraction or the exercise becomes too much of a chore.  I don’t want to have the no TV thing become an impediment to regular exercise, so I gave myself this permission.  HOWEVER, today, I decided that I really didn’t want to start day 1 with even a little TV.  Cold turkey baby!!  So instead, I went for a run outside….in the rain…two days after a 5 mile outside run.  My bones are 41 years old next week and they tend to let me know that outside runs are great, but make me more fatigued than inside runs.  So I kinda knew the outside run thing could maybe not go well today.  I made up my mind that I would only go 4 miles and I would not feel bad about it.  At about mile 1, I tried to give myself permission to only go 3 miles because I was feeling kinda crappy.  No dice.  I went the full 4.  For the last mile, I was DYING.  My legs felt like they were encased in cement, I was gasping for air and generally miserable.  All the while, I am reflecting on this little problem I have with moderation and thinking, “So you think you’re trying to show me something God? Huh????  Well, I’ll show YOU!”  Ask me how that worked out for me.  But I know you already know the answer.

Tomorrow, if I can get myself up and down the stairs, I will WALK on the treadmill with the TV on.  Moderately.