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When the mask falls off

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My oxygen mask fell off yesterday. Big time.

One of the realities that parents of small children live with is that we often don’t get enough sleep. Sometimes that lack of sleep starts to accumulate.

I was determined Sunday night to go to bed earlier in order to catch up.

Parents of small children don’t need alarm clocks. The “alarm clock” in our house is a sweet almost three year-old boy whose little feet running down the hallway wakes us up every day at 6am. He climbs into our bed, snuggles up next to mommy and always says “Ah want mulk” and “Ahm hungry”.

On Sunday, I went to bed around 10pm to try to get close to eight hours of sleep.  My mind was not racing; however, sleep still did not come until around 10:45.

At 10:48, I woke up to the sound of my daughter crying in her room.

She felt hot so we took her temperature. 101.

I gave her some medicine to bring the fever down and put her to bed next to me. She woke up close to morning time crying out. I said “Mommy’s here” and she went back to sleep.

That morning she complained of a sore throat so I prepared to take the kids to the doctor.

Our pediatrician’s office has walk-in hours every morning starting at 7:45am so we didn’t have much time to prepare. I would have to postpone my morning prayer time to get her there.

It was pouring down rain and we had left our large umbrella at ChickfilA a couple days earlier.

I pulled into the parking lot of the doctor’s office and got both kids out of one side of the car and under the small, broken umbrella, I had. They both preceded to walk the opposite direction of where I needed them to go which resulted in them not being under the umbrella and them walking in an inch of water.

They arrived inside the office all wet. The only thing I could find to dry them off was paper gowns.

After a brief and traumatic throat culture, it was confirmed that my daughter had strep throat.

I used the same paper gowns to envelope my kids so they wouldn’t get totally wet going back out to the car.

We headed to ChickfilA first to get our umbrella, and I began praying on my armor on the way.

(It must have been a funny sight for the people in the car behind us in the drive thru to see a rather large black umbrella with colorful dots on it being passed through the window to our car.  It felt a little Mary Poppins-ish at the time).

We went to our favorite grocery store where not only are the cookies free for the kids, but so are the antibiotics at the pharmacy. By the time we got home, it was 10:30 already.

After resting for a little while, I began to make them lunch and mercifully my husband arrived home early from work around noon.  I was scheduled for an ultrasound of my kidneys at 2:30pm. (Remember the kidney stone?)

My husband got a call to go back to work that afternoon. I arrived home from my ultrasound in time for him to leave. I knew he wouldn’t be back before it was time to feed the kids dinner.

I was already starting to feel the accumulation of stress and weariness in my body.

After a couple of hours, I heard from my husband. Things had been very stressful at work and he was trying to tell me what happened.

At just that moment, I found my son wandering around the house with a piece of birthday cake that had been in the fridge. We hadn’t even had dinner yet and I thought I had put the cake far enough in the back that he wouldn’t get to it.  (I have one kid who has never once gone into the fridge to get food without asking and another who never stops doing it.)

I didn’t feel the oxygen mask fall off my face nor did I hear it hit the floor. But it was off.

My son went to his room for timeout and I preceded to start melting down.

This was not an Instagram moment. This was one of those moments that I’m so glad I was not part of a reality show.

I believe that I was already close to my breaking point before the day began.

We’ve been going through a hurricane lately, I have been struggling from lack of sleep, and the day was VERY stressful.

It got ugly and my kids had a front row seat.

After calming down, I put my kids in their highchairs for dinner. I then asked them both to look me in the eye.

I told them it was not their fault mommy yelled. I told them they had done nothing wrong and that mommy just didn’t feel good.

My daughter (the almost five year-old) cried. My son just continued in what he was doing in blissful ignorance. I’m not sure if it’s his age or his temperance but he was pretty much over it already.

This episode reminds me of what happened when I ate the cake in the sense that it was a moment that I felt out of control. I realized that God didn’t expect me to keep sweets around and resist them.

Maybe He doesn’t expect me to go days without oxygen and be okay too.

Oxygen for me means rest and balance. I had gone too long without being able to recharge my batteries properly.

I am an introverted person by nature so I think that hinders me more in the stay-at-home mom department. I’m also not one of those people who does well with too little sleep.  I have been challenged in being able to exercise lately as well because of some foot issues.

Today is Tuesday and I can’t say that I woke up overnight having the perfect solution to rearrange my life and make sure that I don’t blow a gasket again.

The only thing I do know is that I feel God calling me to trust Him.

Trust Him when I can’t get enough sleep.

Trust Him when I can’t get enough exercise.

Trust Him when I can’t get enough time alone or away.

Trust Him period.

The verse for the day that He gave me was:

Matthew 11:29
Take My yoke upon you
and learn from Me,
for I am gentle and lowly in heart,
and you will find rest for your souls.

The part that He emphasized for me was learn from me.

I believe He wants me to learn how to rest. He knows how and He will teach me.

Image Courtesy: Leon Biss

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Posted by on July 22, 2014 in Parenting

 

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Wait for it…

hour_glass_loading_w1

I have been (not so patiently) waiting for two pieces of news from my employer.

Remember the Spanish test I was watching TV for…ahem…studying for?

I should have gotten that result back in no more than two days. As I headed to the airport for work the other day (almost one full week later), still no answers.

I was also awaiting word on a temporary job I had applied for at my company. These positions are always highly sought after.

The deadline for that had come and gone as well.

That song “While I’m waiting” kept going through my head as I thought of these two situations. (My husband and I recently watched the movie Fireproof again).

I headed to the airport a few days ago determined to get answers to these two questions while I was on call there.

After being on call for 2 ½ hours and talking with several people, I finally got the email informing me that I had done well on my Spanish test and would not have to re-test again for a long time. Yay!

I scored a 91% on the test. That driven perfectionist in me was slightly disappointed. The more rational side of me realized that I had done very well on the test and was grateful.

I found someone in the airport who knew someone that knew something regarding the job I had applied for. They had already selected all the candidates.

I was surprised at the peace I had upon hearing the news. I had prayed that I would not be disappointed. But I was still surprised. I trusted that God knew it was not the right thing for my family or me at this time.

The main reason I wanted it was to prove to myself that I could still operate in those gifts and skills I had before having children.

A number of things have happened since I started having kids to make me lose confidence in myself. One was how much my body changed. Childbirth has changed my body in some ways that losing all the baby weight will never change. (Expanded ribcage anyone?)

I have a strong background in technology; however, five years of splitting my time between staying home with little kids and pouring cokes, I had gotten a little rusty.

Ever since I began praying on the Armor of God, I noticed that my confidence level began rising. I didn’t realize how much of it I had lost in recent years.

I began to realize in these last few weeks that God actually wants us to be confident.

Does that sound wrong? Does it sound prideful?

I don’t think so.

Having confidence in who He made us to be, the purposes He has for us, and the gifts He gave us empowers us to operate in those gifts and be useful for His kingdom. (Click here for a great sermon on this topic.)

Confidence and humility work so much better together. We can be both and I believe God intends for us to be both.

I didn’t realize until recently that having a lack of confidence in myself has actually hindered me from moving forward in things He has called me to do.

And it’s all a lie from you-know-who.

It is so much more fun to have this confidence and walk out His plan for me than to sit back and cower behind fear and low self-esteem.

That same day at the airport the other day, I got called to do three flights. We were delayed going into our layover city and didn’t land there until about 12:30am.

Our crew waited out on the curb a good twenty minutes for our van to arrive. We were so tired we couldn’t even talk to each other.

When our van finally showed up, the van driver got out and was immediately apologetic for his tardiness. He explained to us that some road construction had delayed him.

He apologized multiple times for being late.

I climbed into the van with the rest of my crew. I could hear the sound of black gospel music coming from the radio. It was playing one of my favorite songs.

I chatted with him a little bit about the music and wondered to myself if he thought it was strange that a white girl knew who Marvin Sapp was.

During the ride to the hotel, as my right arm slowly froze under the very pointed a/c vent that couldn’t be closed, I began to get an impression about this boy’s life. I felt God wanted me to share something with him.

I don’t often do this kind of thing around crews and I doubted whether I would do it. It’s sometimes a vulnerable place to be, to share something about the Lord with someone in public.

I felt compelled to say yes in that moment.

After we arrived at the hotel, I waited for all the other crewmembers to tip the driver before I said something to him. One of the pilots was hanging back I think out of politeness so I wouldn’t be the last person to walk into the hotel at 1:30am.

This was the moment. I had to do it.

I simple looked at the guy and said, “I believe the Lord wants me to tell you that He is pleased with you and your humility and you won’t be driving this van for the rest of your life.” He simply smiled and said thank you.

The vision I had of him while riding in the van that night was that he would be giving his testimony someday. He would be talking about the place that he had come from and how God had brought him through.

In moments like these, it helps to have a quick getaway. I turned around and headed into the lobby with my bags.

Whew, that is over. I obeyed. Now I can relax and get my room key. I won’t be seeing that guy again.

As the other crewmembers and I waited at the desk, the same driver came over to us. He was responsible for checking us in as well!

Oh well, I thought to myself. I don’t have to be embarrassed.

I woke up on my own at 8:20 the next morning (read: 20 minutes after my alarm should have gone off).

I prayed for God to multiply my time since I had to catch a shuttle ride to the airport at 9am.

I had asked for a wakeup call at 8:30 just in case. Since I knew I would be getting in the shower when the wakeup call came, as a courtesy I called to the front desk and asked them to remove my wakeup call. After a brief delay, the woman said it was taken care of.

As I started my shower, the first call came. Ring. Ring. Ring.

Then the second call. Ring. Ring. Ring.

Then a third call. Ring. Ring. Ring.

There were no more calls and I prepared to go to the airport.

Oversleeping meant I had to use my time to get ready and didn’t have time to pray on the armor.

I took my prayer sheet with me. After settling into my seat by the window on the airplane, I got out my sheet and asked for grace to pray even with all the people and distractions around me. The man next to me was having a long phone conversation.

I managed to pray through all the pieces of armor before we took off, and then did some Bible reading.

(I also managed to read a little of my “Blogging for dummies” book).

After landing back home, I went to check my work email on my phone. I couldn’t believe what I was reading. Congratulations! You have been selected…

That position that I had been praying for. The one they said had been filled. They had picked me!

I was so overwhelmed that I just had to share the news with my neighbor. He celebrated with me. (Have you ever been so excited you couldn’t contain yourself and just had to share the news with strangers?)

I called my husband first, then my parents later. (I still haven’t posted it on facebook yet).

The days that I was sitting at home, waiting to hear about my language test and this job were hard. I had prayed for patience while I was waiting; however, I was still impatient.

It wasn’t until after I got about doing His business that I got the news.

Matthew 6:31
But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness,
and all these things shall be added to you.

Whatever it is that we’re waiting for now. If we will actively seek out doing His business and His will, those things that we need will be added to us.

 

 
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Posted by on July 18, 2014 in Christian Living

 

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Dinner, a movie, and a kidney stone

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Rio 2 – 20th Century Fox

 

The kids and I have been working our way through our summer bucket list.  I was determined that this summer 2014 would be a fun one. And because I believe in saying things aloud and blessing verbally, I began blessing our summer long before it got here.

In case you haven’t read about it hear yet, I was ill for the latter half of last year and unable to do much of anything with the kids last summer.

One thing on our bucket list was to see the movie Rio 2. I waited for it to come to the dollar theater (which is now actually the $1.75 theater) and scheduled us to see it on a Tuesday (the day of the week when it is truly just a dollar).

Going to the movie theater with my kids was a big deal. Neither of them have ever been (they will be turning three and five soon). My five-year-old daughter has sensory processing disorder and had some learning delays so she took longer than most kids to enjoy a full-length movie.

We have the DVD for the original Rio movie at our house and the kids love to watch it repeatedly.

I had everything planned to a T. We were going to go to the 2:30pm show. I fed the kids lunch at 11am and put them down for their nap early. This part of the plan came off without a hitch. My son awoke from his nap at 1:30.

We got ready to go and left the house 40 minutes before show time.

Then we hit a snag.

Construction on the local main road caused a traffic standstill. I made a U-turn, and then followed the route less travelled given to me by my phone’s GPS to get to the theater. I made good time despite the setback and we arrived ten minutes before the movie started.

We had to park far from the movie theater (not a good sign). I shuffled the kids out of the car and had to arrange everything I was carrying (purse, diaper bag, and golf umbrella because of the forecast) to be able to hold two little hands in that busy parking lot.

I saw lots of other families with kids headed towards the entrance.

We finally made it through the doors when I could hear the concessionaires shouting “Rio 2-sold out!”

I felt tears well up in my eyes. I had worked so hard to get to this point. It wasn’t just about getting a diaper bag ready and making sure my son had a nap before we left the house.

It was about overcoming a physical incapacitation that had left me unable to do things like this with them last summer.  It was about taking my kids to experience something they have never been able to experience before.

I could have burst into tears right then. The kids were very anxious and ready to watch the movie.

How would I explain to them the concept of “sold out”?

I herded the two of them over to the concession stand line, resolved to buy tickets for the next showing.

I would find something for them to do to kill time until we had to come back. The kids were hungry and I had not packed a snack (having counted on popcorn).

I used my GPS to find the closest Chick-fil-A and headed there. I explained to the kids in the car in the simplest terms possible that too many people wanted to see the movie at the same time as us so we would have to come back later.

As I drove into the parking lot of the restaurant, I was a little disappointed to see an outdoor playground there. It is the middle of July. In Georgia.

Oh well. We’ll just make the best of it.

My almost five year-old daughter’s main sensory issue is auditory. Loud noises bother her a lot. She began having meltdowns in Chick-fil-A bathrooms as a young baby due to the loudness of the toilet flushing.

To add to the fun today, my body decided to start passing a kidney stone. They run in my family and I found out last year through imaging tests that I have them. However, I didn’t start passing them until this year.

I now know how to recognize the signs that I am passing one and could feel the great discomfort in my bladder all day today. If this event had not been so well planned out, I would have cancelled.

Passing a kidney stone for me means frequent trips to the loo, so there we were.

My daughter kept her hands over her ears the whole time we were in the ladies’ room. I assured her that this toilet didn’t flush by itself so she could relax a little and I would tell her when I was going to flush.

After eating some chicken and fries and playing for a while on the outdoor playground, we headed back to the movie theater almost a full hour before show time. I didn’t want to go through the same stress of crowds and long lines that we had experienced at 2:30pm.

I had already bought the tickets for the 5 o’clock show so all we needed was to buy some popcorn and candy. We stood in line again. My kids were quite hyper and antsy. They were also getting on each other’s nerves.

We headed towards our theater about twenty minutes before show time.

My daughter already knew I had headphones for her. She needed them as soon as we walked in. Even the advertisements were bothering her ears.

I put the headphones on her, however she still complained. “It’s too loud! It’s too loud!”

Meanwhile her and my son are both clamoring for some of the popcorn and chocolate I just bought them. I alternate divvying out handfuls of Nestle buncha crunch and poured popcorn into two plastic containers I had brought with us.

It didn’t take long for one of those containers of popcorn to be poured out onto the floor (by my almost three year-old).

I chose a row of seats in the middle and all the way to the back. One brave person came and sat next to us. I warned her that she might hear my daughter complaining about the noise a few times.

There was another mom seated in front of us who had a few older kids with her.

An older couple came and sat in the row in front of us as well. It was only the previews; however, after hearing a few comments from my son, they decided to find other seats. J

My daughter was having a very difficult time with the noise (or the anticipation of it), so she came and sat on my lap. There she stayed for the rest of the movie, leaning back against me, hands covering the headphones that were covering her ears.

My son alternated between standing up and sitting on my other leg.

During a quiet time in the movie, my son all of a sudden yelled out “I wanna watch Jake!” referring to their favorite pirate show. A few people in the audience laughed. He was my little commentator during the whole movie.

My little boy had a major speech delay (similar to his older sister), and has had a language explosion recently. I have noticed that as we drive in the car somewhere, he loves to point out whatever things he knows the word to. “Truck!” “School bus!” “Railroad track!”

I knew it would be next to impossible to muzzle him during the whole movie so I tried to be affirming and occasionally said to him “Let’s whisper”.

When I looked at my watch and saw there was still 30 minutes left in the movie, I was ready to go home. I asked my son if he wanted to go home (I knew what my daughter’s answer would be). He said he wanted to stay and watch the movie. I said OK.

He then proceeded to repeat his desire multiple times and rather loudly for all to hear.

We made it all the way through the movie. Daughter on my left leg, son on my right, and a sea of popcorn crunched under my shoes on the floor.

I’m glad we got to have this experience. I’m glad we got to cross one more thing off our summer bucket list.

I think we’ll watch the next movie from the comfort of our home.

 
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Posted by on July 15, 2014 in Parenting

 

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I had my cake and ate it two…

Coconut Cake_Edit

Yep, that’s it.  That’s the one.  It is the one of which I was going to have “one small slice”.

The good news is that the box didn’t go into the trash completely empty.  The bad news is that it was almost full when I got started on it.

If you read my recent post about the brownies, you know that I concluded that temptation is not a battle to stay and fight.  It is a place to run from.

So how did this happen?

It all started with an invitation to a pool party to watch the World Cup Final. The host and other guests would be providing meat to grill and sides. I was asked to bring dessert.

I procured said dessert at Publix that morning. The crowd would be mostly Brazilian. The occasion would be outdoors in the July heat. What could be better than an icebox coconut cake?

I wasn’t the only one with that idea. A Brazilian partygoer had brought a homemade coconut cake made with sweetened condensed milk. (Oh yes, Brazilians know how to make seriously good cakes.)

We decided not to even open mine, and when it was time to leave, my gracious host gave the box back to me, untouched.

I had a small slice that night we got home from the pool party. It was good, but the Brazilian cake was better, and this one was too sweet.

I thought to myself at the time that I would have no problem resisting the temptation of this cake, as it was too sweet for me.

So I kept it in the fridge.

The next night (tonight), after dinner and around the time the kids were going to bed, I decided to have a “forkful” of cake. I then decided to have a small slice. I then had another small slice. And another.

Pretty soon, I gave up all pretense and just put my fork directly in the cake. Suddenly, it wasn’t too sweet for me anymore. Suddenly, I couldn’t get enough.

I finally put the fork down and asked my husband if he would be eating any of the cake. Fortunately, he said no.

Into the garbage went the box.

There were a couple of ways I could have responded to this incident. I could have interpreted it as my complete failure to control myself and thus evidence that I cannot and never will be able to be at peace with food.

However, I knew that road would take me to a dangerous, defeated place.

My recent revelation on temptation reminded me that I had been placed in a battle that I could not have won. God didn’t expect me to be there in the first place.

I recognized that at the time I dove fork-first into that cake, I had been experiencing anxiety on numerous levels. I had lots of things on my mind.

I withdrew to a quiet place to hand it all over to the Lord.

I asked for His forgiveness and received it.

I am thankful that He has forgiven me and that this moment of failure was just that: a moment. It is not something that has to define me or become my identity.

Thank you Jesus.

 
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Posted by on July 14, 2014 in Christian Living, Temptation

 

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What are you hungry for?

forain buffet kunstkopie

Forain: The Buffet

How many times a day do I find myself asking my kids this very question?  Their little bodies sometimes crave one thing while their minds seek out something else.  Their body whispers “green beans” while their mind shouts “chocolate chip cookies”!

One of my prayers every morning before I start my day is that God will help me seek Him out in every “anxious moment” and in every “hungry heart moment” (so that He will have those instead of the chocolate chip cookies having me).

You’ve heard there is a void in our souls that can only be filled by God.  You also hear repeatedly that only God can fill that hunger in your heart.

However, until this weekend, I never stopped to ask myself what my heart was actually hungering for.

We sometimes agonize over snack time or mealtime about exactly what will satisfy that craving.  Do I feel like a good salad with olive oil and vinegar dressing? Or do I feel like I grilled burger with all the fixins?

We spend lots of time and energy thinking about what we want to eat, where to get it, or how to prepare it.

As I began this journey of laying down sugar and excess food, I made it my goal to let God fill me when I was hungry of heart.

I never thought to get specific about what I was hungry for.

The weekends are especially challenging for me.  It is a time where I am not only taking care of kids (in partnership with my husband), but also trying to get caught up on housework.

I am very eager to do right by my kids.  Ok, let’s get real. What I really want is not to screw my kids up. Can I get an amen from parents out there?

As I was pondering this desire to treat my kids the right way this weekend, I realized that my heart was indeed very hungry.  I felt my soul weaken.  I needed God to come fill my hungry soul.

A verse then came to my mind:
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
For they shall be filled.  Matt: 5-6 NKJV

I was able to connect the dots at that moment.

I have been hungering for righteousness my whole life.  Even as a Christian.

I realized that one of the reasons that I have been running around empty trying to fill the void has been my desire for righteousness.

Jesus could have stopped at the word “hunger”.  We know what hunger represents.  We could skip a meal if we had to.  We could go a few days without food if we had to.

He goes beyond hunger and adds the word “thirst”.  To be thirsty is a deeper level of desperation.

I want to be clear that when I say that I want to be righteous, it doesn’t mean that I want to be “holier than thou”, and “self-righteous” in the negative connotation that is often associated with those terms.

For me to want to be righteous means that I want to do right! I want to do right by my God.  I want to do right by my spouse.  I want to do right by my kids.

Why?

Because what I do has an impact on everyone around me.  If I choose to give in to selfish desires and wants (which is the essence of sin), then I will end up hurting someone around me.

I have felt especially weary this weekend.  I felt weary of this very intense, non-stop journey called parenting of young children.

I get tempted to complain sometimes. Lord, I’m tired of being woken up at 6am every day.  I’m tired of cleaning dried Spaghettios off the dishes.  I’m tired of washing bibs off all the time.  I’m tired of endless conversations beginning with the phrase “Why?”

However, in my desire to do right by my kids, another verse came to my mind this weekend:
And let us not grow weary while doing good,
for in due season we shall reap
if we do not lose heart. Galatians 6:9 NKJV

This verse came to my mind, and when I went to look it up, I couldn’t help but notice the verse before it:
 For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption,
but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life. Gal. 6:8

This verse reminded me again of the consequences of choosing to do what I want.  It reminded me again of how much I must be filled with righteousness in order to do right.

In order to get that righteousness, we must first hunger and thirst for it.  We must be desperate for it.

The word of God shows us that when we hunger and thirst for righteousness and persevere with doing the right things which He has enabled us to do, we will:
Reap in due season
and
Reap everlasting life.

Photo: The Buffet-Jean Forain Buffet PD-1923 Courtesy Wikimedia

 
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Posted by on July 13, 2014 in Christian Living

 

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This is your brain on TV

TV_highquality

Confession: I am a former junkie of Mexican telenovelas. I started watching these syrupy melodramatic soap operas in college when I was learning Spanish for the first time.

My best friend (a Brazilian) and I would watch them at her apartment in the evenings after class.

Mexican soap operas are very different from American ones. They last about 6-9 months. Every evening on TV there will be a 7pm, 8pm, and 9pm telenovela. The same actors will pop up on different series over the years.

I gave up watching those years ago.

When I began my journey with laying down sugar and excess eating a few months ago, I found that my TV habits changed as well. I used to be in the habit of watching movies or multiple episodes of TV shows if I had a day off without the kids.

I found it difficult to stay glued to the TV for long periods as I changed my eating habits. I felt the conviction that if I was not going to use sugar to deal with my anxieties or woes, I could not use TV either. I had made a decision to cast all my cares and anxieties on Him. How could I lay down sugar but continue the binge watching?

I have a very important Spanish test this week to maintain my qualifications as a Spanish speaker for my job. I decided that while my husband was at class last night I would find something to watch on TV in Spanish to give my ears some practice

I was able to find some old episodes of my very favorite telenovela from the 1990s. Someone had spliced together scenes that only included the romantic heroes of the story, leaving the other boring parts out.

I felt an excited anticipation to watching these episodes. The story was romantic and it would only be about the building of their relationship.

I watched scene after scene of them meeting in secret (because of course their love was forbidden) by a waterfall to talk and share an occasional stolen kiss.

After watching one hour of these scenes, I realized something. I still wasn’t satisfied. I wanted to keep watching more to get more romance.

I realized in that moment that watching these soap operas for me was like a drug. It was addictive, yet never satisfying. The great deception about drugs is that you want more and more while gaining less and less from it.

The same thing would happen to me if I would go on a sugar binge in the past. No matter how much sugar I ate, I still wanted more, however I wasn’t satisfied.

With DVD’s and on demand streaming now available, people are able to pick a show they like and watch an entire season in one setting. I have done this a few times. (Well, maybe not a whole season, but a few episodes).

I recently read an article in Psychology Today about TV watching. It turns out that excessive TV watching will actually make you less happy than engaging in social interaction or reading.

In my own life, I have noticed that spending hours watching TV seems to make me grumpier, less social, less alert, and less thankful. I notice the same pattern in my kids.

We seem to have become a very passive society where it’s easier to just “chill out” and “veg” rather than to engage socially. However, all this chilling out seems to be leaving us more tired and less happy.

Of course the internet has become a substitute for TV for many people (I am guilty of this many times).

Although I was tempted to go on watching scene after romantic scene last night, I found the strength to turn it off after an hour and focused on engaging in conversation with my husband who had arrived home.

Honestly, it feels good to be free of the old addiction I had to those soap operas.

I am finding every day that I have to be intentional about choosing life and choosing to engage with God, my family, and other people. If I don’t, I won’t bear much fruit in this short time I have here on earth.

Click here to check out a fascinating sermon series on the affects of television watching on the brain (based on scientific studies).

Image: Courtesy Aaron Escobar Flckr

 
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Posted by on July 8, 2014 in Christian Living

 

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Hurricane Martha and Me

Hurrican Flickr

Today was one of those days that if I wasn’t looking for a muzzle to put on my mouth to prevent me from saying (or yelling) something stupid, I was looking for my foot to put it in afterwards.

Everything my kids were doing or saying seemed to get on my nerves.

Today was one of those days where my best just wasn’t good enough, and where my to-do list seemed to have a hole in it.

Today was one of those days that I spent hours doing backbreaking cleaning work in the house, yet it looked like I did nothing at all.

Today was one of those days that I felt as in one of those dreams where you try to run and it’s like running underwater.  I seemed not to have any grace to look at a messy house and be okay with it.

I know that while my kids are little, I sometimes have to choose between having happy kids or a clean house.

My husband graciously spent much of the day caring for the kids while I meticulously cleaned the baseboards around the house of dust that has accumulated during our two years tenure here.

I worked hard all day on it, taking short breaks in between rooms. When it was time to do the last (and dirtiest) room, I had to give up and give in. I was too tired to go on.

I am that person who has a hard time starting a project and leaving it unfinished. I have a hard time letting go when it’s time to let go.

You could say that of Mary and Martha, I am Martha. A friend recently related on her blog that what God showed her about Martha was that what she was doing was not wrong, but rather when she was doing it.

My kids were playing in the living room all day with some fun toys that their cousins gave them the day before at our family’s 4th of July gathering. I really did not want to stop my massive cleaning project to play ball with them.

Playing with little kids all day does not come naturally to me. I enjoy it in small spurts. My mind was preoccupied with cleaning; however, I did stop what I was doing a few times to spend that time with them.

It wasn’t the same thing as spending time at Jesus’ feet; however, it was time to be His hands and His feet.

After throwing in the cleaning towel, I stopped to rest and watch the World Cup game with my husband while the kids played. As the game went into extra time, it was time to get ready to go to church.

Our pastor spoke on adversity tonight. He spoke about what happens when there is a major hurricane in our lives. He said we have two choices. We can lengthen that hurricane by drowning ourselves in self-pity, or we can shorten it by asking the Lord to use that hurricane to draw us closer to Him.

We have been going through a Category 5 lately and I have felt myself really struggling to have faith during this time.

I was meditating on Hebrews 11:1 last night:
Now faith is the substance of things hoped for,
the evidence of things not seen.
(NKJV)

I have read or heard this verse hundreds of times during my Christian walk. However, last night the “things not seen” part of the verse particularly struck me.

I had always interpreted this verse to mean we need to have hope that the future will bring us better things.  However, things not seen does not talk about the future. It talks about what presently exists but we are blind to.

What that meant for me is that faith is evidence of truths we are not presently able to see.

The enemy works primarily in our minds, trying to lie to us about our life. I need faith to have my eyes opened to all of God’s truth about my life.

My prayer tonight is that God would open my eyes to see the beautiful truths that I have been unable to see in my present situation.

I pray the same prayer for you tonight, friend.

July 6, 2014 Update:

I found the following scripture verse this morning that expounds on the verse on faith a bit:

1 Corinthians 4:17: Since we consider and look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen; for the things that are visible are temporal (brief and fleeting), but the things that are invisible are deathless and everlasting. (NKJV)

Therefore that which is unseen is deathless and everlasting. This verse makes me hunger even more for my eyes to be opened to that which is unseen!

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Image: Hurricane Jeanne; Courtesy Kakela Flckr

 
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Posted by on July 5, 2014 in Parenting

 

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