Sunday, January 31, 2010

Part II

After Christmas I posted a blog entry entitled, "Overwhelmed." I talked about feeling like I was drowning in work I couldn't get to, about the need to bring this difficulty to God on a minute by minute basis. What I didn't tell you in that post was how it all related so perfectly to the "constructive criticism" I had for my friends during the past weeks. 

One day in the midst of the Christmas crush, in lofty tones, I told my sister all about the error of my friends' ways, even though I knew I was throwing stones at her glass house. She loves me still, which is a testament to her Godliness because I was pretty frank with her. I cannot recant my words, however. I know God is making me eat them somewhat, but everything I said, all my frustrations and grievances, are still just too true.

That feeling of drowning in work I couldn't get to has been an on-going saga all through the month of January. It is a multi-faceted issue, also relating to my homeschooling efforts with very social daughter #4. (Actually, she's child #4 who happens to be a daughter. Technically, she'd be daughter #2…but I'm going to go with daughter #4 here.) It also relates to T's decision that our kitchen is a much more comfortable office in the morning than his real office, which happens to be a 50 minute drive from home. And it has to do with my own introverted personality, which requires (apparently) a bare minimum of 5 minutes a day of quiet somewhere between 6:30 a.m. and 11:00 p.m. (I'm a very high-maintenance gal, I know.)

By the way, when I told you all about our new mattress did I mention that it came with a new TV? We haven't had a TV in our bedroom since the early days of marriage. Never missed it, but neither did it ever occur to me that it would actually be a problem to have one either. So when this monstrosity was thrust upon us, I viewed it benignly. Disinterested, really. 

T, however, was very interested. Up it went onto the wall, snip, snap – with great alacrity and attention to the minutest detail: the best height for viewing with minimal neck strain, aesthetic considerations accounted for, centered perfectly, cords (somewhat) hidden.

Well, getting back to the point, even with one kid off to college, my life is in the throes of blessing with three busy children still at home, one homeschooled, and a husband whose business life is very much intermixed with his/our social life. It is a glorious, albeit ping-pong ball-like, existence. The rush begins with opening my eyes, throwing on my workout clothes, dashing downstairs to make coffee and throw lunches together, just in time to scramble into the car and take the kids to school at 7. Off to the gym to work out until 8:30. Back home to find T getting his day rolling at the kitchen table (my office, by the way). Shower, D#4 is up and hopefully beginning her schoolwork. The hours from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. are spent juggling her schoolwork, my housework, and T's little needs for food/conversation/questions/reminders of things I need get done (thank you, dear), all while jumping every time he's on the phone to make sure she isn't practicing piano, trying to shush him or urge him into another room if she's trying to concentrate on her work (imagine that…). By 1:00 most afternoons, we're off somewhere – ballet, her Bright Lights group, piano lesson. Except on Friday, when we're off by 9 a.m. to a full day of home school classes. Then back home to finish schoolwork, homework for S#3, dinner, hockey practices/games, coordinating work schedule for D#2, choir concerts, etc. Drop into bed and start all over the next day.

Do I sound like I'm complaining? Really I'm not (except the parts about T working in my kitchen – okay, there I'm complaining). It is great. Life is full and busy and who would want it any other way?
What I didn't realize, however, was how much of my ability to cope with all this fullness was predicated on that 5 minutes of solitude and quiet I have just before I drop off to sleep. Well, that and having some time during the day to focus on my work without interruption or distraction, which is where my griping about T and his new office habits comes into the conversation. D#4 and her schoolwork is a distraction from my housework, but somehow that's different…she is my work. This is the way my thoughts went.

Which brings me to a tangential, but relevant, issue. Biblically, he is my first priority, not the kids. I am his helpmate. Where does it get into my head that D#4 and the others can have a piece of my day – a huge chunk of my very life – but if T asks for any, he is an encumbrance from my real work? So I've been concentrating on getting that sorted out in my head. I really like T, and I'm so glad he seems to like me. He talks to me, which is more than a lot of women can say. And apparently he likes being around me. How lucky am I? He is very much a part of what God has put on my plate – loving him and meeting his needs for conversation, food, attention, etc. And God is not such a cruel task-master that He gives an assignment without providing the time and resources to complete the assignment. Right?

So this is where I've been called on to take the log out of my own eye before I quibble about the specks in my friends' eyes. Time to put my money where my mouth is. If I'm thinking I'm "too busy," "stressed-out," "feeling overwhelmed," then one of two things is happening: either I'm rebellious about what I have to do, or there are things on my list of chores that are not on God's list of chores. Or maybe it's just that the list will take all my time, when I wanted some of that time for myself. No matter the scenario, complete surrender to God precludes being stressed-out.

Okay well, rebellion aside, my situation had put a strain on every introverted fiber of my being. The night before last that TV flickering and talking at me during my once-coveted 5 minutes of dark solitude was the last straw. The camel's back broke, and I exploded, "Turn it off! If you don't I'm going to unscrew the d*mn thing from the wall!!!" I'm not very eloquent at 1 a.m. Otherwise I might have added more about what I was going to do with it once I'd unscrewed it. But, nevertheless, he turned it off.

And as is the case in every healthy marriage, my outburst went unmentioned the next morning. None of this new-fangled "talking things out" for us, and we like it that way. (At least I liked it that way that morning.)

So it was Saturday morning and as it happened, he was off to Chicago. He had a business meeting on Monday morning, but decided to head out there a day early with his brother to visit with an old college roommate. The morning progressed with its usual hairiness, lots to do, kids to see off here and there, D#2 had a car accident, a father came by to pick up the little friend who had slept over, etc. But finally, by 3:15 in the afternoon, he was off with his brother. Son #3 was at a movie, D#2 was gone for the day (even after the car accident), and I had 30 minutes of time alone before D#4 returned from her dance classes.

Oh happy day!!! Oh glory be!!! I could hardly believe it! I went straight upstairs to my beloved bed. Honestly, it was a physical response – my heart was thumping wildly, my breath was rapid, even as my eyes closed and my muscles fairly swooned as they sank into that blessed pillow-top mattress. (Don't tell me muscles can't swoon. I'm telling you mine did.)

I lay there close to 10 minutes, torn between a physical need for sleep and an emotional need to be awake and alone…when the phone rang. T and his brother were at the Sunoco station down the road and had somehow locked the keys in the car. Would I come and unlock the car with the spare key? I answered none too gently in the affirmative, hung up, and cried out to God in a very loud voice, "LORD, HE'S TRYING TO KILL ME! HE IS! HE DOESN'T EVEN KNOW IT, BUT HE'S TRYING TO KILL ME!" I wonder if God laughed.

I survived, didn't die at all. T called as I was driving to Sunoco and asked what was taking so long? How could I explain to him, to the man who strives so purposefully to make sure he never spends a single moment alone, never has a single thought or emotion unsupported by outside noise and commotion, that I was dying of togetherness, not just with T but with the whole world, that I took so long because I needed to accuse him before God of attempted murder? 

No sense in even going there.
T's weekend in Chicago has been God's gift of rejuvenation to me. God knew my need and had plans to meet it all along. I had lots of quiet time and am a new woman already. I really am not a high-maintenance gal.

So, I was a little stressed, wasn't I? But I still maintain, complete surrender to God does preclude being stressed out. God understands about me what T cannot begin to understand – that need, that honest, visceral need for a little time alone every once in a while. And God is able to meet that need. T doesn't even have to know about it; God takes care of me, just like He did this weekend. Maybe next time I'll call on God for help (or wait a little more patiently for His provision) before I go the way of comedic emotional outbursts. But then what would I have to blog about?

Laziness, Laundry, Logs, etc.

I spent some weeks at the end of last year a little disgusted with some of my friends. Just saddened, deeply saddened, as I noticed that most of our interaction revolved around various permutations of complaints, especially complaints of being busy, stressed-out, overwhelmed. My first reaction was to be not only sad, but annoyed and angry that they would go by the name of Christian but have so little cognizance that our time, our days, our minutes, are all His. 

I understand forgetting that. I understand confusion as we bring our time and our chores to God and say, 'Lord, how will all this get done? What here does not belong on the list, because clearly there is not enough time to do this?" I understand God somehow magnifying our time, creating unexpected pockets of time. I understand God revealing that certain things on the list do not belong there, are our agenda and not His. And I understand needing to be reminded of this perspective. 

But what I didn't understand, what saddened me, was that these ideas were completely absent from the conversations, even from their thoughts. I was grieved as I realized that any conversation along those lines just didn't fit in, was a wet blanket, resulted in blank stares and maybe an awkward, embarrassed concurrence.

There are Christian heroes from the past that I envision spending hours on their knees every day – George Mueller, Amy Carmichael, Hudson Taylor. I picture that they had the mammoth discipline to arise early while it was still dark, to meditate on the Word and pray, committing all the details of their day to God, leaving their place of pray glowing with holiness from their lofty meditations. 

I don't have that. I am rank with human-ness. But I do commit my way to the Lord. I do ask Him what He would have me do, and how He would have me do it. And if it seems undoable, I do ask Him for help or direction. I think I do. I probably do less than I'm giving myself credit for, but certainly if I'm stressed or in a bind, He's the place I go. And it's not because I'm so holy – it's only because I know He's there to ask for help. If my work is His, where else is there to go?

What I have realized is that for me, and I don't know that others share this inclination, but when I am feeling stressed about my chores, often it's not that I don't know when it will all get done – it's that I don't really want to do something on that list. There is something or more than one thing on that list that I am feeling rebellious about doing. So I need to talk to God about that, confess my rebellion over what He's asked me to do that I'm giving Him a hard time about, and ask His help to do it anyway. 

For me today it is laundry and FAFSA – that nasty financial aid form everyone has to fill out. (I don't think it will amount to anything, but with two in college next year and with T's work not going too well, it would only be laziness to not at least fill the thing out.) But let me at least call it what it is. I don't want to tackle the mountain of laundry, and even more, I do not want to fill out that form. This is not about not having time. I'm rebellious. I'm just being a brat and I need to repent and get it over with.

Christmas can bring a lot of this on. There are parts of Christmas work that I do like. I do like to cook and bake, but I hate grocery shopping. I like to buy gifts and wrap them, but I hate decorating and putting up the Christmas tree. And then taking the tree and decorations down – oy! It's salt in the wound! I hated putting the things up, and now I have to take them all down and get all those ridiculous ditties and knick-knacks safely tucked away again, just so they can live to annoy me again next year!!!! I can really cop an attitude, for even weeks at a time while I procrastinate!

But please. Let's call it what it is. It is just rebellion. It's not being too busy. It is a part of the job assigned to me by God. I can take all my crabbiness out on my family, but He's the one telling me to do it and He's the one I'm grouchy with if I decide to cop that attitude, or get depressed, or get mad at T, or eat cookies, or whatever other form my rebellious squirming might take.

Well, I have more to say about this. Actually I haven't even gotten to my point here yet, but I am feeling the need to get up and start a load of laundry. I'll post Part II later tonight I hope, because what I'm really getting at here is God's sense of humor, that if I'm going to remark about the speck in my friends' eyes, I should have guessed He would require that I take the log out of my own eye. I've been learning all about that. Oy!

Monday, January 11, 2010

Small Dog, Big Yap

I issued this apology after posting Jesus Land. After reading the profusion of comments on this post, I don't feel quite so apologetic anymore. I'll leave the post up only because the responses are so interesting and deserve to be heard. And it does remain true that I have no first hand knowledge of the school or its staff. The blog entry, "Jesus Land" (which I've since reposted), was only my reaction to the book by that name; I'll leave it up to the reader to decide for himself if the book is a reliable source of information.
It appears that if you talk long enough, you'll eventually say something stupid. (Proverbs 10:19, Where there are many words, transgression is unavoidable; But he who restrains his lips is wise.)
While it boggles my mind that anyone finds and reads my blog, apparently it does find its way onto a computer screen or two. As a result, I have been reminded today of my responsibility to be careful with the truthfulness of what I post.
I have taken down the post "Jesus Land," which I published last week sometime. In this post I presented conclusions and personal insights drawn from a book by that name. This book is the memoir of one Julia Scheeres. She grew up in a strongly Christian environment and for a time attended a school in the Dominican Republic called Escuela Caribe.
I was contacted today by the man who runs Escuela Caribe; he was also #2-man during the months Julia Scheeres was there. He read that post and kindly informed me that I needed to be careful not to believe everything I read.
After apologizing, I told Mr. Seabrook I would change the post to remove any disparaging reference to his school. But honestly, now that the possibility has entered my thick head that I could have been reading untruths, I don't think I had any business posting about that book at all. I have no idea what parts of this book are true and what parts aren't regarding her family or the school. In addition, truths can be shaded, and human interactions are always complicated, multi-faceted and nuanced. I should have realized right off that this account, while sensational and definitely interesting, was not a reliable source of information as it presented only one side of a story fraught with human drama and told from the perspective of an angry teenager. No reasonable conclusions or lessons can be drawn from this book at all.
I am sorry for casting Escuela Caribe in a negative light, and for unwittingly providing advertisement for a book that does the same.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Jesus Land

Apparently there's a storm a-brewin' over this book and New Horizons Youth Ministry, which runs Escuela Caribe referenced below. I'm not involved in this debate in any way. This post is only my reaction to Julia Scheeres book and insights I drew from it personally as a Christian. My judgments and observations are based on information from the book, without any further investigation into the veracity of Ms. Scheeres claims. However, the firestorm of comments elicited from the next post on this blog (Small Dog, Big Yap) are very convincing.
My son needed some books for school, so he and I were scouring the bookshelves down in the basement the other night and I stumbled on a book I don't remember ever seeing before. I cannot imagine where I got it. Maybe I bought it on sale? Or maybe my sister lent it to me? Can't say. But it caught my attention, so I brought it upstairs to read. It's called Jesus Land, by Julia Scheeres, and it is a page-turner.
The book is a memoir, the horrifying true story of her growing up in a Christian home. Maybe I shouldn't "like" the book because it does paint an extremely disparaging picture of Christians and Christian family life. Her cynicism toward all things Christian pervades the story. I can't blame her given the atmosphere in her home, the deep dysfunction of her parents and, essentially, their neglect and their lack of love for their children. What child could possibly not be angry and needy and bitter under those circumstances? What child would not be completely crippled emotionally in that home?
As a Christian, it's a weird read. It was disconcerting to hear the sneer in her voice, her mocking tone, as she described a church service, the pastor interacting with his flock, taking communion, a Sunday school teacher, or the well-intentioned people she and her siblings interacted with in church. But it was weird to recognize everything she describes as an intrinsic part of my own current family life, the fabric of what I've deliberately inculcated into my own children's upbringings – yet she gives it all such an ugly twist, making the basic tenets of Christianity sound ridiculous and church people seem daffy.
So, from my perspective, knowing that the basic tenets of Christianity are not ridiculous and that the people who worship God are not daffy, I'm left with a sobering picture of what evil is done to the name of Christ when folks play Christian without any serious intention of obeying Christ. If her parents were going to be unloving, how much better if she had been raised in a non-religious home! Then she could have discovered the love of Christ as true and the answer to her heart's ache. But instead, Christ became inextricably connected to the abuse she and her siblings suffered at their parents' hands. It's a sickening tragedy.
Eventually she and her same-age sibling (an adopted African-American brother) are sent to a Christian reform school in the Dominican Republic, Escuela Caribe. Apparently it's a type of boot camp, but with a Christian substructure that makes the overseers appear, as she describes them, to be deranged psychopaths.
I was struck as I read the story of their experience in the reform school with the fact that she and her brother were not the guilty parties in need of reform. Their behavior was only a reaction to their unmet need for tenderness and affection, and they were essentially being punished for their parents' misconduct. The school dealt with their rebellion, but not with the reason for their rebellion. (And it didn't appear that her brother was rebellious at all; the parents seemed to just want to be rid of him. Turns out he was not the only one at Escuela Caribe whose preeminent crime was that of being an inconvenience.) In fact, the school ended up being more of what they had experienced at home, just cranked up several notches: the harsh administration of authority with no foundation in love.
So the book gives us an alarming portrait of what Christianity looks like without love: at best punitive and austere, at worst fiendish and sadistic.
That isn't the way God deals with His children. All His laws are given with the best interest of His children in mind, because He knows their happiness and well-being depends on adherence to these laws, not the other way around. But what a picture this story is of what happens when God's ways are shoved down children's throats without the backdrop of tender affection.
It's a wake-up call to me to make sure that my love for my children mirrors God's love for them. If I'm going to proclaim His truth, I'd better live it out in gentleness, kindness and respect.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Christmas Break is Over…

I read this excerpt of Tozer's a few days ago. (I found it on the internet somewhere – can't remember where anymore.) But it's great food for thought.

I'm so guilty, especially now around the holidays with so many demands on my time, so many (lovely) people around, so little time alone. It's way too easy to float along, to forget my first love. But now Christmas break is over and it's time to get back to business.

I don't want to become a shallow Christian, one who plays the church-y game, who knows all the verses and how to talk like a Christian and especially how to look like a Christian, who runs around all the church functions like a big-shot, but has no personal walk with God. Oh Lord, save me from that. I want to live to obey You and to know You more fully.

(Truthfully, we don't do any running around at all the church functions…we don't do any church functions at all. And that's okay by me, actually.)

Anyway, this excerpt from Tozer reminds me that my Christianity is a journey, a pursuit, not just a fact. I was born again, and now, just like any newborn grows, I need to grow, not stagnate. And I need to make conscious choices to that facilitate growth, like reading, memorizing and meditating on the Word, and communing with God in prayer, praising Him, pouring out my heart and expressing my trust in His care.

This takes time. That's the kicker. It takes discipline to carve out the time. But O Lord, I want to do it. Help me be a growing believer.

God and Men

Excerpted from Of God and Men

To talk of "better" Christians is to use language foreign to many persons. To them all Christians are alike; all have been justified and forgiven and are the children of God, so to make comparisons between them is to suggest division and bigotry and any number of horrible things.

What is forgotten is that a Christian is a born-one, an embodiment of growing life, and as such may be retarded, stunted, undernourished or injured very much as any other organism. Favorable conditions will produce a stronger and healthier organism than will adverse conditions. Lack of proper instructions, for instance, will stunt Christian growth. A clear example of this is found in Acts 19, where an imperfect body of truth had produced a corresponding imperfect type of Christian. It took Paul, with a fuller degree of truth, to bring these stunted disciples into a better and healthier spiritual state.

Unfortunately it is possible for a whole generation of Christians to be victims of poor teaching, low moral standards and unscriptural or extrascriptural doctrines, resulting in stunted growth and retarded development. It is little less than stark tragedy that an individual Christian may pass from youth to old age in a state of suspended growth and all his life be unaware of it. Those who would question the truth of this have only to read the First Epistle to the Corinthians and the Book of Hebrews. And even a slight acquaintance with church history will add all the further proof that is needed. Today there exist in the world certain Christian bodies whose histories date far back. These have perpetuated themselves after their kind for hundreds of years, but they have managed to produce nothing but weak, stunted Christians, if Christians they can be called. Common charity forbids that we identify these by name, but any enlightened believer will understand.

Evangelicalism as we know it today in its various manifestations does produce some real Christians. We have no wish to question this; we desire rather to assert it unequivocally. But the spiritual climate into which many modern Christians are born does not make for vigorous spiritual growth. Indeed, the whole evangelical world is to a large extent unfavorable to healthy Christianity. And I am not thinking of Modernism either. I mean rather the Bible-believing crowd that bears the name of orthodoxy.

We may as well face it: the whole level of spirituality among us is low. We have measured ourselves by ourselves until the incentive to seek higher plateaus in the things of the Spirit is all but gone. Large and influential sections of the world of fundamental Christianity have gone overboard for practices wholly unscriptural, altogether unjustifiable in the light of historic Christian truth and deeply damaging to the inner life of the individual Christian. They have imitated the world, sought popular favor, manufactured delights to substitute for the joy of the Lord and produced a cheap and synthetic power to substitute for the power of the Holy Ghost. The glowworm has taken the place of the bush that burned and scintillating personalities now answer to the fire that fell at Pentecost.

The fact is that we are not today producing saints. We are making converts to an effete type of Christianity that bears little resemblance to that of the New Testament. The average so-called Bible Christian in our times is but a wretched parody on true sainthood. Yet we put millions of dollars behind movements to perpetuate this degenerate form of religion and attack the man who dares to challenge the wisdom of it.

Clearly we must begin to produce better Christians. We must insist on New Testament sainthood for our converts, nothing less; and we must lead them into a state of heart purity, fiery love, separation from the world and poured-out devotion to the Person of Christ. Only in this way can the low level of spirituality be raised again to where it should be in the light of the Scriptures and of eternal values.

AW Tozer

Sunday, January 3, 2010


Today I feel overwhelmed. I did yesterday too. Part of it, I realized last night, is that I haven't been eating enough and so haven't had the energy to deal with the chaos fast enough. This has happened twice before when I stepped up the exercise. Somehow my body's reaction to more exercise is to not feel especially hungry, so between the endorphin rush of all that physical activity and zeal to trim down, not feeling hungry means that I don't eat. Then I poop out and just want to sit. Finally, the third time around, I'm getting the hang of it. If I want to run, I have to eat, whether I feel hungry or not.

So part of feeling overwhelmed has had to do with the maelstrom continuing to swirl about me and me not having the energy to combat it. But it has also been a busy few weeks. Happy busy, for sure. All the kids are home and off school. Friends of theirs are popping over at all hours, hanging out, eating, playing games. Tom's brother has been over doing a myriad of home repairs. The trappings of Christmas are still evident all around the house. And T never finished overhauling the basement and hall closets, so furniture is displaced (in the foyer, thank you very much), coats are still in piles needing to be sorted either for easy retrieval, storage, or the Salvation Army. Trips to Home Depot for supplies have resulted in bags of light bulbs, bungee cords, adhesives, pastes and other odd handyman stuff, not to mention tools, being left on counters with no real home until the handiwork is accomplished. And people still need to eat. Eat, eat, eat. So much cooking and cleaning the kitchen -- it's hopeless to think I'd get anything else done.

So, I really need my family to go away for a bit. I'm beginning to feel frantic, like I'm drowning in chores I can't get to. But I do love having everyone around, I really do. I just have to hold on, do a little delegating, and chip away at what I can when I can. And try to chill. Just stay chilled.

What does add to my panic though is that tomorrow school starts again (the two kids go off to school and one needs to get back to homeschool -- one will be home from college for another week), along with all the usual running and pressures which never left me with any surplus of time, and now I have all these unfinished projects I'm tripping over to boot.

I need to pray. I do pray. O Lord, please help me. Please help me to find time with You in the midst of all this chaos. And please create order where there seems to be only disorder right now. I look to You as my Savior for eternity and in all these daily needs. Thank You that You are all powerful and only wait to be invited in to help with these ordinary situations and pressures. Please help me, and glorify Yourself here. Please help me trust in Your providence and walk in Your Spirit these next days or weeks as You work to clear up all this mess. Thank You for Your power. I miss time with You too. I so miss hearing Your voice and waiting to hear Your whisper in my ear through Your Word. Please also provide time for me to spend with You. Let me hear Your voice. Amen.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

I Resolve...

Do I even want to go there? It's so exciting to have the freedom to put my head around something other than losing weight! But there are things I want to commit to this year, and I want to get them down. I may need to prune the list somewhat in the near future, but here goes:

1) Memory verses. I have two books of memory verse cards, 120 verses in each book on business cards. My head stays in so much better of a place when I fill it with the Word. So my resolution would be to spend some time reviewing and studying my memory verses every day, or at least five days out of seven.

2) Maintain weight loss. Duh.

3) Exercise. I want to run this year. I want to be able to step out my door and run to the high school and back (3 miles). Or run to CVS and back (3 miles). Or run down the pretty dirt road behind my house for 1.5 miles and back (3 miles). And when I'm done I want to be able to take a single deep breath, flash a smile that exudes unnatural levels of good health and vitality making all around me green with envy, and say, "Whew! That was fun!"

4) Blog. This blog is something of a panacea for me. Getting the noise in my head down here fills me with a calm that verges on joy. Like yesterday. I don't think anything I wrote yesterday was especially pithy or witty or valuable in any other way. But I told my big story, expressed my glad bewilderment over the accomplishment, and somehow the confusion of the day (and there was considerable confusion yesterday in just the everyday frenzy of having all the family with friends under one roof...and an enterprising husband who decided to overhaul the basement and both hall closets all at the same time) -- but somehow the confusion of the day seemed more tractable after I'd blogged. I could cope better, roll with the punches, quiet the clamor, handle the hubbub, deal with the din, manage the madhouse, tether the tumult, bridle the bedlam, you get the idea. So, dear sweet blog, let us become more regular companions this year. Let us further our intimacy as I do all the talking and you do all the listening, which we know is the best foundation for every great friendship.

5) Learn Greek. Okay, I'm chuckling even as I type this one. I know I don't even remotely have the time. But I really want to, and I have all the tools: a friendly textbook and workbook and cd's and flashcards. I have visions of coming down with tuberculosis or some other malady that would require, say, two years of uninterrupted bedrest, but would leave my mind and spirit unaffected, so I could just wake up every morning and study (and blog, and read). Oh happy day!

I think I better stick with resolutions 1-4. I'll leave my Greek materials out on a tabletop to just impress visitors.

Friday, January 1, 2010

It Was a Very Good Year

While yesterday was officially the day to reflect on the year gone by, I'm going to spend a few minutes today making up for lost time because last year was epochal. Truly, truly mind-boggling and life-changing. I still don't know what happened, how it happened, and I lived through every moment of it. For better or for worse, the momentous part of the year was during the "silent period" of this blog, from June through December.

I lost weight. Lots of weight -- 50+ pounds. I quit overeating, got active, and I kept doing it day after day after day until 7 months had gone by. I'm now only 20 pounds heavier than I was when I got married, and I do look just fine. No one would mistake me for a model, but no one would call me overweight anymore either (even though technically I am still 10 pounds heavy). I can shop in the missus department rather than women's, wear a size Large top, and my size 12 jeans are loose. I can cross my legs again, hip and collar bones are making a guarded reappearance, and happily, my jaw bone is now distinct from my neck.

What happened that suddenly all the pieces of my desire to lose weight fit together with my knowledge of how to lose weight, and I was able to hold it all together, where for decades I've struggled with this? What happened? Even when I was skinny, I was an overeater. I ate to quell unruly emotions, and my emotions were always unruly, regular juvenile delinquents. Even when I was thin I remember looking at a pan of brownies and having the personal epiphany that I didn't want a brownie; I wanted the entire pan of brownies. Still today, I never want a stick of licorice; if I can't have the whole bag, there's no reason to bother at all.

What happened, when for decades -- I kid you not, decades -- I woke up every morning with new resolve that that day would be the day, that day I would eat only what I needed, I would eat less and eat right and move more? Usually my resolve dissolved at breakfast.

I hated myself for it. I was filled with shame at the way I looked, at what I had to wear to disguise rolls of chub. I hated that I was bigger than most of our male friends. I gave up jet-skiing in humiliation partly because even the life vests that the guys wore were too tight on me. And I never looked in a full length mirror or glanced at my reflection in a window.

So what happened that suddenly it all worked? I can't put my finger on it. I just don't know. I guess in the end it's not important, but the mystery of it is intriguing.

One factor was that T got me a personal heart monitor as a Christmas gift in 2008. How weird was that? I like gadgets so I had fun with it over the next week, drove everyone crazy making my heartbeat beep out loud. But I was 70+ pounds overweight, hadn't come anywhere near a sweat from exercise in a long, long time and didn't have any plans to.

His plan though was that we shell out a chunk of dough to have some kind of fitness test done with a personal trainer he'd met. We did that in February, and she put together an exercise program for us that involved tracking heartrate. Somehow it was supposed to maximize weight loss. Cool.

So I did that pretty faithfully for a month or two but didn't lose any weight because I was still eating like a sumo wrestler.

Then one day, May 31 probably, T went grocery shopping for us. No list, of course. He just wandered through the store and threw stuff into the cart, which is way more his style. But what he brought home on this day aroused panic in me. Vegetables. More vegetables than could fit in our refrigerator. More vegetables than all the American troops in Iraq could eat in a week.

But c'mon. He had done the grocery shopping and now I didn't have to! I had to be careful of how I responded lest I deter this favorable behavior in the future. So with no forethought at all, just an unstudied determination to be positive, I said, "Y'know, T, if we were doing Weight Watchers, this is what our refrigerator would look like." And somehow that casual comment triggered an avalanche of events and commitments that changed our lives.

On June 1 we joined Weight Watchers online, I gave up Diet Coke (which will always occupy a special place in my heart's better this way), and we eventually began exercising.

The rest is history. The mystery of history...why were we able to hang tough this time? Not sure, but boy it feels good. This year, for the first time since I can remember, my New Year's Resolution has less to do with weight loss and more to do with fitness goals. I'd like to be able to enjoy a 3 mile run by the end of this year. That's one resolution. If I can work toward that, I think maintaining the weight loss and losing a tad bit more should take care of itself.

Okay, I've got more to say about New Year's Resolutions but I've been sitting here in front of the computer long enough for today. I'll end by saying, yes, indeed, it was a very good year.