Lent Minus Facebook Equals Contrition

“For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven…”  Ecclesiastes 3:1

Two years ago I felt a calling to write. And, for a while, I did. Certainly not what I thought I was being called to write but writing what I considered “practice” for whatever it was God was going to have me write.

And then, I ran out of things to say. And the writing well ran dry. And so I waited. I just knew that any day God would drop into my lap the idea for a book and all the pieces and parts I’d need to put into that book. And I waited some more.

And I’m still waiting.

And, in this waiting, I began to evaluate whether or not there was a problem with the direction I was taking. I have quit my business, spent hours upon hours reading about the dos and don’ts of a writing career, taken courses in creative writing, and continued to wait on the idea to form or be dropped in my lap. Every day my husband would kindly ask, “Did you get any writing done today, Honey?”

I hadn’t.

Slowly I started to realize that I was faithful to a lot of other things in my day but not to my writing. And anytime I attempted to write and got bored, stuck or blocked, I would jump on Facebook. Facebook became my constant companion, my entertainment, my outlet, my encouragement, and where I looked for validation. It has been first and last in my day, every day. In essence, it has become an idol. Yikes!

When I wondered why God wasn’t directing my writing, it never even dawned on me that I was never giving him the chance. In my waiting for direction, my devotion was directed at Facebook. I wouldn’t have heard the still, small voice. I wasn’t listening for it.

So on this Fat Tuesday, even not being Catholic or having ever given up anything for Lent, I recognize my dependence on Facebook and am committing the next forty days to hearing that still, small voice. And this time I will be listening.

I am denying myself Facebook time during Lent. I am reclaiming that wasted time in my days. As a first act of forward motion on this writing train, I am submitting an article in a writing competition and the deadline is May 1st. That leaves me roughly 8 ½ weeks to write, revise, revise again, and submit. I need to get started.

Anyone who knows me very well, gets how huge this decision is for me. I am a Facebook junkie. But I need to stop turning to Facebook to fill the gaps in my day and start looking to the One who puts the gaps in my day. I’m pretty sure he puts them there for a reason.

In the interest of full disclosure (and so you don’t think I’ve completely lost my marbles) I should also mention that I have linked my Twitter account to Facebook so, should I have something to say, I can still say it without having to log on to Facebook. But if you ‘like’ a post, I won’t know it. All my Facebook messaging is turned off. I do have Facebook on the Flipboard app on my iPhone but it seems to have a mind of its own and feeds me only what it feels like is important.

So if you are having a party or you’re unexpectedly pregnant, please email, text, call or DM me on Twitter, because if those pieces of important information are only on Facebook, I won’t know about it until after the helium is gone and the balloons hit the floor. Or at least until Easter.

Happy Lenting Y’all!

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Treadmill Epiphany

Have you ever noticed how your activities color everything around you?

You don’t even notice, until you’re on a diet, the copious amount of diet books that are suddenly everywhere.  And not until you’re on that diet are you aware of the magic power of Cheez-Its.  Those things take a well-timed dive into your grocery cart and, before you know it, they have ridden the check-out belt and are bagged up faster than an elephant riding a zip line.

Some years ago my husband was pretty serious into mountain biking and every worn down strip of grass or weeds was a “bike trail.”  Most of them actually were, but passing them without him with me to point out the trails, I would have only noticed the cows in the field, the jutting rocks by the river or the single diseased hedge tree in the field of nothing else.  Nothing else but a bike trail, that is.  Biking colored everything he saw.

After the first half-serious thought we had about adopting several years ago, adoption colored our days like a leaky marker in the dryer – showing up everywhere.  Every time I turned around, there was some reference to adoption that I was pretty sure hadn’t been there before.  Talk about being nudged.

Writing is starting to color parts of my world.

Yesterday I had an epiphany while on the treadmill:  Running is much like writing.  Some days I get on the treadmill and I feel good, the energy is there, my breathing is steady and my run just flows.  I feel as if I could keep going even after my planned time is up.  I feel energized after and can hardly wait until my next run.

Writing can be that way too.  On those days I have words in my head just waiting to spill out into something creative and cohesive.  There is energy behind it and my fingers can type without ceasing.  On those days I don’t have to force my way to my computer and I don’t need butt glue to keep me there until something productive comes out.   I most always feel good about what I’ve written and can’t wait to share it. Those are the “flow” days.  Everything just flows.

On other days, like yesterday, I don’t want to run.  I have no energy to run.  I drag my feet until I have no choice but to get my fanny on the treadmill before the day burns completely away.  Then once I’m there, the only thing I can concentrate on is the heaviness of my legs and the burning in my shins; my entire run time peppered with stops and starts.  And when I’m done I’m exhausted, physically and mentally.  I call those “forced” days.  I have writing days just..like..that.

Forced writing days are tough.  For me they are tougher than the forced run days.  On forced run days, at least my legs know what they are supposed to do.  But on forced writing days, my brain and my fingers often seem to not be in cooperation.  The fingers want to type but the brain isn’t giving them anything.  Even if I can force my way through a couple pages, at the end I’m mentally drained and emotionally spent.  Then I just want my Cheez-Its and a nap.

The most difficult thing for me is to not get discouraged by the forced days.  One day of less-than-stellar performance does not define me.  A bad run does not make me a bad runner. One day of falling off the diet wagon clutching a box of Cheez-Its with both hands doesn’t mean I’ve blown it.  A blank page at the end of the day does not mean failure.  Every day is new, 1,440 minutes to try again.  Never give up.  Never say I can’t.  My grandmother used to say you can do anything you want if you just try.  My grandmother was a pretty smart woman.

My interests, my activities may color my world but my stumbles will not color my attitude.  At least not today.

I Yam What I Yam

I am a bargain shopper.  I’m sure this comes from growing up without money and having no choice but to have a tendency toward frugality.  I don’t think this is a bad thing.  In fact, I think this is one of my better qualities, even if some would argue that this is one my more annoying qualities.  Actually, only one person I know would have that argument and I happen to be married to him.  So, needless to say, shopping together is a true test of our civility.

There aren’t many things I like paying full price for.  Obviously cars are at the top of the list.  No one should ever pay full price for a car because that’s a true rip off.  Furniture is up there too.  Did you know furniture is marked up over 200 percent?  Makes me hate shopping for furniture because I know I’m never going to get the price I want.

Now, I do have a tendency toward instant gratification which is probably why credit cards are a danger for me.  But, when it comes to buying clothes I have the patience of Job.  Well, OK, maybe not to that extreme.  But I know that it doesn’t make sense to pay full price today when I can wait a few weeks and get it on the clearance rack.   And if there aren’t any on the clearance rack then I didn’t need it anyway.  I need the one that is on the clearance rack.  Paying full price for clothes is, to me, almost like flushing dollar bills down the toilet.  I don’t know about you, but I’ve never been stupid or careless enough to flush money.  At least not that I know of.  I did lose $800 cash once but that is another story for another day and I’m pretty sure I didn’t flush it down the toilet.

A couple weeks ago I found this really soft, cozy sweater on clearance at Target.  It was one of those sweaters that you just can’t help but touch.  It was only $8 and so, of course, I snagged it up quick.  This sweater would have been the perfect sweater.  The tag said it was polyester and nylon.  That really doesn’t mean anything to me.  But like I said it was very soft and cozy- perfect for the chill of Kansas winters.  The tag also said machine wash and tumble dry.  Perfect.  Nothing difficult there.

What the tag didn’t say was, “likely to snow.”  Yep, snow.  Little white fluffy sweater snow.  Everywhere.  In fact, the first day I wore it, we stepped out of church and my husband thought it was snowing.  Nope, just my sweater, Honey.  By the end of lunch that day not only was my black scarf covered in white sweater snow but so were my jeans.  This stuff is worse than cat hair.  I didn’t think anything was worse than cat hair.

But, holding out hope, I washed the sweater hoping to get rid of the snow.  That didn’t work.  I washed it again.  Nope.  Every time I wore the sweater it snowed.  I seriously considered spraying it with hairspray to keep the snowy fibers stuck to what remained of the sweater – that is how much I really wanted to wear it.

Alas, I finally gave up on my sweater and reluctantly tossed it in the Goodwill basket.  Every time I walk by that basket I wonder if I should give the sweater just one more chance.  But even right now, as I look at my black shirt and see the snow all over my sleeves just from folding that blasted thing to take a picture so you’d have a visual, I am reminded of why it landed in that basket to begin with.

I’m sure there is a lesson in this somehow.  Like you get what you pay for.  Or cheaper isn’t always better.  But “I yam what I yam” (you have to read that in Popeye-voice) and what I yam is a bargain shopper at heart and I’m not likely to start paying full price for sweaters.  Or furniture or cars.  Especially furniture and cars.