busyness is my drug…

We just had an all-church retreat… first time in close to ten years, I believe.  When you’re at a church with 1000+ adults, attempting an all-church retreat is no picnic.  The last week leading up to the retreat was crazy!!!  I’m used to the craziness… I’ve been organizing vacation bible schools for almost 20 years now… I’ve led many all-church or children’s ministry events. I used to be an event planner.  I’m used to having my life stop for the sake of getting one event come together.

Leading up to this retreat, my life was already crazy with family and personal drama… but I was able to put it all aside in preparation for this retreat.  I had been running around for 2 full days just shopping for the retreat… In fact, I literally had forgotten to eat for two days… If you know me, that RARELY happens… and I wasn’t kidding when I say I lost 5 lbs during this time.  Well, the retreat came and went… and everyone had a great time.

On my drive home on Sunday afternoon, my first thoughts were “now, I have to deal with everything that I had put on back burner for the past week,” followed by a big sigh.  Once someone said to me, “you know, I’ve done drugs, I’ve gotten drunk every night, I’ve smoked everything I could find… but when I get sober again, all my problems are still here.”  Well, DUH…  we all know this (at least I hope we do…) but it occurred to me that sometimes my busyness is my drug.

The retreat isn’t bad in itself… all the events I’ve been part of weren’t bad, pointless events… When you’ve been in church ministry for close to 20 years, life is always busy.  But it sometimes becomes a distraction or diversion from dealing with what I really need to do–personally and in ministry.  It’s easy to put my family on hold while I’m busy prepping for a big church event… and they’re gracious and understanding (most of the time).  It’s easy to put my personal issues and feelings on hold while I’m running around like a headless chicken.  But when the event is over, nothing has changed… and I either have to deal with them… or find another way to keep myself busy.  As I was in the middle of drafting this blog, I decided to take a break and watch one of my favorite blogger’s Tedx Talk: Kristen Howerton… and what a God thing that she talks about this exact topic–diversion!

And this quote completely caught my attention:  “The only way to work through crappy feelings is to walk through crappy feelings.”  So I will end with her talk and this:  My name is Gloria, and busyness is my drug… and I’m ready to deal with my crappy feelings.

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It’s So Quiet In Here…

August has come and gone… and to be honest, I have no idea where that time went!  It started out sane… and then it got crazy!!!  With our church’s new multi-site launching in about a month, my brain, time, and energy has been drained out of my being… It’s exciting, but it’s been CRAZY!!!

Well, this past week, 2 people have asked me “so has this 7 thing changed your lifestyle at all?  or did you just binge after your fasting was up?”  And my answer was “it definitely has changed my life!”  Here is how:

1.  Since 7 Foods, my food budget has hit its all time low.  During the month of August, I came under $300 on food… that’s ALL TIME LOW for me!!!

2.  I’ve started giving out granola bars to homeless people on the street when I come across them.  It’s not much, but I’m doing what I can to share Jesus’ love with them.

3.  I’m more mindful about going out to eat just because I’m too lazy to cook.  In fact, I’m currently trying to eat everything I have in my pantry and fridge before I go food shopping again… And I have a lot of stuff to eat through!

4.  I still haven’t shopped for clothes in over 2 months… I’ve only bought 2 accessories this month… I just couldn’t resist, but I had to get a new purse that was on 65% sale… and a laptop bag that was on 70% sale!  (I know, I’m weak…)  but I have not missed shopping AT ALL!!!

5.  I’ve been continually cleaning out my apartment to give things away.  Due to my busyness this month, I’m a bit behind on giving away 217 things during the month of August… but I have committed to giving away 217 items, and I will keep that promise as I go into September.

So… now it’s the month of September (it’s 12:34 am on 9/1).  “What’s your  next 7 things?” has been the big question… And I have to admit that this is the hardest one so far: it’s MEDIA!!!  What’s so hard about it?  Well, I’m personally surrounded by media… and since I was a latch-key kid in elementary school, the first thing I did when I came home was turn on the TV for background noise… I would fall asleep to either TV or Radio in high school… I’m on my computer majority of my days during the week…  Between my iPhone and iPad, I’m rarely unplugged.  My life is surrounded by media!!!  There’s a part of me that wishes to banish myself from all things media… but reality is, I need to be on email and check my email periodically for work.  And realistically, I do a lot of work via social media (yup, weekly blogging and fb is one of my current roles)… thus it’s not realistic to be completely unplugged… but since part of this experiment is to simplify my life but also do something that would help me change the way I live my life now, this is what I’m committing to:

1.  NO TV!!!  (i have officially put the remote in a cabinet so I won’t even be tempted.)

2.  NO RADIO in the car… I often like to listen to music and sing along… none of that this month!

3.  NO MOVIES!  (I often get movie screening invitations, and that’s how I usually watch movies… I already have 2 tickets for this month… Guess I’ll be giving those away!)

4.  NO SPOTIFY, NO YOUTUBE, NO HULU, NO AMAZON INSTANT MOVIES–so NO entertainment on computers!!!

5.  NO GAMES!!!

6.  NO iPhone nor iPad apps unless it’s work or productivity related such as banking, taking notes, etc… A lot of discernment needed here!

7.  LIMITED Social Networking:  I say limited because I fb message as much as I email re: work, ministry, network for work purposes… once again, a lot of discernment is needed here… as my goal is not to just sit read every fb and twitter post, but to use it only for productivity.

So when I re-read my 7 media fast above, one thing screams to me:  NO NOISE!!!  I love background noise.. I just love noise! But with giving up all these things above, I’m sensing that it’s going to be super quiet around here!  God, help me!!!

Rice Cheese & Tofu Noodles?

It’s Day 20… and some people are wondering how I’ve been doing with my 7 Food Challenge…. Last time I had blogged about this was on Day 5… so I’ve had 15 more days to reflect.  Surprisingly, I’ve been doing well without coffee!  It’s totally mind over matter!  Telling myself that coffee isn’t an option has kept me from craving it at all hours of the day… However, I’m a social coffee drinker… so when I go out with friends for a chat, it’s my head that wants to order a cup of coffee, not my mouth palate.

Yes, I’m kind of sick of chicken… I’ve never had so much chicken in my life!  But it hasn’t been that bad at all… I’ve been trying to make the best of it… and definitely I’m eating less (although I have NOT lost any weight) and spending way less money on food!  So double-plus!

I went to Sprouts last week to load up on my 7 foods, and I ended up in Vegan Aisle–this is very foreign to me!  All I wanted to pick up were some tofu… but “Rice Mozzarella,” “Rice Cheddar”, “Tofu Angel Hair Pasta,” and “Tofu Noodles.” caught my eyes!  What in the world???  Only in the first world country, do we make the choice not to eat meat products and yet still have the benefit of eating the goodness of cheese!  Only in the first world country, do we make the choice to not consume carbs and enjoy pasta!  Wow!  They may be great inventions… but I was somewhat overcome with grief over this great luxury that we live in… I don’t know… it was just  a mixed feeling.  Having these alternatives isn’t a bad thing… but something in my gut just said “wow… we have so much that we can make rice mozzarella and tofu noodles.  People would die for some cheese or noodles.. any food!”

Anyhow, I have a problem–when I see something new, my curiosity gets the best (or worst of me) and I HAVE to try it!!!  I’m notorious for buying and trying new foods… However, I was conflicted… am I cheating if i buy these items?  Rice and Tofu are on my list… but cheese nor noodles aren’t… am I defeating the purpose of what I’m doing???  Well, I cracked… and I resorted to buying the tofu noodles.  I tried it, and it wasn’t good… Just like I don’t believe in sugar-free products, if you want something, go for the real thing!  🙂

I’m still thinking through my month of 7 foods… and I’m not sure how, but I believe it will change the way I think about food consumption… so stay tuned!

Parents: the distraction to teens learning?

As I was flipping through the Spirit magazine on Southwest, this page caught my attention!

uhmmm… am I the only one who thinks this is a problem?  In the article it says that when TextPlus polled 1.200 students between the ages of 13-17, roughly two-thirds had received texts from their parents during class… and 74% of the students didn’t think it was wrong to text during class… Am I just being old school?  As if there aren’t enough distractions in the life of a teenager during class, parents texting them is one of them?  Give me a break!!!  And how long before this practice trickles down to kids in elementary school… and how long before this becomes the norm during our church ministries? Today, I also read Dr. Jim Burn’s tweet:  “Sign of the times… Dad: Why aren’t u texting bak? Son: I’m in class! Dad: Sorry, I’m bored & nun of my friends r on facebook.”  Seriously????

I’m gonna say this on behalf of all the teachers out there.

PARENTS:  PLEASE STOP DISTRACTING YOUR KIDS DURING CLASS!  WORK OUT THE RIDE SITUATION AND AFTER SCHOOL ACTIVITIES BEFORE YOU SEND YOUR KIDS TO SCHOOL OR THE NIGHT BEFORE!