Friday, January 8, 2010


If there is one thing I can say about my daughter, two-year old A.M., it's that she has an incredible amount of passion. Some may deem it the obsessions of a two year old mind, and they'd be right, but it seems to work itself out in every facet of her life. There is little that she does not approach with gusto and nearly complete abandon; and once she gets an idea in her head, it's there for the long haul. I assure you that this is a blessing and a curse for me, her mother.

We made a conscious choice not to push Santa in this house. He isn't banned outright, but the kids don't receive presents from him, and we don't bring him up. But there are many influences on a small child, including church, TV and stores. Even walks around the neighborhood. So these past few weeks have been full of "Santa!" and eventually, "Santa gone. Oh no. Santa...?" as neighbors slowly remove their decorations from the front doors and walks of their homes. I remind her that he lives far away and can only visit people once a year. This has seemed to suffice.

There are other obsession, however, that I am more glad to feed. Like birds. A.M. is fascinated by and delighted with birds in all shapes and sizes. Birds fly, birds hop, birds tweet (though not on Twitter, as far as I know) and, perhaps most importantly, birds EAT. A few weeks ago, prompted by a visit to a friend's home where she helped refill the feeders and by the disappearing "berries" (really bradford pears) on our trees, A.M. and I took a trip to Lowes and picked up some bird feeders for our home. The excursion alone was filled with more than enough excitement as she was overcome by dozens of styles of bird feeders, and the accompanying seeds. I'm sure more than a few customers could hear the squealed delights of "BIRDS! BIRD FEEDERS! BIRDS EAT!" echoing through the high ceilings of the warehouse. You can bet those feeders went up the minute we got home.

Despite a slow start, I can assure you those feeders have been visited by a great many birds, and each visit has been reported by our budding ornithologist. A.M. is barely awake before she speeds over to her window, which has a prime view of the feeders (naturally), and declares that there are in fact breakfasters enjoying suet & seeds, or thistles. Earlier this week there were at least a half dozen small finches munching away on the thistle seeds, making the feeder seem more like a springtime beehive than a winter eatery. That was a great day.

Those $15 (or whatever small amount) we spent on the supplies has brought unending joy to not only A.M., but our whole family. There is much delight in a parent's heart when your child discovers new and wonderful things in creation, and I can assure you that E.F., our 6 month old, is delighted in his big sister's ecstasy as well. (Well, if his constant smiling and reaching for her are any indication, maybe you just need to trust me on this one)

And there are many more things that bring her glee in this world - snow, for one (makes her northern born parents proud!), and eating fruits of all kinds, trees, running, walking (though not as much as running), riding in the car, friends and Mamaws and Papas. Of course those passions do turn into bad habits as well - the realization that a mobile little brother means perhaps more sharing is in her future. A.M. is not always a willing participant in this sharing thing, and her passion to be master of all exhibits itself in some ugly encounters that often end in tears and time outs.

So why do I share these seemingly mundane stories? Well, because we all have passion, and yet these can turn against us in the worst way. One of my passions in life is food. I adore food - buying it, preparing it, eating it, sharing it with others. One of my other passions is to be lazy at a great many things. Oh, don't get me wrong, I can busy myself right up into a first class whirlwind, but I can find myself complacent and languid just as easily. And so here is my problem: The two passions I find myself drawn to are not conducive to a life of wholeness.

I have a great confession I need to make: I lack all self-control when it comes to food. I will, and have, eat myself into a state of over-stuffed, bloated and nearly sickening proportions in a quest to just have another taste. Ask my mother what happens each time she cooks a pot of mashed potatoes. The poor woman should have invested in pad-locked cookery for such occasions. Or, even more, ask my husband how I respond to an unending supply of french fries (such as the constant refill you can get at places like Red Robin, one of my favorite restaurants). I would rather feel sick than not eat a few more fries. There is something severely wrong with that. It doesn't extend to all foods, but I find myself acting this way with most meals. I have often joked with my husband that I lack the chemical switch in my brain that functions as the "You're Full. Stop Eating" alarm. There is, of course, such a disorder, I saw it on Discovery or something like that, but I doubt I've really got the disease. It seems to me it comes down to simple lack of will to what is best and right - selfishness in hyperbolic mode; selfishness which brings me no gain, but really my own destruction. And ultimately, isn't that what all selfishness does?

The Bible has a great many things to say against gluttony, selfishness and laziness - all factors in my struggle to become healthy. And I know that any attempt I make in which I say, "I can do this! I can beat this stuff," will undoubtedly end in failure. Because I can not do this. I can not beat it on my own. If 27 years of living has not already taught me that, then The Word certainly does. I know people so readily claim verses such as Philippians 4:13, 2 Corinthians 12:9 and Ephesians 3:16 (to name a very few), as great beacons of hope in times of trial and tribulation. And for good reason. There is no doubt that the Lord is faithful and it is only in the gift of his Spirit and strength we are able to do any thing whatsoever. Drawing a breath is impossible were it not for the mercy of the Lord to grant that breath to the recipient.

And yet. And yet.

I find it hard to just snatch verses from the Bible as if they are some kind of lucky rabbit's foot for my gain. Perhaps it the old adage beaten into me since Teen Doctrine in 8th grade with Pastor Howard - "Context is King." It seems strange to me to just grab a snippet and say, "Ah-ha! Here, here at last, the answer I have long sought for!" I know, I know, it's my contrary nature, too. I don't want things to be easy. But as I look at His Word as a whole, I know and I see and I taste that it is good, and that it does in fact reveal to me that there is no way to be redeemed but by his precious mercy and grace. Through grace alone have I been saved, not of myself, so that I may not boast; and it is no longer I that live, but Christ that lives in me.

So I have decided that running is not merely a physical battle of wills - me versus my own body's weaknesses. Nor is it a purely mental battle - me versus the inner voices of nightmares working against me. But it is also a spiritual battle in which I have to give over the selfishness, laziness and passions which are of the flesh. It is, in fact, all three of these things working in concert.

I'm what you might call a "whole-ist." I see things as vast webs of interconnectedness that can't be extracted or untangled by simply pulling one. But that's all for another post. Perhaps later today, or tomorrow. Trust me, it's a whole entry unto itself (One that has been writing itself in my head for a few days now). Instead, I leave you with this, if it doesn't declare the sovereignty of God, well... (Fun Fact: This is the Psalm I had been mediating on the morning of the day Dan proposed to me)

Psalm 104 (NASB)

    1Bless the LORD, O my soul!
         O LORD my God, You are very great;
         You are clothed with splendor and majesty,
    2Covering Yourself with light as with a cloak,
         Stretching out heaven like a tent curtain.
    3He lays the beams of His upper chambers in the waters;
         He makes the clouds His chariot;
         He walks upon the wings of the wind;
    4He makes the winds His messengers,
         Flaming fire His ministers.
    5He established the earth upon its foundations,
         So that it will not totter forever and ever.
    6You covered it with the deep as with a garment;
         The waters were standing above the mountains.
    7At Your rebuke they fled,
         At the sound of Your thunder they hurried away.
    8The mountains rose; the valleys sank down
         To the place which You established for them.
    9You set a boundary that they may not pass over,
         So that they will not return to cover the earth.
    10He sends forth springs in the valleys;
         They flow between the mountains;
    11They give drink to every beast of the field;
         The wild donkeys quench their thirst.
    12Beside them the birds of the heavens dwell;
         They lift up their voices among the branches.
    13He waters the mountains from His upper chambers;
         The earth is satisfied with the fruit of His works.
    14He causes the grass to grow for the cattle,
         And vegetation for the labor of man,
         So that he may bring forth food from the earth,
    15And wine which makes man's heart glad,
         So that he may make his face glisten with oil,
         And food which sustains man's heart.
    16The trees of the LORD drink their fill,
         The cedars of Lebanon which He planted,
    17Where the birds build their nests,
         And the stork, whose home is the fir trees.
    18The high mountains are for the wild goats;
         The cliffs are a refuge for the shephanim.
    19He made the moon for the seasons;
         The sun knows the place of its setting.
    20You appoint darkness and it becomes night,
         In which all the beasts of the forest prowl about.
    21The young lions roar after their prey
         And seek their food from God.
    22When the sun rises they withdraw
         And lie down in their dens.
    23Man goes forth to his work
         And to his labor until evening.
    24O LORD, how many are Your works!
         In wisdom You have made them all;
         The earth is full of Your possessions.
    25There is the sea, great and broad,
         In which are swarms without number,
         Animals both small and great.
    26There the ships move along,
         And Leviathan, which You have formed to sport in it.
    27They all wait for You
         To give them their food in due season.
    28You give to them, they gather it up;
         You open Your hand, they are satisfied with good.
    29You hide Your face, they are dismayed;
         You take away their spirit, they expire
         And return to their dust.
    30You send forth Your Spirit, they are created;
         And You renew the face of the ground.
    31Let the glory of the LORD endure forever;
         Let the LORD be glad in His works;
    32He looks at the earth, and it trembles;
         He touches the mountains, and they smoke.
    33I will sing to the LORD as long as I live;
         I will sing praise to my God while I have my being.
    34Let my meditation be pleasing to Him;
         As for me, I shall be glad in the LORD.
    35Let sinners be consumed from the earth
         And let the wicked be no more
         Bless the LORD, O my soul
         Praise the LORD!


  1. well, well, well. I must admit to you (after reading your post) that I suffer from the same addictions..... Yes I do think they are addictions to me. I love food just as much as it sounds you do. I crave it.... All sorts. I get the thought in my head and just can't seem to relax until I have it... I also suffer from laziness, exercise isthe very last thing that I want to tackle each day..... but I am working on trying to be motivated to do it, with my husband's help he is pushing me. I am trying to stay with it.
    So I am with you. You are not alone. I need to stop being so selfish and start living a Whole Life, mind, body & most important Spirit.

  2. We've talked about this before Bek, and you know I struggle with it's always really REALLY especially mostly extremely hard for me after Christmas. I should be sick of sugar by that point. But usually I've gotten used to having yummy things that I shouldn't. *sigh* Know I'll be praying strength for you!! Courage, friend! Just reading your determination about it has encouraged me!! It helps to "air" things sometimes...'cause we're all a little afraid to talk about what we really struggle with. Thanks. :)
    Maybe we can get together and for some good ol' sweat and groan time sometime! A little different than cookie day but...

  3. Well-written & I think so many of us are right there with you, just don't like to admit it. We can be so busy doing all the wrong things, things that tear us down & keep us from doing the things that really matter, like teaching our children to feed the birds & find wonder in all the little things God has given us. And it's just as easy to rationalize why we deserve to just sit on the couch with a book & a bag of chips today...and tomorrow...and the next day, rather than working to make our lives healthier & more fruitful. I say, Bravo to you for the steps you're taking to combat those selfish desires. I'm trying to keep up with you here in NJ. Wish we could walk & talk together thru it. <3