Category Archives: Change

Do Nouns Make You Happier Than Verbs?

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I just got an email from eBay that said “Carla: still looking for a handbag?”

Hmmm. Is someone watching me? I’ll admit, I do have this tiny problem with handbags: I like them. And cute dishes, and Tervis tumblers and Yellow Box flip flops. And I like it when John takes me out to dinner. I don’t really like being the center of attention, but I don’t mind – on a small scale – when it’s “all about me!”

But – the world doesn’t revolve around me.

Shocked_Baby

Shocking, isn’t it? Here’s more: it doesn’t revolve around you, either.

We all want to be happy. I want to be happy. You want to be happy. Our kids want to be happy. We want to make them happy. “Happy, happy, happy!” (Thanks, Phil.)

Here’s the problem, though. Where does our happiness come from? Nouns, or verbs?

Recently, while preparing a lesson about ways to influence and teach teenage girls, I was thinking about how we tend to use NOUNS (people, places, and things) to make our girls (and GUYS, for that matter) happy. Did someone hurt your feelings? Let’s go buy you a new pair of shoes. Bad day at school? Let’s go to the movies. Your friend got a new purse? We’ll get you a more expensive one. This will make you feel better, baby.

It’s sort of like the drain in the bathtub with no stopper…we keep trying to fill it up. But something else will always come up…a new want, another bad day, and the THINGS just keep pouring down the drain.

draining water

But what if we used VERBS to make our kids happy? What if we used verbs to make US happy? Did someone hurt your feelings? Let’s stop right here and ask God to soften their heart and also to open our eyes to our own insensitivities. Bad day at school? Let’s go by and see how we can help this hurting family in need. Your friend got a new purse? Let’s go through your closet and see what we can share with someone who REALLY needs it.

Believe me, I’m talking to Carla, too.

This isn’t anything new. God said it centuries ago.

“So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.” Philippians 2:1-4

“The greatest among you shall be your servant. Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.” Matthew 23:11-12

“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for RIGHTEOUSNESS, for they shall be satisfied…let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” Matthew 5:6, 16 (emphasis mine)

Nouns make us happy, but it’s a temporary happy. We are always going to want another new pair of shoes. But verbs – now THOSE will really make a difference. Not only in my life, but in the lives of those I am helping! Our kids might balk at first. They might drag their feet (or we might have to drag their feet for them…) ūüėČ but given plenty of opportunities, they (and we!) will see the lasting happiness that comes from being a servant of God.

Then, instead of a draining bathtub, we can be like those beautiful infinity pools we see in magazines…the kind of pool that spills over and shares beauty and¬†flows out with God’s living water. Who wouldn’t want to be there?

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The Abominable Chubby Woman

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“I really am a mean and despicable creature at heart, you know. It’s so difficult to…REALLY change.”

I never really thought of myself as mean and despicable. Occasionally moody and contrary, maybe. But I can sure relate to the Abominable Snowman – it is so difficult to really change!

But the words “put one foot in front of the other” crossed my mind almost daily for a while. And I particularly identify with this part of the song:

“If you want to change your direction; if your time of life is at hand…well, don’t be the rule, be the exception! A good way to start is to stand!”

[Food log today: 1 1/2 oz. Boar’s head ham, 1/2 cup cottage cheese and 1/2 oz. cocoa roast almonds for breakfast…Progresso light chicken noodle soup and pretzel crisps for lunch…5 of Erin’s vanilla wafers mid-afternoon (sorry, Erin, I finished the box)…2 oz shredded chicken breast, one taco shell, 2 tbsp cheddar cheese, lots of spinach, 1 tsp balsamic vinaigrette, 1/2 cup pasta, sprinkle of feta cheese, a few pita chips and a bit of hummus¬†for supper…AND a 40 calorie fudgsicle.]

Pray.

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John prayed for me to lose weight. I guess some women might find that offensive…and I guess if I thought he was asking God to turn me into Angelina Jolie, I might have been offended. (And because he knows what’s good for him, he was careful how he told me.)

I knew he was asking God to help me be healthier. But it caught me a little by surprise, because I tend to think that God has much bigger things to pay attention to than “Carla’s struggle with fat.” The more I thought about it, though, the more comfort I felt. There is no anxiety too small or too large that can’t be given over to Him, because He cares for me and you. I read that in 1 Peter 5, and tell other people about it, and I need to remember that it applies to me, too.

People I love

I put that picture in the middle there to distract you from my food log for the day, because my determination was low, and my struggle was high. For breakfast I had a few cocoa roasted almonds, 2 ounces of Boar’s Head ham, and 1/2 cup of cottage cheese. That’s pretty much the end of the determination. Lunch and supper consisted of two¬†Mexican¬†food places: Garcias and Trudy’s. ¬†Garcia’s = chips. I had two cheese enchiladas and about 1/4 cup each of rice and beans. And chips. At Trudy’s I had two smoked chicken tacos. (Man, I wish I could re-create those smoked chicken tacos at home!) And chips.

I bet even Angelina Jolie wouldn’t be able to resist Garcia’s chips.

Hefty.

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Hefty. According to Webster: “quite heavy. Marked by bigness, bulk, and unusual strength. Impressively large.” Not particularly the way I wished to be seen. As tempting as it sounds, I never had the desire to be impressively large. But two years ago, a dear old man, in a passing comment, referred to me as HEFTY.¬†

It wasn’t one of those “a-HA!” moments, where I jumped out of my chair and yelled “That’s IT! I’ve had it with being fat!” Instead, I let it roll off, knowing he didn’t mean to be unkind, knowing that it was what it was: truth.

I wasted nearly 25 years being hefty. My size never really went up and down, I just went up and stayed up. I love to cook, love to bake, love to create, love to feed my family, love to make them happy with food, love to eat with them. So after John and I married, I began fixing all of our favorite things: mainly pasta, bread, potatoes – all that good stuff! The first thirty pounds piled on during our first year, and the next 60 happily jumped on the bandwagon.

Let me just say here that I did not dislike myself. John never made me feel unattractive or unworthy or unloved. I knew and trusted in the fact that my Heavenly Father saw my heart. But I just did not have any self-respect. And I don’t think that was all tied up in how much I weighed, but the lack of self-respect came from knowing what I needed to do, but refusing to do it.

I¬†couldn’t cross my legs. I couldn’t get clothes out of the dryer without losing my breath. My footsteps sounded like an elephant’s on our wooden deck. Airplane¬†seat belts¬†barely fit. I had to get a rolling start to get out of bed. Standing at the sink hurt my back. I was afraid to sit in folding chairs. I hated pictures of myself. I never felt dainty. ¬†I skipped the magazine articles talking about diabetes and heart disease.¬†Walking past a glass storefront, I was horrified to realize that the “hefty” person walking past was ME. ¬†I weighed 231 pounds. On a 5’3″ frame. TWO. HUNDRED. THIRTY. ONE. POUNDS. It still hurts for me to admit that.

Almost two years ago I purchased a 90 day trial app on my phone for Weight Watchers. As I sat at the kitchen table learning to use the app, Micah walked in the door with a Double Dave’s pizza roll. I ate it, savoring each bite, and then the following day, January 16, 2011, I began keeping track of what I ate. The first few weeks I lost four, five, or even six pounds at a time. By June I had lost 40 pounds. The next 35 came off over the next 9 months. Each week that I lost was motivating to me. But I have slammed into the wall of reality: my fat is not really gone, it’s just hovering nearby, waiting to come home.

Have you played the Angry Birds Star Wars game yet? There is a force field in space, and Darth Pig is holding the little piggies floating paralyzed in his death grip. If you break the force field, gravity returns and the piggies come rushing back to the planet. And that’s how I feel about me and my fat – every day finds me struggling to maintain the force field and keep the fat away.

Which brings me to today. My initial goal was to weigh 150 pounds. I thought I’d just get that far, and see if I still wanted to continue. Supposedly, my ideal weight is somewhere between 107 and 135. I weighed more than 107 pounds in MIDDLE school, for crying out loud. I’m not aiming to be skeletal, just healthy. So….I haven’t made it to my original goal yet. I’ve danced around it, hovered above it, flirted with it, but that 1-5-0 remains elusive. Depending on which scale I use, I seesaw between 153 and 157 pounds. Hey, let’s just be honest. The scale at the gym says I weigh 159. But that’s with my tennis shoes on, so I get to subtract four pounds for those, right?

I’ve decided to try my hand at blogging about my determination (or lack thereof) and struggle. Maybe if I commit to publicly confessing what I eat, I’ll be more diligent about making better choices. Which is why I didn’t start this blog a couple of days ago: I would’ve had to confess to eating one of Jordan & Erin’s fried cheese sticks, and a nice, hot, buttery roll from Logan’s Roadhouse (among a few other things.)

I know the majority of you out there may be groaning – even those of you who have made it this far through my ramblings – don’t really CARE that much. Feel free to laugh at me and never read another word. I’m really writing this for me. And the truth is, there are other things in life that are so much more important than numbers on a scale. Our souls may have no earthly weight, but they are eternally weighty, and THAT is my main focus in life.

So, while I may still be considered pleasingly plump or a little bit tubby, that’s okay. I’m just aiming for a little bit less, and no “moore” of me, please.¬†