“So Obsessed?”

*Disclaimer: This isn’t going to be an inspiring, spiritual post. It’s really just a rant, but hopefully a rant that will cause you to think before you speak/type.*

One of the trendy words to use when talking about something is obsessed. I get at least one email a day from clothing or beauty companies with the subject line, “We’re OBSESSED with this color/sweater/shoe/flavor.” People state in their fashion posts that they’re obsessed with some feature of their outfit. You see restaurants in their facebook posts say that their obsessed with pumpkin spice or bacon or whatever. Someone is obsessed with a tv or book series.

It seems that the trend of saying you’re “so OCD” because you like things to be tidy or dislike crooked pictures, which was a slap in the face to those who actually struggle with OCD, has evolved into throwing the word obsessed around for everything.

OCD is fortunately not something I’ve struggled with (like I need anything else), but I have been obsessed with things for a period of time.

If you’ve never eaten a food multiple times a week, even when it’s making you sick, even hiding that you’ve had that food again, you’ve never been “so obsessed” with a food.

If you’ve never spent every free second (and even some not so free ones) reading a book, losing sleep, ignoring loved ones, and thinking about it constantly when you’re not reading, you’ve never been “so obsessed” with a book.

Now, I’m not one to actually get offended about things like that, but it is annoying, and can be hurtful to those who are in the midst of an episode. Please remember to use your words with care.

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Minor Rambles

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I don’t know what it says about me, but minor songs have always touched my soul. I know people say “always” and sometime mean “From the first time I heard X a month/year/decade ago,” but I truly mean as far back as I can remember. The first song that I loved for the chills it gave me was an old folk tune round that my Grandpa and then my Mom sang that went something like this:

Hey, Ho. Nobody’s Home

Got no food nor money have I none

Yet I will be happy.

Then there was the song “Flee As a Bird,” that we sang in worship. I didn’t understand it when I was little, but I loved it. I wasn’t a sad child- my depression didn’t start until I was 12 or 13- but I loved these songs.

I think it was middle school chorus that I learned about major and minor keys and I had a name for the sound I loved. As much as I enjoyed singing the upbeat songs it was songs I learned around this time like “We Are One in the Spirit” and “Love, Love, Love” (in devos) and one song about the wind we sang in 6th grade chorus that gave me chills. That continued through middle school (a song about the rain being the clouds’ tears sticks with me) and high school chorus.

Since I’ve started sort of writing songs, I’ve made several in minor keys- not because I planned to but because that’s just how they wanted to be. They’re not even sad songs.

If you’ve made it this far, you may be wondering what’s the point of this post or what made me want to write about it. I guess there’s not really a point except maybe to find other minor-lovers. I’ve been thinking of writing something along these lines for several weeks, ever since my brother posted a video of a cover of Smashmouth’s “All-Star” in a minor key. Then I thought about trying to sing some hymns from our book in a minor key. It was tricky, though, for two reasons: I didn’t want to make a joyful song sound sad, and it takes a lot of concentration to sing a long you’ve sung your whole life in a different way.

So far, I’ve found a few for which the meaning of the song seems to deepen. First, “I Need Thee Every Hour” becomes a heart-wrenching song of desperate need. “I Bring My Sins to Thee,” especially the second verse, is likewise fitting:

I bring my grief to Thee, the grief I cannot tell.

No word shall needed be- Thou knowest all so well.

I bring the sorrow laid on me,

O, suffering Savior all to Thee; o, suffering Savior all to Thee.

More difficult, I found that if you sing the verses of “At the Cross” (Alas, and did my Savior bleed?) in a minor key and switch to major for the chorus, you feel the contrast between sorrow over the necessity of Christ’s sacrifice (in the verses) with the joy of the resulting salvation (in the chorus).

Then we got Pirates of the Carribean: At World’s End in on Netflix DVD and it made that part of me ache because of the variations of the song that’s played throughout, and knew I had to go ahead and write about it, if just to release the ache.

So what does all this mean about me? I have no idea. If anyone knows of any studies on people who love minor songs or have any personal anecdotes feel free to share.

New Every Morning…

DSC_1666-001This I recall to my mind,

Therefore I have hope.

Through the Lord’s mercies we are not consumed,

Because His compassions fail not.

They are new every morning.

Great is Your faithfulness!

“The LORD is my portion,” says my soul,

“Therefore I will hope in Him.”

Lamentations 3:21-24

Or as the song (and the ESV) says:

The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases.

His mercies never come to an end.

It’s such a comfort to know that God gives us a new start every morning. We often think of a fresh start based on a particular time of year- New Year’s, birthdays, new school year, Mondays. But I can have a fresh start on the day that I’m writing this: Tuesday, 2 days shy from the end of a month. We don’t even have to wait until morning. It may be hard to change our habits in the middle of a day, but God gives us a spiritual fresh start the moment we ask Him. His mercies are always new and always available if we’re willing to repent and submit. As the next verse in the passage says, “The LORD is good to those who wait for Him, to the soul who seeks Him.”

I have to admit, though, that what got me thinking about writing on this (the idea popped in my head weeks ago) was the idea of a fresh start and every day being new. I had gotten behind in my One Year Bible daily reading, and was feeling overwhelmed at the thought of doubling up to catch up, so I got even further behind. Instead, I gave myself a fresh start and picked up on the day I would’ve been reading. With the weight off my mind, I’ve only missed a day or two in the few weeks since I restarted.

God’s mercies are new every morning. You can make your fresh start.

Wait on the Lord

Every Sunday evening before worship, we have  a memorization class in which the children (and adults) learn verses and Bible facts through songs & rhythms. One of the verses we have learned is Psalm 27:13-14:

I would have lost heart unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait on the Lord. Be of good courage, and He will strengthen your heart. Wait, I say, on the Lord.

I wish I could post the song so you could all learn it, but you can buy Jeff Miller’s CDs for use at home. It’s one that I sing to myself all the time because it’s so relevant.  That got me thinking about doing a study in other verses about waiting on the Lord, so I looked them up and compiled them into a doc for myself.  I’m going to just post them here without further commentary so that hopefully others can gain encouragement.

Gen 49:18- I have waited for your salvation, O Lord.

Pss 33:20- Our soul waits for the Lord; He is our help and our shield.

Pss 37:7-8- Rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for Him. Do not fret because of him who prospers in his way, because of the man who brings wicked schemes to pass. Cease from anger and wrath; do not fret- it only causes harm. For evildoers shall be cut off; but those that wait on the Lord, they shall inherit the earth.

Pss 37:34- Wait on the Lord and keep His way, and He shall exalt you to inherit the land. When the wicked are cut off, you shall see it.

Pss 39:7- And now, Lord, what do I wait for? My hope is in You.

Pss 40:1- I waited patiently for the Lord. And He inclined to me and heard my cry.

Pss 130:5-6- I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in His word I hope. My soul waits for the Lord more than those who watch for the morning- yes, more than those who watch for morning.

Prov 20:22- Do not say, “I will recompense evil.” Wait for the Lord, and He will save you.

Isa 26:8- Yes, in the way of Your judgments, O Lord we have waited for You. The desire of our soul is for Your name and for Your remembrance of you.

Isa 33:2- O Lord, be gracious to us; we have waited for You. Be our arm every morning, our salvation also in the time of trouble.

Isa 40:31- But those that wait on the Lord shall renew their strength. They shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not grow weary, they shall walk and not faint.

Lam 3:25-26- The Lord is good to those who wait for Him, to the soul who seeks Him. It is good that one should hope and wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord.

Mic 7:7- Therefore I will look to the Lord; I will wait for the God of my salvation; My God will hear m

It doesn’t have to be so heavy..

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There’s a fairly new Linkin Park song called “Heavy” that describes what it’s like dealing with depression and anxiety better than almost any I’ve heard. (Disclaimer: I’ve only listened to it on the radio with the profanity edited out. If you look the song up, look for a radio edit.) There will occasionally be a phrase in a song that resonates with me (like the line “You can be addicted to a certain kind of sadness” in “Somebody I Used to Know” among many), but never so much of one song.

The first part that really hits home is

And I drive myself crazy/Thinking everything’s about me./Yeah, I drive myself crazy/Cause I can’t escape the gravity.

Depression truly does make me self-centered, but not in an arrogant way. I worry that everything I do will upset people, that it’s wrong, that people are annoyed by my presence. And it weighs on me. When I’m sort through the thoughts, I know that while make mistakes, of course, I probably don’t make too many more than anyone else does. I know that all the strangers I encounter don’t think I’m a weirdo, but if fact likely don’t think of me at all.

Then there’s the chorus:

Holding on/Why is everything so heavy?/Holding on/It’s so much more than I can carry./I keep dragging around what’s bringing me down./If I just let go, I’d be set free.

And that’s exactly what I do when I’m in depression. It’s so hard to motivate myself to do anything because it feels like I’m dragging around a weight, but it’s a weight that has been with me for so long, I don’t release it. I relive my past mistakes.

Despite struggling with depression most of my life, I’ve never figured out how to get myself to bounce right back out of the hole, but I’ve never given up on myself, either. Not completely. I may not know how to fix my mood, but I don’t have to know. I have to remind myself that it doesn’t have to be so heavy because I don’t have to carry it alone. Jesus says in Matthew 11:28-30:

Come unto Me, all you that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am meek and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.

No, relying on Jesus will not make your problems go away, even if most of them are self-inflicted, or even imagined, like mine, but He will be with you while you carry your burdens, and the forgiveness He offers means that sin is not one of the burdens we carry.

Sunday night, as we sang, “When I Survey the Wondrous Cross,” I glanced at the adjacent page, and saw the neighboring song was, “What a Friend We Have in Jesus.”

What a friend we have in Jesus, all our sins and griefs to bear;

What a privilege to carry everything to God in prayer.

Oh what peace we often forfeit, oh what needless pain we bear.

All because we do not carry everything to God in prayer.

I have to admit that though my mouth sang the words of song 257, my mind was thinking of sing 255, and I teared up while singing. When I’m depressed and beating myself up about something or completely unmotivated to do anything productive, I do neglect to pray. Just this past, I’ve made an effort in these times, and the prayer is usually simple and repetitive, asking God to help me, but I can calm down more quickly and get moving sooner.

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If you are struggling with depression, you don’t have to do it alone. Take it to God in prayer, and take it to your Christian family. After all, we are to “bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ” (Galatians 6:2).

Marry Someone Who Complements You.

No, I didn’t make a spelling error, though compliments are nice. In fact, since words of affirmation is my primary love language, Jeremy’s compliments are part of why he complements me, but that’s beside the point.

I really like this definition from our old Webster’s Dictionary:

complementary: mutually supplying each other’s lack

The ubiquitous They may say that opposites attract, but if you’re completely opposite from each other, you’re going to have some problems in your relationship. As Amos 3:3 says, “Can two walk together unless they are agreed?” You should agree on core values. Having complementary strengths and weaknesses, on the other hand, can be beneficial, especially in the long run.

I’m going to mostly speak from personal experience because, of course that’s what I know best, and fourteen years has provided a wealth of anecdotal evidence. First off, Jeremy and I have different strengths concerning intelligence. I was good at school, have an above-average long-term memory, and can follow movie plots even if I’m playing Candy Crush while watching it. Jeremy has great common sense, knows how to do many useful things, and can figure out innovative solutions to problems. Even though I may seem “smarter,” I feel like his strengths in this area are much more useful than mine, but regardless of my feelings, it makes our marriage better that we are different and compliment each other.

I’m prone to disorganization and procrastination, even on things I want to do (this post has taken me months to finish). Jeremy has helped me to be more organized (because my clutter drove him crazy) and motivates me to get the important stuff done. I can help him to give people the benefit of the doubt. I am a shy extravert and he is an outgoing introvert, so we balance each other socially, too.

If you’re into MBTI, Jeremy is almost a textbook ISTJ while I am (probably) a shy ENFP (though maybe an INFP), which accounts for several of the opposite… err… complementary traits listed above.

I definitely didn’t have all this in mind when I started dating Jeremy- I was only 18, after all. Most of my friends now are married, so I would recommend looking for the ways you complement your spouse and try to mutually supply each other’s lack.

Fitbit Hiatus

I got my fitbit flex in September, and I’ve really enjoyed using it. It encouraged me to walk/run a little farther with the stroller, and to exercise on days I might have skipped. It also enlightened me as to why I spend 8.5 hours in bed yet always feel a little sleepy: I move around an average of 20 times a night.

For several months, I had done well in listening to my body, taking days off when needed, and looking more at average steps rather than daily.

Then the challenges started. I pushed myself a little more.  I knew that there were some people I would never beat, and I was ok with that.  The problem was, I was never able to sync my final steps until it was too late (we don’t have internet at home or data on our phones). I got frustrated that my efforts didn’t even “count.”

Last Saturday I had it all planned how I would get it synced and there was one of the three challenges I was in that I’d actually win. I had somewhere to be in the morning, so I left 15 minutes early, stopped in a McDonald’s parking lot to snip some wifi, and tried to sync. My fitbit battery was dead. I very nearly cried, and then I knew that my fitbit had become the latest in a long line of obsessions.

I took it off, and it’s sitting in a drawer for at least another week. Hopefully I can start again soon with a fresh outlook.

Confessions of (and Apologies from) a Shy Extrovert

“What?!? A shy extrovert?” you may think, “Isn’t that an oxymoron?” If there can be posts written by outgoing introverts explaining their mindset and needs, then why can’t I identify as a shy extrovert? After all, introversion and extroversion are not determined by your degree of/lack of shyness; it’s where you get your energy, how your mental batteries are recharged. I may not often say much, but I definitely feel recharged after social activity, feel sad when I know I’m missing out, and get depressed when I go too long without.

So here goes…

  • If you’ve ever felt that I don’t like you, it’s almost definitely not the case. I like pretty much everyone (really). More than once, I’ve had people think this, so it’s the first thing I wanted to clear up. If you see that I talk quite animatedly to others, but barely say a word to you, there’s a high chance that you intimidate me for some inexplicable reason. There’s no pattern I can discern as to who affects me in this way. I do like you, and I’m sorry for anyone I’ve hurt.
  • I’m terribly afraid of annoying people. Ever since the first time a girl told me I was annoying (my supposed best friend in 5th grade), I’ve fought the feeling that my mere presence annoys. If it had just been the once, then I might have moved on, but the next few years had repeated incidents, both at school and in other settings. This fear has carried into adulthood, and sometimes it’s a battle for me to simply get off the pew after worship to try to talk to people. I’m sorry to all those I’ve annoying in the past, and I’m grateful that some of them are now my facebook friends, and so might possibly read this and accept my apology.
  • I have a tendency to hover around others having a conversation. I know this was one of the things that annoyed people during my pre- and early-teen years. I want to be involved and talk to people, so I’ll walk up to a group or individual, and then my shyness takes over, so I stand there being awkward.
  • When I do start talking, I sometimes have trouble stopping. The flood bursts over the dam, and I become a chatterbox. These days, it’s often about Ryland, since I don’t have much else going on, but might often be semi-related anecdotes from my past. I’m working on remembering to ask others about their lives, but it’s (sadly) a new thing, so please be patient. This mostly goes out to my church family, since you are the ones I see the most. More apologies.
  • When I’m able to forget my shyness, often while playing games or sports, I can get pretty loud and crazy. This tends to come as a shock to those who have only seen me be quiet.
  • Besides my run-of-the-mill shyness, I also have self-diagnosed mind-to-moderate social anxiety, particularly concerning making phone calls and asking for help. If you call and leave a message, and I know I’ll see you very soon, I’ll likely wait to talk to you in person. I’ve spend 30 minutes wandering a store looking for something rather than ask an employee where it might be. I put off making doctors appointments (for myself, not Ryland) for weeks. This great frustrates Jeremy, who is the opposite of me- one of those outgoing introverts.

So here’s my big explanation/apology to all those who have been subjected to the awkwardness of this shy extrovert. Laying it all out there will hopefully help remind me of the things I need to work on. I need to remember, “A man who has friends must himself be friendly” Proverbs 18:24a.

Food Is not the Enemy: Learning to Eat Intuitively

I started writing this post weeks ago, then stopped after a couple of sentences because I decided to finish my reread of Intuitive Eating first.

I mentioned in my first post that I am done with doing any kind of diet. This includes type of “plan” or “lifestyle” that restricts any type of food. I’m working now to become an intuitive eater. I’m not going to list all ten principles, but the basic premise is learning to listen to your body’s hunger and fullness signals while eating food that satisfies both your taste and your nutritional needs. No food is off limits for me. All foods are guilt-free. There are no good foods or bad foods. As long as you obtain your food honestly, there should be no labels tying it to morality.

Right now, as is common in the beginning, I am often choosing foods that are considered “play foods.” I retraining my thinking that I shouldn’t feel guilty for eating them, so I allow them. However, since I am respecting my fullness, I’m not overeating them. In time, these foods will lose their novelty, and I will desire them less.

Why have I decided to learn to eat this way? Why have I been sharing posts on eating intuitively?

The main reason is I’m tired of the guilt. Why does a dessert have to be “sinfully delicious?” Why can’t it just be delicious? Why would we even buy into the concept of tying something benign (dessert) to something terrible (sin)? I want to be free of these thoughts.

Secondly, I know it will be better for my physical health. Though I’m not taking the time to search for and link the studies, it has been determined that it’s better to be somewhat overweight than to have a constant weight cycle of as little as 11 pounds. The evidence also shows that dieters have poorer health numbers across the board than intuitive eaters. For me personally, I know that compulsive eating it harmful to my health. The more I think about following certain food rules, the more I want to eat compulsively.

I’m tried of the roller coaster. I’m ready to be patient with myself as I get to my natural healthy weight. I don’t know what that is, but it’s likely about halfway in between where I am now and where I was at my most recent low weight. The book actually recommends throwing away the scale, but I like knowing where I am.

I’m ready for peace.

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And now, a disclaimer: I’m not trying to discourage anyone currently following some sort of program. I just want those who have been in my shoes to know that there is another option. I also understand that because of allergies, sensitivities and other health concerns, some people have to avoid certain foods.

Intentionally Nikki

And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men. Colossians 3:23

This blog isn’t meant to be solely about my struggles with food.  This year (and the rest of my life), I want to work on living more intentionally.  Much of the time, I either act impulsively/compulsively (like with eating, but also with reading novels), or I just let myself drift with the tide, waiting on others to tell me what to do.  I want to live more intentionally, doing things because I mean to and not doing things because I mean not to.  To keep my posts a little shorter, I’m going to write about just one or two aspects at a time.

I want to be more intentional in my speech:

Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned with salt, that you may know how you ought to answer each one. Colossians 4:6

Because I’m shy and have mild to moderate social anxiety, I am often hesitant to speak, whether it’s to speak out about my opinion, biblical truths, or just to join in a conversation.  More than once, people have thought I disliked them because of my shyness. Other times, it’s like the dam bursts and words come flowing out, often not in the way I mean for them to. Sometimes I just come across as being weird or like I think I’m funny when I’m actually not. Other times,  I may word something in a way that can be misconstrued to be hurtful.

I used to be very sarcastic, and I mostly broke myself of that. I can work on this, too. I can use my words to build people up.

And because I always want a picture in my post, here’s another from my walk on Monday:

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