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Not Buying It

Last weekend, I began re-watching Lost.

Do you remember this series?

I sure did love it when it originally aired, and I sat, captivated, from the first episode through the final one.

I have sat, for hours, watching the episodes again and have, I think, finished through #14 of the first season.

I can feel my butt getting bigger from all of the couch-sitting I’m doing, but hey, I’ve been in desperate need of relaxation, and this is one of the ways I do it.  Plus, I can knit to my heart’s content.

Anyhoo…

It’s interesting when you watch something multiple times.  It’s similar to rereading a book.  You catch things you didn’t notice the first time around.  You’re able to focus on subtle themes.

The last couple of days, I’ve found myself drawn to the personal stories of each character.  If you’re not familiar with the series, each episode includes a survivor’s back story that explains the events that led up to that person’s arrival on the island.  The back story always has something to do with what he/she is currently experiencing on the island.

Now, allow me to switch gears a bit.  I promise to bring my different thoughts together.

In other areas of my life…

Every Friday night, the Mr. and I attend Small Group.  Our church has a bunch of different small groups that meet each week.  Each small group grows close as they work to draw closer to God through fellowship and discussion.

I’ve mentioned that my church is currently studying the book, Life’s Healing Choices:  Freedom From Your Hurts, Hang-ups, and Habits

This past Friday night, one of the questions we went around answering was something like, “What lies have you bought into and how have they affected you?”

Oh yeah.

There were crickets, let me tell you, for it was deep and required much thinking.

It was an easy question for me.  I have bought into so many lies that Satan hardly has to open up his mouth before I find myself consumed by his deception.

My desire to overachieve is a lie the evil one whispers in my ear.  He tells me that I won’t be accepted unless my lesson plans are perfect, my emails are grammar-free, and I’m at least a solid week ahead in planning.  This has frequently led me to stay up until 1 or 2am working.

Body image is another area in my life that is filled with lies.

I watched my mom struggle with her own body image…to the point where, I suspect, she was bulimic.  She was always dieting, frequently threw up after meals, and was forever exercising or chewing gum so she wouldn’t gain weight.

When I was a teenager, I used to go on starvation diets during the summer.  They never lasted long…probably not more than a day or two, but I wanted to be skinny.

The older I’m getting, the louder the whispering has gotten in my ear.

“You’ve got a roll of flab around your middle.”

“Delete that picture.  Your stomach looks pooched out in it.”

Overweight people sometimes act as if they’ve cornered the market on worrying about weight, but those of us who don’t struggle with that still carry our own anxieties…all brought about because of the lies the devil feeds us…through the media and peer pressure.

Another lie I bought into was that if I behaved perfectly, did everything I was supposed to do, my mom would love me as much as my sister.  This resulted in years of unfulfilled expectations and great, great angst.

As I’ve watched each episode of Lost this past week, I’ve empathized with each character.

Locke was told he would never be able to do anything because he was in a wheelchair.  The island gave him a fresh start with legs that weren’t paralyzed.  He was free from the lie he’d been told.

Charlie was told that he would never be able to take care of anyone else because he was a junkie pre-island life.  Meeting Claire helped him reinvent himself because she spoke the truth of his kindness to him.

Jack lived in the shadow of his successful, yet extremely dysfunctional alcoholic father and never felt he was loved.  It’s going to take the entire six seasons before he discovers the whopper of a tale his father had told him…that in fact, he was loved and appreciated.

For the characters in this show, the island becomes the catalyst for change in their hearts.

For me, God is that catalyst.

He doesn’t whisper the truth.  He proclaims it loudly from the empty cross, on which His Son selflessly sacrificed Himself.

Christ’s death tore the temple’s veil in half and removed the barrier between God and man.

What that means for me is that Satan has no hold over me.

His lies carry no weight.

They are worthless.

God’s love is priceless.

His grace is endless.

That is why I’m going to work hard to remind myself not to buy into whatever lies the devil tries to throw my way.

I Feel Like I’m Missing Something

To say I’m missing something would probably make the people who know me best laugh.

I know I’m ditzy.

I am originally a blonde, so I can take the ribbing as being done in fun.

BUT, as I watched last night’s Super Bowl commercials, I found myself scratching my head in confusion…and disgust.

First, though, I smiled at such commercials as the farmer one and the Budweiser/Clydesdale spot.

And then…

Lo and behold…

The disgusting one that proved, once again, how low a company will stoop to get people talking about it.

Oh, I’m not going to mention the company’s name because, like a certain singer whose name I refuse to type here (she is not-so-affectionately referred to by Yours Truly as “Not-a-Lady-Gag-Gag”), I don’t want the number of internet hits on the company’s name to skyrocket from one to two.

It’s the commercial that ended in a rather noisy and disgusting close-up of a kiss.

This company is notorious for having sleazy commercials, with its spokesperson representing a highly-touted sport.

The spokesperson is a female.

With every commercial that airs for this company, women are depicted as nothing but playthings for men.  The women are usually dressed scantily, if at all, and there is always so much sexual innuendo intertwined that viewers have no idea what the point of the commercial was in the first place.

How can a female spokesperson feel comfortable endorsing such a product?

Oh yeah.

She’s often the one not wearing many clothes either.

Gee.

How dumb can I be.

Something else that bothers me about these commercials is the disregard for the fact that they air during prime family viewing time, and in the case of the Super Bowl, when children are watching the game and commercials with their parents.

So a game that is supposed to be family-friendly turns into an impromptu question-answer session of, “Why is that man eating that woman’s face off?”

Yeah.

Disgusting.

I’ve blogged about my disgust for the entertainment industry.

But can I lay the blame solely on them?

Nope.

I put it on all of us…those of us who purchase products sold by these companies (for the record, if and when I ever purchase my blog domain name, it will NEVER be for a company that uses immoral means to sell its services).

I do not understand why companies make so much money using disgusting advertising techniques.

I do not understand how a person…be it an athlete, actress, or anyone else, can compromise his/her values to make a few $$.

I may be blonde and grew up in Alabama, but I don’t think I’m completely stupid.

The “something” that is missing seems to be high regard for morality and accountability to what used to be considered to be in “good taste.”

Sometimes I wish for the bygone days…even despite my love for technology.

I think I’d give up my iPhone, Mac, and other digital devices to not be inundated with disgusting TV spots trying to sell me things sold by women in lingerie or men in tightie whities.

Two Weeks of No TV

Sunday marked two weeks since I turned off my television set.  Easter is still four weeks away.

Some of you have asked for updates on what it’s been like in Chez AuburnChick.

Well, let me tell you that it has been quiet.

It has been very quiet.

The first few days were very difficult.  It’s amazing how much we rely on noise to fill empty space.

I thought that Spring Break would be especially difficult with Rooster being gone for half of it, Chicky being back at college, and the Mr. at work all day.

It wasn’t.

I am so much more focused right now.  This focus has helped me accomplish quite a bit of stuff these past two weeks.

Time does seem to stretch endlessly, but that is a good thing right now as time is what I need to complete the many, many tasks on my plate.

Although I did not have any assignments due in any of my classes last week, I used my quiet time to complete all of the quizzes for my Field Experience class.  In addition, I have completed all but one of the quizzes for my technology class.  I have also finished all of the assignments through week five of that same technology class, and I’m halfway done with week six.

I know what you’re thinking…slow down.

I can’t.

I cannot afford to until my own teaching schedule is finished in May.

Another benefit I’ve noticed is that I have grown to not care as much about what the “reality” stars are up to.

Boston Rob?

I have no idea if he’s been voted out and gone to Redemption Island (don’t anybody tell me either).

I did receive text messages from Chicky regarding who the bachelor chose.  Go Emily!

But honestly, I am so glad that I did not watch the After the Rose show because I would have been all up in arms about their less than perfect relationship (go figure).

I really do not need the added stress in my life right now.  Goodness knows that buying two cars and returning one within two days is enough stress!

Another thing I have noticed is that I have grown very sensitive to the sound of the TV that the Mr. watches in the other room.

In fact, I have found it rather distracting and annoying as I sit in the living room and attempt to work on my assignments.

It’s as if my brain craves the peace that is only broken by the tapping of my fingers on my keyboard.

Because I am no longer tied to my TV schedule, I feel freer to sit outside and enjoy the gorgeous weather my part of the state is enjoying right now.

I am not fidgety during Rooster’s college class…anxious to get home “in time for my shows.”  Gosh…it’s almost like TV provided a “fix” to some insatiable need for entertainment.

The cable box used to mock me with it’s glaring white display of the time.

I fixed that.

I unplugged it.

Imagine that.

So, two weeks of no TV…it hasn’t been as bad as one might think.

A Whole Lot of Quiet

Last night marked four days of my endeavor to give up TV during Lent.

I’ve gotta tell you that fasting from a non-food item is just as difficult as giving up something like sugar or junk food.

I never realized how quiet the house is when the TV is turned off.

My daily routine used to encompass working until 3:30, watching DOOL for 45 minutes, and then hunkering down to work on certification assignments WHILE listening to the TV in the background.

This week, I have been going home, visiting with Chicky (home for Spring Break), and then hunkering down to work on lesson plans and my assignments.

There.

Is.

No.

TV.

There.

Are.

No.

Extra.

Sounds.

A couple of days ago, it was so silent that the only thing I heard was the sound of my fingers tapping away at my keyboard and the deep laugh of my sweet Rooster as he played Xbox Live in another room.

That.

Was.

All.

I have been playing music though.  I love listening to Chris Tomlin Radio on Last.fm.

Still, though, the music is not a replacement for the TV.

What has been even stranger than the lack of noise is the depressed feeling I have.

I feel like the house is a little darker without the bright images being emitted from the television.

Time seems to crawl by.  Let’s face it folks.  We live our lives in segments – in blocks predetermined by the length of our activities.  In my case, my evenings were divided into one or two-hour chunks.

Last night, after working all afternoon on assignments, I glanced at the clock, expecting the time to read 8pm.

It was 6:00.

I kid you not.

I’ve been working at my dining room table lately; however, I moved to the couch, which is in front of the TV, later in the evening.

It was a strange feeling.  I looked at my DVR, and I could see that it was recording something (preset, of course)…

I felt like I was being taunted.

The Mr. walked through, and I made a comment about how tired I was.

He told me I should go to bed early.  He also suggested that my body probably thought it was time for bed because usually, when I turn off the TV, my body takes it as a signal that it’s bedtime.

Good observation.

Probably true as well.

People are conditioned to respond to certain stimuli.  Pavlov proved it with his salivating dog experiment.

I think that the television serves as a stimulant to my body.  It keeps me awake.   I guess that’s why child “experts” suggest that children do not watch television a certain length of time before going to bed.

Who knew that the experts might actually know something.  😉

What I am already coming to realize is that television is almost like a drug.  Certain shows lead us to have certain feelings.  We watch advertisements for things we don’t need and think, all of a sudden, that we need those things.

And so we depend on the TV to help us be who we are, so to speak.

God does not want that of us. 

Nothing should define who we are except for HIM.

It’s no wonder that we wander around lost and confused.

We have too many voices playing in the background of our lives when, in reality, we need to be listening to only ONE voice…the voice that won’t make promises He can’t keep (unlike infomercials for anti-wrinkle cream).

I am praying that the quiet time that I will be having over the course of Lent will help me train myself to purposefully tune out the noises around me so that I can hear God’s voice in a very clear, audible way.

Honey on the Lips

Do any of you watch the series The Next Food Network Star?

The show comes on Sunday nights on The Food Network, and it is a competition to see who will be the network’s next star.

I love watching how the contestants interact with each other and deal with the challenges they are presented.  Plus, the food doesn’t look half bad either!

Well, on this past Sunday’s episode, I caught a phrase in a conversation that really struck me.

First, a bit of background.

There are two females who do not like each other.  No surprise there, eh?  Women can be so catty.

Serena is a gal who hails from Italy.  She speaks very quickly, and when she’s mad, look out!

Then, there’s Brianna, who was floundering but seems to be gaining confidence and finding her cooking voice, which doesn’t put up with much, let me tell you…

So, these two ladies do not get along.

Serena’s voice is annoying.  She talks all the time.  Brianna is extremely bossy, which annoys Serena.

Together, they are fire and ice.

During the first of Sunday’s challenges, both women came in the bottom two.  So, for the next challenge, the contestants were put into pairs, and Serena and Brianna were put together.

Yeah.

The challenge was that each team had a cooking trailer on Venice Beach, and they had to create dishes to serve to those coming by on the boardwalk.  They also had to create a name for their stand and work together, in a very narrow galley.

It was the perfect setting for a throw-down, and I’m not talking the Bobby Flay kind (if you watch this network very often, you’re understanding the language I speaketh).

Part of these types of “reality” shows is that contestants are interviewed away from everyone else.  It makes for good TV, I guess, to hear all of the stuff they say behind everyone’s backs.

Naturally, Serena and Brianna were livid that they were going to have to work as a team, and neither of them were shy to tell that to the audience.

Now, here’s the part that caught my attention…so much so that I reached over for a pen and wrote this down.

Serena, while talking about how much she disliked Brianna, said, “There will be honey on my lips but bitterness in my heart.”

Oh my gosh!!

Didn’t that just make your heart sad for her?

This phrase has been repeating itself inside my head over the last few days.

We are taught to put on a smile…be polite…no matter how we feel.  It’s the socially-accepted way of doing things.

I am not very good at this, I will admit.

I am the kind of person who wears my feelings on my sleeve, and if I’m not feeling something, I’m sure not going to fake it and pretend like things are okay.

Case in point:

There is a young gal…a sort-of-friend of Chicky’s who hurt her terribly the last two years of high school.  What this girl did to my precious baby was enough to make the Mama Bear in me come out.

Although I did nothing publicly, I stewed.

There is much bitterness in my heart.

However, unlike Serena, I do not have honey on my lips.

While I have not been rude to this girl, I do my best to avoid situations where I am around her.  If I see her, I avoid eye contact.

I just can’t be fake.

I’m not sure this is any better than saying nice things while harboring anger in my heart.

But still, Serena’s words have stuck with me and continue to make me think.

For one thing, I am no better than she is.  I am working on getting through the anger that often remains in my heart long after an offense (or supposed one) has taken place.

I long for there to be honey on my lips and love in my heart for the people I do not particularly care for.

That, my friends, is a sign of maturity and growth in the Lord.

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