Habits: the Good & the Bad

Habit [NOUN]: A settled or regular tendency or practice, especially one that is hard to give up.

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Habits.

We all have them. Some are good, others are bad.

A couple of mine? I pick at my lips and stay up waaay too late.

One of my sons never, ever, ever closes drawers. And my other son is a dirty clothes artist–aka, he leaves his school clothes in rather artistic piles… always on his bedroom floor.

❤ (But on the flip side, one of them gives warm, fuzzy hugs regularly and the other reads whatever and whenever he can.) ❤

Often, we agonize over breaking bad habits.

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Recently my younger son stumbled into our bedroom at 2am. He’s eleven, so unless he or his brother are sick, they’re tucked in their beds between 9:30pm and 7am.

If you’re close to me, you know that I’m 95% human and 5% beast. My beast mode kicks in between midnight and 7am. No joke, my sister had to {carefully} wake me up on Christmas morning when we were kids. I do not do mornings unless provoked and/or coerced.

Anyway, Chase stumbles into our bedroom at 2am. “Can I sleep with you guys?”

“Grfghrgrlk?” We’ve never been big on the boys sleeping with us. As babies they did occasionally, and during illness as toddlers, but overall we keep our bed ours.

He tries his dad, who thankfully remains human in the deep, dark hours of the night. “Can I sleep in here?”

“Did you have a bad dream?”

“No, I just want to sleep in here.”

My wonderful human husband climbs out of bed, guides Chase back to his bedroom (which he shares with our older son), and lays down with him for several minutes. Thankfully Chase remains asleep and the night continues as normal.

Until the next night.

And the next night.

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“Waking up at 2am has become a habit.” I mention gently on the third day. He nods in understanding. He didn’t want to wake up, but couldn’t help it anymore.

At bedtime on the fourth evening, I asked about bad dreams again. None, he reassured me. We prayed and they got an extra long back scratch. Just as my hubby and I walked out, Chase unraveled from his blanket cocoon.

“Can you lay the clock down? It’s too bright and when I wake up it reminds me that I’m sleeping.”

Ah. The proverbial lightbulb flashed on.

A few days earlier, I purchased a small silver alarm clock for the boys’ room. Huge green letters filled the screen so that Cole could see it on his bookshelf, from his bed (his eyesight isn’t great, and he takes his glasses off at night).

So I laid the clock on its back, and sure enough, Chase slept through the night. And again the next night.

The bad habit was broken.

The situation got me thinking about habits. Bad ones, and good ones.

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NaNoWriMo 2017 has begun.

For those who don’t know, it’s a write-a-thon set during the month of November. “National Novel Writing Month.” Thousands of writers across the country (world?) pound out 50,000 words of a story by November 30th. You don’t have to finish the story, just the 50k words.

Some make it, some don’t. The point is to Write. Every. Single. Day.

I enjoy the camaraderie on social media and the internal & external incentive to get words on a page. NaNoWriMo always readjusts the good habit of writing every day.

{NO EDITING ALLOWED}

If you’re on this NaNoWriMo journey, best wishes on adjusting to this new, good habit. Figure out what helps you write better and faster (plotting beforehand, writing at night when your house is silent, consuming nine cups of coffee & an entire bag of M & M’s, etc…)

Then write. Because writers write.

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YOU. CAN. DO. THIS!

 

 

 

 

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Gladiator Days

“Why don’t you get in line?” I motioned to my sons above the throng of voices, excited shouts, and laughter filling the warehouse-sized-indoor-bouncy-playground.

The Gladiator Pit snagged 10-year-old Chase’s attention, with its four pedestals of foam and bulky weapons for knocking opponents into the squishy cubes littering the pit’s base.

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The current “ruler” of the Gladiator Pit stood proudly in the center, one victory from gaining the golden belt after nine rounds of knocking competitors off.

Chase drank it all in with unbounded eagerness. Though not as competitive as his older brother, he has always loved wrestling-type activities. His smile broadened as the teenaged employee handed him a foam stick, then he crawled across the huge cubes to balance on the orange pedestal.

Cole followed with a frog-legged leap, concentration tightening his features. He stands a few inches taller than Chase now, but Chase is solid and strong, and I was curious to see the outcome.

The four boys faced each other, gripping their long blue foam sticks. When the young employee blew his whistle, the Gladiator fight erupted.

Single-minded and still smiling, Chase leapt off his pedestal, launching his entire body at the current champion across from him. Down the poor boy went, deep into the cubes. Chase regained his balance and pivoted to womp the boy going after Cole.

His momentum knocked that boy and Cole from their pedestals so quickly my sister, nephew, and I burst out laughing at Chase’s victorious grin and the speed at which the action had unfolded.

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I grinned back at my excited younger son and his infectious joy. And it reminded me of one of my life verses, Acts 20:24.

“But none of these things move me; nor do I count my life dear to myself, so that I may finish my race with joy, and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God.”

A couple of rounds later, Cole strategized and easily took his brother and two other boys down–but still, Chase wore a big smile.

In the pursuit of our God-given dreams, we will attain victory–and we will get knocked down. How can we truly experience all that with joy? All those ups and downs?

In Acts chapter twenty, Paul calls the elders of the church of Ephesus to him (v 17). He warns and encourages them of what’s to come in the early church. “So now, brethren, I commend you to God and to the word of His grace, which is able to build you up and give you an inheritance among all those who are sanctified” (32).

Then, Paul closes with what I consider the key to maintaining our joy in any kind of circumstances…whether we’re getting knocked down or holding our hands high in victory. “And remember the words of the Lord Jesus, that He said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive’” (35).

We all have Gladiator days–the days when we’re knocked flat on our face, or when we stand tall in victory. But I promise, the most joy you’ll receive on this journey toward God’s heart and your dreams is in giving of yourself and serving others.

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