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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Messages

We still have an answering  machine in our home.

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It’s stuck on the wall between our kitchen and dining room, a 20th Century relic I just can’t part with.

My husband has grumbled about getting rid of our home phone and the machine, but I have a couple long-distance friends I talk with regularly, and I despise talking on my cell phone. So understanding hubby set it up that when we’re home and calls come in on our cell phones, we can answer on the home phone.

When the number blinks, we have new messages. Either an “IRS” rep demanding we call NOW before our bank account explodes or the ortho office reminding me about my older son’s appointment.

{Thank goodness the political season is over.}

But there are five saved messages that will never get deleted from our compact answering machine. In Lord of the Rings dialect, they’re my PRECIOUS.

They’re cheerful, congratulatory female voices letting me know You’re A Semifinalist or You’re A Finalist.

When I met one of the lovely message-leavers at a local writing conference last year, I started the conversation with, “Your voice is on my answering machine.” She got that deer-in-the-headlights look (in Florida, it’s more like squirrel-in-the-headlights) until I explained who I was and why her voice was on my machine. Then we laughed.

Those five saved messages slowly added up, little numbers that equaled Fulfilled Promises of this writing dream that took root decades ago and grew, bit by bit, until it stretched my aching heart.

Until this happened last weekend.

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It’s a gift I still can’t fully believe and am so grateful for.

But there were other messages along the winding, wondering years, too. I see them more clearly now. Emails that healed the tender ache, notes that pressed me forward despite longing to give up.

Words prayed over me that wrapped me in the Father’s love.

Messages from writer friends, encouraging words just when I needed them. And messages in God’s Word.

“But as for you, brethren, do not grow weary in doing good.”

“Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks.”

“Take heed to the ministry which you have received in the Lord, that you may fulfill it.”

“Forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”

“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.”

Are you on a heart journey? Traveling a path you know you’re supposed to, but the end is out of sight? I’m not there yet either friend, and I’m realizing in shades of blinding, sunset beauty…that’s the point.

The goal isn’t the final objective. The goal is the journey–and the messages we leave and receive along the way. They’re grace and friendship and love and selflessness.

Here are a few pictures from the ACFW conference and Gala last weekend.

 

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Cathy Gohlke, my favorite historical author. What a blessing to meet her!

 

 

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Sweet author Lynne Pleau. She’s also from Newtown!

 

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A writer and a gentleman, Joseph Courtemanche. He taught a class about basic weaponry at ACFW!

 

 

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Fun, encouraging friends Deanna & Lucy. What a joy to laugh & celebrate with other writers!

 

 

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Fellow finalist Deborah Clack. A sweet, funny fellow writer I’m so glad I had the chance to meet!

 

 

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What a blessing that my mom and sister joined me this weekend.

 

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Just, you know, sleeping with my Genesis award Saturday night. 🙂

 

 

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That this even has my name on it still makes me catch my breath. SO thankful!

 

“I thank my God upon every remembrance of you.”