Monday, April 16, 2007

Living an Intentional Life

In the wake of recent news stories and several ongoing conversations between me and Cornbread and a conversation with my parents this weekend, I feel a need to put some thoughts down in writing. I am free-writing this so it may not be incredibly coherent or organized. Please look past that. If you would like to comment and have a "discussion" please feel free to do so, however, I ask that you be respectful of others and their opinions.

Something I have felt for quite some time is that I need to be intentional about how I live. We live in a world where we just do the easy things... eat like crap because it is more convenient to do so than to try to plan a properly nutritious diet, run through the drive through on the way home because we don't feel like making dinner, letting our kids watch, read, and listen to whatever they want with the expectation that they will be able to discern what is appropriate and what isn't, giving in to tantrums just to quiet them down, adults excusing their choices of music, television and movies because they are adults and they can do what they want, allowing our teenage children to dress in revealing clothes, moms dressing in revealing clothes because they are trendy, etc. etc.. All of these things and more are leading to a huge breakdown in society - a society that is becoming more and more desensitized to what is inappropriate for ourselves and for our children.

I will speak only for myself and not make decisions for others on this... I feel it is incredibly important for my family to reverse this trend. It is going to be hard work. It is going to be a struggle. Life would be more convenient and perhaps easier if we went along the road of doing what feels good and doing the things that are less work. But would our lives be happier? Significant? Fullfilling? Honoring to God? I think the answer is no.

Cornbread and I had a conversation on the way home from Michigan yesterday about wanting to keep our girls as pure as possible for as long as possible. We're not prudes - believe me, we've each done a lot of stuff in our past that we would not be proud to share with other people - we're not trying to turn our girls into Laura Ingalls (is that her name - that girl from little house). We're trying to figure out ways that we can insulate our children from the sex-sells society. The world where it is okay to reveal too much skin as a 16 year old girl, it is okay to look at the too much skin as a 13 year old boy; a world where 5th grade children are having sex in their classroom in front of their classmates, a world where sexual activity at a young age is the norm and almost expected. How do we insulate OUR children? How do we teach them and encourage them to make good choices and not go with the flow? How do we lead our children to a honorable, respectable lifestyle?

If you want to be respected, you have to be respectable.

This is my new key phrase in life. And one that is challenging me to think about what I am doing, what I am watching and what I am listening to. If I want my children to respect me, I need to be respectable. I need to be intentional in my life about how I am displaying myself to them and what I am teaching them through my actions. No longer is it okay for me to watch whatever I want to watch after they go to bed, for me to read magazines that further a culture that I don't want to influence my kids just because somehow the magazine has been sent to me for free, for me to view myself as a discerning individual. Its time to think about what I'm doing and stop excusing my choices because they are enjoyable and I don't want to give them up. We discussed the tv shows we watch, the movies we watch, our attitudes toward nutrition, diet, exercise, smoking, drinking - everything. If I think, for a minute, that my actions and my attitudes are not being noticed by my 5 year old because "she's too young" to know the difference, I'm simply being dumb. She may not completely grasp everything, but it will stick with her.

Being intentional does not mean living life as I want but hiding it from my kids' eyes. Its not soley about how my actions influence my children, but it is about how my actions affect my life and how I am honoring God, my children, my husband and myself. An intentional life is not going to be easy. I'm going to have to actually think about what I am doing rather than just doing it. I like my Body For Life diet for that reason (there are others) - I no longer have the option of going to find something to eat and just grabbing whatever is available to eat because it looks good or it is easy, I have to plan my meals and snacks long before I eat them. I have to be intentional about what I'm eating throughout the day. Its not easy. But it is important.

I want to live a life of significance and that may mean doing difficult things because they are right. Do I want to give up some of my tv shows? Not at all. I'm going to miss them. But it is important to do so. It is important for me to be careful about what I'm watching so that I am not influenced negatively, am not desensitized to inappropriate actions and language on tv and so that when I tell my kids that they are not allowed to watch something that is inappropriate they can't turn to me and tell me that I watch it so why can't they.

If you want to be respected, you need to be respectable... a challenge. A difficult one, but an important one.

QOTD: What do you think? Are there areas in your life that you feel deep down that you need to change but you don't want to because you enjoy it too much? Any other thoughts?


amanda 4:19 PM  

Oh,'ve hit the nail on the head for me! As a parent, I've found myself increasingly aware of all the 'trash' surrounding us. I HATE going to the mall with the kids (or Jared!) and having to walk past Victoria's Secret and shielding their eyes. I hate that Luke is only 4 years younger than those kids that were having sex in their classroom. I hate that I can't go to the store to buy my daughter clothes without there being a TON of things that are totally inappropriate for a 5 year old. I could go on and on.
There are some things that I've felt the Holy Spirit nudging me about lately. I'm caught in a spot where I want to be obedient, but I also don't want to give up my 'guilty pleasures'...know what I mean? Thanks for bringing this up. I'm interested in hearing more of what others have to say!

Janice 8:20 PM  

Jana, I respect you very much for taking a stand and furthering our conversation this past Saturday night. When I started to really listen to what's actually being said and portrayed in all the various genre, when I started listening through my grandchildren's ears and seeing with my grandchildren's eyes, I was dumbfounded. The way things are talked about and shown are as if they are normal ways of living - as if everybody thinks this way and lives this way. When these things are laid out like this in commercials and ads it never occurred to me that children see these things, too. How scary! It's all out there for them to think as we do - 'that's the way it is'. We know better - they do not. We can tell them what is good and bad, but when they see all this stuff on a daily basis they become desensitized as well.
I started noticing this because I was watching some daytime show (not a soap - a rerun) and they were talking about different guys they went out with and it was assumed they went to bed with all of them. It was ASSUMED! And I assumed the same. It was like - that's what you do when you date. I was horrified and suddenly scared for my grandkids. All 7 of them. This is their world right now! I can't even think about the future for them.
I like your way of putting it as 'intentional' living. What a tremendous gift you are giving your (my) precious girls and your husband (and your parents).
I would like to join you in your challenge and live intentionally in all aspects of my life as well. It is a difficult goal, but life is a journey not an end. Tonight I will pray for 'willingness' to start that journey and I will pray for your journey as well.
Maybe I should have written this in an email or talked to you on the phone, but here, in this blog, we become accountable. Keep me up to date on your progress and I will do the same.
love you,

mom 8:26 PM  

Hey, that's me - mom. I used the wrong account :|

Heaven Sent 8:54 PM  

Wow. I could not agree with you more. I have felt God nudging me in this direction ever since Emma was born. I've also been noticing the effects certain TV shows, movies, etc. have on my mood, and it DOES make a difference. It really does.

Personally, I have recently been convicted to stop reading US Weekly. It has been a guilty pleasure that I've been brushing off as "me time," but it is heavy on my heart. I have already paid for the subscription for this next year, so I admit that I haven't done anything about it yet. (I'm cheap that way.)

Anyway, I know you weren't asking for specifics, but this convicted me to say it outloud. Maybe I"ll actually do something about it now.

I also agree with the music. Emma and I mostly listen to Shine.FM now, and I really enjoy contemporary Christian music. I don't even really know "mainstream" stuff anymore.

I plan to join you on this quest for intentional living. Our children are worth it. Plus... that's the way God wants it.

Thanks for sharing!

i am not 3:53 PM  

What great responses!!! I have to say that I got a bit teary reading them:)

Amanda and Lisa - I think "guilty pleasures" are the perfect place to start. The phrase itself suggests that perhaps we should rethink what we're doing. I'm not going to tell other people what is right and wrong for them to do - its about the PROCESS of figuring out IF what you're doing is right or wrong. In that regard, Lisa, I have been getting OK in the mail for the last couple of months. I did not order it. I have no idea why it just started coming to me. However, I have been enjoying it as my "guilty pleasure". I threw my last issue away (yesterday) and will continue to to toss them directly into the garbage can when I get them. I think it is awesome that you have been rethinking your guilty pleasure - have you tried calling to see if they will prorate a refund on your subscription? Its going to be really tempting for me to open it up, but now that I've put it out here I feel accountable to throw it out.

Mom - I think you really hit a point that I will work on later - looking at it through our kids' eyes. Makes things much different, doesn't it? I'm glad that you felt comfortable enough to allow yourself to be accountable on this, too:)

heidi jo 11:05 PM  

good thoughts!

melissa :) 8:02 AM  

Absolutely - a fantastic post! :)

April 10:06 AM  

I have this thought in my head a lot too! I think that is why I followed the Lord's leading to stop watching any tv (except what the kids watch) until they are in bed at 8:00. I just love that I can be free and not worry about what they are seeing. The wild thing was having that change in the middle of winter when it would normally be a big tv time for me! I miss some shows and even at 7:00 I am missing some of my old favorites (including AI, but the Lord has given me confidence to let them go. It has been fun to be intentional about that! I have been blessed by your entries lately Jana!!

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