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Friday, 15 February 2013

My three day fast - day 3

I think I might actually do it.  By God's grace and strength alone.  Fortunately He made me very determined to see things through once I start them so here I sit at 12:16** this afternoon having only had water and half a cup of tea with no sugar or milk.  I will have to admit to planning all the good things I'm going to have to eat tomorrow already though! :)

Last night as I was lying in bed hearing my stomach growl nonstop God brought to mind all the children around the world (and adults) that hear that sound EVERY night.  They don't eat because they are fasting.  They don't eat because they don't have ANY food!  I have a refrigerator and cupboards stocked full of food and three grocery stores within a 5 minute drive AND money in my pocket to buy food.  I am blessed beyond measure.  But am I blessed because I am special?  NO I am not.  I am blessed so that I might be able to use my resources to help others.  Not just hoard them for myself.  I told myself that tomorrow (now today) I would increase my donation to a missionary and organization we support in Africa that feed children.  Nice and good but is that only my intention or am I actually going to see it through?  Am I willing to sacrifice some of our food money each week so that someone else can eat that would otherwise go hungry?  Because as missionaries ourselves we don't have extra cash just lying around.  We have 150 Euros a week for food, diapers, gas (at $9.00 a gallon), toiletries, gifts, entertainment, etc.  But we do alright.  God looks after us and I buy everything possible on sale.  My point is, am I just going to be satisfied with thinking about doing it, maybe even having good intentions of doing it and then never follow-through?

That's the problem with most Christians.  Good intentions - poor follow through.  It reminds me of that story in Matthew chapter 21 where Jesus was talking about the father asking the two sons to go and work in the field.  The first says he won't go but then does and the second son says he will go but doesn't.  Jesus asks, "which of the two did what his father wanted?" and the chief priests and elders said, "the first".  So isn't that it?  God doesn't want our good intentions.  He wants our follow-through!  BTW - I just made that donation.  I'm tired of being a good intention person.  I want to be someone that follows through.  God blesses follow through I think.  So if you are blessed today beyond measure and you want to bless others with a gift of Gods love and generosity then I would ask you to really consider supporting some great organizations out there that need your help.  Here is a list we love:
Supporting children:!donate-here/cl9k

Supporting missionaries:

**Update: It is now 10:06pm and I've made it.  Heading to bed now.  It feels good to accomplish something I've always wanted to do but never thought possible.  God is good and He can help us do all things.  Without Him we are nothing.

My three day fast - day 2

Who said day 1 is the worst in a three day fast?  I'm quite sure day 2 is so far the worst.  Ugh.  And I had to pick to fast over Valentine's Day?  What was I thinking?  My husband said he had plans to bring home steaks and grill out for Valentine's Day.  A nice bottle of wine, steak and baked potatoes, salad and chocolate truffles for dessert. 

ok now I'm just torturing myself. 

I sort of feel like Esau did when he sold his birthright.  Only by the grace of God and HIS strength will I continue this fast for another 42 hours.  It's been 40 hours so far so I'm not quite half way done.  Technically I'm doing a 3 day and 10 hour fast since I went from dinner on Tuesday til breakfast on Friday without eating or drinking anything but water or hot tea. That's better right? lol

At this point all I'm trying to do is think about what to do the rest of the day to keep my mind off food.  As soon as Alan gets home I think I'll go and work out or else convince he and Chloe to go for a long work and then go work out.  I want to pick him up a Green Thai Curry for his Valentine's Day dinner.  I made him pancakes this morning before he left for school and I was sitting there thinking - oh I'll have mine with chocolate chips and peanut butter... until I remembered I was fasting!  So I drank my cup of tea and that was that. 

Had to admit being a bit sad that there wasn't a bouquet of flowers waiting for me when I woke up this morning.  I got Alan about 5 boxes of chocolates and a card but when he saw I was sad he felt really bad and said, "but Valentine's Day is all day right?" That's a poor mans excuse for forgetting I think (or a procrastinating man's). :) Ah well, he was busy yesterday going to school then going to work at the CVJM Waldheim.  As soon as he got home I left him with Chloe to take care of while I went to the gym so he does have a valid excuse and it only bothered me for a few minutes. 

Chloe is sleeping now and I'm trying to get at least somewhat organized before Alan gets home.  I take that back - Chloe just starting shouting "mama, mama, mama" over and over again.  So much for getting organized! :)  brb

ok I'm back now.  Chloe's favorite word has become "mama".  She says it literally all day long.  Not because she necessarily needs anything but only because it sounds good I think. lol I keep trying to get her to say daddy or webster or nana or anything else because hearing mama one thousand times a day is a bit much.  My responses range from, "yes honey" to "yes sweetheart" to "yes baby" to "WHAT!?"  That last one always gets a giggle out of her.  I couldn't love this child more.  She is my precious Valentine and all the cuddles I got yesterday far made up for the fact that my beautiful two dozen yellow tulips (my favorites) didn't arrive until Alan got home.  He's a sweet man and he tries so hard.  I am very grateful and very blessed to have him in my life.  Can't believe we've been married for nearly 4 years.  Where does the time go??

My three day fast - day 1

Just so I can say this upfront...

I have never fasted before for longer than a day.  But I always admired all those folks in the bible that could do it.  Look at Esther - she needed the whole Jewish community to fast for her when Haman sent out orders to kill all the Jews and she needed to go before the king without first being summoned.  She said to tell everyone to fast for her 3 days and she and her attendants would do so as well.  Granted, their lives were in danger but fasting was a way of life in the Old Testament and New Testament too really and yet it's something I see very few Christians doing.  Our church back home encourages folks to fast for 40 days - to give up something that they crave.  For my sister it was coke, for my mom it was chocolate.  For several friends it was Facebook.  Lots of catholics give up something for Lent. I am inspired by their commitment.

Fasting is something I've only done in the past for weight loss if I'm being honest.  I did find myself praying more on those days than other days and reading more of my bible but it wasn't because I was any more spiritual but because I knew I was lousy at fasting and I was begging for help!

So, this got me thinking. 

I have a very difficult time with my weight.  Always have done.  Is it genetic?  Absolutely and without question.  But that does not mean I can just give up and stop fighting which is what I saw myself doing these last few weeks.  I'm so tired of the roller coaster lose 5-7 pounds and then over the next couple of months gain it all back.  I meal track every ounce of everything I put in my mouth, keep to the calorie goals, exercise like mad and nata.  hmmmmmm

I am not a binge eater.  Never have been (well except those times when I was like 7 that I actually took a suitcase to the 7-Eleven and my allowance for the week and filled it up with all the snack foods my mother would never allow us to have.  I even took a friend and we sat in my room with the door locked and pigged out!). Still even though I never binge I struggle and fail at the eating thing far more than in any other area of struggle in my life. 

About a month ago I started this new plan on YouVersion called Made to Crave.  It is soooooo me! In fact it's so revealing I wonder if she knows my life story?!  The thing I'm just realizing now though is that it is also speaking to hundreds of thousands of other folks out there.  I used to single myself out and think no one had the same struggles I did but that's just a lie that the devil feeds to us to keep us isolated, afraid and defeated.  Day one of this plan talks about the fact that we are loved no matter our size.  I am loved by my creator, by Alan, by Chloe, by my family and friends.  BUT God does not want us to stay defeated.  Defeated is definitely where I am right now or where I've been.  STRUGGLING and FAILING but with God all things are possible.  On my own it's failure because I have to wrestle with my flesh and a lifetime of bad habits, with my own set of demons that sees this as the best possible way to take me out and with the fact that you can't just give up eating in its entirety for long.  You MUST eat eventually or you will die.  That's why I see being a food addict as much worse and much more difficult a disease than being an alcoholic or a drug addict.  Giving up either of those will not kill you.  There are substitutes.  Yes there are substitutes for food as well but it's still food.  Every single thing I put in my mouth has calories and too much of even a very healthy good thing all adds up.  So it's what you eat, how much you eat of it, when you eat it, how long it stays in your body (do you exercise or are you a couch potato), etc.  No wonder it's so hard!

Well, if you are reading this post then that means I made it through at least the first day and hopefully the remainder of my 3 day fast. Still, prayers for the every day struggles are much appreciated. Especially when you have a husband like I do that can eat practically anything and as much of anything he'd ever want and never gain a pound. Why can't that be my life?!? :))

Temptations are all around us and they are sure to come but GREATER is HE that is in me than he that is in the world.  I crave.  I desire.  I think about and arrange my life around food.  I always have.  So what about exercise??  Can't that help?  Exercise I love and I do without issue - normally 3,4 or 5 times a week I'm doing hard cardio workouts, weights, everything and yet the scale won't move.  So that's why I've resorted to a 3 day fast.  No I can not continue this long-term and many, many would say this isn't the best way to lose weight (all the stuff about slowing down your metabolism and all).  All I can say is believe me when you've struggled with your weight as long as I have you know all that stuff already.  Still, for me, if I can stay out of the kitchen completely then it becomes less of a struggle and right now I just need to see, to taste a little success in this area.  So indulge me.

I'm writing as fast as I can type and no one will ever see this post if I don't successfully complete this fast.  Oh the beauty of saving but not publishing! :)  Every time I have struggled so far today I've prayed and tried to read some of the bible.  Alan and I have been doing a daily bible reading each day since July 1st so that I can say I've officially read through the bible in a year (another thing I've never done).  But lately it's so dry for me.  I have NOT wanted to read and have allowed a thousand other things to flood into my way of doing so.  Still I'm caught up but not happy about where I am with God and I'm hoping that this three day fast will help revive me spiritually.  It's all tied together.  If I put food before God then that's not the way I should live. God gives us food for nourishment and for pleasure but too much pleasure that is unrestrained is not a good thing (Made to Crave - day 1). 

Another thing I always want to do, plan to do, tell folks I'm going to do is to pray more for folks specifically.  God knows there's a lot of struggling, hurting people out there.  I heard this week about a girl who was hit by a police officer chasing down a drunk driver.  The girl hit has a broken back and hip I think they said and her 21 year old sister was killed in the accident. 

Yesterday I caught myself still mourning the loss of sweet Abigail and her sister Laurel again.  I just can't imagine myself in Brennen's shoes.  Every time I try I break down and cry.  Selfishly I guess because I always think of how I'd feel if I lost Chloe.  Devastated is not a strong enough word. 

Today I found out that sweet Charlie Guyer died while taking a nap yesterday.  I still see his face sitting opposite from mine at the Christmas party dinner table back in December.  He and his wife Jerry have been staples in my families lives for decades.  Such a Godly, loving and sweet man.  He will be sorely missed.

On top of the major tragedies which seem to strike like bells on the clock, there is the every day stuff that needs prayer.  Our marriage, sweet Chloe, our families, the ministry here.  Our friends and supporters, our finances, our plans, Gods plans.  Prayer changes lives.  I know because I've seen it change my life and the lives of those I love. 

Lastly there's a bunch of stuff I want to do but have never made time to do it - like sending condolences cards or birthday cards to friends and family.  It's the deep organizing in the house or deep cleaning that I always put off to next week.  Maybe when I'm not spending so much time in the kitchen planning, preparing, serving and cleaning up after meals I can actually tackle some of that.  We'll see and I'll keep you posted.  :)

Screwtape Letters Letters 3-7 Reviewed

This is a continuation of our Screwtape Letters study.  I have made available the notes from the study if they are of any interest to anyone...
Screwtape Letters - Chapter 3 - Relationships
“My dear Wormwood,
I am very pleased by what you tell me about this man’s relations with his mother. But you must press your advantage. The Enemy will be working from the centre outwards, gradually bringing more and more of the patient’s conduct under the new standard, and may reach his behaviour to the old lady at any moment. You want to get in first.... The following methods are useful.
1. Keep his mind on the inner life. He thinks his conversion is something inside him and his attention is therefore chiefly turned at present to the states of his own mind—or rather to that very expurgated version of them which is all you should allow him to see. Encourage this. Keep his mind off the most elementary duties by directing it to the most advanced and spiritual ones. Aggravate that most useful human characteristic, the horror and neglect of the obvious. You must bring him to a condition in which he can practise self-examination for an hour without discovering any of those facts about himself which are perfectly clear to anyone who has ever lived in the same house with him or worked in the same office....
Your affection uncle,

“Intercessory prayer is, therefore, always concrete in some sense; prayers which have no reference point in the real world are just words. A great rabbi once observed that we should never ask God to do something if we are unwilling to be an instrument of God’s action. So it is playacting to pray that the hungry be fed, if we are unwilling to change our lifestyle, contribute to relief, and seek justice to enable those goals to be accomplished. It is a delusion to pray for peace and understanding in our homes if we are not willing to listen, endure, and give of ourselves in the mundane things such as washing dishes, arranging schedules, and deciding what sofa to buy.”

While “conversion” or “faith” may well entail an internal reorientation, it becomes powerful and real only when it makes a difference in our behaviors.

Peace on earth begins with patience with an annoying word or tone uttered by one in our own household.
         Bill King, Virginia Tech

Read aloud:

James 2:14-26, Matthew 25: 31-46

In what ways did Chapter 3 ring true to you?  Have you ever lived with someone (a parent, sibling, husband or wife) where you could relate to what was said?

Give an example in your own life where you see your prayer or spiritual life penetrating through other parts of your life and give an example where you do not.

Letter 4 – Sincere Prayer

Why do you pray?  Why do you think God wants us to pray?

“The best thing, where it is possible, is to keep the patient from the serious intention of praying altogether...Teach them to estimate the value of each prayer by their success in producing the desired feeling; and never let them suspect how much success or failure of that kind depends on whether they are well or ill, fresh or tired, at the moment (The Screwtape Letters, Letter 4).”

Do you believe Christians are guilty of judging the quality of their relationship with God by how they feel?  Why or why not?  

Who is God to you?  If you had to describe God in five words which words would you use?  Write them down.

Have you ever had a prayer that God answered?  Describe it.  A prayer ignored?  Describe.

 “For if he ever comes to make the distinction, if ever he consciously directs his prayers ‘Not to what I think thou art but to what thou knowest thyself to be’, our situation is, for the moment desperate.... In avoiding this situation – this real nakedness of the soul in prayer – you will be helped by the fact that the humans themselves do not desire it as much as they suppose.  There’s such a thing as getting more than they bargained for!” The Screwtape Letters, Letter 4

Letter 5 – War and Suffering
In this chapter Lewis emphasizes the essential theme that suffering, in and of itself, does not serve evil. While the Evil One delights in our “anguish and bewilderment of soul”; the bigger issue is whether these experiences bring us closer or further from God. The key issue for Screwtape is “undermining faith and preventing the formation of virtues” (p. 22).  Screwtape notes that the dangerous things from his perspective (and remember that Screwtape’s interests are always at odds with God’s) are that suffering prompts humans to recognize their need of God, that they are prompted to focus on things outside themselves, and that they are forced to focus on their mortality (Note his scathing critique of a culture that denies death in its medical system, pp. 23-24).  “Contented worldliness” is lifted up as one of the great danger the believer faces. This is a recurring theme in the work.–Bill King, Virginia Tech

Screwtape spends some time explaining that war is entertaining for himself and every other demon, but that war should not be enjoyed so much as used. "If we are not careful," he writes, "we shall see thousands turning in this tribulation to the enemy." War breeds suffering, which can turn some to their "father," but more often than not the pain, physical and mental, causes the afflicted to turn to a higher power. Also, it would be much better (from their point of view) for the people in the war to die in a nursing home where everyone lies to them: every indulgence is granted because of their illness, rather than them dieing in a bloody conflict, where they can apply for salvation and be granted it. – UTA Canterbury Blogpost

Screwtape closes with a reminder that though war can be bad for them because of the awareness of mortality, "at the precise moment of terror, bereavement, or physical pain, you may catch your man when his reason is temporarily suspended. But even then, if he applies to Enemy headquarters, I have found that the post is nearly always defended." This shows how the opportune moment for tempters is when "reason is temporarily suspended" because of anything. This is our weakest time. However, Screwtape also discloses the fact that God will always defend and protect us from facing more than we can bear IF we turn to Him at these times -- if we "apply to [God's] Headquarters...[we] will nearly always be defended." –Frank Mariduena Orca IFS

What spoke the most to you out of this chapter?

Letter 6  - Anxiety and Fear

Read aloud:

Isaiah 41:10, Matthew 6:34, Psalm 118:6, 2 Timothy 1:7, Psalm 27:1

“direct the benevolence toward distant people, complete strangers or those in need, and to direct the malice toward the Patient's neighbors - those he is around constantly.”

“the grandest good intentions cannot keep a man from Hell, but they may make him more amusing once he gets there.”

Letter 7 – Patriotism vs Pacifism

Screwtape discusses patriotism versus pacifism as it relates to extremism. Screwtape says, “All extremes except extreme devotion to the enemy are to be encouraged” because extremism almost always pulls the focus away from God and toward a “cause.”

What problems or social injustices in the world do you see Christians becoming extreme over?