Tuesday, February 26, 2013


There are some things in life I have chosen without a complete understanding of what I was getting into. For example:

Marriage - I am convinced that no one is totally aware of what "becoming one" with another person really means.

Pregnancy - did anyone else have the feeling you were on a roller coaster, riding up to the top of a huge hill and it was impossible to get off? I mean, you knew the ride down would be a rush (scary, fun, energizing, nauseating); but a part of you wanted to scream, "I'm not ready!" or "Let me off!" and you realized it was too late. Or maybe that was just me...

Parenting - enough said.

For me, fasting has become another choice that I made with good intentions but without full knowledge of what it would entail.

Am I glad I did it? Yes.

Is it harder than I thought? For sure.

But I feel the same way about the other three decisions listed above. They were harder than I thought they would be, but better than I thought as well. And I don't regret any of them.

I'm wondering if perhaps God offers special grace to a person who has the faith to try to do more than they understand.

Who says, "God, I love you; and I want to do this for you. I'm not sure how it is all going to play out, but I will do it for you. For your glory. For your honor. And for you to grow me and stretch me. I'm yours."

I took my pocket calendar out today and numbered the 40 days of my fast. It was a little disheartening to see that I am not even one-third of the way done. I am just finishing day twelve.

Really? Because it seems like longer than that to me.

I want to live in the now, but I also want to eat chocolate.

I want to remember people who eat rice and beans daily and who do not have enough, but I am tired of rice and beans.

I want to live sacrificially and generously, but I fight against desires that are greedy and self-centered.

So I'm trusting. (My word for this year.)

Trusting that God fully knew what I was committing to. And that it is in his power and by his grace alone that I can do any good thing.

Thanks be to God.

Sunday, February 24, 2013


So I am ten days into this fast, and can I just admit that I am weary?

It's not just refraining from foods. It's life in general, I think.

Parenting three young children.

Practicing patience and self-control.

Teaching remedial students.

Doing laundry, paying bills, fixing meals.

Attempting to pursue God and his presence.

Caring for friends and family.

One sweet friend used the word "relentless" to describe parenting specifically, but I think it fits for most areas of life at one point or another. Life never seems to let up.

And I think that's okay. I mean, God knew our lives would be difficult at times. That's why he invites us to come to him in Matthew 11:28-30.

"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light."

I love that he acknowledges our weariness and then offers the remedy: rest.

While I happen to believe that actual physical rest is a discipline that God often uses to restore and heal, I think he also uses his word and his presence to offer rest in the midst of the chaos of our life. 

So I am claiming his rest today. On his day, the Lord's Day. 

May it be yours as well.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013


With a week completed, I thought I'd share some reflections...

The actual foods I am eating daily are fewer than the ones on my original list. Let's just say that I am already getting a little tired of rice, beans, bread, bananas, peanuts, and milk. Chicken and tomatoes show up to break up the menu a few times a week, but I am missing my old friends Cold Cereal with Milk and Eggs with Potatoes, not to mention Chocolate and Peanut M&M's.

A friend visited Holland, Michigan, and brought back some homemade rolls for our family. I actually leaned down and smelled them when I opened the bag before dinner, sniffing in their yeasty goodness before removing some for the kids, closing the bag and putting it in the fridge where I hope they last until my next feast day.

Another friend shared some good thoughts from a saint who lived in the 1500s. He said that we should not look ahead and think of what we will be able to eat or daydream about the pleasures of foods while fasting. We should try to remain fully present in our fast and embrace the sacrifice. 

This is hard to do. As I prepare meals for the kids throughout the week, I find myself coveting their food. I took my kids through McDonald's today to get hot fudge sundaes as a treat and was genuinely disappointed that I could not join them.

What is wrong with me? People around the world not only lack choices but they lack actual food. And I am complaining about candy and ice cream. I am ridiculous.

I read tonight about hungering and thirsting after righteousness and contemplated what it means to "hunger." I know many of us say we know what hunger means, but I don't think I really do. I may know what it's like to not be completely full or to be a little uncomfortable waiting for a meal. But hungry? Probably not.

I think to hunger means to long for, to need, to desire. It implies that there is an empty space that needs to be filled. Physically, this would be a person's stomach needing food. Spiritually, this implies an emptiness in our soul or a need that only God can fill. 

Philippians 3:8-9 talks about two different types of righteousness:
"What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith."

Is the righteousness I seek one "of my own that comes from the law": A list of things to do and not to do that makes me feel secure in my salvation and right-ness before God?

Or do I long for "the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith"? 

I am still processing what exactly this means, but it's what I want.

To long for God and being pure and holy and right through faith in him.

May it be so.

Friday, February 15, 2013


It has been three days since I started my fast, and I have to admit that it hasn't been too bad. For one thing, I think the "Seven" fast helped prepare me for this both physically and spiritually. I have wondered how much harder this would seem without that experience. I also have a friend who is fasting from all food for 40 days, so when I consider complaining, I am reminded of those who either through personal choice or through circumstances (poverty, famine) are going through much more than I am.

I committed to fast for 40 days, eating only foods that are available in Ghana, Africa. I consulted a couple of websites and came up with the following list of staples that will sustain me for the next 6 weeks, not counting Sundays which will be a day of celebration and "feasting":

  • rice
  • beans
  • sweet potatoes
  • bananas
  • tomatoes
  • chicken
  • peanuts
  • milk
  • wheat bread
  • oats
  • spinach
  • corn
  • onions
  • peas
  • mushrooms
  • sugar (sparingly)
So far, my meals have been pretty similar. Breakfast has been either oatmeal or dry bread/toast, milk, and a banana. Lunch was rice and either beans or sweet potatoes with more milk and a banana. Dinner consisted of rice and beans and sweet potatoes until tonight when I bought a rotisserie chicken. I cannot tell you how wonderful it was to have chicken with rice and home-canned tomatoes. I thought I might just be able to eat that for dinner for the rest of my life. (My reaction may have been a little over the top due to my inability to eat chocolate or cookies on Valentine's Day.)

Wednesday I was so hungry after school that I stopped at Wal-Mart on my way to pick up the kids from school and bought a bag of peanuts in their shells. I figured that having to shell them would keep me from consuming handfuls of them at a time. I got back to my car and immediately proceeded to crack them and eat them, throwing the shells out the window and allowing the hulls and pieces of shell to fall in my lap. It was a mess (and is slightly embarrassing to type).

I have been using my lunch break to read over the daily devotional in the book and have also tried to find times to do prayer walks or serve others each day. But it is still a struggle to pray as much as I would like to. I am reading a book about practicing the presence of God and have been challenged to think of God as much as possible throughout my day. I regret how little he is the focus of my thoughts or even a part of them. I long to have a continual dialogue with him throughout the day, asking his opinion on even small decisions, listening for his Spirit to whisper words of encouragement or discernment regarding a student or colleague. I am trusting that this desire and this fast will be a catalyst for finding ways to do this on a more consistent basis.

Do any of you have wisdom or advice on how you have implemented this practice in your life?

Wednesday, February 13, 2013


For the past several years, I have given up "something" for Lent: chocolate, Facebook, and various other items. I have never included food in my fast because (as I mentioned before when I wrote about my journey through "Seven"), I struggled with an eating disorder for several years, and I have always steered clear of anything that might trigger those tendencies.

However, the food week of "Seven" turned out to be quite meaningful for me. Although it was difficult, I think it was good for me to limit my choices and convenience pertaining to food for a week. So I chose to do a food fast during Lent this year.

I will explain more about it as I go, but it was inspired by the book, A Place at the Table: 40 Days of Solidarity with the Poor by Chris Seay. I will be eating foods from the country of Ghana, the home of the three Compassion children our family sponsors.

Today was the first day, and it was a challenge. But I am excited and am anticipating how God will use this to change and refine me. Stay tuned for  more details on that process.