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Daniel Fast Recap…What I have learned

9 Jun

ultimate-guide-small

During the past 21 days, I have diligently followed the guidelines of the fast originally undertaken by the prophet Daniel. I have had no meat, animal products (dairy), sugar or oils. Along the way, I have learned a lot about my spirituality, my body and health, and my life.

Health Lessons Learned: 

  1. I have one body during this lifetime and it is my responsibility to take care of it.
  2. There is no excuse for making poor food choices. A few minutes of planning can go a long way.
  3. No matter what anyone says, it is important to know where our food comes from and what is in it.
  4. It’s not rocket science: eating healthier makes us feel and live better.
  5. By eating healthier foods, I am setting a better example for my children and husband who were also motivated during my fast.
  6. Trying to meet our emotional and spiritual needs with food does not work.
  7. Controlling the food that we put in our mouth is a conscious decision and it makes making other conscious decisions a little bit easier.
  8. If I am fat, un-healthy or not as healthy as I could/should be, then it is no one’s fault but my own.

Spiritual Lessons Learned: 

  1. I am called to treat my body like a temple so that God can use me for service.
  2. A spiritual fast must be called by God if you want Him to give you strength.
  3. Little temptations can lead to bigger ones and usually lead to sin.
  4. Confession must come before supplication. In other words, if you want God’s help, confess and repent first.
  5. The more disciplined we become in our bodies, the more disciplined our spirit becomes too.
  6. If we aren’t careful, we can turn something good into something self-serving.
  7. God sometimes surprises those who are faithful.
  8. Fasting is not about food. It is about service to God. Not I Lord, but YOU.

 

 

Beginning next week, I am going to embark upon another journey. This one will be 30 days in length, and I am going to call it the “Great Clean-Up.” I am going to focus on the “possessions” portion of the book “7:An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess.”  I will be focusing on reducing the “things” that clutter my life, my home and my mind by cleaning, organizing and donating. It is going to be an exciting journey, and I am super excited!

If you would like to join me on the “Great Clean-Up,” just leave a comment and we can begin together on Monday.

 

 

Daniel Fast Day 19…A letter from God

8 Jun

love letter envelope

I stubled across this on the Internet today, and I LOVE,LOVE, LOVE it. It is a love letter from God to each of us. I’m not going to add to much commentary because it speaks for itself. To see the original site visit: www.fathersloveletter.com

My Child,

You may not know me,
but I know everything about you. 

Psalm 139:1

I know when you sit down and when you rise up. 
Psalm 139:2

I am familiar with all your ways. 
Psalm 139:3

Even the very hairs on your head are numbered. 
Matthew 10:29-31

For you were made in my image. 
Genesis 1:27

In me you live and move and have your being.
Acts 17:28

For you are my offspring. 
Acts 17:28

I knew you even before you were conceived. 
Jeremiah 1:4-5

I chose you when I planned creation. 
Ephesians 1:11-12

You were not a mistake,
for all your days are written in my book. 

Psalm 139:15-16

I determined the exact time of your birth
and where you would live. 

Acts 17:26

You are fearfully and wonderfully made. 
Psalm 139:14

I knit you together in your mother’s womb. 
Psalm 139:13

And brought you forth on the day you were born. 
Psalm 71:6

I have been misrepresented
by those who don’t know me.

John 8:41-44

I am not distant and angry,
but am the complete expression of love. 

1 John 4:16

And it is my desire to lavish my love on you. 
1 John 3:1

Simply because you are my child
and I am your Father. 

1 John 3:1

I offer you more than your earthly father ever could. 
Matthew 7:11

For I am the perfect father. 
Matthew 5:48

Every good gift that you receive comes from my hand. 
James 1:17

For I am your provider and I meet all your needs. 
Matthew 6:31-33

My plan for your future has always been filled with hope. 
Jeremiah 29:11

Because I love you with an everlasting love. 
Jeremiah 31:3

My thoughts toward you are countless
as the sand on the seashore.

Psalms 139:17-18

And I rejoice over you with singing. 
Zephaniah 3:17

I will never stop doing good to you. 
Jeremiah 32:40

For you are my treasured possession. 
Exodus 19:5

I desire to establish you
with all my heart and all my soul. 

Jeremiah 32:41

And I want to show you great and marvelous things. 
Jeremiah 33:3

If you seek me with all your heart,
you will find me. 

Deuteronomy 4:29

Delight in me and I will give you
the desires of your heart. 

Psalm 37:4

For it is I who gave you those desires. 
Philippians 2:13

I am able to do more for you
than you could possibly imagine. 

Ephesians 3:20

For I am your greatest encourager. 
2 Thessalonians 2:16-17

I am also the Father who comforts you
in all your troubles. 

2 Corinthians 1:3-4

When you are brokenhearted,
I am close to you. 

Psalm 34:18

As a shepherd carries a lamb,
I have carried you close to my heart. 

Isaiah 40:11

One day I will wipe away
every tear from your eyes. 

Revelation 21:3-4

And I’ll take away all the pain
you have suffered on this earth.

Revelation 21:3-4

I am your Father, and I love you
even as I love my son, Jesus.

John 17:23

For in Jesus, my love for you is revealed. 
John 17:26

He is the exact representation of my being. 
Hebrews 1:3

He came to demonstrate that I am for you,
not against you. 

Romans 8:31

And to tell you that I am not counting your sins.
2 Corinthians 5:18-19

Jesus died so that you and I could be reconciled. 
2 Corinthians 5:18-19

His death was the ultimate expression
of my love for you. 

1 John 4:10

I gave up everything I loved
that I might gain your love. 

Romans 8:31-32

If you receive the gift of my son Jesus,
you receive me. 

1 John 2:23

And nothing will ever separate you
from my love again.

Romans 8:38-39

Come home and I’ll throw the biggest party
heaven has ever seen.

Luke 15:7

I have always been Father,
and will always be Father.

Ephesians 3:14-15

My question is…
Will you be my child? 

John 1:12-13

I am waiting for you. 
Luke 15:11-32


Love, Your Dad
Almighty God

Father’s Love Letter used by permission Father Heart Communications 
©
 1999-2013 http://www.FathersLoveLetter.com

Daniel Fast Day 18… “Hanging” out with Absalom

7 Jun

This week, I am wrapping up my study of David from the book of 2 Samuel. Prior to this study the only thing that I knew about David was that he was a king, he knocked out Goliath when he was a boy with a slingshot and he danced through the streets. I have learned however, that his life was so much more than that.

Yesterday, I finished reading about the story of David and his son Absalom. I read Faulkner’s “Absalom! Absalom!” back in a college literature class and I vaguely knew that it was related to the biblical story, but Faulkner’s writing (run-ons anyone) was difficult to make it through and I didn’t really study the parallels.

Absalom Absalom

However, as I read the story…I became captivated. David’s life was better than reality tv and the story of him and his son was so full of conflict, emotion and action that I literally thought to myself “you can’t make this stuff up.”

Here is how the story goes… (short version of course):

Amnon and Absalom, were two of David’s sons. They had a beautiful sister named Tamar. Amnon was in love with his own sister and raped her. Absalom, being the protective brother that he was, was horrified at his sister’s victimization. He allowed Tamar to move in with him and even named one of his own daughter’s after her.

David found out about the rape, and he was furious that this happened. However, he did nothing about it. So, Absalom let his anger over-take him and he killed his own brother and fled. A couple of years went by before David saw his son Absalom again, but he did eventually receive him and hug him after Absalom devised every way possible to get his father’s attention.

Absalom’s bitterness toward his father continued to multiply until he finally decided to take his father’s throne. He turned some of David’s people against him and David and his men literally left town.

When Absalom’s men came after David’s men, David instructed his soldiers to not harm and ‘be gentle’ with Absalom because he was his son. As Absalom was riding in to the battle on a mule, his hair got caught in a tree and he was left hanging trying to get free (I told you that you can’t make this stuff up!) and in his anger Joab, the leader of David’s men, killed Absalom while he was still hanging.

Absalom Hair Caught

David, as Absalom’s father, was of course devastated. He wept and mourned the loss of his son even though his son was guilty of treason and murder. Before he died, Absalom had built amonument to himself which you can visit today (maybe not the same monument, but tradition has it that it is in the same location). 

Absaloms Monument

What I really liked about this story, and what really ‘spoke to me,’ during this time of fasting, was how Absalom took something that was good (his protection of Tamar, his disbelief that his father refused to punish the crime) and turned it into something bad.

  • How easy is it for us to do the exact same thing?
  • How easy would it be for me to turn this time of fasting into just another weight loss attempt?
  • How easy to turn my interpretation of right and wrong into judgement of someone else?
  • How easy to give ourselves credit for God’s work?

Let us remember that nothing we have is of our own doing, but everything is a gift from God. Let us not let bitterness, ego and self-righteousness drive our decisions, lest we too be left hanging by our hair from a tree.

Not I, Lord, but YOU.

I will exalt you, Lord,
for you lifted me out of the depths
and did not let my enemies gloat over me.
Lord my God, I called to you for help,
and you healed me.
You, Lord, brought me up from the realm of the dead;
you spared me from going down to the pit.

(Psalm 30:1-3)

Daniel Fast Day 11…Finding Extra Baggage

31 May

I am officially through with half of my Daniel Fast journey. 10 days down, 10 to go! I know that in the beginning, I told you that I would not be weighing myself. However, the temptation to take one quick look was overpowering because my clothes are fitting so differently and I feel lighter. The result: during the last 10 days I have lost 10 lbs of extra baggage that my body was lugging around. I still eat 3 meals a day and 2 snacks, but the elimination of sugar (goodbye Dr. Pepper), the added fiber (hello vegetables) and removal of all animal products has done wonder for my body. No wonder Daniel was healthier at the end of his fast than the rest of the king’s men.

And at the end of ten days their features appeared better and fatter in flesh than all the young men who ate the portion of the king’s delicacies. Daniel 1:15

weight loss veggies

Before you begin to believe that it has all been easy, let me tell you the truth. The beginning was very difficult. I didn’t want to blog about it up front because I didn’t want to discourage anyone else from embarking upon a fast if they felt so compelled.

Day 2 of the fast left me with a massive headache. I was moody, mean to my husband and kids, and had to take a mid day nap. Day 3 I had tension in my neck and shoulders. I whined all day about my misery making those around me miserable also.  By day 5 though, I could feel my body adjusting and now that I seem to be completely detoxed I have energy and feel great. For someone with a healthier diet, the beginning may not be so difficult. Prior to the Daniel Fast, the only fruit I ate was on top of a sundae and the only vegetables were fried at McDonalds or served along something like a deep friend chicken fried steak. Now, however, my refrigerator is stocked with fresh fruits and vegetables galore.

The fact that I lost 10 lbs so easily, has led me to really think about the extra ‘baggage’ that I am carrying around with me. Not only on my waistline, but also in my life. The primary objective of 7:An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess   is to find this extra baggage in your life and get rid of it. Get rid of the possessions, the time suckers and the stress facilitators in your life and replace them with God and the things that keep you in His will.  During the last 10 days, as I have prayed and become more self-aware, I have found so many things that count as excess baggage:

  • Too many emails
  • The stress of waking up late
  • A play date that I don’t really want to go to
  • Books that I have already read, will never read again but allow to take up space in my home
  • Toys, toys and more toys
  • Food that has been sitting unopened in my pantry (2 year old alfredo sauce anyone?)
  • Clothes that have not fit since 7th grade
  • Pants that are not hemmed
  • Junk Mail
  • A broken lawn chair that is upside down in my backyard
  • Never taking time to get myself a dental checkup
  • Loose change that just sits on the counter or entry table
  • Chargers and plugs for phones that I have not owned since they still had antennae’s

The list goes on and on and on. AND THESE ARE JUST MATERIAL THINGS! This does not take into account the emotional baggage of fear, expectations (self imposed or otherwise), responsibilities of child rearing, etc, etc, etc. All of this stuff fills my days, but it does not fill me up. It is more and more that drains me and leaves me with less and less.

baggage

When I think that I should sit to pray or read the Bible, but I am distracted by the pile of photos I have yet to put into an album or the ten thousand dishes piled into the sink what has won: God or the things? Has the baggage that I have filled my home and my life with become an idol that I use to replace God?

The answer is yes. Throughout the remaining 10 days of my fast and going forward with my own 7 experiment, I will look at these things and eliminate them one by one.

What is one thing YOU can get rid of today that keeps you from allowing God to fill your life and your mind with Him?

Daniel Fast Day 9…Ice Cream dreams and Prayer Reminders

29 May

Last night I dreamed about ice cream. It wasn’t just any ice cream though, it was creamy and covered with chocolate syrup. I woke up *convinced* that I am having sugar and dairy withdrawal and that my body is trying to tell me that I am deficient in some way. Then, it occurred to me: I am deficient in the ‘prayer’ way .

I admit it. I am blogging about God and the Bible and fasting, but I am not good at praying. I typically fall asleep, get distracted, fail to find time….well you get the idea.

However, those days are behind me..I have a solution! The other day, while browsing my local Lifeway Christian Store, I came across this little ‘notepad to go’:

front veiw

Not impressed? Just wait. The minute second I saw it, I knew that I could use this.

And the best part? It was only $3.50!

back veiw

How many times have you heard that someone was having a rough time and you offered to pray for them?

Now, how many times have you actually sat down and intentionally made that prayer request? Be honest.

That’s what I thought.

This simple binder ring binds together about 200 or so papers that I can use to write prayer requests on. It is small enough that I can take it with me wherever I go.

So, after paying for my new ‘notepad to go’ I pulled out my handy Sharpie box (I really do carry this with me, because you just never know when you might need a purple or green sharpie) and began to work on my new prayer cards.

Sharpies

There are so many things that I want to talk to God about or pray for, but my daily needs get in the way. For instance, Memorial Day just recently passed, but I have rarely ever really prayed for our men and women in the service unless I knew them personally. I often get so busy ‘asking’ God for things, that I forget to praise Him. These cards will serve as a reminder so that whenever I have ‘just a minute’ I can truly pray for those things.

Here are some ideas that I have for what I will be putting on each page:

  1. The names of people I want to remember to pray for .
  2. Specific prayer requests that I have.
  3. Bible verses to meditate on.
  4. Traditional prayers for times of need.
  5. Things that I am grateful for.
  6. Prayers for those who have passed before me.
  7. Causes in the world. (Ex: hunger)
  8. Prayers for our civic, church and community leaders.
  9. Praise and adoration.
  10. ….many more!

Strength          Gram

I predict that the opportunities to use these will be great. For example, I can use them when:

  • Waiting at the doctor’s office
  • Sitting in the car wash
  • When my kids are bored and need something to do (ask them to make a card with a special request, ask them to pray)
  • During down time at work
  • While I’m eating a meal

As I make each card, I am offering that prayer up. As I come back to each card, I have the opportunity to be reminded of the prayers He has already answered.

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6-7

What do you do to help you remember to pray? Do you have a prayer routine? Feel free to share your comments!

Daniel Fast Day 8…Jesus served, but do I have to?

29 May

I am over a week into my Daniel Fast, and so far I feel great. I have not cheated a single time, and though I have been tempted (by the rotisserie chicken that I picked up for my family which filled my car with it’s chicken-y goodness smell) I have yet to cave in. Like I said before, if God calls the fast then He provides the strength to get through it.

When I began the fast, I knew that food would at first be central but as my body adjusted it would become less of a focus as God filled the hole left by the food with His own agenda. At first, I contemplated the food choices that I have made in the past for myself and my family. I became more aware of myself as a consumer of food in the world and what that means for the environment and I weighed the merits of veganism.

As the days progressed, began to look into God’s word to see what it is that He wants from a fast. I came across Isaiah 58 which says that fasting is supposed to be an act of service.

Lesson 7: You cannot serve God without serving others.

If you haven’t noticed already, I love contemporary Christian music. The new Matthew West album (Into the Light) has a song that practically screamed out at me the first time I heard it. It’s called “Do Something,” and the lyrics say:

Children sold into slavery

The thought disgusted me

So, I shook my fist at Heaven

Said, “God, why don’t You do something?”

He said, “I did, I created you”

(For More, read the story behind the song.)

If Jesus was here to serve (“…just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” Matthew 20:28), and we are called to live a life like His, then I too am called to serve.

Lesson 8: When a cup is full, it overflows. God has filled my life with so many blessings so that I may pour them out and bless others.

004-jesus-washes-feet

As I began to look for volunteer opportunities, I prayed that God would show me how I could be of service in my very own community. There are 2 primary types of Christian servitude:

    1. Charity: This is the type of service that most of us think about when we conjure up Chrisitian service. It is giving a direct service that will provide temporary results. Meals on Wheels, visiting prisoners or the elderly, and providing Christmas gifts are all examples of Charity.-
    2. Justice: This is the type of service that empowers people to help themselves. Examples of justice as Christian service include: providing job education, social/legal activism such as minimum wage laws, or providing short term loans.

I wanted to be able to help people in a real and tangible way in both of these areas. But, I am busy. I work full time outside of the home. I have two children with school projects, friends, extra-curricular activities and needs of their own. And I have a husband who occasionally likes to spend time with me too.

How am I supposed to find time to serve when I barely have time for myself?!

So here is what I did to find the best charitable opportunities for me, my family and my schedule:

  1. I prayed about it, “God you show me where you want me to be.” After all, if it is His will, then He will help me make a way.
  2. I made a list of ’causes’ I was interested in: refugees, feeding the hungry, women and children.
  3. I found a local charity that offers services to all of those, I filled out a volunteer application and I went for my interview today.

In other words…I did it anyway.

Yes, my schedule is busy.

Yes, there may be times when I just don’t feel like it.

But guess what?

It’s not about me.

Catholic-Charities_web_logo

As it turns out, I am not the only busy/working/mother/wife/wanna be volunteer out there. There are a ton of opportunities for me to serve that will work in my schedule. Some I can do with my kids (wrap presents for Christmas, serve in a food bank) and some that I never thought of (use my professional skills in mortgages to teach families about home ownership).

I also looked through the church bulletin–and low and behold–they are in need of people to make sandwiches on Tuesdays which just happen to be my day off.

Daniel Fast Day 6…Revival is Never a Coincidence

26 May

Around the time that I began to hear God calling me toward a fast, my local radio station (KSBJ) began to play a song called “Starts with Me,” by a singer I had never heard before. His name was Tim Timmons, and in an interview, he said that he too had been diagnosed with Cancer. As I began my fasting, Tim’s song became somewhat of a ‘theme song’ for the background of my life.

You’re my revival song, You start where I belong
On my knees, on my knees
When I am weak You’re strong, You meet me here
When I’m on my knees, on my knees
Oh, it starts with me

tim timmons

Do you remember when I told you a few days ago that someone close to me had been diagnosed with cancer? That ‘someone’ was my husband. He is 33 years old, we have 2 young children, and after months of my nagging gentle urging he decided to visit the doctor.  Three days after his initial visit, we found out that he had Clarks stageIV malignant melanoma. After multiple trips to MD Anderson Cancer Center and one surgery to ‘cut out’ the tissue around the original tumour and remove some lymph nodes as well, we were worried.

God called me to this fast then, as a way to petition Him for the healing of my husband. Early on, God showed my that my obedience was seen and rewarded.

Today, He did it again.

This evening, my family and I went to mass at 5:15. As the priest was speaking, I began to pray silently that God would use the words of the homily to reach my husband. I prayed that my husband would be comforted and that …

In the middle of my prayer (no exaggeration here!), the priest began to talk about a young man (Zach Sobiech) who had a video called Clouds about his battle with cancer and how he wanted to make sure that he spent his days making people smile. Click here to see the video of Zach.

At the word ‘cancer,’ I saw my husband sit up a little straighter and I knew that the message was for him. God answered my prayer while I was still praying it.

After the homily, we all went up to receive communion and then after everyone was back  in the pews the music began to play. I’ll give you one guess what they played. You got it….”It Starts with Me”

This week has been amazing for me. God has made himself real and apparent. He has shown that He does answer prayers, even the smallest. I have never seen His work so apparent and so immediate in my life, and I praise Him for giving me the grace to recognize it.

He replied, “Because you have so little faith. Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed,you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.”-Mattheww 17:20