Tag Archives: fasting

Daniel Fast Day 17…on Sin and Cupcakes

6 Jun

I have never stuck to a diet, an exercise regime, even a plan to wash my face every night before bed. This is the first time in my life, that I have actually made a commitment to a lifestyle change and stuck it out….

Almost.

I work full-time Wednesday through Sunday which leaves my days off as Monday at Tuesday. Tuesday morning, me and my little bug (4-year-old daughter) went out on the town to celebrate the last day of 3-year-old preschool. We had a girls day, complete with manicures and pedicures.

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After being out in the Houston heat all day (95 degrees!!), and still being about a 45 minute drive from home, we decided to stop by Barnes & Noble. Immediately, I was captivated by the smell of coffee, and if you remember from the beginning of my fast–there is nothing I love more than a grande white mocha with extra whipped cream, nothing I tell you!

Now, I know that I am fasting and at that point I had made it past 2 weeks without so much as cheating even a little bit. But, my daughter wasn’t fasting….

“Hey baby bug, would you like to have a snack from the café?”

“Sure Mommy! Let’s go!”

So off we went to the café. I was resolved. I was determined. I was not going to cheat even though I hadn’t had anything to eat since breakfast and we were going on 2 o’clock.

Then she ordered a cupcake. Not just any cupcake either. A strawberry cupcake with cream cheese filling.

Oh. My. Heavens.

I ordered a nice bottle of Fiji water and then took a bite of that cupcake.

“Would you like to share with me Mommy?”

Who can say no to that?

I ate half a cup cake, right there in the Barnes & Noble café. Yes I did.

And it was not nearly as good as I had hoped. Afterwards, I was sad and I had a stomach ache. I felt like a failure. I felt like I had let myself and God down. I felt awful.

Which led me to this post. Everything that happened was a perfect example of the Christian struggle with sin:

  • We do not prepare to face temptation or occasions of sin.

“Why are you sleeping?” he asked them. “Get up and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. Luke 22:46

  • We are tempted.
  • We do not turn to God when we are tempted and ask for help.

Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak. Mark 14:38

  • We put ourselves in a situation which is a near occasion of sin.

No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it. 1 Corinthians 10:13

  • We rationalize, use other people and look for reasons that what we are doing is okay. (I am hungry, she ordered it-not me.)
  • We try to minimize our sin.

Taking this one step further, we then have two options:

1.) Confess and acknowledge our wrong doing and turn away from future sins.

Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord. (Acts 3:19)

2.) Feel ashamed, embarrassed or even afraid of God. Refuse to acknowledge the sin and keep on sinning.

God, help me to choose the first. Help me to recognize my sins when I commit them so that I am aware and can turn to you instead. Hopefully, if I can overcome the small with your help, then the big things will be easy too.

Those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. 1 Timothy 6:9

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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 5…I’ve Gotten it all Wrong

25 May

Today is the 5th day of my Daniel Fast, and I realize that not even one week into it, I’ve gotten it all wrong. It’s a good thing that there are 16 days left. During this first week, I have spent a lot of time thinking about food. What should I buy? What should I eat? What should I not eat? Am I hungry? I began to notice a trend. I was focused on the “I” not on “Him.”  So today, at His nudging, I opened up my study that goes along with 7,called Staging Your Own Mutiny Against Excess and it immediately directed me to Isaiah 58.

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Isaiah 58 is God’s response to people who were fasting and asking why they were not hearing from God. Isaiah 58: 2-3 says:

For day after day they seek me out;
they seem eager to know my ways,
as if they were a nation that does what is right
and has not forsaken the commands of its God.
They ask me for just decisions
and seem eager for God to come near them.

‘Why have we fasted,’ they say,
‘and you have not seen it?
Why have we humbled ourselves,
and you have not noticed?’

God’s response to them was that their fasting was not enough. It is not enough to fast, to pray and to seek God if we do not seek to do what is righteous in His eyes. You can read the rest of Isaiah 58 here.

God replied with a very specific list of things that He wanted and did not want His people to do.

God did NOT wanted His people to:

  • Do as they please
  • Exploit their workers
  • Quarrel, strike one another
  • Turn away from their own flesh and blood

During a fast, God wants us to be kind. He wants us to treat other people well and rid ourselves of anger and resentment. Those emotions take us away from God. They do not draw us nearer to him. Isaiah 58:4-5 says,

You cannot fast as you do today
and expect your voice to be heard on high.
Is this the kind of fast I have chosen,
only a day for people to humble themselves?
Is it only for bowing one’s head like a reed
and for lying in sackcloth and ashes?
Is that what you call a fast,
a day acceptable to the Lord?

I should not be spending my fast in leisure time: browsing the Internet, watching the latest episodes of Revenge and catching up on Facebook. I should not consume foods or products that come from places where slaves were utilized to manufacture, grow or produce goods for my consumption. I should not allow my change in diet to affect my attitude with my spouse, children or co-workers. I should mend relationships with family members whom I bear a grudge against.

Instead, God DID want His people to:

  • Loose the chains of injustice
  • Set the oppressed free
  • Share food with the hungry
  • Provide shelter to the wanderer
  • Clothe the poor
  • Do away with malicious talk
  • Honor the Sabbath

If I use these verses as my guidelines, then I have a lot of work ahead of me for the next 16 days. He has called me to charitable work, that in my own selfish desire for things and ‘personal time,’ I have pushed to the way side. He wants me to speak well of Him and others. He wants me to go to church and honor the day that He has set aside as Holy.

Lesson 5: If God has called you to fast, and He must be the one to tell you what to do and what not to do during this time.

Then, when I do these things in a spirit of fasting toward Him, he has promised:

The Lord will guide you always;
he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land
and will strengthen your frame.
You will be like a well-watered garden,
like a spring whose waters never fail.

He has given me the strength I need for the past 5 days to endure the discomfort of a change in eating, but now He calls me to a change in action.

Lesson 6: God will satisfy all of your needs if you wait in obedience.

Isaiah-58-11

What changes do you feel God calling you to make?

Daniel Fast Day 3….Vegans May be on to Something

23 May

When I first began my journey through 7, my goal was to eliminate some of the abundance in my life in order to make more room for myself, other people and God. Today, on day 3 of my Daniel Fast, I have already noticed a change in the way I feel. I usually hit the snooze button 2 or 3 times, and then drag out of bed. This morning, I woke up and jumped out of bed straight into the shower before my alarm even went off. That was a nice change. Now that I have more energy, I want to use some of it to learn about the food that I eat, where it comes from and make conscious decisions about the food I put into my mouth. Where does it come from? What does God want me to be eating? Can the food choices I make affect the world and make it a better place.

Let me begin by saying that I live in the South. More specifically, I live in Texas. Growing up, one boy actually brought venison to show n’ tell. (That’s deer meat for those of y’all who don’t know.) One of my friends literally becomes a widow every hunting season because her husband lives to hunt animals. Miranda Lambert, another Texas Girl, is part of a band called Pistol Annies, and they have a song called The Hunter’s Wife which says, “I’m married to a shot-gun carrying, tobacco chewing, no good blue tick hound.” In other words, in Texas, we like our meat.

The Daniel Fast eliminates not only meat, but also animal products. No milk, no cheese, no eggs, nada. During my first grocery store trip, I had to pay special attention to labels. I noticed that on many food labels, especially of the organic or health food variety, that it would say specifically on the label. “Vegan,” and some foods were even ‘certified.’

certified vegan

 Before I began the fast, the only thing I knew about Veganism was that people who practiced it were ‘extreme vegetarians.’ I had a notion that they were all crazy feminists, dying of malnutrition or the type of people who show up to political rallies holding “Save the Cows,” or something.

Today, I decided it was time to better educate myself about veganism, and I was surprised at what I learned.  I came across a documentary entitled, “Vegucated.” It follows a group of people as they learn about veganism and most importantly where the food that they eat comes from. The video shows some of the harsh treatment that animals are subjected to so that they can be mass-produced into food for us. Heart wrenching scenes were shown in the movie: A newborn calf being literally dragged away from its mother and then the mother cow being artificially inseminated so that she can have another calf, and another….so that we can have milk.  Newly hatched male chickens literally being tossed into the garbage because only the females lay eggs. Castrating and branding without any anesthesia.

I ‘knew’ in the back of my mind that sometimes animals are treated poorly so that we can have food. But, I reasoned, if I’m not the one doing it then how am I responsible? Besides, we all need to eat, right?

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While it is true that we do need to eat, I think that it is important that we do not eat mindlessly. We need to eat in way that respects the people, the environment and the animals that God created.  In the beginning, God commanded people to eat plant-based food:

gen 1 29

If God created that food for me to eat, then I should make an effort to make it a part of my diet. According to the film, only 4% of the American diet is currently unrefined plant-based food. If the amount of Dr.Pepper, fast food and junk that I put into my mouth everyday is any indication, then that number sounds about accurate.

But is living Vegan realistic? Is it possible amidst the hustle and bustle of modern America?

Apparently, there is a whole dimension of Vegan people living all around me, and  I had no idea. For instance, you can buy Vegan shoes…and some of them are even cute! Don’t believe me? Check out MooShoes. There are restaurants that offer only Vegan food or just partial Vegan menus. There are entire sections of the grocery store dedicated to it: the produce section anyone?

moo

So, after my Daniel Fast is over, will I continue veganism? Probably not. However, I will be more cognizant of what I eat, where the food I choose comes from and how I can work to make sure that my eating habits are making God’s planet a little bit better.

Daniel Fast Day 1 (Part 1)…on prayer and coffee

21 May

Today, I began day 1 of my Daniel Fast and I did not begin well. I woke up late, and had to rush the kids to school. I said a few choice words in traffic, and it wasn’t until after I popped one of my daughter’s frosted shredded wheat cereals into my mouth that I remembered I was fasting.

Lesson 1: Plan to wake up early and pray each morning so that you are off to a good start each day and do not fall into temptation.

Now, a quick word about coffee. It is not allowed on the Daniel Fast, however in the interest of honesty let me disclose that during my fast I plan to gradually wean myself away from my daily dose of java. I typically get a ‘grande white mocha, extra whipped cream in a venti cup’ at Starbucks every single morning. Not only is that coffee, but it is about 800 calories and $5 worth of waste. Today, I went to McDonalds, ordered a small coffee with one cream and 2 sugars. Each day throughout the fast, I will slowly reduce, and my goal is to be coffee (and soda) free by the end of week 2.

For those of you who are strict legalists, I understand that this will be disappointing, but my goal is to give up something so that I can draw near to God, and quite frankly I will not be a good pray-er or bible read-er if I have a pounding headache and institution worthy mood swings…just sayin’.

Lesson 2: Do not be a Pharisee.

Apparently, I am not the only one. I found this on Etsy, and it speaks to my heart:

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Now, I am off to the grocery store to stock up…

Day before the Daniel Fast…and I’m already hungry

19 May

I have a confession to make. I love queso. And ice cream. Preferably with Reese’s Peanutbutter cups. This is evidenced by my pants which are a little tighter than they were last year. Well, and the fact that they are a size larger (but shhh…don’t tell anyone). I have justified my poor eating habits by saying that I am busy, I work (a lot), I have had two kids, my hormones are crazy, I don’t have time to cook healthy…you get the idea. But the truth is, that when I think about it, I mean REALLY think about it, I feel God asking me how He can bless me when I don’t take care of the one thing that I have full control over-the food that enters my mouth. St. Paul, in his letter to the Corinthians wrote,

Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, which you have from God, and that you are not your own? For you were bought with a price; therefore glorify God in your body.1 Corinthians 6:19-20

As I began to prepare for my 7 journey, I wanted to make sure that I really am making a sacrifice. Limiting myself to just 7 foods as Jen does is not realistic for 2 reasons: first, sometimes I have to eat out for lunch at work and second, my hormones really are crazy and I want to make sure I am getting a good balance of foods. So, instead I have decided that during the food portion of my 7 journey, I will be doing the Daniel Fast.

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For the next 21 days, I will eat only: fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts and seeds, unleavened bread, beans, quality oils and seasonings. I will not eat meat, dairy products, sweeteners, leavened bread, refined/processed foods, deep fried foods, solid fats or beverages other than water.

I am also putting the scale on the top shelf of the closet. I do not want this to be another diet. If I lose weight, great. But I don’t want that to be the focus of my fast. I want to focus on elminating the unneccessary from my life and letting God fill those gaps.

Tonight, I eat my last Reese’s McFlurry. See ya later, queso. I will miss you.

Living in Abundance…and wanting to get rid of it

19 May

By March of this year I had a new job, new outlook on life and new faith that God will lead me where He wants me to be and that I am happier where He puts me than where I *think* I want to be. As I was browsing the Internet, enjoying my newfound comfort zone, I came across a book called 7:An experimental mutiny against excess.  Then, I clicked to the next book.

Two weeks later, I discover that there is a Lifeway store near my new office and head over during my lunch break. What is the first book that I see? You guessed it–7. So, I picked it up, took it back to the office and began a quick scan.

7

Three chapters in, and my mind is blown! The author, Jen Hatmaker, was struggling with the exact same things that I was. Her family was blessed with abundance but still missing something. So, she embarks on a journey to get rid of the extra in her life in order to draw closer to Jesus. The areas of focus are: clothes, food, spending, waste, media, possessions and stress.

This is exactly what I need, so at the urging of the spirit, I too will begin my own experiment with reduction. Next week I begin with food reduction. Let the hunger fun times begin.