TV fast for Lent

Yes, in March we decided to fast television as a family during Lent. This also includes electronic devices such as the computer, Nintendo DS, etc. Hence my infrequent posting. However, this has been pretty fabulous for our family in general. We are not Catholic, but as Protestant Christians, we have found a Lenten fast to be beneficial and faith-strengthening.

This fast was initially my husband’s idea and I jumped on board immediately as most wives would. I didn’t realize just how hard it would prove to be for me as a stay-at-home mom. How often do I tune in to Food Network or a talk show to distract me from the daily grind of dishes and laundry? How often do I let kids’ shows run a background commentary so I can get a shower in?

We have made some allowances — our 2-year-old gets to watch her favorite cartoon show on weekday mornings. My husband sometimes unwinds with a video game or two. Sundays are off days so we are all allowed on everything. And, occasionally, we will put on a one-hour program that we’ve recorded in advance.

So far, my kids are reading a TON, I find that I have time for books that I never had before, and we are spending a lot more time interacting as a family. I love it. Sometimes.

And sometimes I just want to grab a snack, switch on the tube and zone out for a while. But I can’t. So I check my Facebook (one of my few concessions) and do more housework or play with the baby (much nobler tasks). Hopefully this fast will have a lasting impact on our TV habits. In the meantime, I look eagerly toward Easter morning 🙂

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Insights in Matthew, and the Gifts continue…

I’ve decided to read the New Testament in order from Matthew to Revelation. I keep my copy of The Message bible near my bed where I nurse the baby to sleep so that I can snag a minute of quiet time at nap time. It’s funny how much insight you can gain from one passage if you take the time to really meditate on what you’ve read.

For example, today I started reading Matthew Chapter 1, which tells the genealogy of Jesus Christ. I’ve always skimmed through the list, noting familiar names (Ruth and Boaz, Jesse and David, etc.) and moving on to the rest of the story. However, today I took a moment to really focus on who was listed as Jesus’ ancestors.

You’ve heard that Jesus is the Lion of the tribe of Judah. Obviously he is a descendant of Judah but today I recognized names of kings — descendants of King David. Sure enough, Chronicles lists all of those kings as rulers of Judah. Remember when Rehoboam, Solomon’s son, became king? And when he laid down a heavy burden on the people, they rebelled and chose their own king? The tribe of Judah was the only one who remained loyal to the descendants of King David.

And so Jesus is not only the descendant of a king — David, but the descendant of the kings who ruled ONLY Judah. Could God get any more specific?

Lord, today I am in awe of your specific and thorough promises. Thank you for pointing the way so very clearly to your son, Jesus.

13. Snow days

14. Baby scalp like flakes of snow

15. Garbage run “dates”

16. My sister on the “to do” list

17. An article from a friend that answers all my questions.

18. New journals

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One Thousand Gifts

If you haven’t yet read Ann Voskamp’s One Thousand Gifts, I encourage you to order a copy today. In the book, Ann shares how keeping a written record of the gifts God has given developed a life of gratitude within her. I’m going to start my very own list, too. Will you join me?

  1. Guitar strings tuning up
  2. Fuzz on baby ears
  3. The perfect note played at the perfect time
  4. After crying herself to sleep — the baby’s huff-huff sigh
  5. That same baby snuggled next to me in bed
  6. Dreams that don’t make sense
  7. Roses at the front door
  8. Daffodils by the sink
  9. My husband’s soft snore in deep sleep
  10. Sun breaking through the snow clouds
  11. Yes, I have FOUR girls!
  12. The 2-year-old who declares “I FIVE!”
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Daniel Fast Wrap-up

Ah, so much for my intent to post regularly during my fast. My days slipped away in diapers and feedings and an infected big toe and now the fast is over. However, despite my waywardness, God’s faithfulness sustained me during the last three weeks and this is what I learned:

  1. After weighing myself religiously for the first three mornings of February, I realized that my current weight and desired weight loss had become idols to me. Certainly my heart skipped a beat much more readily when I saw the digital readout decrease than when I picked up my daily Bible reading. So I gave the burden of my weight to Him and told Him I would be happy not losing a single pound (was I sincere?) if it meant drawing closer to Him. And still I lost 8.5 pounds. He is good.
  2. Not eating meat and dairy was just as difficult this time as it was last year. I was HUNGRY! And even when my belly felt full, I still sensed an emptiness. My husband felt it, too. It reminded me of the analogy that compares God’s Word to real food and every other form of entertainment to junk food. In this case I could see how my soul and spirit feel when I deny them the “meat” of the Bible and choose to force feed myself the “junk” of magazines and TV shows.
  3. I began reading Ann Voskamp’s incredible book One Thousand Gifts. To say it is life-changing is minimizing the incredible treasure of this book/poem/memoir. I have decided to follow Ann’s example and begin chronicling the thousand gifts God puts in my life. I’m very excited to begin and to be able to share my list with you.
  4. Fasting is better done with a partner. I can’t tell you how much support I received by just knowing that my husband was also deprived, also craving, also counting days. Many times his determination to finish strong helped me avoid temptation. And I know I encouraged him at least once to stay the course.

 9 Two are better than one,
   because they have a good return for their labor:
10 If either of them falls down,
   one can help the other up.
But pity anyone who falls
   and has no one to help them up.   Ecclesiastes 4:9-10

All in all, I would say this fast was a success, despite the one time I ate outside the fast guidelines due to poor planning. Next time I will put more effort into planning my meals and snacks.

I would encourage anyone to attempt a Daniel Fast and reap the rewards of a closer walk with God, renewed commitment to self-control and the blessing of increased physical health. It has certainly strengthened me as I begin 2011.

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Daniel Fast Day 2

And so I begin the Daniel Fast for the second time. I feel much more confident than I did during my fast last March. I’m anticipating 3 weeks of increasing self-discipline and devotion to the Lord. And hopefully not too many food cravings!

My goals for this fast include the following:

  1. Spend time every day in the Word and praying.
  2. Follow the eating plan and lose 10 pounds in the 21 days of fasting.
  3. Walk for 30 minutes every day.
  4. Drink a half-gallon of water every day.

Day 1 was pretty successful but today my toe decided to act up which meant no walking. Blah. I’m disappointed but also thankful that I don’t have to beat myself up or feel guilty like I used to. I think I’ve grown enough to realize that not reaching a goal today doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try again tomorrow. And so I will.

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What true freedom is

I found myself in Galatians 5 today. Verse 1 in the Message says:

Christ has set us free to live a free life. So take your stand! Never again let anyone put a harness of slavery on you.

I think my idea of living a free life has always been what most people envision — the ability to live your life however you want to. Isn’t that part of the American dream? To decide your own destiny? To choose your own path and be able to live however you want?

Listen to what verses 13 and 16 say:

It is absolutely clear that God has called you to a free life. Just make sure that you don’t use this freedom as an excuse to do whatever you want to do and destroy your freedom. Rather, use your freedom to serve one another in love; that’s how freedom grows.

My counsel is this: Live freely, animated and motivated by God’s Spirit. Then you won’t feed the compulsions of selfishness.

So how do I reconcile what God’s Word says with what I, by nature, assume freedom to be? If freedom is the opposite of living selfishly, then I will know whether or not I am free by my actions. If I’m living selfishly — even in the little things — then I know I am a slave to my sin nature. If I’m acting in love, then I will see fruit — verse 22:

…things like affection for others, exuberance about life, serenity…

How am I using the freedom Christ has purchased for me? To follow my own agenda and seek my own fulfillment? Or rather to love and bless others?Do I have affection for others, exuberance about life and serenity? If not, then where has selfishness led me astray?

Lord, open my eyes to my true motivations. Lead me in paths of righteousness, not selfishness. I want to love others the way you do. Amen

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Back in the Saddle

Tonight was my first night back on worship team since before I had Rebekah. Honestly, I was pretty nervous and unsure of myself. I figured I had forgotten most of the basics of playing bass guitar after 3 months off, but it magically all came back to me. Thank you Lord!

I’m so very thankful for my husband’s encouragement and willingness to watch our four girls at home so I could participate in ministry. Although it often feels like more of a ministry to me and my soul than to the congregation 🙂 And when I got home I discovered that our new baby had “only” cried inconsolably for 35 minutes. Could have been worse, I suppose. And just maybe she’ll get used to Daddy and sisters enough to let me play regularly.

Of course, as soon as I lifted her wailing body from Daddy’s chest and put her on my shoulder she was silent. Some “thank you” for Dad. But he was gracious and even listened to my account of the evening away. He knows how much I need to get to church and fellowship and what encouragement it is for me to play on the worship team. I’m so very grateful for such a perceptive and accomodating husband. He’s even better than I thought he would be when I married him 🙂 and that’s saying a lot!

Now to bed. And another bright day ahead tomorrow. What does the Lord have in store for us?

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