7 – The Beginning of Our Experiment…

It all started as a conversation while running.  My friend Melissa and I were discussing a book to read together, something we like to do from time to time.  We were reading Sacred Parenting, but having just finished Sacred Marriage it felt like too much of the same.  So she mentions 7 and I admit that the premise of that book terrifies me and she agrees and yet, somehow, a mile later, we’ve talked ourselves into reading the book and doing the experiment.  I suggest that a month on each item sounds like too much but a week doesn’t sound like enough, so we settle on two weeks per “fast” (and right now, on day 3 of food, it’s quite possible her husband hates me and she may not be too fond of my either by day 12 or 13).

So she and I and our husbands (and hopefully another friend once her stomach bug goes away) began 7 on Saturday.  Tim and Mel go hard core and choose their seven food items for two weeks.  I’m just not spiritually mature enough to do that yet, so here we decide to do whole / minimally processed foods for our fourteen days.  This has been more challenging than one would think.  Like yesterday when I sat at a family birthday party and ate raw carrots and broccoli while everyone else enjoyed smoked short ribs, potato salad, and cake.  *sigh*  Or when I was trying to find a snack before church to replace my Sunday doughnut treat and I grabbed the jar of peanuts, read the label, and promptly had to replace it.  Who knew dry roasted peanuts had so many ingredients?!

Today was the first day I actually felt “deprived” though.  I had a strong craving for sugar, preferably chocolate.  And this evening, while cleaning the microwave with vinegar, I developed a desperate desire for salt and vinegar chips.  And I’m not even pregnant.  Sheesh.

Still, I struggle a bit with this whole thing.  I wanted to make a peanut butter granola this week to have on hand for snacks, but the peanut butter I had on hand had a second ingredient of “sugar” (even though it is a “better” peanut butter).  So, I went to the store and bought “even better” peanut butter so I could make my granola.  And somehow it felt wrong.  If I’m supposed to be involved in a “mutiny against excess”, perhaps I should have just done without the peanut butter (and by default – the granola). So I’m wrestling with how to recognize all we have and take for granted without losing my sanity at the same time.  I suppose this is why God wanted me to do this in the first place…

{More to come, I’m sure, over the next 14 weeks….}

For His Glory ~

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When Your Eyes Are Opened Once Again…..

Ann writes this post yesterday from Haiti and as snow falls outside this morning in Kansas, mixed with thunder and lightning, I read and God speaks somewhere deep.  This, this is what the Lord has been trying to show me.  Through discomfort, discontent, seeking, searching, 7, finances, and the hungering emptiness inside, He’s been calling me.  Telling me I’ve forgotten.  I’ve gotten comfortable in the world again and embraced it.  He tells me it’s time to seek His face more than I check Facebook.  It’s time to be about His interests more than I’m about Pinterest.  It’s time to turn my heart back out to the world, not to become more like it, but to love like Him.

And my heart breaks at the realization.  How do I so easily forget God’s goodness?  How do I become blind to His good graces?  How do I become so complacent and forget the poor and needy and hungry and hurting when my own daughter is one of them?  It’s a gradual thing to go from walking so close to wandering in the dark. Oh that this wandering heart would hold fast to what is really real.

And Ann writes these two things…

And the fast the Lord wants is to break free – free from indifference…

And the bare bottom line is that if you are going to keep company with Jesus, you are going to have to give up keeping up with the Joneses.

And in a Facebook-Pinterest world it’s a hard thing to give up the keeping up.  And I don’t know how to do it really, clearly.  Other than to throw myself at my Jesus’ feet and ask Him to keep my eyes open and my heart raw and teach me to love like He does – to love people more than things, souls more than status, His kingdom more than this world.

Lord, have mercy on us…

For His Glory ~

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40 Days – one week in….

I start this journey, these forty days.  Forty days of preparation, forty days of making room.  An intentional clearing of space in my home and my heart for more of my Savior.  The 40 bags in 40 days is not a way of salvation, it is a way of working out that salvation, and one is not more or less righteous as a person for having done it or not.  But for me, even in this first week, I see the benefit, I feel the peace.

Forced to pace myself and not tear my house apart in one day, I pray through each area.  Lord, what would you have me work on today?  Lord, what should I keep?  What would benefit someone else?  What is keeping me or someone in my family from knowing you more deeply?  What is trash?  Show me the way, Lord, and I will walk in it. A theoretically simple task becomes spiritual.  Something I do regularly anyway (cleaning out and organizing) becomes a pathway to communion with Him.

This exercise combined with this book

….(which arrived conveniently on Ash Wednesday) have together led me deeper in to relationship with Him.  The structured prayers, said four times a day in my world, provide a back drop to an on-going conversation that had become stale.  Praying back God’s word, conveniently written out for me, has it ever on my mind and heart.

Eight days in, my house is becoming less cluttered with stuff, my heart is becoming more full of His presence.  I see the beauty of preparing for Easter, a long waiting for His salvation, and I see myself, once again, longing for ever more of Him.  He is so good to me.

For His Glory ~

~ Sara

Lent – 40 Days of Preparation

Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent, it seems to sneak up on me every year.  In our non-denominational church it’s an unobserved holiday and Lent isn’t really emphasized. After my family left the Catholic church when I was in junior high I enjoyed the “freedom” of not having to observe Lent.  (Lent is a crummy time of year for a non-fish-eater to attend a Parochial school.  I’m just sayin’.)

As I’ve grown older, however, I see the value of taking time to prepare for Easter.  We spend so much time, money, and energy preparing for Christmas, Christ’s birth.  Yet, Easter (unless you’re into the rabbits, eggs, and candy – which we’re not) can surprise you if you’re not looking for it.  One cannot help but prepare for Christmas, no matter how haphazardly it is done.  But one has to be intentional to prepare the heart for the Resurrection.

Once again we will read books that help us focus on what the cross means.  We will have a Lenten centerpiece, akin to an Advent wreath, and we will count down to the cross and the resurrection.  We will do some other special things (Lord willing) to prepare our hearts for Him.

One particular idea that on the surface doesn’t seem to have much to do with preparing for Christ but on further examination I can see how it will begin to free my heart and mind up to loving Him and serving Him more was sent to me by a friend yesterday.  She asked if I would be willing to do the 40 Days, 40 Bags challenge.   The general idea is to list 40 areas of your home / life that need decluttering and to take this season of Lent to cleanse your life of these unnecessary things.  The spiritual link is that by joining this effort with prayer and meditation on who God is and what He has done in your life and all that you have been blessed with, you will find yourself more freed up to love and serve Him as your heart is less burdened by all these earthly things.  (This site also has a great wealth of information on the concept.)  A sister-challenge to this would be to put off all unnecessary purchases (i.e., we still have to buy groceries and toilet paper, but I don’t necessarily need that picture frame or cute shirt) during this season as well.  I have not fully committed to this one and am praying about it.  The fact that I am wrestling with it this much is probably an indication that I need to do it.  🙂

I am both somewhat intimidated and incredibly excited at the prospect of this.  I’m also hoping the girls will get on the bandwagon at least a little bit.  I have my list made, though it is not complete and still generally vague.  I will post progress here as time goes on.

So, the challenge begins today and today is a busy day with school, grocery shopping, choir, and ballet, so today’s area will need to be something simple.  Today’s goal is to simply stop procrastinating about some of the piles of recycling that have been sitting in my house and to just take them to the recycling bins.  Simple, yes.  But it’s going to free my heart up from that little burden that has been driving me nuts for some time now.

Another thing that I am bringing back for Lent is Thirty for 30, except that it would technically be Thirty for 40, but that doesn’t have quite the same ring.  We first attempted Thirty for 30 back in September.  And then we got head lice, so between picking heads and doing laundry and trying to keep some sense of normal life around here, I didn’t have an extra thirty seconds, let alone thirty minutes, so it kind of fell by the wayside.  Coming off of an incredibly busy time with ministry, this seems like a good time to try again.

Now I’ve listed all of these things that we are going to do for Lent when nothing I do can bring me any closer to salvation and I want to be clear that that is not the point of these exercises.  I do not do these things to earn Christ’s love or favor, I do them to prepare my heart and our girls’ hearts for what Easter really is – the highest holy day of the Christian calendar, and as I said at the beginning, it can be so easy to miss the point of Easter if we aren’t intentional.  And, if I’m honest, if I miss the point of Easter, I’ve probably missed the point of Christmas as well.

For His Glory ~

~ Sara