Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Fasting

My small group study that meets on Wednesday evenings 
boldly agreed last week to fast today 
and to end our fast this evening with communion and dinner.  

It sounded great at the time, 
kind of like going on a trip out of town (seriously).  

You see I am a nervous traveler, 
I constantly worry about a whole host of things when we travel like, 
will I be able to use a restroom when I need to 
(living in West Texas where stops are few and far between feed into this anxiety), 
will I forget to pack my _____ fill in the blank 
(I often forget very necessary items) because I am a creature of habit.  
I just count on my things being at home 
where I left them
(unless it's my hairbrush that my daughter always uses 
but that is a different story).  

So when I am at home, 
I feel rested and relaxed and feel most like me.  
But I love the idea of travel.  
And once I get into the traveling the anxiety seems to drift away, 
but not in the preparation part, 
not in the take off part.

Back to the fast.  

It sounded great at the time,
 I flexed my spiritual muscle as the pastor and agreed 
(in fact I think I might have suggested it) 
and the crazy thing is that everyone went along with it.  
Everyone!  
Darn those nay-sayers for not showing up 
or speaking up.

So as Thursday turning into Friday 
and Friday turned in Saturday 
and so on, my anxiety increased.  
The pressure was on.

You see I LOVE FOOD.  
I love eating and I feel like I have been 
horribly denied something if meal time is delayed.

At the core of fasting we realize that often times in life 
we place something (more like a long list of things) 
before God.  


I know that 
but I wonder to myself 
and out loud to my husband, 
how am I going to make it through the 24 hours?  
How can I depend that deeply on God?

The fast began at 6 p.m.  
That is when the last blueberry from my dessert went into my mouth.  
At 6:03 p.m. I felt utterly deprived. 
And Dan pointed out it has only been three minutes!

(He's not fasting so he isn't allowed to comment.)

Gratefully we had a loft bed to put together for our daughter 
and it took all night to do 
so I didn't have to sit on the couch 
and miss my evening snack of popcorn.

But everyone else was snacking, Harry on cheese, 
then a serving of rice and beans 
and then popcorn 
and Dan on the Skittles he found in his pocket.  
And dear Eva said
"please stop talking about food mom is fasting" 
in a sort of way you would speak about someone who has a terminal illness.

I am in hour 15.  
Only 9 to go.  
Which to me is like comparing the miles someone has run in a marathon.  
It doesn't get easier over time, 
it gets more challenging.

But I am past "take off" 
and I am excited to see how God will work in and through me today 
as I turn to God instead of my deep desire for food to nourish me.  

I turn to God who is always my polar star (I just often times forget that).  

I turn to God.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Give It Up for Lent

Giving something up for Lent might seem less of a daunting task than giving up something for the New Year with a resolution, since it is after all only 40 days long.  But it still can be challenging.  The cool thing about giving something up is that it forces us to take our faith outside of the church building, it forces us to think about God's presence in our everyday ordinary lives, even when everything is going along fine.  So I have a list of things to consider giving up for Lent, you may choose to do them for a week or a day or to take one on for the entire season.

1. Instead of giving up chocolate, only purchase slave free chocolate. Delicious!   http://bambootique.wordpress.com/2008/06/05/slave-free-chocolate-brands-you-can-trust/

2. Instead of fasting, eat only beans and rice for dinner. Then donate what you would have spent on a meal for your family to a local food pantry or charity of your choice.

3. Fast from electronics for the evening and have a family night of reading and playing board games.

4.  By fair trade coffee.

5. Take your travel coffee mug with you to your favorite fair trade coffee shop.

6.  Take your own water bottle with you and refrain from buying bottled water.

7.  Take a walk in the morning or the evening and be in prayer for your city and your neighborhood.

8.  Arrive 10 minutes early to worship on Sunday and be in prayer for your congregation, its mission, the leaders and your pastor.

9.  Take time to write a note to a co-worker, friend or family member who is in need of encouragement.

10.  Invite a friend to worship and share why it is your faith in God matters to you.

11.  Visit a member of your congregation that is home bound.

12.  Make dinner for a busy family whose parents need a night off from making an evening meal.

13.  Take your kids to the park and play with them! (no sitting down and chatting with the other parents the whole time)

14.  Make time to read a bible story with your family each night at bedtime story time.  If you live alone, take time to read the scriptures before bed, you might decide to "take on" reading a gospel or one of Paul's letters through the Lenten season.

15.  Share with one another at meal time when you experienced the presence of God in your day.  If you live alone, invite a member of the congregation to join you in a daily text message exchange.

16.  Recycle, if you are not already, make an effort to take care of mother earth (God's good creation). (Or take some of the church's recycling home to your bin.)

17.  Take time for sabbath rest, maybe start out with just a couple of hours on your day off and then work on expanding it.


18.  Arrange to have someone you just met at church over for dinner or take them out for a meal or morning coffee.

19.  Walk you dogs (if you don't already), they like getting out of the house too!

20.  Take a hike in the mountains.

21.  Get your hands dirty volunteering at Jardin de Milagros, the Kelly Memorial Food Pantry or The Mustard Seed Cafe.

22. Increase your commitment to the ministries of the church by volunteering in new ways.

At the end of the Lenten season, hopefully one of these practices will become part of your daily or weekly routine and it will help deepen your relationship with God and with one another.  

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

I need Lent

Ash Wednesday is tomorrow and while in El Paso, spring is in full bloom, I realize that even though the earth is not a frozen mess at least in the desert southwest, I need Lent.

I need Lent to remind me that the world doesn't revolve around me, even though my inner voice barks back that life would be much easier if it did. 

I need Lent to remind me that ultimately I came from dust (star dust most likely) and to dust I will return.

I need Lent because I live in America, in a culture so enmeshed in consumerism and violence that we have become both numb to it and well, consumed by it.

I need Lent because I am a mom, with two children, enough said?

I need Lent because life can be hard and heart breaking and at times unbearable and walking with Christ (along side my brothers and sisters in Christ) once again to the cross somehow puts it all into perspective.

I need Lent because all of those activities of spending less money or time in front of the TV or surfing the web, or mindlessly looking at FB, will begin to change me from the inside out.

I need Lent because I need a deeper reason to slow down and take time to rest, to observe, to be in prayer.

I need Lent because I realize that deep down inside I need a Savior and that I cannot completely find Jesus on my own, I need my community faith to join me on this journey.

I need Lent.

Easter ... ready ... set ... go!

Matthew 28:1-10 About three years ago I committed to the Narrative Lectionary.   It is a four-year cycle that takes the congregation t...