Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Daniel Fast :: 21 Days of Reflection

In January of 2012, I embarked on a corporate Daniel Fast with other members of our church.  I've done the Daniel fast many times, but this time I endeavored to chronical my reflections on the spiritual discipline of fasting, discipline as it concerns food, and our family's commitment to a healthy lifestyle.

I'll give you a hint:  I struggle.

Perhaps you do, too.

Maybe my reflections will minister to you and encourage you regarding these issues in your own life.

One can always hope...

Day 1 :: Food
Day 2 :: Slow
Day 3 :: Foreign
Day 4 :: Hunger
Day 5 :: Life
Day 6 :: Free
Day 7 :: Praise
Day 8 :: Respond
Day 9 : Interruption
Day 10 :: Prayer
Day 11 :: Answer
Day 19 :: Grace
Day 20 :: Now
Day 21 :: Beyond

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Daniel Fast Day 21 :: Beyond

Well, this is it.
Tomorrow there are no more Daniel Fast restrictions.
It's like the training wheels are coming off
so I can fly like the wind.

I'm afraid of no more boundaries. 
I lived in bondage for over a decade without them.
I really don't care to go back there. Ever again.
But training wheels only hold us back once we've learned balance.
I can't trade one cruch for another. 
So tomorrow will be Day 22 and Day 1 at the same time.
My standard will remain the same:
~Remember what God called me to.
~Do it in his power and for his glory.
~Go slow, last long, and be strong.
~And don't worry--
He'll hold me together. 

For I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength. ~Paul


Friday, January 27, 2012

Daniel Fast Day 20 :: Now



I wish I were already there. On the other side of having lost the weight and conquered the monster. I want to have closed the gap between liking-the-way-I-feel-when-I-exercise and liking-to-exercise, and to have closed the distance between the now and the up ahead.

I think about the six pounds I've lost since the beginning of 2012 and I think about the fact that I'm really still at the beginning of all this. The six pounds and one month are decidedly the underdog facing the rest of my life — a long, long time I hope.

I think it's going to take about six months to change the ways that I think about diet and exercise. Six months of getting stronger, slimming down, and eating by a healthful standard should give me more than the shred of victory I have today to face forever with a more respectable measure of confidence. So I don't really want to be here; I'd much rather be there. I look at "there" so far off and feel discouraged, and then I think I've got to stop all this thinking!

There's something about being in the now, and being okay with that, that I've got to find. Anne Lamott wrote, "I am trying to learn to stay in the now — not the last now, not the next now; this now."

Early last Saturday, Mike and I walked the old path through our neighborhood to the elementary school and voted in the South Carolina presidential primary. We used to walk it every morning when our daughters shouldered colorful book bags that made little girls look even smaller. We'd kiss them goodbye at the glass back door of the school and hold hands on the walk home. I remembered my many complaints that the morning misty air frizzed my hair, undoing my fifteen minute blow dry and flat ironing sessions. I smiled and asked Mike, "Why did it seem so ordinary back then? How come I didn't know that each one of those mornings was amazing? It's so very obvious now."

So I will stand today, with 24 more hours of our fast and who knows how many days until forever, and see right now for what it is:  obviously amazing.

~ ~ ~
Daniel Fast Reflections From the Beginning:
Day 1 :: Food
Day 2 :: Slow
Day 3 :: Foreign
Day 4 :: Hunger
Day 5 :: Life
Day 6 :: Free
Day 7 :: Praise
Day 8 :: Respond
Day 9 : Interruption
Day 10 :: Prayer
Day 11 :: Answer
Day 19 :: Grace

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Daniel Fast Day 19 :: Grace

I live life with blinders. Sometimes I unwittingly slip back into thinking it's all about me. I don't mean to — I know better — but it's our default. We are egocentric from the womb.

For two months now, we've been picking up one of Reagan's girlfriends for church. They're bus friends, not school friends, because they ride the same bus, but don't have a single class together. If it wasn't for that bus, they might not even know one another.

You see, Reagan has a brother who can drive her to school. She could sleep later, get there faster, and generally receive more middle school clout for being a car rider. But Reagan chooses the bus, because she chooses her friend.

And then Grace started going to church with us, and I thought what a great thing we are doing. A good deed for God with Mom giving Reagan all the credit.

Then last night Grace handed Reagan a letter that her great-grandmother had written her. Reagan told me it was a little bit about her and began to read:
Dear Grace,
I received your letter yesterday and you can't imagine how happy it made me. I feel that it was the best Christmas present ever. I've been praying that you would meet a girlfriend who would invite you to church, and my prayer has been answered. ... 


Leave it to God to use a sweet little great-grandmother's love for her girl to put me back in my rightful place. It's always God who is front and center, whose deeds get proclaimed and give him great renown.

Only God woos a girl unto himself, uses a girlfriend in the process, answers a grandmother's heart cry, and gently reminds another of his daughters all at once. God loves his girls. And I tear the blinders off, and see only his grace.



~ ~ ~
Daniel Fast Reflections From the Beginning:
Day 1 :: Food
Day 2 :: Slow
Day 3 :: Foreign
Day 4 :: Hunger
Day 5 :: Life
Day 6 :: Free
Day 7 :: Praise
Day 8 :: Respond
Day 9 : Interruption
Day 10 :: Prayer
Day 11 :: Answer


Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Daniel Fast Day 18 :: Strong


Part of this living healthier means moving. I've noticed that the brain and the body want to coast on the downhill side. This is another impulse I must resist in order to reap a greater reward later. Because sometimes the glory days happen in the golden years.

There's Abraham and Sarah who didn't have their promise crawling through their living room until they'd waited a full century. Noah built a testament to years of faith that buoyed him above the wet destruction. A grey-haired Moses moved an obstinate nation of people. Samson found his strength one last time as a broken and defeated has-been. Widow Ruth, who should have been a grandmother by now, traveled internationally in search of a kinsman-redeemer. So many did their greatest exploits in their latter years. Anna kept vigil at the temple, awaiting the day she would set eyes on the Messiah. Did they begin to think her senile? Surely she had days of doubt.

Surely they all did.

But none of them gave up hope. They plodded onward, relentless in their lifelong pursuit of God and his goodness. They held fast their faithfulness, and God was able to use them for his glory in their latter days.

None of these figures coasted downhill. They resisted that temptation and pedaled their faith forward.

I want to be ready, available, prepared to do great exploits for Him. It will take a sharp mind and a strong body, so I will continue to lift my weights. Not because I think I'm a Moses or a Abraham, but just in case there's an off chance God might choose me someday to do his heavy lifting.

I hold fast to your statutes, LORD;
do not let me be put to shame.
Psalm 119:31

~ ~ ~
Daniel Fast Reflections From the Beginning:
Day 1 :: Food
Day 2 :: Slow
Day 3 :: Foreign
Day 4 :: Hunger
Day 5 :: Life
Day 6 :: Free
Day 7 :: Praise
Day 8 :: Respond
Day 9 : Interruption
Day 10 :: Prayer
Day 11 :: Answer
Day 16 :: Control

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Daniel Fast Day 17 :: Impulses

Who knew that being smart meant more than a high IQ. According to David Brooks in Social Animal: The Hidden Sources of  Love, Character, and Achievement, learning impulse control is a better indicator than IQ for a host of success measures:
  • fewer behavior problems
  • better social skills
  • higher SAT scores
  • higher rate of college completion
  • greater incomes
All these and more can be yours if you learn impulse control mechanisms early in life.

The scientific testing began with a few kindergartners plus a marshmallow minus the adult supervision. They told the kiddos that if they didn't eat the marshmallow when the adult left the room for awhile, they could have the marshmallow and even more when they returned. Then the psychologists left the room to observe little kids left to their temptation by sweet confections.


The scientists chose tasty food to test for impulse control — it is the barometer of all barometers. Isn't that what they tell us not to reward ourselves with? Is there a celebration on planet Earth without it? Even the heavenly celebrations we know about will include a banquet.

Food is a powerful thing.

Satan tempted Eve with it. Jesus, too, come to think of it. Esau sold his birthright for it. And Herod was mortified when his daughter-in-law chose the head of John the Baptist instead of it. It never occurred to him that she might want something other than delicious delicacies atop her silver platter. Food is the pleasure of all pleasures. Those in powerful positions know it, and those with little impulse control find it out soon enough.

But mastering our impulses is also a powerful thing. Especially considering Christians have the resident Holy Spirit to enable us. Especially when part of his fruit is self-control. (And we are not supposed to eat this one either, we're supposed to produce it.)

The sociological model for impulse control involves three components: perception of a given situation, calculation of a strategy (reason), and the execution of the strategy (will power). Social models of the past have emphasized the second stage, but failed to adequately teach impulse control. Then the third phase, will power, was encouraged, and that, too, fell flat. Specialists now know that the crucial stage is the perception stage for there to be successful and consistent impulse control.

Seeing a situation rightly sets us up for success. It allows us to engage and strengthen our reasoning regarding the situation (stage 2) and the will-power to act on the truth (stage 3).

God was exasperated with Israel over this very thing:

Son of man, you live in the midst of the rebellious house, who have eyes to see but do not see, ears to hear but do not hear; for they are a rebellious house. (Ezekiel 12:2)

This was among God's charges against Israel when he sent them into exile in Babylon, the very circumstances in which Daniel found himself. And what did Daniel do? He chose to deny himself the king's choice foods. The young Jewish boy passed on the marshmallow.

Perhaps Daniel heeded the word of the Lord and began to see things as God saw them. Perhaps Daniel was exercising impulse control that started by rightly perceiving the potential power food can hold over us. Perhaps for Daniel — and me — seeing it any other way would have been rebellion against God.

I am convinced the smartest thing for me to do is start passing on the marshmallows as a way of life.


  ~ ~ ~
Daniel Fast Reflections From the Beginning:
Day 1 :: Food
Day 2 :: Slow
Day 3 :: Foreign
Day 4 :: Hunger
Day 5 :: Life
Day 6 :: Free
Day 7 :: Praise
Day 8 :: Respond
Day 9 : Interruption
Day 10 :: Prayer
Day 11 :: Answer
Day 15 :: Taste
Day 16 :: Control

Monday, January 23, 2012

Daniel Fast Day 16 :: Control

I've been reading a book as part of The High Calling's book club called The Social Animal: The Hidden Sources of Love, Character and Achievement by David Brooks.

This book uses fictional characters as a tool to invite those who are otherwise uninterested or scared off into the world of sociology as it addresses the sub conscience and its influence and effect on the development of the human psyche. (Can you see the need for a human face and a sense of a real person to wrap yourself around in order to slog through the social science here?)

The discussion on culture and upbringing has given me a sense of déjà vu. I have experienced cultural differences aplenty in the marital blending of my own middle-class American heritage with that of my first generation Cuban-American husband. I've not articulated so thoroughly the minefield those cultural norms have been to us, but I recognized them for the old nemeses they are when Erika chooses college and, in so doing, goes against the family norms and cultural expectations.

Although the book has been immensely fascinating, I've also found it depressing. All this time, I've thought I was volitionally in much more control of my life than is the case according to David Brooks and the fictitious Harold and Erika. We apparently are much more a product of our circumstances and culture than feels comfortable to this girl who rather likes feeling in control.


Brooks gives continuous evidence from scientific studies that the development of our personalities, character, perspectives, goals, expectations, desires, and many other components that make up the composite "us" are built soundly on the back of our unconscious learning as we navigate our circumstances and stimuli. My sense of control was beginning to melt and slip through my hands like a mirage in the desert.

Then along came chapter 8 on self-control. This chapter collided with my Daniel Fast and all God is doing to fortify a weak area in my life. The suspect timing of this intersection among God, my life issue, and this social study is not by chance. My spirit recognizes the author of this set-up as God Himself.  He is reminding me that I am more than a science experiment in a social petrie dish. And although there is much to be gleaned from understanding how and why we develop into the people we become, God will  not be marginalized. I can study who I am and how I got this way on the one hand, and invite in the God who created it all (and can fix it all) on the other hand and be so full, it takes both hands to take it in.

Never have I felt so full on a Daniel Fast before.

{I invite you to come back for tomorrow's Daniel Fast reflection, as I will continue my discussion of Brook's chapter on self control.}

~ ~ ~
Daniel Fast Reflections From the Beginning:
Day 1 :: Food
Day 2 :: Slow
Day 3 :: Foreign
Day 4 :: Hunger
Day 5 :: Life
Day 6 :: Free
Day 7 :: Praise
Day 8 :: Respond
Day 9 : Interruption
Day 10 :: Prayer
Day 11 :: Answer
Day 15 :: Taste

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Daniel Fast Day 15 :: Taste

Coffee is one of the things I do every day. It's right up there with brushing my teeth and sleeping. I do these things every day. I don't eat apples every day. I don't even cook supper every day.  But I never miss my morning cup. Never. (Not even on my Daniel Fast—I know.)

But I didn't like coffee for he first thirty years of my life. In fact, when I was a girl, I didn't want to grow up because grown ups drank coffee, and I didn't want to drink coffee—ever. Now I drink it daily and never tire of it.


How did this happen? How did something I dislike become something I not only like but do daily with such enjoyment? There has to be something to it more than just growing up.

It may seem silly, but I need to know, because I want diet and exercise to go the way of coffee in my life. I know in my head that healthy diet and exercise are good for me. I understand their benefit and the need to incorporate them into my daily living. But I'm the little girl who doesn't want to grow up when it comes to those two. When I try to drink the bitter cup, its a battle, a burden, and distasteful. Sort of like those first few cups of coffee I half-drank politely, under the pressure of social conformity.

Now that I think of it, the amount of cream and sugar was scandalous in those first timid cups. They were more like dessert than coffee in those steaming mugs. Now I take my coffee with no sugar, only cream, and every morning. Therein lies the strategy. A little social pressure, a little conformity, a little bit of sweetening things up to make them more palatable. Drink half cups and smile politely at your guests. Repeat as necessary until you're actually enjoying it.

These two new guests I'm reluctant to have become residents in my every day? I'm introducing them slowly, in small portions, sweetened up a bit too much at first. I know it's the right thing to do, so I cave under the pressureto conform and add a little more cream until my smile's not fake anymore.

Eventually, I'll be able to stomach them stronger and with less sugar, just like the coffee. They'll become old friends I look forward to when each day dawns anew.

I've tried fast and furious before and failed.  This time I'm going the way of coffee: slow and sweet with a fake smile. These will be my concessions to secure success for a lifetime. Sometimes obedience is an acquired taste. I'm doing whatever it takes to acquire it.

The beginning of wisdom is: Acquire wisdom;
And with all your acquiring, get understanding.
Proverbs 4:7

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Daniel Fast Day 14 :: Perfect



When we bring ourselves in our imperfections to God,
it is enough.
When we have been less than perfect
in our fasting for two weeks
and in our living of this whole life,
and we bring it to God,
it is enough.
Because we are His beloved.
It is enough
because His love is perfect.


So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do,
do it all for the glory of God.
1 Corinthians 10:13


Friday, January 20, 2012

Daniel Fast Day 13 :: Friends

Limits are funny things. They can either draw attention to the boundary and create an obsession with what is forbidden just on the other side of the line or they can mark out the territory that is safe and give us assurance and peace to move around freely within them. I tend to eat with no real boundaries, eating what and when I want with no thought for why or the ultimate result.

The Daniel fast always starts out for me as the former, but ends as the latter because it's a journey, one that plows land that has long lain fallow. What begins as hard earth is broken and ready for planting by the end.

Three weeks of restriction are a yoke I resist like any untamed animal. They are heavy and hindering at first. Time, she proves to be my friend while I endure the yoke of healthy food guidelines. She is not new to my circumstances, it's just that I have become acutely aware of her presence as I acclimate to wearing a yoke. Although I resent her a wee bit, she befriends and does not begrudge me. Time is patient, and she teaches me that my body feels good, better; that good decisions make me disciplined, stronger. Through her the yoke of restriction becomes a gift.

Through her, I become aware of unfarmed land with potential to produce a bountiful harvest should I embrace the yoke and my new friend, Time. They will help me do the hard work more efficiently. The burdens of restriction and time become tools for taming what has been wild within me.

Every other time, the Daniel Fast ends for me here. But this time, I intend to keep my new friends close, seed the new ground and reap a harvest. That is why we we wear the yoke and break up hard ground, is it not? 


~ ~ ~
Daniel Fast Reflections From the Beginning:
Day 1 :: Food
Day 2 :: Slow
Day 3 :: Foreign
Day 4 :: Hunger
Day 5 :: Life
Day 6 :: Free
Day 7 :: Praise
Day 8 :: Respond
Day 9 : Interruption
Day 10 :: Prayer
Day 11 :: Answer
Day 12 :: Commune

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Daniel Fast Day 12 :: Commune


Something happens when people gather around a table filled with food and eat together. It's more than the time it takes. It's more than the physical proximity, the recipes followed and served, or the conversation that ensues.

Food is nothing less than sacrament. All food is given by God and is given as a means to sustain not just our bodies, but also our minds and our spirits. In all of its aspects—growth, harvest, preparation, and presentation—food is given as a primary means of drawing us into right relationship toward God, toward his creation and his people. Even its intentional absence, through fasting, pulls us toward a deeper dependence on God and one another. (Leslie Leyland Fields, editor, The Spirit of Food)

A meal is an experience that engages all the senses. We taste, we talk, we listen, we smell, we touch, and we will remember. And all this is mutual: mine overlapping yours. A shared meal is an avenue to communion, which is what our souls really crave.

Pregnant, I craved eggs and steak, my body calling for protein. And pregnant, I felt physical hunger that ran deeper than any hunger I had felt before, causing me to pray for starving, pregnant women in Africa who had no means of appeasing their own growing baby's need for sustenance. My heightened hunger had heightened my compassion.

And pregnant, there were foods that tasted better than they ever had or will again. That orange juice and those sugar cookies—oh, to taste those tastes so fully again.

Pregancy is hosting new life as it develops. It is a physical communion between two souls, one parent, one child, that enlivens sensations that were deadened or nonexistent before the communion. Food fuels the chemistry for life.

Fasting can do the same between one Father and one child, when we lay aside the physical food for the fasting chemistry of the spirit. He hungers to be our host. When we partake of this kind of communion, we fully taste, and we see that the Lord is good.

Let him lead me to the banquet hall,
And let his banner over me be love.
Song of Solomon 2:4


~ ~ ~
Daniel Fast Reflections From the Beginning:
Day 1 :: Food
Day 2 :: Slow
Day 3 :: Foreign
Day 4 :: Hunger
Day 5 :: Life
Day 6 :: Free
Day 7 :: Praise
Day 8 :: Respond
Day 9 :  Interruption
Day 10 :: Prayer
Day 11 :: Answer


Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Daniel Fast Day 11 :: Answer


The guest speaker's name was Thomas. He was friends with some of the guys in our college ministry. I shook his hand, welcomed him, and found a seat among the gathering group. It was a Wednesday night at 8:30, and I had unknowingly introduced myself to answered prayer.

I wish I could recount the testimony Thomas gave that night but I can't. I remember only one thing: that he had been sent to the Persian Gulf to fight a war four years earlier. Thomas was walking the desert sands of Kuwait while I was eating faith from a balcony on St. Charles. We were strangers at the time, two kids right where God had them in order to meet their respective needs. Mine was for peace in my heart. Thomas' was for salvation of his soul. And simultaneously, from different sides of the globe, I prayed prayers of protection and spared life at noon while Thomas placed a midnight faith in God for the first time.

My prayer had come face to face with its answer four years later. It was the only detail that mattered that Wednesday night.

So keep at it, whatever God is calling you to. There's a reason he has you were you are. He will use it for your good and for his good pleasure. All at once or after a long, slow path, whether you are hungry or filled, sacrificing or satisfied, full of faith or fear (or a measure of both), God will answer.

And it will satify you like no food ever did or could.




~ ~ ~
Daniel Fast Reflections From the Beginning:
Day 1 :: Food
Day 2 :: Slow
Day 3 :: Foreign
Day 4 :: Hunger
Day 5 :: Life
Day 6 :: Free
Day 7 :: Praise
Day 8 :: Respond
Day 9 :: Interruption
Day 10 :: Prayer

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Daniel Fast Day 10 :: Prayer

It was August 1990 when the US had been at war for four days. It was my first memorable experience of living in a nation at war, and I was a wreck. I couldn't sleep for trying to wrap my brain around big ideas like front lines and casualties and bombs bursting in air. Those things were in that day's newspaper not just the history books anymore. The only way to gain some sense of control was to bring it all to God.

I began to fast every Monday, committed to prayer for our troops until the war ended. I didn't know a single active duty soldier, at least I was unaware of any. I was twenty, a newly-wed, and working on the tenth floor of Hibernia National Bank in downtown New Orleans. I typically sat in the break room with my brown bag because Mike was in seminary. We were starving college students still. There was a food court in the sky-scraper across the street with a lovely balcony overlooking St. Charles Street.

I headed there every Monday of the Persian Gulf War with no lunch, only my bible and prayer journal. Lunch consisted of words rather than food. They were words for others, not myself, and God ate my fears and unrest. He filled me.


Jesus said to them, “My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me and to accomplish His work.
~John 4:34

~ ~ ~
Daniel Fast Reflections From the Beginning:
Day 1 :: Food
Day 2 :: Slow
Day 3 :: Foreign
Day 4 :: Hunger
Day 5 :: Life
Day 6 :: Free
Day 7 :: Praise
Day 8 :: Respond
Day 9 :: Interruption



Monday, January 16, 2012

Daniel Fast Day 9 :: Interruption


It's Noelle's birthday. Many years it falls in the midst of our Daniel Fast, just as it did when she turned 8. That year, I made an oreo cake, we invted frieds and family, and we celebrated. We will do the same tonight, with her choice of dinner menu, because life is precious and worthy of celebration.

There will be cake. When the party's over, we resume our fast.

Isn't that the way life is--unruly and imposing on our plans? Make room for that. It just might be exactly what God planned.

For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:
 ~Ecclesiastes 3:1


~ ~ ~
Daniel Fast Reflections From the Beginning:
Day 1 :: Food
Day 2 :: Slow
Day 3 :: Foreign
Day 4 :: Hunger
Day 5 :: Life
Day 6 :: Free
Day 7 :: Praise
Day 8 :: Respond


Sunday, January 15, 2012

Daniel Fast Day 8 :: Respond



Easter 2005

The first time I ever fasted was in seventh grade. I did it completely on my own on Good Friday. How could I go to school like every other day and go to gym class and do Spanish homework and an art project for Mr. Hutch? It was the day Christendom commemorated the crucifixion. To move through a regular, ordinary day was all wrong to the dramatic, junior high school girl I was. Fasting was my way to observe, acknowledge, and attempt some sort of response.

There's not a lot to choose from. When I look at the cross I'm at a loss for words or deeds. I feel so undone and inadequate. I was then, and I still am thirty years later. But even at twelve, I knew I had to do something. In the face of God's extravagance towards man, doing nothing was not an option.

God of wonders tortured to death was an injustice to Jesus' righteousness. Engaging in my ordianry day would have been tragic to the same proportion. It would trample his grace. So I fasted to mourn his sacrifice and to feel my need of it. It was the beginning of a lifelong response to God and his grace.

~ ~ ~
Daniel Fast Reflections From the Beginning:
Day 1 :: Food
Day 2 :: Slow
Day 3 :: Foreign
Day 4 :: Hunger
Day 5 :: Life
Day 6 :: Free
Day 7 :: Praise

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Daniel Fast Day 7 :: Praise

Those who look to him for help will be radiant with joy;
no shadow of shame will darken their faces.
Psalm 34:5(NLT)

 

After a week of talking about my issues, I hope you feel inspired to take on your own,
whatever they may be or how ugly the battle.
You will end up free and full of praise at the other end.

And now I know you want to hear the whole song.
This is the live version, with all it's imperfection and passion.



~ ~ ~
Daniel Fast Reflections From the Beginning:
Day 1 :: Food
Day 2 :: Slow
Day 3 :: Foreign


Friday, January 13, 2012

Daniel Fast Day 6 :: Free


But Daniel resolved not to defile himself with the royal food and wine, and he asked the chief official for permission not to defile himself this way.
~Daniel 1:8


Like Daniel, I am concerned with my sin against God, and having no control over my eating habits is indeed sin for me. Maybe it is for you, too? Some of these reflections may seem like this is all about my body, my weight, my image; but this is about my spirit. The core issue is obedience and desire to be holy. So these Daniel-like, self-imposed restrictions are going to have to last for a lifetime, not a mere 21 days. For me, this is not a fast, but a purge. I am purging from my lifestyle this being out of control. It must become again foreign to me.

I'd be lying if I said it was easy reflecting on a very private struggle.am a pastor's wife and thus a leader by association, who some (in my real life) look to as an example and mentor. And honestly, my dress size isn't so large that it can't keep the little secret I'm divulging here—that I struggle with control over how I eat. I worry that in my candor I might be a stumbling block rather than the encourager I desire to be. But I decided to deal with it here—openly, finally—because I really do want God's victory, and I want to be the overcomer He intended me to be. And I hope you find the encouragement to do the same.

Self-control is a fruit of the Spirit, so lack of it must be fruit from the king's table in this foreign land we call Earth. From this I must fast and be freed in order to be a stronger and healthier child of God.

So I ate a modest amount of tuna on Triscuits with my grapes at lunch today. Because they are healthy. And God is gaining control.

After ten days they looked healthier and stronger than the young men
who had been eating the king’s rich food.  
~ Daniel 1:15



~ ~ ~
Daniel Fast Reflections From the Beginning:
Day 1 :: Food
Day 2 :: Slow
Day 3 :: Foreign


Thursday, January 12, 2012

Daniel Fast Day 5 :: Life



After eight cycles of chemotherapy, Mike had the word "remission" added to his medical chart. Relief and happiness. It was spring.

We weren't through with the killing though. We embarked on a bone marrow transplant which is clinical jargon meaning "almost-murder at the hands of doctors, administered with the patient's consent." They even shorten it to the innocuous BMT, making it look like a cousin to the BLT. But there's no relation; this "ain't" no picnic.

They measure out enough poison to kill you, then back it off just a hair, and hope you live. Just before you die from it, they infuse stem cells into your bloodstream and wait for those little heroes to rescue your tortured body from certain death. Stem cells repair the body by morphing into whatever kind of cell is necessary to the occasion. The are microscopic life factories. They saved Mike's life.

God had spoken to us during that one good spring month between regular chemo and killer chemo. In so many different ways God spoke to us the need to live more deliberately a healthy lifestyle. The message was undeniable. He had given us our miracle. To be sure the cancer didn't return, we were to be committed to healthy nutrition, exercise, and adequate sleep.

We have done this and not done this. Life has a way of not turning out perfect, and Mike has found more consistency than I.

So when I say I struggle with food, it's an obedience issue. When you scoff because I wear size 8, looks can be deceiving.

God healed Mike in his mercy; He forgives us in his grace. So we infuse obedience yet again. And we wait for God's little life factories to repair injured us.

I will not die but live,
and will proclaim what the Lord has done.
Psalm 118:17

~ ~ ~
Daniel Fast Reflections From the Beginning:
Day 1 :: Food
Day 2 :: Slow
Day 3 :: Foreign



Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Daniel Fast Day 4 :: Hunger



It was a decade ago this week that Mike was three chemo treatments into a year's worth of treatment to kill the cancer.

I left him in a hospital bed for a month of nights with untreated cancer because we just couldn't get to it. He was too busy dying. I didn't know there could be more pressing issues than cancer. But a calcium release from your bones into your blood stream? Not good. Renal failure and liver failure? They were toe to toe at the coin toss to see which would get to be the first fatal domino to fall. All the while, there were irregular heart palpitations and trouble in pathology with a firm diagnosis which necessitated more surgery.

It was just past midnight when I laid on the mattress on the floor in my daughter's room. My waking hours were devoted to Mike, so I slept in the room with my children, the sleeping hours a widow's mite offering to my kids.

The rhythmic sounds of life, deep and young, lulled me from a peaceful crib and a twin bed. It occurred to me as I stared up at the ceiling, both wide awake and exhausted, that I was in the pose of a corpse in a casket. I felt adrenaline rush.

Babies' breath enveloped me. The smell mingled with desperation and the faint hospital stench.

"Dear God, spare him, spare him," numb, as I heard the whisper I had spoken.

Prayer had become an involuntary reflex, instinctive. Food was out of the question. I was hungry and thirsty for only a miracle.

~ ~ ~
Daniel Fast Reflections From the Beginning:
Day 1 :: Food
Day 2 :: Slow
Day 3 :: Foreign

Monday, January 9, 2012

Daniel Fast Day 3 :: Foreign

But Daniel resolved not to defile himself with the royal food and wine, and he asked the chief official for permission not to defile himself this way.
~Daniel 1:8

Daniel found himself in a strange new land with a culture and customs that were foreign to a Jewish boy. They were being thrust upon him in preparation to becoming King Nebuchadnezzar's servant. This brought concern over the possibility that he might sin against the Lord in the midst of a decadent lifestyle. It's hard to live by God's standards in a foreign land, so he made a request to the king's official that he might maintain his holy lifestyle while he lived in exile in Babylon.

This is the essence of my 21 days this year, not necessarily fast-worthy foods. I have focused on the food in other years, and there is merit in that as well. But I called this year's fast a pseudo-Daniel Fast for me (Day One) because this time, for me, it's not about the food. It's about denying myself the metaphorical decadence from the world's royal table, and regaining my holy lifestyle as a citizen of Heaven while I live on Earth.

Photo Credit:  Chinese Checkers in Beijing, the Forbidden City
Courtesy of my brother Wayne, taken October 2009

~ ~ ~
Daniel Fast Reflections From the Beginning:
Day 1 :: Food
Day 2 :: Slow


Sunday, January 8, 2012

Daniel Fast Day 2 :: Slow



We walk the edge of the earth, an old friend and I. Her pace is painfully slow. It's not even a pace, really, more like just walking aimlessly, and I begin to wonder if I can do this: go slow.

But the water below the dam laps like the Gulf of Mexico--the sound of home--and the shimmery sailboats wink in the sun. It's 70 degrees in January, and the conversation is sweet. So three hours and eight miles pass, and I've never walked that far all at once before.

You can go farther when you go slow.

It's Saturday, the day before the Daniel fast begins, and for days I have been weighing God's will and trying it on for size. Again. It's a dressing room decision, mulling over His will from every angle, studying the image of yourself wearing It in the mirror of your relationship with Him, and pretty sure It doesn't fit and you'll never wear It well.

Usually, when I get far enough down on myself, I attack the enemy with a vengeance that lasts, say, ten days. That's when sore muscles and fatigue from too few calories get the better of me, and I ask for a truce with the food monsters within.

My normal pace is frenetic.

Eight miles with the smell of water in the air to learn that this time will have to be different from the 104 other times when I decided to do whatever it takes to beat the food issues. I've never tried slow before.

You know what happens when you walk eight miles with a friend and enjoy catching up on each other's kids? You renew an old friendship. You also have sore hip flexors, you know, those muscles that don't get a good work out until you've walked a long distance.

Vicki is training for next weekend's half-marathon. She's going to walk it.


Sharing this in community with Jennifer at Getting Down With Jesus.


Photo Credit: Rick: Cafeinated, used with permission.
~ ~ ~
Daniel Fast Reflections From the Beginning:
Day 1 :: Food


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...