Saturday, February 26, 2011

Do Not Be Overcome! The Power of Spiritual Fasting

I need to make an amendment and a confession. Earlier I said that I like weapon number six. That's not exactly true. I do like the results of this weapon, but I do not like to fast. Nope. Fasting has been a rather neglected part of my spiritual life. The reason?

I really like to eat...potatoes and everything else. I no likey being hungry. It makes me cranky.

Despite this, I do want to fast. I need to fast at times. I guess for me, it all boils down to the most basic truth, and that is I love Jesus. And Jesus, in His very short little sermon in Matthew 6 on fasting, said, "When you fast..." That when sounds an awful lot like He thinks I'm actually going to fast. And when I love someone, I like to meet his expectations, so yeah...I'm working on the fasting thing.

Actually, fasting was the very first weapon I employed to help me out of the pit of woe I was in a year ago. The Lord had already used Holly and Heather's book as a wake-up call for me that I needed some changes in my life. I was now faced with the how.

I woke up the morning of the second anniversary of my dad's death feeling completely and utterly depressed. I was sick of life and sick of myself in it. I had been putting stakes in the ground around me-- one for every bad thing that ever happened to me. I put them there and kept them there to remember them and to prove my point: Life Stinks and it's Not Fair. 

I woke up on this morning feeling surrounded and trapped by all the negativity. I wanted out. I remember actually saying out loud, "I need to do something. Now. Today." And the Lord spoke to me right then, "Fast and pray." And just in case I didn't get that message, He told my friend Jill, too. That very day, she said to me, "I was praying for you today, and I was wondering if you would consider fasting about the things you are struggling with." Yes! Thank you, Lord. I got the message!

And so I entered into a fast of several days with some very specific desires on my heart. I had the dream and the hope of freedom ahead, and that glimmer gave me the strength I needed to say goodbye to potatoes and all my other tasty friends for a time. I love what Jentezen Franklin says in his book, Fasting: "When God has placed a dream inside you that only He can make possible, you need to fast and pray. Good or bad, what's in you will come out only when you fast and pray." Many beautiful things happened to me as a result of this particular fast, but I will just share one of them right now.

If you have been following along since I wrote about my disappointments, then you might remember I have struggled for years with my attitude toward my husband's job. The resentment that I felt had become a way of life for me. I had stated my position from the beginning, and it went something like this: "His job and I are lifelong enemies. We are at war with each other. I know I am not big enough to win, but I will never stop the fight." How could I possibly back down from that? Have you ever found yourself so entrenched in your own foolishness that your stubborn heels have actually dug a rut bigger than you? I couldn't just leave my rut. I needed an out. I needed supernatural help.

During my fast, I humbled myself before God and asked for the help I needed. I was intentionally seeking to be delivered from this bitterness and resentment that had such a strong hold on me. And guess what happened? Bob's job interfered as usual. We were invited to a work-related dinner party, smack dab in the middle of my fast. I was super-duper extra frustrated by that. I felt very committed to this fast, and I did not want to be interrupted. Anyway, this totally proved my point that Bob's work interfered in our personal lives in every way. All the time! I was a little bit seething about it. Plus I was really hungry, which magnified my frustration. This fast was making me even madder at Bob's job! Or so I thought.

I asked the Lord what to do. If the dinner had been a large gathering, I probably could have faked my way through it without eating anything. But there would be only three couples, including Bob and me. Not eating would surely be noticed, and it would be rude to the hostess preparing the food. So, I felt the Lord's blessing to eat this one meal, and then continue on with my fast as planned. 

As we headed for the dinner, I couldn't help but think what a sacrifice I was making for Bob's dumb old job. Admittedly, I was looking forward to the food. I had gone three days without it. I certainly had an appetite. But in my mind, this dinner was tainting my fast and was counter-productive. I was praying for deliverance from bitterness, not the reinforcement of it!

The Lord's ways are different from ours aren't they? I never expected this frustrating night to be the answer to my prayers, but it was. I stopped thinking about myself long enough to remember why we were there. This dinner was an intimate celebration of the passing on of leadership from Bob's boss to Bob. Bob would be leading the office now. This would mean more hours, more personal invasions. But the Lord helped me see what He wanted me to see that night. 

Through the telling of stories around the table, I saw this company, this business, the way they see it: as a dream turned reality, as a life-long career, not just a job, and as a family. I saw that they actually loved each other. Something was happening inside me, and it didn't hurt that I was eating really good potatoes at the same time. 

On the car ride home, I was completely silent, head bowed, as I listened to what the Holy Spirit was saying to me. He told me that this job I hated so much was God's provision for me and my family. It was how we were able to live in the place where we wanted to be. And He told me that I was the problem here. I could continue to set myself against this job, allowing resentment to remain, or I could come in and take part in this blessing. He showed me that it wasn't the job that had caused the bitterness and strife in my life. It was me.

As the tears ran down my face, I knew it was time to fess up to my husband. I needed to say the words out loud. "I'm sorry. I've been so wrong. I am thankful for your job, and I am very proud of you." And those my friend, are powerful words to say to your man. I was out of my rut. 

Sometimes, healings come to us gradually. But, sometimes they are instantaneous. That's what this was for me: an instantaneous deliverance from resentment. I remember feeling like a person who had been miraculously freed from an addiction, never to return to that vice again. The Lord blessed me with the freedom to love and respect my husband independent of the hours he spent at work. You see, those two things had become sickly twisted together. In order to hold to my position that Bob's job was the enemy, I had to demonstrate my disapproval by withholding from him the things he needed most. I withheld my admiration, my approval, my respect, and my affection. I suppose I was on strike. But nobody could really be the winner, except of course Satan, who would have been pleased to destroy our marriage. 

How wonderful to be set free! This thing over me has been broken, and I can say I am the happy wife of the one man I love and respect most in this world. That's a pretty good return for three days of no potatoes. And this is only one example of how fasting has been such a powerful weapon in my life! 

Fasting has always been a sort of mysterious practice to me. I'm not sure why. It's probably completely simple, and I make it more complicated than it really is. At any rate, I've been longing to understand it better, and to do it more often, so in my next post, I will share some of the things I've discovered about fasting through study and experience. Perhaps there are others out there who would like to discover more about this weapon along with me? Until next time... 

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

$25 Winner

This whole blogging thing has really been an adventure for me. It's been a stepping beyond myself and my comfortable habit of keeping myself to myself. I have not been one to freely volunteer the inner workings of my heart and mind to others. It's rather unusual, I think for the husband to be the one to have to pull things out of the wife, but this is how it is for me.

I'm usually disappointed in how much I find is lost in the translation from my heart to my conversation. What I try to express to someone is really never equal to what I wished so much to be able to say.

I had never tried writing before this, but have found it to be more satisfying than I ever thought it could be. I understand that I am not eloquent or a craftswoman with words, or even grammatically correct, but I have learned something through this experience. I have been holding things in me that wanted out! And the expression of them has been surprisingly exhilarating.

Just that--the expression of my heart--is wonderful. But this sharing of it with YOU and the response and connection and community feeling is an added joy that I didn't anticipate. I feel full of love for you. And so, I guess I just want to thank you for reading this weird girl's ramblings. I don't know how much longer this dreamy part of my life will last, but I'm enjoying the ever-lovin' juice out of it.

Okay, blah, blah, blah, I know. You want to know the winner! She is...Nicole! The first Nicole, that is, out of the two Nicoles who commented. I am so happy you are the winner! You get to be the recipient, which is a switch for you.
Nicole is ever the gal to show up with a meal or send a thoughtful card or give a "just because" gift. She's always looking out for everyone else. So, go shopping for yourself! Have fun! I will send you an e-mail with the details and the how-tos of it.

And I'll be back soonish with weapon number six. I like it.
The End.

P.S. Bob just looked at that picture of the lovely Nicole and thought it looked like I was implying that the other Nicole is not lovely! This could not be farther from the truth! The second Nicole is equally lovely. Hi, Nicole G.! You understand, right? I knew you would.

The End For Real.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Jewelry Update

Hello, you little sweeties. I just wanted to let you know that Carrie listed some new treasures in her shop over the weekend. If you want to enter the $25 giveaway, you can leave a comment here. I will announce the winner tomorrow!

All of your comments on my last two posts have been so beautifully sweet and kind. I feel like I've been getting hugs all weekend. I'm hugging you back and praying you have a sweet day touched by the goodness and grace of God.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

I Still See You

Two years ago today, we said goodbye to you.

But I still see you every day... this one who dishes up the ham as much as you used to.

And I see you in this one, who wears every thought and emotion on his face. So many expressions cross this countenance in a day, often causing me to catch my breath or laugh over how much this boy reminds me of you.

And I see you in this one. What an amazing gift your son is to me. As different as we were, you and I had something in common. We shared a deep love and respect for this wonderful one.

He has your tender heart, your sweetness, and your affection. He has your precision and attention to detail. He has your questioning nature, always wanting to learn more about everything. And he has that wonderful gift you had of giving to others.

So, while I'm thinking about you and missing you today, I'm thankful for these three boys of mine who keep you living on down here. 

Friday, February 18, 2011

Mud, a Surprise, and a Shopping Spree For You!

I've been pondering over how to present weapon number six. In the meantime, I have plenty to do cleaning up after my mudpuppies.

Great news here. After two feet of snow melting, our yard has never looked better. As soon as my shipment of goldfish arrives, it will look that much more exotic, don't you think?

This hand! It is everything boyish and threeish and joyful. I wish I could keep this chubby hand chubby all the days of my life.

Now, for prettier news. I received this unexpected little box yesterday. I love the kind of surprise that doesn't make me wet my pants.
After reading this post that I wrote about my new name, a super kind and lovely woman made this for me.

This little treasure means so much to me. It will always serve as a reminder of that special day the Lord spoke to my heart and called me His friend. Thank you, Carrie, for your thoughtfulness. You've got me choked up over here thinking about the amazing blessings that have come to me since starting this blog.

And here is a very fun thing: I discovered that Carrie has an Etsy shop! She makes beautiful jewelry like this,
and these!

You can click on any of these pictures to see more of her shop. By the way, she has absolutely no idea I'm doing any of this, but I thought it was way too much fun not to! So, if you'd like a chance to win $25 towards any purchase in her shop, just leave me a comment. I hear she also takes custom orders as well, so have fun shopping!


Monday, February 14, 2011

I Love You More Than Potatoes

It's Valentine's Day at our house. I made you a valentine. Pretend that it has a Tootsie Pop taped to the back of it, and that we are in third grade. Pretend the valentine is kind of bent, because you cut the slot on your valentine box a little too short. And pretend that counting the licks to the Tootsie Roll center on the bus ride home is the best part of your day. Because, after all, you missed three spelling words today, you ran out of punches on your lunch ticket, and you fell and tore your jeans on the playground. And last, but certainly not least, Bobby White did a chocolate milk belch in your face. You can't wait to get home and look at all the valentines crammed in your box, but you opened mine on the bus, because you and me are best friends forever. Just pretend, okay?

Here it is.

I do. I really double dog pinky swear do.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Stamp Out Social Awkwardness With Grapes

Raise your hand if you believe social awkwardness is very awkward and should be stamped out. Now put your hand down. I feel your support and I'm ready to stamp. First on my list of social offenders: chocolate covered strawberries.
When I go to a party where chocolate covered strawberries are served, I am faced with decisions. That's not cool. I don't want to have to think so hard about party treats.
How do I eat this thing? Chocolate covered strawberry makers consistently choose the most over-grown strawberries for their chocolate dipping. They give no thought to the comfort of the consumer.
Do I risk shoving the entire fruit in my mouth? The moment I do, someone is sure to ask me about my kids or my take on footy pajamas for adults. Naturally, my reply will be, "Hahdslk sihhsl shsoh wiehrl. Dwoi yeigh?"

So, what about just eating it in bites? Maybe that works for you, but I will have strawberry juice dribbling down my chin, and pieces of chocolate flaking off and landing on my really cute white blouse.
So, it comes down to eating the beast with a knife and fork. But who does that? It's a finger food!

Sadly, it is a finger food that I have forever sworn off eating, except in the privacy of my own home, which I really never do.

Enter the chocolate covered grape, which I discovered one afternoon when grapes and chocolate chips were sitting on my counter in random fashion. They were begging to be joined together in perfect harmony. The taste is surprising. And they are wonderfully easy to eat in excess and with great ease and social gracefulness. Problem solved. So let's make them. Now, this is not a food blog, so let's not call this a food recipe. Let's call it a recipe for success in life. Or at least at weddings and baby showers.

Choose and wash your grapes. I am using green here, but I personally prefer red grapes for this concoction.

Make sure your grapes are thoroughly dry. Not a drop of water, now. A drop of water can ruin melted chocolate.

Melt some chocolate chips in the microwave on low power.

Lay down some waxed paper and have toothpicks on hand.

Drop some grapes into your sea of molten chocolate, and ever so gently fold them in.

Now, with your toothpick, pluck out your victims one by one,

and lay them on your waxed paper. Look at them and sigh, because they are not even close to matching the beauty of a chocolate covered strawberry. Then realize you really don't care about that. You care about social graces.

Stop a minute and consider how you might turn this one into a mouse. Then tell yourself you have more important things to do. Now, suddenly recall that you have white chocolate! Beauty is just around the corner!

Melt the chocolate, put some on a spoon, and FLING! Put your wrist into it! Fling it, baby! Make a mess, and have fun doing it.

What is this?

This is a disgrace to chocolate covered grapes. Eat this one. Immediately.

And this one. Put it out of its misery, stat! Let the rest sit and harden, preparing for their public debut.

Now you are ready for a classy shindig.

Or Valentine's Day, if you celebrate that sort of mushy holiday.

Ladies, are you with me? We must unite to see change. We must be proactive! We must prevent others who do not know better from falling into the strawberry trap. Just remember, when you RSVP to any social event, gather your courage and boldly say, "Thank you kindly for the invitation. I'll be there...and I'll bring the chocolate covered grapes!"

The End.

P.S. Thank you so much for your comments on my last post. It's always nice to know I'm not alone.

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