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For The Love Of…

27 Jan

“Do my actions accurately reflect the values I hold in my heart?” This is the question on my mind today. Generally speaking, we have a tendency to live in a “means to an end” kind of mentality. For example:

Everyone wants a great job, so they can make great money, so they can have nice things and have the freedom to spend quality time with their families. Since we want to spend more time with our families, we need to work harder. So, we sacrifice time with our families, so that we can work more, so that we can earn more money, so that eventually we can spend time with my families. Or… We work a lot of overtime because we want a nice house and more fun things for our families, so that when we spend more time with our families, we can have more fun. So, we sacrifice time with our families to acquire all these nice things to enjoy with our families, but inevitably will not be able to enjoy any of it with them, because we will have to continue to work overtime to maintain the new lifestyle that we have worked so hard to get in the first place.

I don’t know about you, but just reading that makes me feel too exhausted to do ANYTHING. I have become aware lately of how the desires of my heart often lead me to do things that prevent me FROM the desires of my heart. The things I do are GOOD things, but they often do not lead me toward my goal.

I want God to show me how to be a better mother, so I make plans to spend time with other mothers, and read books on parenting, and attend bible studies hoping to find the key to great parenting when, the whole time, my two beautiful daughters are sitting… waiting for me, with the key in their hands!

I want more friends, so I neglect the one or two friends that I do have, so that I can spend time on facebook in hopes of meeting people or reconnecting with people I can build friendships with. Once I have 1,000 “friends” on facebook, then I can spend time with one or two of them.

I want to serve my community, so I walk quickly to my car, so that my elderly neighbor doesn’t try to engage me in a conversation, so that I can drive 30 minutes to “serve” downtown at a homeless shelter. After I am done “serving” I can yell across the driveway to my elderly neighbor that I don’t have time to talk, because I have been “serving” at the downtown homeless shelter and need to get a shower.

I have discovered that the key to SUCCESS for me is simply… living simply, working just enough to meet the needs of my family, sometimes saying no to more work, bible studies, facebook friends, and self-serving acts of “service” across town, so that I can say yes to my children, hello to my neighbor, and THANK YOU to my Father in Heaven.

My goal today is to make the values of my heart be evidenced by my actions.

CAN YOU RELATE? Please share some of your experiences.


Daniel Fast…

21 Jan

Today is day 21 of a 21 day Daniel Fast. I began at lunch on the 31st of December, so today at lunch ended the fast. My friend from work decided to do the fast with me. Today for lunch, we had grilled Chicken wraps from Sonic and took food up to her daughter’s school to eat lunch with her. In all honesty, I didn’t enjoy the food and I don’t like the way I feel right now. I don’t think I ate too much, but it’s just so heavy in my stomach.

During this 21 days of fasting, I learned that I have a habit of sabotaging myself from being healthy and regularly try to justify poor choices. Overall, I did well with the fast in terms of food. There were many times that I had to talk myself out of making exceptions. I learned that temptations to indulge the flesh will always exist and that when I am faced with temptation to feed the flesh and not the spirit, I need to stop and think and pray.

I also recognized that I really struggle with meaningful prayer. I desire to have a feeling of joy and excitement for prayer, but I just don’t. I find that I am best able to express my heart’s prayer through writing. When I open my mouth for prayer, it just sounds so fake to me, even when I truly mean the words I say.

My prayer for this next phase is to learn to honor God with my body and how I care for it and to spend more time in prayer through writing to God. I want my life to be a reflection of my passion for God. Another area that I want to improve is the use of cuss words. Granted, I have improved greatly from where I used to be, but I see that I fall back into that too easily. There are certain groups of people or certain situations where I automatically freely cuss… like that is the only way they can relate to me. When I get really angry and overwhelmed, I always toss in a few f-bombs to be sure those I am angry with KNOW that I am angry.

I am not beating myself up, but I accept that I am broken and need my Father to heal the damaged places. I am so grateful for what He has done in my life. Those that knew me before, know the changes that  have occurred in my life. It is only by His grace that I am who I am today.

If you spend time around me and see me fall into overindulgence and cussing, please love me enough to hold me accountable for that. I want my life to reflect the love and mercy of God, not the sin and corruption that I am trying to be free of.

God is Good!

It’s About More Than Food…

5 Jan

I have committed to a 21 day Daniel Fast that began January1st. This is my second year to do this particular fast and although the fast primarily focuses on my personal relationship with Christ, I am excited to share this experience with loved ones who are also fasting.

After church this week I was blessed to have lunch with my daughter Christina, my brother Zach and his new girlfriend. Christina and Zach are both doing the Daniel Fast as well. So, we decided to go eat lunch together at Zorba’s since they have several options that align nicely with this fast.

During conversation, I was reminded of a time when I fasted as part of an humbleche ceremony. I shared my experience, not because of the significance of the ceremony, but because of what I learned during it.

The tradition is a 5 day complete fast from all food and water with the first 3 days spent in constant prayer making 100 prayer ties (1″ cotton cloth filled with sage, tied on a long string) while praying a specific prayer for each, totaling 100 different prayers. Coming up with 100 different prayers was challenging enough, but the 5 full days without food and water required serious focus on God.

On the morning of the 3rd day, I was walked out to a remote location in the country by those there to support me. I was given a square of land to sit on about 4′ x 4′ covered in a tarp. Four small fruit trees that I brought were planted in four corners around me and my string of prayer ties was wrapped around the perimeter of the trees, providing a visual barrier of my allotted space.

I was given a metal bucket for a purpose I didn’t understand and a hatchet. I was wrapped in a wool poncho from a friend. The group prayed for me and then left me. Alone. The weather was cold and a light mist of rain began.

My square of earth was small enough that I was not able to lie down or stretch out as I had been asked to keep all of my body parts inside the boundary of the prayer ties and to stay awake for my journey. I sat still and just watched the activity of wildlife and began to notice the slightest movements around me. I forgot the world for a little while.

Just before dusk, I saw the movement of a small spider in the branch of one of my 4 trees. I became very intrigued with the spider as I watched him make his way in and around the branches, eventually climbing down to the string of my prayer ties. For as long as light would permit, I just watched him circle me walking the string like an acrobat on a tightrope.

When the dark arrived, I began to notice shadows created by the moonlight on the woods to the west. Their shape shifted constantly providing hours of entertainment, but eventually I lost pleasure in that and only noticed my desperate thirst and boredom.

When morning came, I was soon visited by my loved ones coming to check on me. They all walked in a circle around me and said a prayer for me without speaking directly to me, leaving as abruptly as they came. Seeing them and knowing they were praying for me gave me fresh resolve for an hour or so.

I began to smell food cooking on the fire. Someone, somewhere, began to shoot a rifle. My resolve quickly faded to frustration and then to anger. I began to imagine them eating and drinking water and shooting guns with no regard for how I felt. Self-pity set in. Feelings of abandonment flooded me and I questioned how they could love me so much and have so little regard for how I must be feeling. I fought the urge to simply step out of my square of land and walk back to camp and give them all a piece of my mind. I finally decided that the next time they came to check on me, that I would just tell them that I was ready to be done. They never came back to check on me.

My desperation had reached a new level of intensity that I had never really experienced. The combination of extreme thirst and overwhelming emotions was almost unbearable. I finally began praying. I asked God to show me whatever it was that He wanted me to learn from the experience. I prayed, “God please let it rain.” I wanted it to rain so that I could quench my thirst. Within minutes it began to rain… VERY lightly. In fact, the rain was so slight that I slowly became soaked, but could not gather enough water for a drink. I focused on trying to shape the tarp just right so that I could form a puddle to drink from, but was never able to collect enough rain drops to drink.

I suddenly remembered my bucket. I leaned over to the bucket hoping there would be some rain water to drink, but there was none. There was, however, what appeared to be the same small spider from the evening before walking the lip of the bucket.

My attention was immediately distracted from my unquenched thirst to the path of the spider. I watched him circle the bucket several times and then slowly walk down the inside of the bucket to the bottom. The spider began to circle the bottom of the bucket and continued for quite awhile.

He eventually started his journey back up the side toward the top and was brought back to the bottom by a small drop of water. Again he ascended upward toward the top only to be met with another small drop of water that carried him yet again to the bottom. Resolved to make it to the top, the little spider started up again and was again brought down by the droplet. I watched the spider circle the bottom and then his continued defeat up the side again and again.

I finally decided to reach my hand into the bucket to help him out. Once I got close to him to help, he ran away. I watched his defeat a few more times and then tried to help again, but just as before, he turned away when I reached in to help. One last try, I put my hand in to help and the spider climbed onto my hand and I carried him up to the branch of one of the fruit trees.

Suddenly, almost as an audible voice, I heard God say, “You are like this spider. You have spent your whole life walking in circles, living life on your own, accomplishing nothing and getting nowhere. When I reach My hand to help you, you turn from Me and continue to struggle. If you will turn to Me and allow Me to help you, I will lift you high to a life you have never known.”

I sat back, closed my eyes and wept. I knew how true that had been for my life and remembered how many times I had rejected God; how many times I struggled myself into a disaster. I spent the next several hours in a state of introspection, not concerned with my hunger and thirst or the people or lack of concern. I had been truly humbled by the words from God.

I opened my eyes at the sound of rustling leaves to see my loved ones unwrapping my prayer ties from the trees that surrounded me. I stood and just watched them finish. My husband looked me in the eyes and said, “I love you, let’s go.” He and the rest of the people walked me down to camp, helped me into the inipi and brought me a drink of water.

I was so overwhelmed with emotion from God’s revelation and the gift of the water I had thirsted for that I could not even drink it. I cried in gratitude while holding the cup. The people around me began to pray quietly and closed the flap to the inipi and began our final inipi ceremony. In the darkness, I thanked God for reaching His hand to me over and over and for not giving up on me.

Are you like the spider… living in circles, determined to do life your own way, turning from the hand of God? Take time today to focus on God and listen.

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