Hi Friends! Happy 2K15!
I hope you and yours are safe, happy and healthy today (and hopefully not nursing too much of hangover–from food or drink).
This year I decided to join the #365daysoftruth reading plan (reading the entire Bible this year) with the She Reads Truth community. I’ve never read the entire Bible and felt today was a good day to start. I’ve got a lot to learn and fully admit that!
It is so amazing how God works; I’ve really felt it pressing on my heart and soul to be more of a sign that points to HIM and less of … Myself, if that makes sense. That sentiment has been a constant subject of prayer lately and I’ve been wondering exactly how I’m supposed to accomplish this.
Part of this morning’s reading on the 365 plan was John 1. Though I’ve read the book of John several times, the first chapter really struck me this morning.
Though John was a great man of God in and of himself, he always made it so clear that the world was waiting for someone far greater than him. He “was not the light; he was only a witness to the light (John 1:8, NLT).”
The whole chapter was the perfect place to start this journey that is the new year.
My favorite verse was John 1:23.
A voice shouting in the wilderness! That is our purpose… Not to conform to this world but to stand out and to give glory to Him.
Wow! John empowered me this morning and though I’m still not entirely sure what this means, I’ve got these words to push me closer to that end goal.
That’s all for today friends, have a great day!
It never ceases to amaze me that we, as humans, can be so hurtful. Consciously hurtful.
Allow me to vent for just a moment:
Today, I had a conversation. A very short conversation (if you can even call it that!). I received the g-chat version of the phone slamming down in my ear.
Basically, I reached out to someone close to me. I admit, it had been longer than it should have been since we last talked, but not for lack of trying on my part…perhaps I should have tried harder?
I contacted them to ask a question and instead of an answer, I received a very nasty, downright rude response. And then, they were gone. I was left with the notification that they were offline.
I allowed myself to get angry, but upon closer inspection, I realize that I am just hurt. I waited a few minutes, then I typed out a short response–an apology, even–and sent it into cyberspace.
It breaks my heart that people use their words as weapons. What happened to respect? To treating others how we would like to be treated? When did being hurtful, manipulative and downright mean become acceptable?
I will be the first to admit that I am NOT perfect. I have a temper, I take things the wrong way and I often jump to conclusions and get bent out of shape about silly things.
But I try to show respect for every person I come into contact with, regardless of who they are and the medium by which we are communicating. I try to think before I speak and weigh the impact that my words will have.
I look to my faith for guidance and try to do what is right.
I haven’t always done this and I still screw up. But I try.
I’ve been stewing about this all day and wasn’t sure if I should post this or not…but, to be perfectly honest, I really need to get it off my chest.
When did it become so difficult to be kind? To forgive others? To be respectful?
What happened to loving others?
As I said, I’ve been a bit hesitant to write about the experience because it’s definitely not something for everyone…and I really don’t think some people will get it…which is totally fine.
While Ben and I were doing the fast, we only told 1 or 2 people. If someone asked why we weren’t eating certain foods, I told them that we were just watching what we ate.
What were some of the every day trials?
As I said, there were a few social situations that were a bit difficult to navigate, but we managed. It was especially hard this time of year because of the constant influx of candies, cookies and baked goods at the office. I passed by the back counter in the office every day and had to avoid the temptations of the season.
To be honest, I’d usually go over, scope out the goods and then scurry away before I got too close. And really, I didn’t feel like I was deprived in the dessert department.
I was very surprised to find that it wasn’t the sweets, or even coffee, that I missed the most. I actually missed cheese and products with yeast more than anything. I am not a huge bread eater (anymore), however I absolutely love sandwiches of any kind–subs, wraps, paninis, burritos/tacos, etc.
In the second week, we started eating matzos with peanut butter. This was a nice change and was a great substitute for crackers or chips. Love crunchy foods!
I found that I could survive without caffeine but I missed the feeling of drinking something hot. In order to manage this, I started drinking mugs of hot water. Sometimes I would add a lemon.
Working in a restaurant–especially a steak and seafood restaurant–is especially hard when you’re on a special diet–vegan or not! The last month has been full of parties, tasty treats, appetizers, specialty items, cheeses and dips…and I couldn’t eat any of it!
The biggest thing was that we needed to plan ahead. The nights we worked at the restaurant, we’d pack the ingredients to make dinner. The fast also forced me to pack my lunch each day (luckily, I have an amazing husband who does way too much for me and takes amazing care of me) because it’s so difficult to eat out.
The days I wasn’t prepared were difficult and I found myself scrambling to find a snack–vending machines are pretty much off-limits and it’s hard finding time to run to the grocery store, especially since you have to pay attention to ingredient lists.
So what did I learn?
I learned that I am a lot more patient than I give myself credit for. Yes, I still have some work to do, but I’m getting there. Doing the fast took a lot of planning, time and preparation and I was surprised that I was able to do so well.
Again, Farmer Ben was a big help and those three weeks were a great reminder that we can lean on each other for support and encouragement…or just to vent about how badly one of us wants coffee or cheese.
I also learned that I can go without, and practice self-control, something that can definitely be applied to my every day life. I found that, even though I was restricting certain foods, I was still getting everything I needed and I wasn’t starving to death by any means. He takes care of me and continues to provide for me, even if I don’t always get immediate gratification.
We saved a lot of money during this time…and that was perfectly okay.
I won’t go into my personal reasons for doing this, but I definitely learned a lot. There were a few verses that I kept in mind during this time period–something to focus on if you will–and they were so encouraging, especially on days when all I wanted to was a cheeseburger and a beer…or something of the like.
It was a much-needed push to take time out of my day for prayer, studying The Word and reflection. I’ve always struggled with this aspect of my life and I feel like this journey has helped me refocus.
I will admit that some of the lessons from the Daniel Fast were not what I was expecting, but they were valuable nevertheless.
I managed to lose a few pounds…it’s amazing how much your calories are cut when you aren’t eating certain foods. I didn’t do this to lose extra weight, but it was a side effect. I have to say, some days I was hungry most of the day and other days I could barely eat.
It was very strange and my body is still trying to balance out the changes. I’ve gained back a few pounds, but I’ve also noticed that my appetite and cravings have changed. I’m not hungry and I’m wanting to eat different things than I did before.
After 21 days, my head was clearer, my body was cleaner and my spirit was calmer.
Would I do the fast again?
In a word, yes.
I definitely think that deliberately setting that time aside to plan, refocus, and organize your mind, body and spirit is a necessity.
I will tell you that I usually get very stressed out between Thanksgiving and Christmas. This time, while I did still have some stress, I was at peace and was ready to take on all of the activities that come with the season.
I can tell you that you need to go into this time with an end purpose, a goal of learning something, having a prayer answered or making a change. You need something to focus on. If you don’t, you’re not doing it for the right reasons.
It’s amazing what you can do when you take yourself out of the everyday hustle and bustle and set aside time for a higher purpose.
I cherish the three weeks and continue to remind myself of the small lessons I learned along the way.
So, any questions? Have you ever thought about doing a fast? What would be your biggest obstacle/item you’d have a hard time cutting out? What would be your focus?
What Have I Been Up To?
The last three weeks have been a bit of a blur. The hubby and I have just completed a crazy journey. We’ve been doing a lot of soul-searching and working to better our minds, bodies and spirits.
This is part of the reason why I haven’t been blogging as much as usual. I needed to temporarily shift my focus. I can tell you that it did me (and the hubs!) a world of good.
It’s been a time of reading, listening, writing, meditation and prayer, but it’s also been a time of cleaning house, if you will.
We just completed the Daniel Fast.
I have been hesitant to write a post about this because I honestly don’t think a lot of people would get it or understand our reasoning to try it. It’s something very personal and obviously not for everyone. As hesitant as I was to do a post on this, I feel like I have so much to say!
This isn’t a typical “fast”, rather it’s a restrictive diet based on scripture. Fasters are to follow a very specific diet.
The best way to describe it is “vegan, with even more restrictions.”
The fast consists of limiting any and all meat and dairy products. So no animal products, period-this includes honey and you’ll see why in a moment.
You are also cutting out any added sugars/sweeteners (including honey, stevia and agave nectar…etc.) and processed foods.
Basically, you’re doing a lot of label reading-if there is any type of sugar or un-whole item in the ingredient list, it’s out. For us, this even included a vegan vegetable stock!
This plan really forces you to eat real, “whole” foods. And to experiment in the kitchen. Always a good thing!
No bread. Or anything with leavening agents (yeast, baking powder, etc.). So again, lots of label reading. No crackers.
On top of that, you can only drink water. No soda, no tea, no alcohol, no juice. No coffee. Yes, I did not drink any coffee for three weeks. And I lived to tell about it!
Typically, you do the fast for 21 days, but you can extend it or shorten it depending on your goals and needs. We did the full 21 days.
To say that it was tough would be an understatement…but it wasn’t hard for the reasons I thought it would be. There were a few social functions that were a bit stressful, but we got through.
There is a book by the creator of the website, Susan Gregory, I haven’t read it but I linked the image to her site.
I can tell you that I spent plenty of time perusing the website and I did sign up for her daily devotionals. The devotionals were really good to have, and I received one on each of the 21 days. Some days it was a bit spooky because the subject would go hand in hand with something I was going through that day.
If you do sign up for the devotionals, you will get a few extra emails as well… but it’s easy to unsubscribe. I haven’t gotten another email since we completed the fast.
The website also has a blog and some recipes, as well as a place to buy some of the books written by Susan Gregory. It also gives a detailed explanation of the fast, tips, advice and a comprehensive guide of what is and isn’t allowed. Obviously, if you have any health issues, consult a doctor before beginning this fast as you would any other health plan.
Again, we didn’t do this as a “diet,” we did it as a refocus. Yes, our eating habits changed a little bit, but for the most part it wasn’t a huge shift.
Because I have so much to say, I’ll be writing two more posts about the experience. The next one will focus on food and the last will be an overview of my personal experience.