Saturday, March 23, 2013

Seven Fast, Part 1 (Jan- No Sugar)

Wow, it's been a while.  I have Christmas, and Valentine's Day, and Liam's monthly shoots, and St. Patrick's Day, and everything in between, like doula-ing and natural living, and cloth diapering ...because surely everyone wants to stay caught up on the minutia of our lives, right? :)  My blogging has been on a downward slope every since getting a smart phone.  Facebook is so easy to upload pictures and quips and my children's adorable sayings to-- just a little downward swipe of the thumb and a few touch-screen typies... whereas blogging means I have to open the laptop (which I try to avoid doing while my children are awake if I can).

So... Seven.

It started with me loving a blogpost about Santa & Jesus by Jen Hatmaker.  That got me loving her whole blog.  I linked to it on Facebook (wow, amazing how much that comes up!), and an old friend mentioned a book she'd written on eliminating excess.  The title was simply, Seven.  This friend, Sarah, invited me to participate in our own 'Seven Fast' in the new year.  I ordered the book and signed on.

You should all beg, borrow or buy the book.  It's laugh-out-loud hilarious while being very pointed and convicting.  I really enjoyed it.  The basic jist of the book is that Jen & 6 of her friends decided to fast in 7 different areas (4 weeks in each area):  food, media, clothing, waste, possessions, shopping, and stress.  One month she ate only 7 foods, another she wore the same 7 clothing items for a month, and in another she gave away 7 items each day. We've loosely imitated this by picking an area each month and fasting, keeping each other in the loop throughout it.

An example of what I couldn't eat...
My first fasting area was food.  Since I'm still breastfeeding Liam (in January he was still 100% ebf) and also already quite restricted in my diet (no soy, no gluten), a seven-food fast seemed a bit too tricky.  I also already make most food from scratch and eat a whole-foods diet, so restrictions towards healthiness seemed a bit moot as well.  But sugar, now sugar, THAT sounded hard to me.  As much as I tell myself that I don't eat much sugar, I still felt quite attached to that little bit.  Meaning... it should go.

So for a month I eliminated all refined forms of sugar.  I allowed myself 1-2 tsp of a honey or maple syrup per day (in baked items or in tea)... and that was it.  Good thing I already drink my coffee strong with cream (a habit I've passed on to my daughter)... anyway.

What did I learn?  Three things, briefly, that I think are learned by all fasting.
1.  It's good to say no.  I think the mental clarity that can accompany a fast can come less from the fast itself and more from the discipline the fast teaches.  When we learn to say "no" to self, just for the sake of keeping our word and doing something that we don't really want to do, I think it creates a frame of mind that's more amenable to godliness.  We can obey better, listen better, wait better.  And that's how God often meets us.
2. Remembering how much I need the Lord.  Every time I wanted sugar for a pick-me-up or for something sweet, I would remind myself that the Lord is my strength, that He's enough, that I can be thankful and I don't really NEED a pick-me-up.
3. Making me pray.  Every time I felt that sugar-craving, I used it as trigger to remember to pray.  Since I wanted sugar a lot, I prayed a lot. :)

So that was my first month of 'Seven' fasting.  More to come.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

St. Patrick's Day

Eowyn LOVED pinching folks not wearing green, and was careful to wear her green headband/bow all day
"So my head doesn't get pinched" :)
If you've read this blog long enough you've read me quoting one of my heroes:  St. Patrick.  No, he wasn't a leprechaun  and no he didn't only wear green.  But he DID bring the Gospel to the very people who had kidnapped and enslaved him, and he DID serve as a faithful pastor to thousands of new believers, using even simple shamrocks to illustrate Truths like the Trinity.  He rocked.  I kinda think of him as the Hudson Taylor meets John Piper of his day.  Anyway... in his memory in our family we all wear green on March 17, and this year I read Eowyn The Story of St. Patrick, More than Shamrocks & Leprechauns. She also got to watch the Veggie Tales "flannelgraph" telling of St. Patrick's story-- which is quite well-done (it's a featurette on "The Sumo of the Opera")!  My sister & I took our babies to the park to snap a few shots of them in their greenery. :)

I now want to re-read That Hideous Strength (CS Lewis) and A Swiftly Tilting Planet (Madeleine L'Engle)... both feature the Celts, St. Patrick & even Merlin.  In a year or two we will probably add the "Patrick" chapter of Lloyd Alexander's Time Cat to our read-alouds on this day.  Eventually, we'll read directly from Patrick's own writings (Confession & Letters).  They are inspiring!!

I wonder what foods I can make next year to make the day even more festive...
~St. Patrick's Rune

Do any of you celebrate St. Patrick's Day?  What traditions do you employ?