Archives For Fast

I stood with a glazed look over my face as I saw multiple rows with packages of seeds that all promise to one day be an actual vegetable if I simply planted them. In theory this should be a “no-brainer.” Pick the vegetables I want, get the dirt, a pot to plant them in and wallah! Except it’s not that easy. I’ve never had a plant, I don’t even know how often to water them let alone which type of tomato seed would grow best. Oh by the way, did I mention that I don’t know if this is even the right season for the seeds I’m planting? 

During the month of March I wanted to focus on gardening for “green month” of my Searching for Simplicity fast inspired by Jen Hatmaker‘s book 7. I’ve made many changes towards a greener lifestyle but gardening had never been something I had ever attempted. That made deciding what to do for the “green month” pretty easy, gardening it would be! With that I picked seven things to plant:

  • Tomatoes
  • Green onions
  • Basil
  • Oregano
  • Parsley
  • Cilantro
  • Sweet peppers
The first sprouts of my garden

The first sprouts of my garden

I will be honest, when I started I couldn’t tell you how often to water my garden and I still don’t! I pretty much just gave it a good look and if it seemed like the soil was damp I figured no need to water. Couldn’t even begin to tell you if this is accurate!

Patience. Oh how gardening requires this attribute! I had a little hunch that God’s message during this fast was going to be related to patience. I mean gardens don’t bloom over night! I even found myself asking “how long does it even take for seeds to start sprouting?” Day after day I would go outside, water my dirt and come back in. Nothing was happening and I kept telling myself that I was sure this would be a lesson in patience. And guess what… it was a lesson in what patience will bring! The other day I went outside to yet again water my dirt but instead I found sprouts! That’s right people, seeds actually grow! I got super excited, ran inside to tell Chase and to grab my phone to start taking pictures. I mean seriously, my vegetables had started to sprout, Facebook needed to know about this! It was my first attempt at gardening and I actually succeeded!

Confession: I can’t tell you what it is that sprouted because I can’t remember the order of where I planted everything. Whoops! I’m pretty sure it’s one of the herbs but I guess I will just have to wait and find out.

I have always been aware of the importance of patience. And in most situations I was always aware of the joy you felt after the wait was over. But it’s easy to forget and to find yourself back in that state of impatience when you are waiting.

How easy it was to plant these seeds and in a matter of a few short weeks I was reminded of what comes as a result of patience!

 

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I would be just fine if I didn’t eat another sweet potato until Thanksgiving, I’m just saying.

There are only so many ways that you can make a sweet potato… baked, french fries, hash-browns, and that pretty much sums it up. Think about it, what else can you really do with it (besides making it into a pie). Well the past couple weeks I was fasting by only eating seven different foods and sweet potato was one of my items. Everything was going smoothly and I had no complaints until about four days into the fast. Between the items that I had picked for the month I didn’t really have much option of sugars, besides an apple, as well as the drastic decrease of calorie intake I began to have some issues. My blood sugar dropped and I wasn’t eating enough calories in the day to even get me enough energy. So I made the executive decision to swap some items out for bread and strawberries to meet the needs that my body was lacking. But with all the switching of ingredients the sweet potato stayed. Ugh! I have a love/hate relationship with that vegetable! You see I have always enjoyed a good slice of sweet potato pie, or give me a big scoop topped with marshmallows and brown sugar for Thanksgiving! However, when I am eating them every other day without the delicious marshmallows I began to realize that I just do not care for them as much as I had thought.

I would love to say that this month I used each repetitive meal as an opportunity to be more grateful. I’ll be honest with you, that was not the case. I found myself complaining about my meals- the texture, I am so sick of the mushy texture! It would be so nice to eat something that doesn’t need so much effort to make. UGH, I am so SICK of sweet potatoes! I even found myself wanting to end the fast because I “never” learn from food fasts. All I wanted was to prove this thought so that I could eat something for dinner other than the same thing I had eaten for breakfast and lunch. Then it hit me- WOW, I have a terrible attitude! Within one week God brought it to my attention that I needed to work on my attitude, more specifically He told me to be more positive in my current circumstance. I don’t know about you, but when I hear the same thing from God three different times within a matter of five days I assume it safe to believe that this is a lesson God is really wanting me to learn!

Confession: when I learned that God wanted me to be more positive I still had about a week left of the fast. I tried to reason that since I had learned what God was showing me I was now able to end the fast early.

Not my finest hour.

Then I was humbled by my husbands response. “Maybe you learned the lesson a week early so you could spend the next seven days of the fast implementing the positive attitude.”

Wow!

So that is what I did, I spent the next week eating my fast friendly foods and praying constantly for God to transform my attitude. And He did! I have to say that it was an amazing week, I could actually feel God’s presence as he helped me change the way I thought and how I looked at the rest of my fast. It has even carried over since the fast has ended. Now when I am in a frustrating situation my mind has started looking for the positive.

Truthfully I love this lesson that God gave me because who couldn’t use an extra dose of positive some days!

Photo Credit: Marie Kare

It’s time for my third month of fasting, and that means I am going to be having withdrawals from coffee, ice cream and chocolate. Yes that’s right, you guessed it, I am going to be doing a food fast. There are so many ways to do this month but since I was inspired by Jen Hatmaker’s book 7, to even do these seven months of fasting I plan to do a similar fast as hers. What this will look like is only have seven different items that I am allowed to eat. No that does not mean that I only get to eat seven times. What it means is just that I am picking seven ingredients (excluding salt/pepper and extra virgin olive oil) and those are the things that I will have to make my meals with. So what are my choices?

  1. Baby spinach

    My favorite chocolate bar we will meet again soon!

    My favorite chocolate bar we will meet again soon!

  2. Sweet potato
  3. Broccoli
  4. Eggs
  5. Apple
  6. Avocado
  7. Pinto beans

Sounds yummy, right? I will go ahead and answer the lurking question, no I will not be using all ingredients for every meal. That would be a disaster! Could you imagine what kind of meal that would be with pinto beans and apples mixed together, along with eggs… bluh! I don’t know what each meal will look like, probably not very exciting and a lot of the same thing. I have no doubt that this will be a challenging month for me. You see I love the three items I listed in my first sentence… coffee, ice cream and chocolate! Oh do I love those three things and I will certainly miss them! But, that is not what this is about. The point in all these fasts is to grow closer to God, learn to appreciate all that I have, fasting from all the excess and open my eyes to what I don’t need to be happy (and that means coffee, ice cream and chocolate this month!) So while I know that this next month will have its own set of challenges I am also looking forward to all that it will bring!

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Just a few of my daily alarms

Month two is coming to a close and I am about to wrap up my stress fast. For the past four weeks I have had my alarm set for seven different times during the day/night reminding me it was time to pray. I will be completely honest as I say that the 6 AM and midnight prayers were not exactly on schedule. I attempted to do these but after I realized that I was just repeating myself for about half an hour because I continued to fall asleep I decided to change the times a little. My 6 AM prayer was done after I was up and dressed and moving around so that my mind had some time to wake up. The midnight prayer was just when I was getting ready for bed. I decided that it didn’t really matter what times the prayers were just so long as I took those seven pauses in the day to pray.

Here is what I realized during this month. First, it is way easier to actually do all seven pauses when you are home! When you are out and about it doesn’t matter if you try to find a quiet place, somehow they always seemed to be interrupted. Second, I realized how little time I actually spend before God talking to him about something other than a request. The seven prayers each had something different to pray about, so yes there were times when I would make a “request.” However, looking at the themes of the prayers: thankfulness, love toward others, servant’s heart, praying for my husband, praying for my son, praying for protection and praying for healing (for those I do and do not know) I began to spend more time praying for these things and less time being selfish. It is so easy to fall into a routine with our prayer life, and so easy to become selfish in our prayers. Once I began to recognize this I started to focus a little less on the things that I wanted God to answer and more on what else I could pray for during these seven pauses.

Now the question you might be asking yourself is how well did this fast carry out my original goal of tackling stress? Rather beautifully! I can’t tell you how many times I would begin to get stressed out and then guess what would happen? My alarm would go off. Oh, it’s time to pray! So I would take the time to pause and pray and by the time I was done praying my stress level had lowered AND I wasn’t even praying about what was stressing me out! Taking those few moments to pray about a non-related subject was all it took! It’s all because I took the time to be in God’s presence, and wow does that make a difference when you come back to whatever was previously stressing you out!

So will I keep this up now that the month is coming to an end? Probably not to the same extent, I mean I wasn’t even perfect during this month. Yes, I messed up and missed a few prayers during the day. But, my view is forever changed. There is something to be said about being intentional about how we handle stress, our prayer lives and not always coming to God with the “I want” kind of attitude. I will definitely take what I have learned from this fast to heart!

December, oh how I love you! It brings colder weather, Chase’s birthday, snow on occasion and the Christmas season! It really is my favorite time of the year! The joys of bundling up with a good book in hand while the fireplace sends off it’s warmth, decorating the Christmas tree, shopping for loved ones in wonderfully decorated stores that are playing those catchy Christmas tunes. And you can’t forget all the fun Christmas movies that are always a great addition to this time of year! There is only one thing that puts a damper on this glorious season… STRESS! We all get stressed from time to time. Those packed shopping malls can be the cherry on top of a stressful sundae. You all know what I am talking about… the crowded walk ways that no one can ever get through without feeling squished. Then there are all the other stresses that can come around this time… budgeting for presents. We all want to be able to afford to give everyone we love something nice for Christmas, but on a nice fee-sable budget The last thing anyone wants is to give a gift that screams budget.

While most of these things are never really that big of a deal, when the moment comes that we feel overwhelmed the stress has finally come and everything is a big deal! Here is a confession… when I am stressed chocolate and I are best friends-especially Reese’s peanut buttercups! I know, this is a terrible habit to form. It’s either the chocolate or crying. Well this month I am attempting to tackle this issue! Month two of my Searching for Simplicity began this week and I am doing the stress fast. Yes, I am well aware that I can not prevent from stressful situations coming my way, but that is not the point of this fast. This month is all about being intentional in how we respond to stress, making it a habit to run to God in prayer instead of our typical responses.

This fast is all about setting aside seven times in my day for prayer, praying over specific subjects during each prayer time. Currently my alarms are set for midnight, 6:00 a.m., 9:00 a.m., noon, 3:00 p.m., 6:00 p.m. and 9:00 p.m.! Yes that’s right, my alarm is set for midnight! It won’t be easy, but already in the first week I am amazed at what I have begun to learn about myself, but that I will share with you another time!

 

Photo Credit: Allie Caulfield