Lent

Fasting and Unforgiveness: Lent Week 2014 – Holy Week

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Last week I fasted desserts and focused on experiencing a new level of joy, especially in my interactions with the world around me, those in and out of the church. This wasn’t as hard as I thought, in part because of something I discovered when talking to some ladies from my MOPS group. I tend to extend grace to strangers better than to my family.

We’ve been having a rough time with my daughter and discipline. She basically refuses to do anything to help around the house. We’ve begun a new system where her screen time is contingent upon fulfilling of the required chores. There has been very little screen time and even fewer chores accomplished. It is instinct for me to be kind to the check-out girl, the mail man or the receptionist at the doctor’s office. Even if inside I’m fuming, I don’t tend to take it out on an unsuspecting stranger, even perhaps if they deserve it.

My family is another story. I definitely found myself irritable at my lack of dessert. When the kids were finally in bed for the evening it was hard not to feel a little disappointed when I remembered that I was fasting dessert and so there would be no chocolate waiting for me. I wish I could say that I didn’t mind or that it was an easy sacrifice. It wasn’t. I pretty much hated every minute of it. It was already a rough week last week and taking dessert out make it harder for sure.

But it does have me thinking a lot about how to depend on God more. I just helped finish choreographing and practicing a dance for eight little girls to Jars of Clay’s I Need Thee Every Hour. So the song has been in my head a lot. I so desperately need Jesus, every hour. Sometimes all I can ask for is the grace to get through the next hour and try not to think about the one after that.

Matthew 6:34 “So do not worry or be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will have worries and anxieties of its own. Sufficient for each day is its own trouble.” (Amplified Bible)

In the case of a mom, sufficient to the hour is the chaos. I can’t worry about how I will get through today, next week, next month or next year. I need to focus on being here now, for the next hour.

For most Christian traditions, this is a significant week. Holy week. The time we reflect on the last days of Jesus life leading up to the crucifixion. So for this week I’m going to focus on unforgiveness. Christ’s sacrifice extended forgiveness to us; we need to be prepared to do the same to others. What you fast this week doesn’t necessarily matter. Pick something you’ve already fasted or something new. The purpose of the fast is to draw our attention to an area of unforgiveness that needs to be addressed. Is there someone in our lives or in our pasts who we need to forgive? I know we all have them. That one person who you can’t look at without remembering a particular incident? Just being in the same room with them is painful. You find yourself justifying your hostility and anger towards him or her.

It seems easier just to hold onto unforgiveness, especially if the person doesn’t seem particularly sorry. But we need to forgive them anyway, for our own sakes. I know I have a few of these on my heart. It is so much easier sometimes to retreat than to continue to interact with someone that has hurt you, especially if they don’t seem to care or don’t know how they’ve hurt you. But this week I’m going to focus on forgiveness. I’ll be honest, I don’t know how exactly to go about it. I think of it kind of like love. Love isn’t just a feeling, it’s an intentional way of being and acting towards someone. Sometimes the actions actually matter more than the feelings and the feelings will follow. So this week I’m going to focus on behaving in a loving fashion to those who have hurt me, and praying desperately to God for grace to extend.

The past five weeks haven’t been easy ones, and I find myself short of strength and patience. So I must depend even more on Christ. I need his forgiveness, his grace, his love in excess so that I can extend it better to others.

 

Restore My Heart, Thaw My Soul: Lent 2014 Week 1

Learning Intentional Silence and Better Chosen Words: Lent 2014 Week 2

Choosing to Be Present In Real Life: Lent 2014 Week 3

Where Do I Get My Truth? : Lent 2014 Week 4

Fasting From Alternate Intoxications: Lent 2014 Week 5

 

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Fasting From Alternate Intoxications: Lent 2014

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Last week I fasted from news and entertainment media. I found that listening to music in the car, especially worship music, rather than talk or news radio definitely improved my mood. The hardest time was in the afternoon during my kids naps. Normally I’d watch a TV show while I eat my lunch and then maybe knit while I watch. It was hard not to, which probably means it was good for me. Instead I spent some time in prayer reading books I’ve been working my way through. I also allowed myself some time for pleasure reading or writing. I did miss watching TV but I also enjoyed reading and I felt a level of accomplishment. (If I could just figure out a way to read while knitting I think I would have created my ideal activity). Though some days I didn’t stop at all and kept working. I didn’t find that as satisfying. I clearly need a short break each afternoon, but it seems that TV or social media binging aren’t necessarily the way to do that.

This week my focus is on my relationship with the world around me. My workplace, neighborhood, etc. I want to emphasiz reflecting the joy of Christ. This is not always an easy thing to do; when my neighbor parks in my spot or I have to stand in a long line at the store because of a shopper who is particularly slow or has an extra large cart full of groceries. To do this I’m choosing to fast from dessert. In this case, it’s because this is something that I use to cope when I should be depending on the joy of the Lord to sustain me. I’m really dreading it, truth be told. I really like having my nightly dessert and TV show with my husband. For someone else it might be that first cup of coffee in the morning, or the glass of wine with dinner. It’s anything really, that we need to help us function and remain happy instead of the joy of the Lord. Normally fasting makes me cranky, so I’m going to attempt to not allow my fast to affect my mood, but rather pray for a supernatural experience of joy and that it will be reflect in my interactions with others.

 

Restore My Heart, Thaw My Soul: Lent 2014 Week 1

Learning Intentional Silence and Better Chosen Words: Lent 2014 Week 2

Choosing to Be Present In Real Life: Lent 2014 Week 3

Where Do I Get My Truth? : Lent 2014 Week 5

 

 

Categories: Faith, Lent | Tags: , , , , | 1 Comment

Where Do I Get My Truth? : Lent 2014

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Last week I tried to stay off of Facebook and other social media as much as possible in order to be more connected to those around me. It was harder than I thought. I never realized before how many times a day I “check in” to see what’s going on in the online world. It’s something I’d like to become more conscious of moving forward.

This week my focus is on where I get my truth. When I need an answer where are my primarily sources Too often it is easy to find our answers in news or entertainment media, even if those are really just distractions rather than answers. I’ll say right now that whether all TV watching falls under entertainment media, I don’t know. Not unlike what I did with limiting my Facebook interactions last week, I’m not going to give up all TV watching this week. My husband and I often watch something together in the evening, usually from Amazon Prime or the Roku channel on PBS. This is part of our joint downtime to cuddle on the couch and share something we enjoy. For that reason I’m not going to give that up necessarily. But I do plan to avoid any TV and news media during the day. So no talk radio when I’m driving in the car and no catching up on my TV shows on Hulu while the kids nap. That will be very hard for me.

I’m going to try and use that time to bring me back to my ultimate source of truth. I also want to give my self a chance to analyze how I feel emotionally when I remove myself from those influences. It’s possible it won’t affect me much at all. But then again, it just might. My husband, for example, periodically goes on news media fasts. He finds that his mental state and emotional well being are improved by doing this. I also avoid political things specifically if I find it makes me anxious. We try to find a balance between being well informed and being oversaturated.

In a culture where the latest news is available in an instant and within moments we can find 15 different opinions on a topic, it’s important to analyze where we get our truth. Not where we think we should get it, or say we get it, but where it really comes from. Because it’s easy to find someone who agrees with you out in the blogosphere, but that doesn’t make either of you right. So this week I want to focus on returning to the source of all truth, the word of God. I also want to focus on the godly relationships that I have built and remind myself that they are important resources for my spiritual growth. When I need an answer to a problem or struggle I need to look to scriptures or those important spirit-filled relationships to help me, not just throw a net out into web and see what I can drag up.

I challenge you this week to be conscious of how often you engage with news and entertainment media, and how they affect your attitudes and thoughts. Do those attitudes and thoughts line up with what the Bible has to say? Would we sooner read another blog opinion piece or speak to a spiritual mentor? These are the important questions I’ll be asking this week as I fast. Feel free to join me.

Restore My Heart, Thaw My Soul: Lent 2014 Week 1

Learning Intentional Silence and Better Chosen Words: Lent 2014 Week 2

Choosing to Be Present In Real Life: Lent 2014 Week 3

Categories: Faith, Lent | Tags: , , , | 2 Comments

Choosing to Be Present In Real Life: Lent 2014

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Last week, I focused on the way I use my words, especially when interacting with my children. It wasn’t easy and I know I still failed in many ways. But the biggest success was my newfound awareness. I’ve definitely become more conscious of how I speak to my children and the words I use in our interactions.

As I begin the third week of Lent my focus will be on fasting from personal communications media. Personal communications media, i.e. Facebook, Twitter, texting, email, etc. is central to our culture. I fought being involved in it for a long time and I will say that I do find that I can better keep tabs on how my friends and family are doing through social media. That being said, while it is great for dispersing information, social media does not form or maintain relationships on its own; but it can be a tool. However, this week I am going to try and minimize my social media interactions. I will still be blogging and answering blog comments; but I will limit myself to one short period each day. My blog posts will still automatically be posted to Facebook but I will be trying to personally avoid logging in. I will do the same with email.

I’m going to try and divest myself of the feeling that if I step away from Facebook I’ll miss something important. Because I might; but that’s OK. Instead I’m going to try and devote more time to the real people in my life. Give more undivided and undistracted attention to my children and husband. Perhaps actually arrange to see a few friends rather than just trade online messages.

I want to reflect on how I allow technology to affect my relationship with my family.  It’s easy to use Facebook or my blog feed as a way of escaping from the difficulties in my daily life. When I go to social media looking for answers or significance I should be going to Jesus instead.

In many ways, I wish I could go totally cold turkey this week, but I have obligations that require me to at least keep a minor presence. But I am really going to make a concentrated effort to avoid letting my online work eek into my daily life, especially my family interactions.

Restore My Heart, Thaw My Soul: Lent 2014 Week 1

Learning Intentional Silence and Better Chosen Words: Lent 2014 Week 2

Categories: Faith, Lent | 3 Comments

Learning Intentional Silence and Better Chosen Words: Lent 2014

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So last week; I spent some time each day; reading and in prayer; when I would have usually been snacking and enjoying some kid free “me time.” This is not at all to criticize me time but I felt that I needed to sacrifice some of this time as well as my usual snack as an effort to focus on my relationship with God. As Lent continues I plan to continue to give up part of afternoon quiet time. Perhaps this isn’t a sacrifice for Lent but the building of a healthy new habit.

This week the focus is on silence. Now, normally I would recommend taking an hour of silence. But in my life this is not so much a struggle as a treat, since I spend my day with small children and there is little silence to be had. But I am focusing on creating intentional silence and choosing my words better. I often feel convicted about my poor choose of words and tone with my children. I know that there little minds soak up this negative remarks and may take them to heart. I know this because I remember things that were said to me and about me by others when I was young. While I have since concluded that many of them were untrue if not deliberately hurtful; I still remember how it felt to have someone say those things about me.

My children are not perfect and part of my job as their parent is for help them realize this. But I also need them to know that they are loved in their imperfection and that where my fallible human love falls short, they are loved by a heavenly Father whose love is infinite. So I want to speak to them more intentionally. I also want to be more careful about when I speak. I like to talk and tend to say too much when less is preferable. Sometimes it’s better to say nothing and I want to learn to use my silence strategically in that way.

I also plan to spend this week repenting of the past ways in which I have misused my tongue; especially to hurt those I love. My family often gets the worst of me because by the end of a long day I have little energy left to be polite. But they deserve better. I often find that by the end of the day I have no energy or words left for prayer. My Lord deserves better. I want to weigh my words this week and whenever possible, chose not to speak when I have nothing helpful to say.

How are you celebrating or acknowledging Lent so far? I’d love to hear your stories.

Restore My Heart, Thaw My Soul: Lent 2014 Week 1

Categories: Faith, Lent | Tags: , , | 4 Comments

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