Friday, February 21, 2014

"I'm Hungry"

It's 3:00 p.m. Nikelle should be on the bus coming home from school now. I, myself, am feeling a bit light-headed. Of course, I am not following the advice to drink plenty of fluids either. I'm wondering how she is feeling and praying the way she feels will help remind her that not everyone lives in the abundance we experience. While I ate a pear and have had a couple of glasses of V8 Fusion, the greatest awareness I have right now is the abundance I have access to. I can just grab whatever I want from my kitchen. The children Nikelle is doing this famine project for don't have that option. This will be an event my daughter will likely always remember. Those children in need, however, live hungry every day. Maybe it will change the way we use the word? I hope so.

Too often I say "I'm hungry" and feel the need to put something in my mouth. Having accomplished much today (including some time on the treadmill), I realize it's been a long time since I denied myself much of anything, especially food. It's time to get back to finding prompts to spur me closer to God. Denying myself causes me to stop and turn my eyes to Christ. I need a bit more of that.

"Then he said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will save it." - Luke 9:23-24

These are the verses I gave Nikelle to ponder at lunch time today:
"Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life." - 1 Timothy 6:17-19

I pray this is much more than an "event" for her. While we can't truly experience what those less fortunate endure, we can obey Jesus to be generous and willing to share. It's not only about the here and now.

You can help feed those in need here. Just $35 feeds a child for a month.

My daughter is fasting... what's the point?

My stomach is making me well aware that I have not eaten in about 13 hours. All I want to do is grab some food. My daughter hasn't eaten in about 15 hours. She went to school that way. This actually happens a lot to her. Breakfast becomes repulsive at times when she is nervous about upcoming events of the day. Today is different. Today she was supposed to eat a good breakfast before 6am in order to participate in World Vision's 30-hour Famine. She is not quite 12-years-old yet.

The Consent Form I had to sign states that "the average, healthy person is able to go without food for 30 hours without any ill effects. Exceptions include, but are not limited to, the following: children under the age of 12..." She is one of the first exceptions. As though I wasn't anxious enough about sending my oldest off to her first overnight youth activity... without food.

I chose to send her to school with a pear, some iceberg lettuce, ranch dressing and Gatorade. Her youth leader stressed the importance of drinking fluids. I stressed to him my concerns about her not yet being 12. He was not concerned but that didn't bring me calm. Many times my mind still pictures him at my daughter's age instead of the reality of the Godly young man he is now. When it is difficult for me to see the fact that other people's children grow up, maybe it shouldn't be such a shock that I'm having a difficult time accepting the fact about my own daughter.

So, yeah, I made excuses and my daughter will be participating in a modified fast.

Excuse #1: She's not 12 (a modified fast was suggested by World Vision for the exceptions they listed)
Excuse #2: She'd be fasting for more like 40+ hours instead of 30 because she didn't eat breakfast

Excuse #3: She has to get through the school day and accomplish the tasks expected of her

Excuse #4: It's a pear and lettuce...

Excuse #5: She's my oldest and I have a hard time letting go (that's just the real truth, I suppose)

The reason I haven't eaten breakfast this morning is because I want to know a bit of what she is feeling right now. I am hungry and want to eat. Honestly, I haven't been drinking the fluids like she was told to do. She isn't either. She hardly touched the Gatorade I gave her this morning and only has water available until lunch. Hopefully she'll remember to drink. I just got myself a cup of coffee (not the best fluid choice I'm sure but what I got anyway.)

Before my daughter, Nikelle, left for school today, her daddy instructed her on the purpose behind fasting. (Side note: I love that man!) He explained to her that the Bible instructs us to fast because the hunger we feel is supposed to turn our hearts and minds to God. We don't understand that concept in our world much today. Fasting is commonplace especially as we approach Easter but do we truly understand the purpose?

I hope the hunger I feel today will prompt me to pray... for her, for her youth group and for the starving children of the world. Will you join me? Have you ever chosen to fast? Do you utilize fasting for what God intended? Is there another reason?
"Then he turned to his host. “When you put on a luncheon or a banquet,” he said, “don’t invite your friends, brothers, relatives, and rich neighbors. For they will invite you back, and that will be your only reward. Instead, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, and the blind. Then at the resurrection of the righteous, God will reward you for inviting those who could not repay you.” - Luke 14:12-14

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Love Your Feelings (by allowing them to prompt you to seek God)

(Today is the Third Thursday of the month. Time for the Hearts at Home Home Blog Hop! This month's topic: Love Your Feelings. Head over to Jill's blog to see what other women have to say on the topic.)

Feelings often lead to confusion. Or maybe confusion is what I'm feeling? Is it okay to rely on my feelings at all? Feelings come and go. Can feelings lead to positive change or are they truly just fleeting? Today's topic "Love Your Feelings" had me wanting to avoid the Hearts at Home Blog Hop all together. The truth is that I don't love my feelings. As far as my actions show, I prefer to bury them altogether.

When I am bombarded by too many feelings, I am motivated to hunt like a lioness on the prowl. However, there is great difference in our pursuits. Her mission is to find a remedy for the problem of hunger as my quest is simply to find a distraction and dull the senses. While the lioness focuses her search is in the Pride Lands, I concentrate on rummaging through my kitchen.

The countless thoughts in my head and the emotions pulsating in my soul overwhelm me. Cravings begin to dominate my decisions and I fixate on the desire for relief from my feelings. "Just this time," I tell myself as I reach into the bag of semi-sweet chocolate chips intended for future baked goods. "Next time I'll choose different."

This moment, like all those before too numerous to count, I look to temporarily quiet the noise. Sugar is only a momentary fix. I know this. And should I forget, guilt will remind me the next morning. For now, though, I listen to the roar of momentary desires over the steady voice of Truth. I seek to find rest for my soul (or what appears to be anyway) by alternating salty and sweet, aimlessly seeking to avoid my tireless thoughts and emotions.

While I know the Truth, I don't allow my feelings to stimulate positive results. I've been on a path of allowing my feelings to define my life. And currently, my life is a bit of a mess. Lysa Terkeurst, in her devotional, Craving God, says "We can't look to our feelings to determine truth. We must look to truth to rein in our feelings."

The relief I long for won't be found in the smorgasbord of choices the world offers us. It is time to quit seeking to numb our feelings by checking out in front of the television, logging in to social media, or overindulging on food. That type of false comfort comes only for the moment. When we choose to oversleep or overbook our calendars in an effort to manage our life, we put off until tomorrow what needs to be dealt with today. The little break we so desperately desire by turning to technology, sex, alcohol, drugs and partying is only a distraction for the rest we are longing for. These outlets may make us feel better momentarily but Jesus' words in Matthew 11:29 can help us reign in our feelings. "Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls."

God offers me rest as I place myself under His authority. He longs for my desires to lead me to Him. However, knowing this Truth is not enough. I must choose to embrace it in the moment. The road I've been headed down by choosing to medicate my emotions instead of seeking clarity is not God's best plan for my life. It is time that I begin to look at my feelings as a trigger to pursue what is best for me. There is a choice that must be made every time I feel unsettled in my soul.

I'm tired of choosing the temporary fix. Today when feelings overwhelm me (because they will... it's inevitable), I am going to choose to talk to God about them. When I find myself standing in front of my pantry, I am going to acknowledge that treats will not satisfy my soul. They will not bring lasting peace. Neither will Facebook... or even a nap.

Today, I'm going to love my feelings by allowing them to prompt me to seek God. My feelings can help me pursue God's best for my life if I simply say "yes" to Him. Distractions won't help me get there. Only honest conversation with the one who is worthy of our confidence will take me where I need to be. Pouring out my heart to Him and reading the Bible to seek what He has to say to me will bring me the enduring rest I am so desperately seeking. It's time to sort through what is going on inside my head and my heart and seek the Truth.

If I seek Him first, He offers peace. It may not come instantaneously and it may not even come in the package I assumed it would but I will choose to trust Him. He has good plans for my life. I'm done with temporary relief. I want the rest God offers.

"Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need." - Matthew 6:33

"...God is greater than our feelings, and he knows everything." - 1 John 3:20b