Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Updates-a-plenty!

It seems I go on spurts with this thing.  I get so excited to see my friend's blogs updated.  My friend, Christina, had not updated since June and I almost fell out of my chair to see a new post!  They had SO much happen in 5 months!  Of course, I knew it all because she is one of my best friends and I talk to her weekly but still.  I loved seeing it.  And here I am, having gone several weeks and I feel I have so much to update.  So here goes.
One of the biggest things was our church did a corporate Daniel Fast the past 14 days.  I tell you that to say, if I was just fasting, I would not share this information.  But because it was a corporate fast, I feel I can share these things and give glory to God through it.  Many of you asked what a Daniel Fast was and you can get tons of information by googling it.  But in short, in the book of Daniel in the Old Testament, Daniel was one of the king's chosen men.  They were given all the king's choice foods and wines.  This was a problem for Daniel because these foods had been consecrated to other gods.  Daniel asked to be given only vegetables and water for 10 days and then for them to see if he was not as healthy and strong as the other men who had eaten the king's food.  So in short, this fast is mimicking loosely Daniel's choice.  It is eating fruits, vegetables, whole grains and lots of water and juice.  No preservatives, no chemicals, no sugar or flour.  Now, those of you that know me know what a stretch this was.  My sweet husband is a true Southerner.  He loves his fried foods, his meat and potatoes.  I have learned to cook these things and as a result, have fallen in love with them as well.  And I love my carbs.  I could literally live on pasta and bread the rest of my life and be as happy as a clam.  Imagine my glee when I found whole wheat pasta!  All that to say, this fast was such a sweet time of stretching for us.  Our pastor encouraged us to talk through and pray about 4 areas of our lives, identifying specifics.  Personal, our family, our nation and our church.  Bobby and I had sweet conversation the Sunday before the fast (election week) and determined several specific things in which to pray.  We both recognized our lack of self control in so many areas of our life and made it one of our specifics to pray about.   So all that said, let me just say, if you have never fasted, I would do a Biblical study regarding fasting.  Even if it is just looking up fasting in your concordance and reading what the Bible has to say.  Many can claim this is unhealthy.  If you are worried about health, try this Daniel Fast.  It does nothing but cleanse your body.  I truly believe having now completed it, God calls us to fast not only to draw nearer to Him but also because our bodies need a break.    There will be many things after having completed a fast that you realize you never want in your body again.  
I felt this fast was so intentional.  I had read tons of things on ovarian cysts that pointed to eating organically and heavy with fruits and vegetables and whole grains as a way of reducing/eliminating cysts.  But more importantly, I knew God was calling me into a time of intense prayer and need.  The first 5 days were horrible.  My body was detoxing and I had horrible headaches.  I just kept praying that God would sustain me.  By day 6, my body evened out.  On day 7, my flesh kicked in.  I was ticked.  I wanted to quit.  I wanted GOOD FOOD!  I was cranky and hateful and frustrated.  I wondered why I felt far from God.  That night, I went to bed and got out my Bible and looked up fasting.  I read this....

3 "Why have we fasted, but You have not seen? (B)
    We have denied ourselves, but You haven't noticed!" [b]
    "Look, you do as you please on the day of your fast,
    and oppress all your workers. (C)

    4 You fast [with] contention and strife
    to strike viciously with [your] fist.
    You cannot fast as [you do] today,
    [hoping] to make your voice heard on high.

    5 Will the fast I choose be like this:
    A day for a person to deny himself,
    to bow his head like a reed,
    and to spread out sackcloth and ashes? (D)
    Will you call this a fast
    and a day acceptable to the LORD?

*I saw this to mean complaining, wanting everyone to know, wanting praise for fasting rather than using it as a time to consecrate yourself before the Lord.  SO CONVICTING!

    6 Isn't the fast I choose:
    To break the chains of wickedness, (E)
    to untie the ropes of the yoke,
    to set the oppressed free,
    and to tear off every yoke? (F)

    7 Is it not to share your bread with the hungry, (G)
    to bring the poor and homeless into your house,
    to clothe the naked when you see him, (H)
    and to not ignore [c] your own flesh [and blood]? (I)

    8 Then your light will appear like the dawn,
    and your recovery will come quickly. (J)
    Your righteousness will go before you, (K)
    and the LORD's glory will be your rear guard. (L)

    9 At that time, when you call, the LORD will answer; (M)
    when you cry out, He will say: Here I am.
    If you get rid of the yoke from those around you, [d]
    the finger-pointing and malicious speaking, (N)

    10 and if you offer yourself [e] to the hungry,
    and satisfy the afflicted one,
    then your light will shine in the darkness, (O)
    and your night will be like noonday

After reading this, I was so convicted.  Bobby and I spent the week lamenting about how much we wished we could have _______.  We determined to not complain but continue to petition and when we felt hungry or unsatisfied, to pray.  And these are the things I learned from the fast.
1.  My flesh is used to getting whatever it wants.  I rarely deny myself anything.  Weight has never been an issue for me and my family had plenty financially so I had not learned the important process of denial.  It really is shaping.
2.  When your flesh is actually being denied something it wants, your truest self shows.  And it is ugly.  I realized how truly separate my flesh and spirit is.  It is easy to try to intermingle to two but I realized why so many times in the Bible it says to deny yourself, to take off your old self and put on the new, to be crucified with Christ.  Our flesh is wicked and sinful and hateful at its core.  That is why we need a Savior.
3.  A lack of self control can play out in ALL areas of life.  I was fooling myself to think it was only a few.  After 2 weeks of fasting, our marriage is truly healing, I am more intentional as a mother, I am aware of what I put in my mouth and what comes out of it.  I realized so much of the struggle in our marriage was because of our lack of self control.
4.  Drawing near to God and being specific and intentional in your prayer time leaves room for Him to work and you to be able to specifically see an answer.  And intercessory prayer is so vital to your relationship to Christ.  He desires for us to have "heartfelt compassion" for others and to accept one another and to forgive.  This is impossible without bringing others before Him in your prayer time.  
5.  Journaling your prayers is such a needed process.  Jen Hatmaker in her book, Modern Girls Guide to Bible Study, eloquently puts it this way, "Journaling becomes a written legacy of your conversations with God as He leads you through His word.   Besides new understanding, authentic journaling includes questions, frustrations, arguments, struggles and doubts-- the components of a real relationship."

Okay, other crazy happenings.  We leave in 3 days for 8 days in Costa Rica.  I know I mentioned that but I am a smidge excited.  However, a slight wet blanket was realizing through the CDC that we are traveling to an area with a malaria risk.  The owner of the villas say that is a blanket warning and that they have had no occurrences but we are debating taking anti-malarial drugs.  If any of you have travelled internationally, especially with children, I would love your input on this.  All that to say, whether we choose to take the meds or not, we would love your prayers for protection.

And, on Saturday, AK and I went into her playroom and I stepped onto the carpet and realized it was sitting in 3 inches of water.  Our hot water tank is in a closet next to this room and the drain had overflowed due to a clogged pipe in our sink.  We tore the carpet out (it is drying) as well as the soggy pad and prayerfully, a new pad and our carpet will be replaced on Friday.  It was a fiasco though!  Thank goodness for Dave Ramsey suggesting an emergency fund!

And AK came down with croup over the weekend so we would love your prayers for her healing before we leave the country.  LOVE  you each and hope you have SUCH a blessed Thanksgiving!

6 comments:

Sarah said...

After reading this, I have one word: Wow!

Stacy and Jason said...

You've been busy. I'm impressed with your Daniel dedication - I like my Halloween candy too much (or you are just way more determined). Enjoy your trip!

Jen Hatmaker said...

Hi Stephanie!
My girlfriend talked me into this blog alert thingy, which I thought was so stupid, but now I'm so happy I did it, because it tells me when someone awesome like you blogs about a book of mine! I am so happy you read Girl's Guide and decided to journal through the Word...yeah God! Many blessings to you as love Jesus and press into a life of greatness for His glory!

Much love to you...
Jen Hatmaker

Jeremy and Melanie said...

I think the malaria thing is up to you. We've taken the kids to Costa Rica and Africa. We didn't do anything when we went to CR and we took medicine with us to Africa, but we didn't use it because it was a hassle to grind it up all the time. We just stayed in at night when the mosquitoes were out. Email me and I'll ask my sister-in-law what she thinks. They live in CR and can probably give you more specific advice for the place you are staying.

Anonymous said...

I don't think the malaria meds are necessary -- we did not take them when we went to costa rica -- just use repellent, and try to stay inside during dusk!

Erin

'The H Family' said...

such a great post....i was so impressed and amazed about everything you told me about the Daniel fast, but it was so cool to see what all you learned. i am so proud of you guys!! although, i must say, i would have given my right arm to see bobby without his meat and potatoes during the fast! maybe you guys can be doing the daniel fast next time you come to town so we can get out of the catfish house...ha ha ha! :) seriously though...i am so proud of you and your dedication...i KNOW God used it in your life. hope you have a wonderful trip and enjoy yourselves to the FULLEST!! have a happy happy thanksgiving! love you all tons!!