Each January, our church starts the year off with 21 Days of Prayer and Fasting. The idea is to give God your first fruits… in other words, fast from something that takes you away from God and replace it with daily prayer. In the Bible you see this a lot, and it's always food-related. Moses did a total fast (no food or water) because he needed to hear from God. Daniel stayed away from certain foods- the delicacies- which is where the Daniel Fast, one of the more commonly practiced ones, came from. Even Jesus fasted, which in my opinion is the biggest testament as to the impact that a season of fasting can have on our lives. The idea is that by "starving" the physical or emotional part of you, you can grow in the spiritual. For example, last year I did the Daniel fast, which basically meant that my diet consisted of fruits and vegetables, nuts, and whole oats. I cut out meat, dairy, sugars, coffee (!!!), and wheat, which turned our diet very close to that of a vegan. I am a girl who loves to eat, and I have an exceptionally big sweet tooth, so three weeks of this was H.A.R.D. But I adhered to the idea that every time my body craved something that was not on the menu, it would be a reminder to pray. The whole concept teaches you to rely heavily on God, because we cannot get through it alone, and I definitely could not do that alone. I can't say that I did it perfectly (especially with my birthday falling smack dab in the middle!), but it definitely stretched me, challenged me, and I did find myself spending a lot more quiet time with God. I felt like I was more aware of every minute of every day, and much more dependent on Him. The majority of the first month of the year was dedicated to HIM, and helped the rest of my year fall into place. We believe in this so much that we do it every year.
This year it did not take me very long to figure out what I needed less of, in order to get more of God. Last year I spent time in prayer, really seeking what to give up, and a food-related fast seemed to be my only answer. I had never tried anything that required that much discipline, and I certainly needed some new-found discipline in my day. And I admittedly feel a bit ashamed now for thinking that doing this type of fast was somehow "more" spiritual than someone who gave up, say, Facebook for a month. I mean, how hard could that be, right??
In true God-fashion (He really does have the best sense of humor), without hardly any thought, all I can hear this year is GIVE UP FACEBOOK! Really, God? Are you sure?? And then to take it one step further I heard, No, I'm not sure. Give up all of the extras on your phone, too.
Here is my mama-confession for the day: I have spent way more time in the past few months on my phone than I have with my kids. Granted, I have not calculated it, but I just feel, well, disconnected. People claim they love Facebook to be more connected, but honestly, having the distraction of my phone and all its fun little apps makes me more disconnected from the people in my own home! I used to love to sit and watch the kids play in the tub. Lately, I use that time to scroll my newsfeed. I used to love to build train-tracks with Jakes. Now that Lilly is pretty good at playing with him, I can sit back and check Instagram or Twitter. My excuse has always been that my Bible and my books are on my phone, but I don't have the discipline to use those and not the other stuff. So starting Friday, for 21 days, my phone is for what it was originally made for… phone calls and texts. I'm going to get back to basics… reading my Bible out of my actual Bible, so that I'm not tempted to look at other things. Waking up in the morning and saying a prayer, rather than checking out who posted what in the mere 8 hours since I went to bed. Being engaged with my kids, participating in their play-time, teaching them new things, and not missing out on them while they're little. How can I expect Jake not to want to look at the phone and watch Mickey Mouse Clubhouse at the same time when he sees his mama doing the same thing? Sure, I don't really want to see Mickey Mouse Clubhouse (for the umpteenth time… pretty sure I've seen them all by now), but I could just as easily read out of a book at that time. When he sees that as his other option, I can only hope that it looks appealing to him and he develops into a boy who loves to read as much as his daddy does (and his mama tries to). I need this change, and I honestly hope it helps me develop a better self-discipline when it comes to such things in the long-term.
I think sometimes we feel like God is being silent, not listening to our cries and concerns. Here lately, I just think that the world has silenced Him out of my head, and I'm missing the many blessings He gives me daily. When I was deciding whether or not this was the fast I was going to do, I sat down and told my husband and two friends what I was considering. As I was talking, I started to tear up as I told them about how I felt like I was missing my kids, even though I'm with them everyday. When the emotions started to well up, it confirmed this in my heart. He isn't silent… we just need to listen. He'll confirm what we're feeling and answer the cries of our hearts when we humbly go to Him. I may "lose" many voices that were in my world for at least the next three weeks, but I am so thankful that I am going to zero in on the One that matters.
On a related note, I stumbled across this article last night and found it interesting: Finding Balance in a Wired World. A lot of this definitely struck a chord with me and just confirmed (again) how badly I need to do this! I'd love to hear if this resonates with any of you, too!
And just so you know, yes I will still be blogging (I hope… I'm on a roll you know!) and posting my Project #365Grateful photos to Instagram over this time (although I will not be checking out everyone else's!).
And for those of you who are interested or are considering a food-related fast, you can check out the post I did about that last year by clicking here.