Thursday, June 30, 2011

Personal History

For a long time, I have been working diligently to not be defined by my past. I have told myself certain things don't matter, stuff happens and can never be unchanged. I have ignored others parts of my history that I know do matter. I have given them to God and just asked him to help me forget a lot of who I've been and where I've come from. And then I usually take it back and wallow in it for a while, then go back to ignoring it before giving it to him again. Who doesn't have this baggage? I've never met anyone who made it out of childhood unscathed. But this attempt to strip away what was has robbed me of seeing a lot of what drives me.

I let myself take a step back and walked back through a lot of my life over this past month. And I did remember major events, both good and bad, but I also started remembering small things that built my personality and character. These were things like arguing the need to give money to panhandlers in downtown Macon, saving up pocket change for months for the MDA telethon, being moved to tears by racial injustice from the 1st grade on, asking for our youth group to do World Vision's 30 hour famine and loving raising money for it even as shy as I was, and wanting to work with foster children.

I'm sure several things contributed to my more jaded outlook after becoming an adult, but one of them was probably working within social services and feeling absolutely helpless. The biggest contributor had to be my failure to seek God during the time when I started ignoring this passion to help others. Forget the "with all your heart" part, I wasn't seeking Him at all. But without me even realizing it, He has been softening my heart this past year. There's less of a naivety than there once was, but still an idealist that sees that things don't always have to be as they are today. There are those who would still call me naive, but I'm liking this outlook a lot better. And I now see how interconnected my memories are, that even people I would rather forget helped shape who I am. I'm grateful that "in all things God works for the good of those who love him".

Friday, June 24, 2011

What Can I Do?

This morning I read the Compassion blog like I do most mornings. But this time, I recognized the city: Coban, Guatemala. What I know is that Coban is the nearest major city to my Yeimi. I didn't make it past drug trafficking before the helplessness set it. Why can't I stop her from being exposed to such things? I found myself wishing I could just take her, take all of them, out of their countries and bring them. Where? Here? Somewhere, I don't know. Just the idea of a sweet 5-year-old little girl getting caught in the middle of all of that led me into a dangerous game of "What If".

After a few minutes, my rational self kicked in. I heard, in my mind, "You are doing something to stop these things from happening." For all of my big talk about the importance of sponsorship and building relationships, when it really came down to the dangers my child faces, I didn't think it was enough. I'm not sure if I thought God was enough. In the few minutes that followed, I was able to see the flaws in my thinking and be grateful for the new knowledge about Yeimi's potential challenges. Knowing about this (and other details after I was able to go back and actually finish reading the post), gives me specific things to pray for and against. It shows me the importance of giving child gifts and family gifts to help meet their needs and encourage parents to keep their children in the program.

This weekend I plan on putting together a list of specific needs for all three of my Compassion kids based on their ages, interests, and geography. I will research the areas where they live through Compassion and other websites and present these needs to God often. I will also pray that He shows me what else I can do for each of them. He is enough. My helplessness does nothing but keep the focus on me and my feelings. When I do that there is no change, only sadness and guilt.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

This morning I Had Cake

Yesterday was supposed to be my last fasting day. Due to unforeseen events (such as Cracker Barrel!), it was actually my first day off the fast. My plan was to have a very sensible dinner after that, but Sonny thought I was done and wanted to go to Mellow Mushroom and split a pizza. My body was not very happy. After the party on Saturday, I put a piece of cake in the refrigerator for today and decided to eat it this morning. It was very good, but I couldn't eat the buttercream icing. It was entirely too sweet. Even though I seriously fell off the wagon and onto my rear, I really haven't been incredibly tempted to eat the junk in my house. Less than I have this few weeks, actually. I think the fact that I can have it has made me want it less. Which seems odd and backwards for me. I just hope I can keep it up. Today there will be more foods containing sugar, and I will enjoy them. It's a big day for us, but I can also balance it out with some healthier foods.

My internet restriction and quieter days are not really happening. Yesterday we were gone all day, and today and tomorrow are promising busyness as well. I am still waiting on an email from the Advocate Network, so I am constantly checking my email. I do want to do this, but it seems like this is not the week for it. Maybe I can start on Thursday and go through next week. I don't just want to do this, I need to do this.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Fasting Update

We have now completed two weeks of the Daniel Fast. I feel like we're in the home stretch. Food choices don't seem that difficult most of the time. There was a doughnut incident that nearly did me in, but I made it through. What bothers me is that I have missed a lot of the spiritual component of the fast. There are days when I do better than I have in the recent past but on most days I'm just concentrating on the food. I almost feel like I should extend my fast, but I really don't want to do that to Sonny. What I have decided to do instead is to let next week be a very restrictive, but not complete, technology fast. I will use a lot of the time I waste on the computer and tv to refocus and regroup. I think I'll be spending a lot of nap times on my porch with my Bible.

This being said, I do not consider the Daniel Fast to be a waste or a bust for me. I think that in allowing my body to rid itself of all the junk I put into it, my brain is now ready to concentrate more. I hope this helps to keep me from being constantly distracted by all the shiny stuff around me. I can say with my mouth that Jesus is the only thing that matters, but the ways I spend my time show differently.

Friday, June 10, 2011

The Eyes That Haunt My Heart

Earlier this week, a new face appeared on my Compassion International account. I have been logging in to my account daily because I had put in a request for my second correspondence child. The face I saw was Rugwiro from Rwanda. He will be 14 years old in August. For a week or two, I've been looking at the pictures of the kids who need sponsorship. I kept thinking that I wanted to find a boy, a little older (10-12) who lived with someone other than his parents, and maybe in Ghana. I couldn't sponsor right now, but I could look and pray. Hey, to date I've had three that I've prayed for who have been sponsored. I'm not going to stop asking Him now.

Then comes Rugwiro. He lives with his aunt and uncle (CI lists parents as separated by death). He is in the 4th grade (probably 5th now since his information was updated in 2010) and likes ball games, especially soccer. I chatted with a CI rep yesterday because I wanted to know if his financial sponsor sent a birthday gift. She said that a gift was sent and has been sent in the past, but he hasn't received a letter "in years". She didn't put a number on it, but in years definitely sounds like more than a few. He has had the same sponsor since 2004. His eyes do haunt me. They look tired and sad for a 13-year-old boy. He has seen far too much already in his young life - after-effects of genocide, being orphaned, poverty, and other things beyond my imagination. And for reasons I will never know, his sponsor, who has been financially dedicated for many years but has chosen to remain silent, has given permission for me to write to him. I am feeling the weight of this today. It doesn't feel like a burden, but a privilege. Still, it is a privilege that comes with great responsibility. I am nervous that I don't know what to do with a teenage boy. But I will love him, and he will hear (often) that I love him and that God loves him, too.

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

This Feels Good. . . Really Good

At least, I feel really good. Sonny made the same comment last night and added that he would have to remember this when our fast is over. I'm not sure if it's the lack of sugar or chemical additives, but I have so much more energy than I remember having in a long time. A really long time. Next week I am going to start thinking and praying on what dietary changes I would like to keep. This feels way too nice to let it all go back to "normal". And I'm thinking that this is probably the way "normal" is supposed to feel.

I have not stopped craving sweets, and I will possibly race to Ryal's Bakery for a petifour when this is over. However, and I never saw myself saying this, it is quite possible than one will be enough. A few other observations:
  • I have not yet missed meat of any kind
  • Sonny really will eat whole wheat
  • Perfect brown rice is elusive
  • The moments where I miss cheese are fleeting.
  • I am drawn to junk food out of convenience
I am going to get back to my to-do list, because even though it is mid-afternoon, I still have energy! Next up, a call to Compassion about my advocate application.

Monday, June 06, 2011

Ending Week 1 of the Daniel Fast

Finally, I am one week down on this three week partial fast. The weekend has been harder than the week with parents on both sides taking us out to eat and the suggestion for IHOP, of all places. I love IHOP. I love pancakes and all things carb-centered. Breads are definitely among my comfort foods. I did turn it down and let her just take the girls with her. I have very good mental taste buds. I can taste what I can see, smell, or even imagine. Those were the best pancakes ever made.

This week I will work on my focus. That's what this whole thing was supposed to be about in the first place. I am starting to feel better than I did when I started, and that is encouraging. So now comes the seeking part. This week I will seek to feel/know who I am as a child of God, who He is as my Father/King/Savior/Lord, and what He has put me here for. This will include some not-so-light reading. I will do my daily Bible reading, which I have been neglecting for several weeks. I've been reading the Bible, but just my weekly Disciple assignments. It will also include reading Colossians in depth since Mike is preaching on it this month. I will also the next several chapters in Chazown.

I also plan to get started on the final challenges from David Platt's Radical, especially the call to pray for every country in a year. Because of my Compassion connections, I will start with Guatemala and the Philippines. I'm not sure how I will proceed from there, but I am aiming to take one country a day, read about their needs, and pray for them. I will also be praying for our church, the leadership, and where God wants me to serve.

Somewhere in there I also plan to defeat laundry mountain and see the tops of my kitchen counters, but we'll see how that goes.

Friday, June 03, 2011

Surviving life without sugar

Today is Day 4 of my first Daniel Fast. I don't think I was thinking clearly enough to post yesterday. There were times when I had to isolate myself, I was just that short-tempered. All day I just felt like I was recovering from the flu, when there's no illness really but you're still worn down and sore. Needless to say, a trip to Wal-Mart was not the best idea, but a necessary evil. Kayla asked for a box of Nilla Wafers, and I willingly obliged. Then I opened the box and a burst a sweetness popped out when I opened the bag. I inhaled it, deeply. Maybe even a few times. I even considered eating one. Possibly even the entire box, packaging and all. But I didn't

Today is better. I'm still feeling tired, but at a much more manageable level. I've been able to interact with the kids a lot more, and I'm even pretty sure they know I love and like them. Tomorrow we go to the Dekalb Farmer's Market for the first time in a long while. That should make this process more palatable. However, I am enjoying my meals a lot. I really don't feel like I'm missing out on the meat. It's just the bread, pasta, and sweets that are nagging at me every time I walk into the kitchen.

One thing I am relearning and I want to put this out there for the next time I try this, smoothies are a very good thing. I didn't know they would be good without sweetened yogurt, but they are. And they are made even better by coconut milk. For breakfast, I threw a handful of almonds in the blender until they were ground. Then I added a handful each of frozen mango, cherries, and blueberries. I added a few splashes of coconut milk and orange juice. It made for a very yummy and filling breakfast.

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

Fasting and Seeking

Today is my second day on the Daniel Fast. It was a somewhat impulsive decision, made after I was trying and failing to curb unhealthy eating and added sugars. At the same time, I was also reading a few different books that had me all worked up but with no direction. This seemed like a good time to fast and seek God's face. All of that being said, at around 4:00 this afternoon, my brain turned into sugar-deprived mush, and my afternoon quiet reading time seemed quite pointless - and impossible. I think I'm just going to blog through this three weeks and see what happens. I'm excited, or at least I was, about the possibilities. I have been struggling with some hard questions about what God has for me to do, and I'm hoping that this short fast will help me find answers. Hoping that tomorrow will bring more complete thoughts.