Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Pray for Rain

I walked through my yard this morning to put something in the mailbox. First, I was excited about the cooler temperature and being able to breathe the air, rather than chewing it. Then I noticed the crunching grass under my feet and remembered our lack of rain. Since August started I think we have had two light and short showers. My grass is brown and brittle . . . and ugly. It made me think back a couple of years, when Georgia and the surrounding states were in a severe drought. Most of what I noticed was increased water restrictions and a rise in food prices. But I didn't really feel the weight of a drought, other than a tighter budget. Living in the South, it seems like I've heard the word drought thrown around nearly every summer of my life.

I also started to remember the drought that is going on right now in East Africa. Other continents seem really far away until you put faces on them. Nigusse from Ethiopia and Rugwiro from Rwanda are my two small examples of a huge problem. These are faces on my refrigerator. They are also living, breathing children of God who are already living in extreme poverty. When you add a drought to extreme poverty, the results are catastrophic. It's hard to buy groceries in a drought when you're middle class, so think about how much harder it would be if your income was less than $1 a day. And if you're a farmer, you can't grow crops on parched earth.

The good news for Rugwiro and Nigusse is that they are "not located in the hardest-hit areas of drought, but are increasingly being impacted by food shortages, higher food prices and the influx of refugees into their areas due to the drought in neighboring nations." But this drought could eventually reach them. I'm asking you to pray. Pray for good rains to heal the land. Pray for the families, and especially the children, who are forced to live in these conditions. Pray for people to step up and give so that they can afford food. "Right now, in East Africa, an estimated 12 million people are suffering from malnutrition and a lack of food, affecting 35 to 40 percent of children under age 5." I also hope you'll visit this site and ask yourself what you can do to help. But even if you can't afford to help in a tangible way, please pray.

Monday, August 15, 2011

"Abba, I belong to you."

When I started the Daniel Fast this time it was in part motivated to get at the more spiritual side that I felt like I was lacking the first time around. I wanted to get more out of this than just a good diet plan and a reason to pine for sugar. I will confess that some days that's still all I have. However, I do have a plan and some days I'm even following it. I'm trying to stick to it a little better this this week, and be moI re mindful of Jesus than I am of my food choices. Which is hard, because I can look at the food in my hand, but I have to make the conscious choice to see God.

But this is the focus of my fast. I'm trying to keep up with my daily Bible reading, but I knew there was more to this than routine, as much as I love my routine. I did read most of the Daniel Fast book that I bought, and the author confirmed that. I had several books on my Kindle that I've been wanting to get around to, but I'm still in the middle of three others. I decided to read The Furious Longing of God by Brennan Manning. I knew it was about God's love for me and I thought that sounded like what I needed. After I started reading it, I decided to add in Song of Songs, so I'm reading a little out of each. Manning talks about a nun he encountered with a difficult and painful past. He encourages her to simply say, with her hands up, "Abba, I belong to You." for the next 30 days. Well, I added that, too. At first, it felt strange, but yesterday it came to my mind in very unexpected places and finally started to sink in. My plan is really just to take up residence in that reality for the next few weeks.

"The splendor of a King, clothed in majesty
Let all the earth rejoice
All the earth rejoice

He wraps himself in Light, and darkness tries to hide
And trembles at His voice
Trembles at His voice"
Abba, I belong to YOU!

Monday, August 08, 2011

Daniel Fast, Part 2

I started the Daniel Fast again today. I was thinking about starting anyway, and then there was an insert in our church bulletin about an organized fast this week, so I took it as the gentle push to go ahead. I'm thinking about doing 30 days instead of 21, for no real reason, except that I didn't really feel ready to be finished last time. I'm pretty excited about it, and Sonny was VERY willing to do it again. Also, I don't feel like 21 days would be a big sacrifice since I still eat Daniel Fast acceptable meals several days a week. I don't think I will have the sugar crash that I had the first time. I'm still sugar free or low sugar most days, but the sugar is slowly creeping back into my life.

Because I don't anticipate the horrible sugar withdrawals and because meal planning won't take as much effort since this is a second go-around, I do plan on focusing a lot more on the spiritual aspect of the fast. I'm not looking for this to be a diet, although I would be lying if I said one of my initial motivators was the bathing suit I will wear daily for a week in September. I don't know yet what this focus will look like, but I know that it needs to be more than just a short daily Bible reading and "standard" prayer time. I'm reading The Daniel Fast by Susan Gregory in hopes of gaining some ideas about what I need to be doing. Thanks to the church bulletin I mentioned, I do have some extra prayer ideas. I have issues mantaining focus. I'm always sure that "prone to wander" line was meant for me. Right now, I've let Kindergarten, a messy house, family illness, and busyness steal that focus. Seeking definitely requires focus, and this is the month that I get that back.

Thursday, August 04, 2011

Today is the Day

Today is the day I will pick up some old habits. It's been a rocky week for Bible reading, and there's really no excuse for that. Today I will dive back into Psalms, and I will enjoy it. I always do when I make it a priority to find relative quiet and read the Word.

Today I will also restore some sort of order in this house. Even with the dishes done and laundry cycling, I just feel very out of rhythm. We were gone for only three days due to the air conditioner that called it quits, but those are typically my busiest three days. I can keep whining about it, or I can just be where I am and tackle one thing at a time. I made some headway yesterday, but not enough to make me feel like I finished anything. I will also unpack two boxes today. That's right, I'm still unpacking and I'm still moving boxes over here. Hopefully, I will finish that today, too.

Today I will also regain some patience with the girls. Yesterday was not good. I am not proud of my parenting, and it was more me than them. I lacked patience in teaching, and that can't go beyond yesterday. Today I will live out what I tell the girls. Today is a new day.  His mercies are new every morning. I should be thankful for that every day, but some days that blessing is a lot more obvious.