Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Hands in the air!


I had to learn to like roller coasters.
They scared me to death when I was younger.
I don't remember the exact moment I gave in and climbed aboard,
But I'm glad I did.
I'm pretty sure coaxing was involved (lots of it).
Every time (to this day) I get into the last car of a roller coaster (the back is the best),
And pull down on the bar,
My heart fills with fear...excitement...and more fear.
The excitement wins over the fear and my hands go up.
I trust the bar and the track.
I've done this a time or two.
I know how it ends...
Messy hair, 
tears from wind speed and laughter,
a little bit of nausea (it goes away as soon as I get back in line),
and joy (the best part).

It's cliche, but life is like that.
No different from a roller coaster.
The hardest part is getting in line and climbing aboard.
Once we join in, we get it. 
It's fantastic,
But it's a risk.
The plunge might be deeper than you expected.
You might pull a few G's and get nauseous.
But when the train pulls into the station, you have stories.
"That first hill was the best!"
And your eyes are filled with laughter and tears and you tell the apprehensive soul stepping into your seat as you leave,
"It's the best ride in the park."

I've remained on the sidelines and watched the ride fly over my head, hearing the screams of fear and delight.
It's fun to watch,
But more fun to experience.
I don't want to watch life pass me by,
and allow fear to keep me from joining in.

And just when I think I'm fully engaged,
God reveals another facet of life to enjoy.
Another fork in the road,
An opportunity stretch myself,
An impossible challenge.
Fear tells me I'm good right where I am, but I know better...
And with a prayer for strength,
I pull down on the bar...

Philippians 4:6
Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

The Struggle is Real!

As I mentioned in my last post, my least favorite fruit of the Spirit is self-control.
Still is.
Except...
I challenged myself recently.

(I hope this doesn't sound like a self-serving post...it's not meant to be at all.
The struggle was/is real.)

I just completed a 21-day Daniel Fast. (Google it.)
Basically a vegan diet on steroids. (I've never been a fan of veggies.)
No meat.
No dairy.
No sugar.
No yeast.
No white flour or white rice.
And my achilles heel, no caffeine.

What's left? (Not much.)
Vegetables, fruit, legumes, whole grains, nuts, some oils and water...yes, just water to drink.

My daughter asked me to do it with her and I said, without hesitation, "NO!"

I went about my day as the invitation gnawed at my mind - and heart.
Why can't I stop thinking about it. I'm not doing it.
I'm not! (Food has always had a certain power over me.)
But the gnawing persisted.
So after a few days, my conscience was raw and I agreed to join her in the Daniel Fast.
Surely I can handle 21 days. (Don't call me Shirley!)

My other daughter joined us too. (Hooray! Doing this with my girls was amazing.)
We set a start date and a private Daniel Fast text group.
We were actually excited!
Because the Daniel Fast is less about food and more about our relationship with God.
Removing the junk and aiming our focus.

So we began.
And I'm not gonna lie...the first week was hard.
If you know me, you know how much I love my morning coffee...
and my late morning coffee...
and the occasional afternoon coffee...
ugh.
But after the first week, coffee wasn't a big deal.
Sugar was....and bread. (Oh, man, give this woman a hunk of sourdough slathered in butter!)
After the second week, bread and sugar didn't matter much either.
But two days before the end of the fast, my attitude changed.
The enemy challenged my resolve.
"Heather, you did it! Why wait two more days for a cup of coffee? Have one NOW!"
Good point! Excellent idea!
I complained a bit (a lot), but I stuck it out and completed the fast. (I'm a little proud of me.)
Yesterday I enjoyed a HUGE cup of coffee...and then another.

So what did I benefit from this exercise in self-control?
Perspective.
Focus.
Understanding.
Joy.

I spent more time with God, in His Word and in prayer. (Something I always struggle with.)
My body was clean of sugar (which I believe is the worst of all the substances I regularly put into it).
I could focus my attention better and the time I spent in prayer availed much.
I realized the joy (what?) of controlling my impulses to indulge.
It's not WRONG to indulge, don't misunderstand...
But the frequency and the REASONS I was indulging were all over the place.
None of them had value.
When I couldn't indulge due to my pledge to this 21-day exercise,
And posted on my blog my desire to work on self-control (accountability),
And asked God for strength - which He doles out generously,
I wanted to succeed more than I wanted coffee and sugar. (Insert shock here.)
Because my success would mean more than saying "no" to impulses.
It would mean saying "yes" to self-control...to learning so much about what that means in my life and my relationship with God.
I felt the attack of the enemy so often, but knowing that I was not alone in the battle, it was so much easier to change my mind...to block the nagging negativity.

As I mentioned, I'm back on caffeine. (Hallelujah!)
But sugar is a glorious poison.
I like the way I feel off of the stuff.
I won't shun it in its entirety.
(I won't be an annoying "No thank you, I don't eat sugar" person. I promise!)
I'm not going to study labels for all of its forms.
But candy and desserts will be treats...rare and delectable.
That will be my new boundary.
And here goes other exercise in self-control.
It never ends, folks.
As long as we're on this earth, we'll struggle to see the good of it.

Self-control is good.
Positive.
Satisfying.
And we have all we need to succeed.
Thank-you Lord!
(Now, I hope I don't forget this.)