Tuesday, August 14, 2012


So, I recently finished a book called 7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess. It was very eye opening. Basically, this lady (Jen Hatmaker) decides to fast 7 different things for a month each. You may be wondering why she decided to do this. One of the main reasons was "to purge the junk and pare down to what is necessary, what is noble. . . [it is] an intentional reduction, a deliberate abstinence to summon God's movement in my life. A fast creates margin for God to move. Temporarily changing our routine of comfort jars us off high center. A fast is not necessarily something we offer God, but it assists us in offering ourselves." I read this and immediately wanted to fast myself.

The first month, she fasts food. Not all food. She only allows herself 7 items to eat throughout the whole month. She went through caffeine withdrawal, had to figure out how to eat while traveling, and experienced lots of moments of intense temptation. So, on August 1st I started my food fast. (It just sounded too fun to pass up!). I changed mine up a bit. We get weekly produce bins, so I decided to allow myself anything from my produce bin + chicken, eggs, and millet bread. I am only using salt and pepper for seasoning and can use olive oil to cook with. Yep, no coffee, no butter, no pastries, no well, no a lot of things. I thought about doing this a different month because this month is my birthday month, but then I realized it would be easier to do something like this right after getting back from Haiti.  And I think that considering my friends on the mountain with no Starbucks or Dunkin Donuts, no Yogurt Mountain, no ovens for their grandmas to bake cookies in, no Subway or Chick-fil-A or a cazillion other restaurants to choose from has helped me cope with my food cravings some. They just have their little outside kitchens with a wood pile to cook on. They cook whatever meat or produce they got from their farms or from the nearest market. They butcher their chicken or goats, they cook their dried beans for hours, they harvest and chop and prepare their food all by hand.

Well, by the end of the first couple of days, I decided that I hate this fast. It is not the least bit fun. I have realized a few things about myself. 1. I use food for comfort, especially coffee. 2. When I don't have my comfort food, I am cranky. 3. I get jealous about what other people eat and secretly plot against them when they have the comfort foods I am craving - even if it's my own children. I've gotta say, millet bread with no butter is rather dry and I'm tired of my chicken tenderloins for lunch and dinner every day. I am so incredibly grateful for all the potatoes I have left over from a previous produce bin, or I doubt I'd ever feel full. And my lack of coffee started out great because I so intentionally weaned myself, but after only getting 5 hours of sleep one night, I started hating life. I actually took a nap in the middle of the day that day (I never take naps).

I get tempted to wallow in my self pity, but then, I think of my friends in Haiti who usually only eat one meal a day, and it is usually rice and beans. And then I think of the people in Darfur who sweep up the left overs off the market floor to form mud pies. They are eating just enough to not die of starvation, but they have probably never known what it's like to feel full. And forget about coffee or even clean drinking water. Their water is brown. It doesn't even look clear. It is just filled with all kinds of bacteria and parasites.
So, even though I'm hating my food fast and whining way too much, I am learning a few things about myself and God and this world. I am realizing how much I truly have. Even now while my husbands is in between jobs and we are always uncertain about when we will get money next and how much it will be, we are blessed just by living in this country and having the family and friends that we have. I am realizing how much I lean on my comforts and my desires and my routines rather than on God. I have prayed more and read my bible more these couple of weeks because I am not first curling up with my coffee and a pastry and a book. I was desperately needing to change some of my habits. And finally, I am realizing how important it is for us to obey God's word. We wonder why God allows people to suffer, to starve to death, or to die of curable diseases. Instead, we should wonder why we squander away what God has given us on ourselves and our wants. Matthew 25:41-46  says: Then he will say to those on his left, 'Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.' They also will answer, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?' He will reply, 'Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.' Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.

As I feel unsatisfied and lust after the Dunkin' Donuts my husband brings home or the banana bread my grandma made, or the cookies my children get at Publix, I will remember that I still have so much more than most of the world. And even though I do not have temporary access to my big mug of coffee, I do have access to my heavenly Father. Purging my junk may not be fun, but it is most definitely necessary if I want to allow God to move more in my life.

Check out this video about the people in Darfur:

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