I find doing something you think is hard is often not that hard. It’s getting to the starting point that’s the hardest part. Whether you’ve hit rock bottom and said okay, I’ll get off my butt and do it, or maybe just reached that point when you actually can let go of the control you think you have and hand it over to God, it takes that hard push to get moving before momentum takes over. It’s not easy—even though we are encouraged over and over again—but it really is awesome when you do and can see how God can get you through.

My attitude and habits needed to change, and I needed God to get me moving. So, now I’m on day six of a 10-day Daniel fast. I honestly didn’t think I’d make it three days but here I am thanking God for getting me through this. The thing that seems to work with God and me is I tell Him I’ll suffer the pain—cravings, hunger, desire, etc., for whatever I am trying to give up—I just need Him to keep me from succumbing to the temptation. “God,” I say, “please keep me from grabbing that bagel or coke, or whatever—just help me to not fall off this path.” And He does. He is so good to me. I am blessed so much and praise Him for family, friends, and a good life.

My friend asked me the other day if this was getting harder. In some ways it is and others not. There are moments, you know? One minute I’ll be dreaming about a cheeseburger and another I’ll be content and full after eating a veggie burger without a bun. Having said that, I did make “pizza” today that I can’t quite say was terrible but it didn’t really hit the spot. I’m not sure what I’ll eat first when I done this, but real pizza just jumped to the top of the list. Having said that, I don’t plan on gorging myself with junk when this is over. I’ve lost 10 pounds so far (yes, I know, lots of water weight, but who cares—I’ll take it). So I’m feeling pretty good and needed this kick start to a new year and a new me.

I had a goal last year that took a back seat due to all the tragedy that happened. But I’m going back to that now. I want to get in shape again so I can run around with the kids and maybe, just maybe I’ll sign up for the four-day trek to Machu Picchu. Now that is a very lofty goal. It will take a lot of veggie burgers to get there but if I keep my focus on God, maybe He’ll help me explore His beautiful world old-school style.

Do you have a dream? Do you need to restart your life? If you aren’t a follower of Jesus, I would encourage you to read the Gospels. Mathew, Mark, Luke, and John. All four are the story of Christ told to different audiences. It could be just the thing to save your life. He saved mine. And He can help you too. And you don’t have to eat like a vegan on steroids to be close to Him.

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No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead. Philippians 3:13

Pastor Josh read this passage this morning and I thought it was very fitting. You see, last year totally stank. I know for some of you it was a glorious year full of happiness and success and I say with all sincerity that I’m happy for you. But with the passing of my brother who had become a very close friend of mine, it was the worst year of my life. And it kept getting worse and worse as the year dragged on.

So with the changing of calendars and mark of time, we get to mentally draw a line and say enough! Do over, start over, fresh beginnings, whatever you want to call it. Forget the past, forgive, and move on.

My struggles over the past two years with injuries, weight gain, more injuries, grief, more grief, and other assorted ca-ca have reached a nadir. I need to get aligned spiritually, mentally, and physically with what’s right and what’s important. And to do that I’m joining many of my fellow NCC friends in a Daniel fast.

What’ a Daniel fast you ask? Basically it’s eating nothing but fruits, vegetables, nuts, and water. Things that come from seeds. Nothing processed, no sugar or artificial sweeteners, no fun. For you vegans, this may not be a big deal. For me—well let’s just say kicking a 20-year smoking habit was a walk in the park compared to this.

The purpose of fasting is not to lose weight (but I’m praying that I do), but rather to get closer to God. Only with God’s help can I accomplish this. Only by focusing on Him will I be able to reset the do-over buttons. I may not find the path I’m looking for—you know, the one that tells you what you should be doing with your life—but at least I’ll start walking again and hopefully in the right direction.

Tomorrow is day one. I am finishing off the last of the ice cream and wine tonight. I think I may miss my morning diet coke and green tea right off the bat, but I’m going to pray that through the headaches, feelings of hunger, cravings for bread and cheese, and the desire to just down some sugar straight from the bag, I resist temptation. I’m going to ask God to help me resist through the pain and struggle. I’ll take the pain; I just need His help locking the fridge door. And I could use your prayers too.

I usually don’t announce things like this because if I fail (which the odds are pretty good I will), then I wouldn’t have to admit that to the world. But I figure maybe writing about the experience and hopefully getting some feedback and ideas from you readers, I’ll have a small chance at making it.

I’d like to keep my mind on the needs of others through this ten day fast. So please tell me what you are dreaming for in this New Year and let me pray for you. Okay, I’m off to my last meal of meat for awhile. Have a great 2013!

Many people these days are making up their own bucket lists. I’ve been thinking about it more and more these days. And not because my body is falling apart (it is) or that my life is a wreck (it’s not). Maybe I see others doing more with their time, maybe I’ve just stopped wanting to dream so much and to just do more. Maybe it was watching that series Planet Earth with the jaw dropping scenes of the wonders all around us. Maybe it’s just time to take my own kind of walkabout. My quest does not have a goal, such as saving someone’s life, destroying a ring, or killing a monster named Grendel. It’s more about just experiencing the world and the people in it.

But of course we have to address the obstacles to living out the carefree lifestyle that exists in our dreams.

Money—or whatever is needed for those pesky plane tickets, hotel rooms, etc. Doing the backpack thing and staying in dirt-encrusted hostels is not for me. Maybe when I was in my early 20’s—but even then I needed to know that there was a safe room for me to lay my head at the end of the day. I’m not saying I won’t camp out or need a four-star hotel. I just want my 40-year old back to not be in a knot in the morning.

Time—those sweet precious vacation days we work so hard for can be few and far between for the normal American. The Europeans have it great. Having said that, I’m grateful for having a life where I do have time off and don’t have to work three jobs or 90 hours a week.

Travel companions—getting someone else to come along with you to share the experience makes exploring this world so much more fun and meaningful. Whether the travel companions be friends or family, it’s really important for me to go with people I can have fun with.

For the most part, these obstacles can be overcome. You may not have the money or time to travel far and wide but you can make smaller and more budget-friendly trips and experiences wherever you live. For me, well I’m going for broke. I spent several years saving every penny I earned, putting them away for a time when I could start going on some trips. At the very moment I was about to start spending it all, I was laid off. That money ended up coming in handy while I was out of work. God definitely was looking out for me. If I hadn’t saved during those preceding years, I would have been in serious trouble. I am so blessed and grateful that I was able to save at all. God is good and He provides in mysterious ways.

But now I have a job again and my outlook on life has changed a bit. Am I still a saver, planner, and overall worrier? Yup. But I’m not going to let opportunities pass me by. I’m going to explore this beautiful world God created. I’m going to learn about other cultures and deepen my knowledge of history, anthropology, geology, languages, geography, and foodology. I’m going to meet people who will share their traditions, legends, historic landmarks, grandmother’s recipes, and beliefs. I’m going to marvel at the heaven-reaching mountains, the deep blue oceans, the colorful plants, the sand-swept deserts, and the luscious green forests. And in between I sure wouldn’t mind spending some time relaxing in Bora Bora (you know the place where the huts sit on the water and you can jump into the clear blue water right from your bedroom? (That’s where a sugar daddy would come in very handy.)

So here is my so-called bucket list of places to visit. (The whole “What I want to do before I die” thing includes a heck of lot more than travel.) Anyway, I’m tired of the phrase “bucket list” and feel that a new name is in order. One of these maybe?

  • Dawn’s Lambeth Walk. I did some research and the Lambeth Walk is a song from a musical about courage and acceptance that became a rallying cry for the Brits during the London bombing in World War II. It sounds kind of fun and cool. Look it up.
  • Tribal Wanderings. I’ll bring my culture and experiences to those around the world—and get a bit of other tribal customs in exchange.
  • Dawn to Dusk: Live the Path not Yet Taken. Ok, now I feel like I’m working on a brainstorm session for work—trying to come up with some random and witty theme.

Okay, let’s call it: Dawn’s Day-Tripping Dreams. Something exciting to think about and something to try to attain. If you’re in my circle of family and friends and are interested in planning a trip to one of these places, give me a shout! Or, if you own a travel magazine or run a travel business and want someone to visit these places and write about them for you, also give me a shout!

Dawn’s Day-Tripping Dreams (not in any specific order and subject to change)

  1. Peru (Machu Pichu and the Nazca lines)
  2. The Holy Land (Israel)
  3. Alaska (cruise around the glaciers, see the wilderness inland, Denali, etc.)
  4. Italy (Rome, Venice, Sienna, tour the countryside, visit the Vatican)
  5. African (Kenya and Tanzania) safari
  6. Napa Valley (wine tours)
  7. Australia (the reef, Sydney, the Aborigine land, Uluru, etc.)
  8. New Zealand (see the mountains and majestic scenery)
  9. Galapagos Islands
  10. Brazil (Rio but also cruise the Amazon)
  11. China (the Great Wall, the Terracotta army, etc.)
  12. Russia (The beautiful onion domes, red square, Moscow, St. Petersburg)
  13. Normandy (tour the WW II sites, see Mont Saint Michel)
  14. Paris (been there but would go back again and again and again…)
  15. Greece (Ancient historical sites, cruise on the gorgeous waters, etc.)
  16. India
  17. Montana (maybe some kind of dude ranch experience)
  18. Upstate New York and Maine (in the fall for the turning of the leaves)

I’ve been blessed to see so many places in my life and many of those places I’d love to visit again. France is a favorite and I would go back to see other parts of Egypt, Ireland, England, Canada, and various states in America. And of course I can’t go very long without visiting my Aunt and cousins in one of the most beautiful and peaceful places on earth—Walloon Lake, Michigan. There are some things you need to stick with and that’s one of them.

What’s on your dream list? Tell me and maybe we can talk about a little walk about.