It’s day three of the 10-day Daniel fast I’m on. In case you don’t know what that is, it’s a fast based on scripture where Daniel eats only choice foods (see below for more information). In this case I can eat fruits and vegetables and food from plants and seeds. No meat, dairy, sugar, yeast (read bread), caffeine, alcohol, tea, etc.

So far it’s been okay but there have been times when only a prayer asking for help will keep me rooted. And that’s the entire point after all. When you sacrifice, you turn to God and get closer to Him and meditate more on what He wants for you.

Here are some of the highlights of my last couple of days.

  • Three reaches into the refrigerator at 8 a.m. for my normal caffeine induced pick-me-up, a diet coke. With a quick snap-back reflex of the arm and a big sigh, I filled up a glass of water to re-hydrate and prayed to God to please keep me awake on my drive in to work.
  • Four or five serious but quick chocolate cravings. As I walk through my office, the remnants of the vendor gifts waft deliciously at me and tease me.
  • Eight ounces of peanuts consumed. A staple that keeps me sane.
  • Soy yogurt for breakfast this morning. The color and consistency are enough to turn you off but as a substitute it’s okay and the taste is alright but not really something I’ll stick with.
  • A body that is so racked with fatigue and cannot be uplifted with any additive, had to fall to sleep last night at 6:30 p.m. I awoke to the one cat who constantly runs away from me begging for some petting. He must have missed me chasing him and wondered what was wrong.

Tonight I must go back to the stove to cook up something edible that will last a few days so I don’t get stuck with nothing to eat and a craving that will send me to Chik-fil-A.

In case you are interested in the background of Daniel and the fast, here is an excerpt from this web site:  http://www.gotquestions.org/Daniel-fast.html

The concept of a Daniel fast comes from Daniel 1:8-14, “But Daniel resolved not to defile himself with the royal food and wine, and he asked the chief official for permission not to defile himself this way. Now God had caused the official to show favor and sympathy to Daniel, but the official told Daniel, ‘I am afraid of my lord the king, who has assigned your food and drink. Why should he see you looking worse than the other young men your age? The king would then have my head because of you.’

Daniel then said to the guard whom the chief official had appointed over Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah, ‘Please test your servants for ten days: Give us nothing but vegetables to eat and water to drink. Then compare our appearance with that of the young men who eat the royal food, and treat your servants in accordance with what you see.’ So he agreed to this and tested them for ten days.”

The background of the Daniel fast is that Daniel and his three friends had been deported to Babylon when Nebuchadnezzar and the Babylonians conquered Judah (2 Kings 24:13-14). Daniel and his three friends were put into the Babylonian court servant “training program.” Part of the program was learning Babylonian customs, beliefs, laws, and practices. The eating habits of the Babylonians were not in complete agreement with the Mosaic Law. As a result, Daniel asked if he and his three friends could be excused from eating the meat (which was likely sacrificed to Babylonian false gods and idols).

The day started off with a reminder of how easy it is to be stuck in a rut. As I went to reach for my morning diet coke—the one I felt I needed soooooo much to wake me up so I could drive to work— I remembered that this was day one of the Daniel fast and instead of the soda, grabbed my water bottle.  Oh joy.

It really does take constant prayer to help you through the random parts of the day when you are doing something like fasting. In case you don’t read my blog regularly (and why don’t you is what I should be asking), the Daniel fast is a ten day (sometimes 21 days but I’m super weak and this is my first try at it) restriction of a diet. Only things that come from seeds—veggies, fruits, whole grain, nuts can be eaten and only water is a choice for drink. Nothing processed, no sugar, no dairy, no meat. Kill me now.

I asked God a few times today to curse the man who invented carbonated beverages and questioned Him on why I couldn’t have my green tea. It’s good for me God! And I’m sleeping through this Monday morning all-staff meeting because I didn’t sleep last night and really need a pick me up. Ahhhhhh!

Okay, moving on—I just want to give God a huge thank you that I’m allowed to eat peanuts and popcorn on this fast. Man did that save me today! A boring salad at lunch was not going to do it. But the juicy cantaloupe and Clementine at breakfast were fabulous. Nature’s candy!

As I drove home I knew the worst was coming. After cleaning the house and doing some chores I almost went right to bed but decided to read the Bible and have a good meal. It’s very hard to resist temptation when you are tired and hungry and that little microwavable can of Easy Mac is staring you in the face. Time to pray. Okay, got me enough strength to cook up some veggies and brown rice—yum! Actually when I first started to eat it, it was a gift from God and tasted wonderful. As it got colder it tasted less wonderful but it was nutritious and good. Praise God.

I’ve decided to read Isaiah during this fast and it is very appropriate. Tonight’s chapters discussed giving your heart to God, not just going through the motions of empty rituals. It also reminded me to not worship idols. You may be thinking of a big carved figure but idols can be anything—money, cars, fame, food, etc. It’s good to remember that we can easily get caught up placing too much importance on those worldly things. Moderation is good and God is great!

Okay, so the dog and cat are very upset that there were no meat and cheese leftovers tonight and they have gone off to sulk. I am going to partake in what may be labeled an idol—Season three of Downton Abbey. There, I said it. I confess it and will repent once the season premier is over. And I will continue to pray for help resisting temptation tonight as I sit and wish that I could have some chocolate for dessert. Oh day two, here we come.

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!

Yes, we Christians come in all shapes and sizes and are equally guilty of succumbing to the pressures and traditions of the secular world. While we do put God first on our list of priorities, that doesn’t mean we can’t rearrange a schedule or two to accommodate cultural traditions and special events. What I’m saying is that we’ve decided to start our new small groups next week—when football season is over.

There’s going to be a lot of praying today—not just in church but on the ten yard line, before the extra-point kick, and for many, for the hangover cure on Monday morning.  At church we’ve been reading and studying a book written by our pastor, Mark Batterson called The Circle Maker. One of the recurring themes in the book is to pray big prayers.

For example, when your team is losing by 21 points and there is only a minute left on the clock and it seems completely impossible for you not to lose that ill-conceived bet you placed while the tailgating was in its early stages—that is the perfect time to pray for a win. Why? Because it’s the impossible situations—the miracles—that give glory to God. If it’s not a miracle, we tend to give the credit to coincidence or frankly ourselves. So in other words, go big or go home.

There are so many stories in the Bible about monumental miracles that God performed. It’s these seemingly hopeless situations (a band of three hundred men defeat an army of tens of thousands; the Jews’ triumphant victory of Jericho not via battering rams but by walking circles around the city; feeding 5,000 people from a few loaves of bread) that show just how glorious and wonderful God is and that He alone can make ANYTHING happen. It’s living with RAW DEPENDENCE on God that allows His work to be done.

Throughout the last few weeks in church, Pastor Mark had been sharing story after story of answered prayers. We know they were answered prayers and not coincidence because we mere mortals could not make them happen—only divine intervention delivered these miracles. I kept leaving the services with an overwhelming sense of joy. Story after story—on and on—it’s a true testament that God is at work with us everywhere all the time. It made me wish (and pray) that our news programs would someday turn into hour-long segments of testimonials of the miracles and answered prayers of God. Can you imagine how wonderful our world would be if we heard about these stories all the time? People would become hopeful instead of depressed. People everywhere would start praying and waiting patiently instead of living a life in want of instant gratification. I am confident that someday that is exactly how it will be. We may need to wait for the second coming, but it will happen. It just would be much cooler if it happened sooner. (Or is that instant gratification rearing its ugly head?)

I would very much like to hear your stories. Your answered prayers. Let’s start telling the world about them so we can give hope to others. I would also like to hear about your big prayers. I want to pray for you. I’m going to make a circle here on this blog. I’m praying that people like you will reply to these posts and share your stories and your prayer requests and then share them with your friends and family and your Twitter and Facebook followers and anyone else you come across. Let’s start the ball rolling right here. It’s GAME TIME people!

I’ll start and put myself out there in the hopes that others will follow.

Today I’m praying for:

Opportunities to travel the world to see the beauty that God has created. I pray that I can take stunning photographs and write about the experiences to share God’s glorious creation with others. I want to meet people and learn about their cultures, traditions, and beliefs and to educate and share those wonderful stories with others. And I want the courage and opportunity to share with the people I meet my testimony about how God has blessed me.

Healing—to be pain free from my joint and back injuries and to become fit and healthy enough to climb mountains and play sports again.

For legal help for a friend’s sister. For her to break free of an abusive relationship and get help in the form of physical healing, a job, and a new home.

My friend who is pregnant to be relieved of the physical suffering that comes from being pregnant and for a perfectly healthy baby who will one day come to know Jesus.

For the healing that needs to happen with family members.

To be filled with the fruit of the Spirit and emanate light, grace, and love so that those who meet me will see the joy and freedom that comes from accepting Jesus and putting your faith in God.