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Monday, December 31, 2012

A little bit about Fasting

Ever been curious about fasting? Seeking God through discipline and denying oneself is the core principle.  Gotta say, I did a full fast for 3 days (no food, only water) followed by the Daniel Fast (only fruit, veggies, whole grains, and water) for 18 days in January 2010 and I prayed for blessings for my family, but specifically for my children.  A year later I was pregnant with twins. The pregnancy was without complications, the deliveries couldn't have been easier, and since birth they have been healthy, hearty little boys, thriving. I don't know if God rewarded me because of my fasting a year before, I don't know if God has kept sickness and disease away from my children because of my actions and fasting. But what if He has? What if He did? What if He is? All 4 of my children are beautiful, smart, funny, and healthy.

I'm going to go off track for a sec, to address the idea that fasting is just another crazy practice wacko spiritual people do to lose weight, hallucinate, see visions from God, hear voices, etc. I'll admit, fasting can sound extreme if you don't fully understand its purposes. But to understand it, or at least respect it, you have to understand other stuff too.

All of us, everyday we wake up, we make a decision, to either believe there is a great design to our lives, or there is no design at all. We decide whether we are haphazardly living, trying to make the best of what life throws at us, or we decide that everything thrown at us has purpose and reason, whether it's good or bad.

I think of Neo in The Matrix. Good ole Neo, remember?  Morpheus gave him the option of taking the blue pill, which would allow him to continue to view the world around him without the knowledge of the entire truth, or the red pill, which would open his eyes to see the world from an entirely different, not always beautiful, perspective.
If someone doesn't see life from a spiritual perspective, if they can't muster up enough faith to believe that there may be unseen forces at work, if they can't help but assume that all spiritual people are feeble minded and in need of a crutch to get through life, they have selected their pill.  Spiritually driven people have swallowed a different color pill. Both believe adamantly that they're right. We've all, as adults, chosen our pill, and now view our world with different lenses.

Back to fasting...
I believe God is good, and good things come from his hands. I believe He has amazing plans for 2013 for those who truly are seeking Him and are trying to understand His will.  So I want to be prepared to receive the blessings, I want to grow (spiritually--we all know there's no hope for me to get taller) and I want to know God's will for  my life. For these reasons, I'm considering starting a Daniel Fast on January 6th. I say considering because it takes a lot of planning and discipline and I will not commit if I can't give it my all. 
Besides spiritual awareness and maturity, there are great health benefits to this fasting stuff too. It's like a Vegan diet with a little more restriction. Check out the video if you're curious. Author Susan Gregory gives a pretty clear explanation of what the Daniel Fast is all about.

I feel very exposed when I blog about my personal thoughts.  It's safer to just write about other people.  I'll get back to that soon.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Some musings about Santa and December

I love December so much! Santa Claus comes to town, Jesus celebrates his birthday for the 2,000+ time, candles get lit, family gets together, and then the whole thing culminates in a goodbye to 2012.  Although yesterday marked the twins turning 15 months old, which is shocking and scary how fast life is going, I still consider December to be pretty fantastic. My birthday kicks it off, and even though I had to turn an ugly number I still enjoyed getting pampered and shown extra affection by my family and friends. Ryan even bought me a new laptop to mark this birthday. I haven't had a new computer since I was a freshman in college, and it was such a fond memory, getting my own room for the first time in my life, AND a new computer!  So this private treasure brings back fond memories and I'm in love with this thing.  It smells like scotch tape and the keyboard lets me just fly. (I like the smell of scotch tape--can't explain.)

December isn't without hardships, I know. Just last week my dad experienced loss of vision in his right eye, was admitted to the hospital for testing--they feared it was a brain tumor pushing against his optic nerve, or it was caused by a heartattack or stroke. Test results showed nothing like that, so he's going to follow up in Miami with a neuro eye specialist sometime soon. We don't have any answers, and his vision hasn't returned in that spot. Still, our family gets to experience peace that passes all understanding because we have a faith that God is in control of all areas of our lives for any who accept him as their lord (lord means master, boss, authority, fyi).So even in this scary situation, I just remember to look up and trust.  A Christian's life is no less problematic than any other's, we just try to respond in a way that would eventually produce perseverance and endurance.  And since this is a a blog about December, I feel compelled to share with any interested that God loves you and me equally, every nation, every background, every religious practice, every color, and every lifestyle, with a greater love than we can even understand. He gave his only son to us, the "reason for the season", and the story of Christmas is a beautiful, tragic, and triumphant thing. From a mother's perspective, the thought of giving my baby away to be ultimately tortured and killed is a horrific thought.

Anyway. That's another blog. 

December is fun because my siblings are all together at some point, we get to sing and harmonize and laugh together, ring the salvation army bell, I can share my babies with them, and it makes me all warm and fuzzy.  In Key West December is fun because we get to pretend like it's cold, and we can wear jeans without leaving butt sweat marks on them. We can bring northern smells like pine and cider and cinnamon into the house.  Palm trees, rooftops, and windows all over the island get lit up and even the ugliest houses and yards can look magical (from a distance). Conchtrains are decorated and twinkle with Christmas lights as they pass at night, bringing locals around to see the transformation and sing Christmas carols. Church attendance is up. People who don't usually think about Jesus at all have a chance to pause and reflect on his birth.  And I think that makes Jesus happy, so it makes me happy too.


Being a mom in December is super fun too. I get permission to buy toys and gifts for people, I get to send pictures of my gorgeous family out in the hopes that you will put us on your refridgerator, I get to pretend like magic has infiltrated our house and elves fly at night, reporting to Santa all of the doings of the day.   When we adopted our Elf on the Shelf two years ago, Luke named him Frisbee. Every morning it's the first thing Juliette says, still rubbing her eyes and letting them adjust to the lights in the hall, "Where's Fisbee?" And my two munchkins run up and down the house, helping each other , working together to find where he's hiding. He's not mischievious as some of your kooky elves are. Thankfully he doesn't knit or eat all of our food or toilet paper the bathroom. He's all business. And in case you don't know, the business of a scout elf is simply to fly to the north pole each night and report to Santa, then return home again, never talking to the family you live with or let them touch you, else your magic will diminish (Santa's rules).  If you haven't jumped on the elf wagon, I highly recommend it.


 Luke is in 1st grade. I've been thinking a lot the past few days about the Santa stuff. I know some parents who never kept up the fascade with their kids. When the kid asked, "Is Santa real?" the parents just told them the truth. The good parents will then warn and threaten their child with severe consequences if they run and tell the other children. And I really appreciate that, for my kids' sake.

My mother, on the other hand, lied. And lied. And lied. I had suspicion, reasonable doubt, and facts (like Toys R Us receipts, how tired my parents seemed every Christmas morning) but I didn't want to stop believing. When I asked my mom to please tell me the truth, she pulled me real close and said, "Ok, you're old enough to know the truth...the elves are not real. That's just silly stuff for little kids. But Santa definitely is real. He just gets toy donations from hundreds of stores to fill the requests."


So I went on another year or two hoping she wasn't a liar.   I was afraid to ask her again, and afraid to ask my friends because I knew what their answer would be, and I really wanted Santa to be real.  I went back and forth, but by 6th grade I was ready to let him go into the fantasy graveyard, where he now rests peacefully between the graves of the toothfairy and Peter Cottontail. It was hard to comes to terms with the fact that my mother lied straight to my face, without a blink. I know, 6th grade is old. You must think me the foolish little girl who dreamed that it could happen. But I'd like to think it wasn't foolish so much as hopeful. And for many years after, I was secretly disappointed in my mom. She was supposed to be one of the most trustworthy adults in my life. And you may still be chuckling that I was in 6th grade when I let it all go, but the laugh is on you, because my Christmas's were more magical because of my delusion. I was also blessed to experience many many more years of his magic because I had 4 younger siblings. 


As a mother now, entering the "santa years", I can appreciate my mother's reasons. For her it marked the end of a sweet area of our childhood, and she didn't want it to happen. Watching your babies grow is beautiful, but bittersweet.  It's hard to swallow that Luke is 6 and reading chapter books, and doesn't need me to read them to him anymore. Little Juliette, barely 4, tells me not to worry, when she's married she and her husband will still visit me. Jackson and Lincoln are 15 months, walking, eating pizza, laughing at my antics, and trying to communicate in some crazy toddler speak. And I don't think I want them to grow anymore. I would like to freeze their ages and hear Juliette say things like, "can I wayor the pink sess? it's adoeeyble" and "mommy's favit colo is feen" and "I see a "wed fyo fuk (fire truck..."r's"and consonant blending difficulties)  When the day comes that Luke asks me about the ugly Santa truth, I'll probably evade the question, I will redirect, I will try to keep the magic alive, but if he asks me point blank, I'll also respect him enough to tell him the truth--I think.  Someday.  For now, in this December, I'll try really hard to focus on the present-- the beautiful moments I get to live each day with my family and these adorable kids.  And while the magic lasts, I will soak it up, bottle it up, and keep it safe until next December.