Just in case you haven't heard the news, I will be giving up Facebook for Lent (which will be Feb. 13-Mar. 31). I know, what am I thinking? Well, follow this link to a post from my friend Jennifer that is a great explanation of my heart behind doing this for Lent (and hers, too. She will also be giving up Facebook for Lent, so we can lean on each other over these next 40 days!!!!)
I will admit that I enter these 40 days with nervous excitement. I'm nervous because I am not sure I can really do it. Seriously, the first thing I do every morning is reach for my phone, turn off my alarm, and check facebook. I know, it's a disease! One of my fears is that I will be missing out on what's going on in every one's life. I will have no clue what is going on from here to the other side of the world. Of course, I am sure every one's lives will continue just fine without me (a lesson I'm pretty sure I need to learn!) I am excited because I know that God will do something big (to me at least) in my heart in these days without facebook. I will be able to spend more undivided time with my husband and kids, and I'll be able to devote more time to completing the devotional on James that I know the Lord has asked me to write. And I can't even imagine how much those two things will change my life over the next 40 days! Again, I am reminded of Isaiah 58 and what it says about fasting. Still not sure all that it means, other than, if all I do is fast and learn a lot of head knowledge about God, but don't take any action based on what I've learned, then I was not fasting the way God asked. I should not be the only beneficiary of my time of fasting. Anxious to see how God will use this time, not only to draw me closer to Him, but also to serve others in His name.
Oh, but the change doesn't stop there. My friend Jennifer (the same friend from above) also read the book "7:An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess" by Jen Hatmaker and our families have finally met to decide how we want this to take shape in our lives. Here is what we're planning to do in the next few months, based on the areas of excess found in the book "7":
Starting Feb. 25, we will be recycling families! Now, many of you probably recycle already and this seems to be no big deal to you...but...I've never recycled in my life and the whole thing, while exciting, seems a little overwhelming. But, Kevin is pretty excited about this, too, and seems to have a better grasp of it, so I am hoping that will make it a smooth transition. I'll admit, when I saw this was something in the book, I was a bit puzzled at first. But, she made such a great point that I don't think I have ever heard in any Christian circles before. If God created this planet, every tree, plant, animal, etc, isn't it our duty as His heirs to do the best we can to preserve and protect it in a manner worthy of the Creator? There are many ways to do this, but this is the way we thought would be best for our families. We're looking forward to a fun kick-off so we can get the kids excited about recycling, too (after all, they're big enough to throw their own trash away, so they're big enough to sort it for recycling, too!)
No, I am not brave enough to only eat 7 certain foods for a month, and there's no way I would ask my kids to do that! And, since I want my kids to participate as well, we needed to find an alternative! So, every Monday in the month of March we will be getting together with the Humiston family to have a meal from a different country, learn about that country, and have a meal that some of the poorest in that country would eat. Since we wanted it to be something we knew we'd be capable of pulling off, we picked countries we knew we either already had recipes from, or could get recipes easily. We will be looking at the countries of Romania, Africa, Haiti, and China. I am so excited and can't wait for this! Oh, how I pray my family, children included, develops a heart for the least of these (both those who are physically and financially the least of these, and those who are spiritually the least of these!)
For the month of April we have decided that our families will give up TV. Now, we don't have cable or anything, but we do watch our fair share of Netflix, Amazon Prime, and DVD's. We'll be saying goodbye to all of that for the month of April. Did I mention that EVERYONE in my house except me has a birthday in April? Please don't buy any of them movies! Again, this is something I am both nervous and excited about. I know that we will grow so much closer as a family, but I know that it will be the most difficult for me. I enjoy the time in the afternoon when they rest watching a movie because I can fold laundry, watch some Everybody Loves Raymond or Psych, and just chill! I also love to sit and watch a show with Kevin at the end of the day, sort of a mini-date each night. This will be a big effort on my part to be less selfish and look for ways to love on my family in this time of no TV. I can easily see one way this will help us fulfill Isaiah 58---more time for serving others!!!!
I am looking the most forward to this one!!! In the month of May (with the possible exception of Mother's Day weekend because it's the children's choir musical and there's nothing we can do about that!) we will be observing the Sabbath as the family. We haven't totally decided what this will look like, yet, but the idea is to spend time preparing our hearts for worshipping God. Our Sabbath will begin with our evening meal on Saturday night and end Sunday evening. The only activities we will be doing are those involving church (Sunday morning worship, children's choir, small group). This will be a time for us as a family to spend focusing on God and the many ways He deserves our praise. (I think that I like this so much because I am infatuated with any and all Jewish traditions and, as you know, Sabbath was given by God to the Israelites to give them a time to rest from the day to day activities and refocus on Him, the one thing that is truly important.) We aren't quite sure what these meals and the 24 hours of Sabbath will look like, but I can't wait to start (and I am kind of hoping it's something we keep on doing, even after May is over....maybe not every week, but at least once a month.) We're hoping to be able to end the month with our families camping together to rest in God's beautiful creation!
Something additional I (and I think Kevin will join me) will be doing this month is 7 daily, scheduled prayer times. I will be taking 7 (OK, maybe only 6---one of them is at midnight and I have to sleep sometime, right?) specific times each day to cease whatever I am doing and bow my head in prayer. I am in the process of researching a few different books that will serve as a guide in this process.
Now, if you read 7, you realize there are 3 more areas that we haven't highlighted. Those areas are clothing, spending, and possessions. As families, we chose not to make a whole month to focus on these three areas because we feel like these are areas we are already constantly working on. We regularly go through our clothing and give away what we don' need or can't wear. We also do the same with our possessions on a fairly regular basis. Both families have also already worked to get our budgets down as much as we can, so we didn't feel the need to focus on that, either. (Though, I may need to choose a month and have no buying books for that month, unless it's a school book, because I love books!!!)
So, as you can tell, we've got a pretty exciting, scary, hopefully life-changing next few months stretching in front of us. We'd appreciate your prayers in several ways:
--Pray that God will continue to guide us as we take each step in this process.
--Pray that God will show us how we can live out Is. 58 with this fast, so that we're not the only ones to benefit from this fast.
--Pray that God will use this in a powerful way in our children's lives. I have no idea what all they will learn from this, but I know that God will do something in their hearts!
--Pray that God will move in a mighty way in the parent's hearts, as well. May He use this time to draw us closer as individuals, couples, and families.
--Pray that this doesn't become legalistic to us, but a new way to learn about and worship our amazing God!
I'll be trying to keep a journal of sorts about our journey here on the blog, so even in those 40 days while I won't be on facebook, check back here once a week or so and see how things are going!