40 Day Sugar Fast

I had hoped to post at the beginning of the fast, but between taking down Christmas and packing for a trip to see the grands (and daughter and her husband), the days slipped by. So I’m writing this as we drive.

I also started an online class by Bible Project on Genesis 1-11. It is my intention to read through the first five books of the Bible at a slower pace this year and Bible Project launched their new classroom program. It’s about 40 hours of instruction with video discussion, notes, and checks for understanding. So far I’m loving it. But it does create the challenge of balancing learning with my writing.

Back to the sugar fast. I’ve been reading out loud to my husband Wendy Speake’s daily devotional from her book. She provides much needed refocus and encouragement.

For traveling we packed apple slices, trail mix, and veggies for snacking. We also have easy to heat up lunches and dinners along the way (the benefit of traveling with our camper). It was a challenge to by pass the rolls when we ate at Texas Road House with friends. But we managed. I find it much easier to stick to the fast with my husband doing it as well. I’m less tempted to cheat because I don’t want to have to tell him I did. Road House menu does provide a good selection of combining a protein with lots of veggies. Thankfully our daughter is on board with the healthy eating reset which making our sugar fast much easier during the visit.

What am I missing most this week? My creamer. I love my morning cup(s) of coffee with Bliss vanilla or carmel creamer. It’s like a cozy hug. Instead I’ve been using unsweetened almond milk with vanilla extract to flavor it. Sigh. But in the spirit of Wendy’s encouragement, I’m trying to let Jesus sweeten my morning and be that which I’m thirsting for.

How are you doing? Have you started? Do you plan to start? I would love the hear. Drop a comment and share your challenges and struggles.

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40 days – Pre Fast

We’ve reached that place again. That arbitrary spot in space as our planet makes its trek around the sun. The moment in time that we’ve marked as our “new year.” A date on the calendar where we feel compelled to begin again, begin fresh, begin new, reboot, restart.

Since the Lord’s mercies are new every morning (Lamentations 3:22-23), we have the same opportunity every day, no matter where we are in space, time, location, season.

And since we’re here right now, now will do.

That all said, my husband and I are using the post holiday time to reclaim our health. Healthy eating. Healthy activity. Healthy mindset. How is it that we so easily get off paths of righteousness (right living) (Provers 12:28)?

A sweet friend from my faith community plans to lead a study starting mid January—The 40 Day Sugar Fast by Wendy Speake. Since we can all use motivation and accountability, I’m in. Sort of. We’ll be traveling when the study starts. But I’ll be there in spirit and purpose. And I’ve already downloaded the book to my kindle and started journaling (because it’s what I do).

The husband and I have used the Whole 30 plan, by Dallas and Melissa Hartwig, in the past to help reboot our eating habits. It seems to work for us in that we don’t feel hungry because the meals are filling and flavorful. It takes a bit of planning, but it focuses more on what we can have rather than on what we can’t. Attitude plays an important role in success.

In the first chapter of Wendy’s book, she says to tell the Lord all the reasons why we can’t go forty days without sugar. So I did.

  • Inconvenience
  • Hard to plan, shop, prepare meals
  • Sugar crashes
  • Carb fever
  • Traveling
  • Gatherings with food
  • Boredom
  • Frustration, disappointment, problems
  • PMS
  • Just to name a few

Wendy then encourages us to let the Lord show us that with Him, it’s possible (Matthew 19:26) and to intentionally turn to the Lord and consume his living Word. Truly He is the Bread of Life (John 6:35) and the Living Water (John 4:10,13).

Ready for some physical and spiritual transformation? Come see what the Lord will do.

Grace & Peace

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Advent Christmas Eve

In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. John 1:4-5 

Christ’s Candle: Light

The fifth candle is placed in the middle of the advent wreath and lit on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day. This candle is white and called the “Christ Candle” because it represents the life, light, and purity of Jesus. He is our perfect, sinless, victorious Savior and Christmas reminds us of the light Jesus brings to the world.

Come now, let us settle the matter," says the Lord. "Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool. Isaiah 1:18
For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Isaiah 9:6
Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. Luke 2:11

At Christmas, we celebrate the fact that God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, Jesus, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16 And that God loved us so much, he came into this world to be Emmanuel, God with us.

The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. John 1:14

May God bless you this Christmas and every Christmas to come.

May the Lord bless you and keep you; may he make his face shine on you and be gracious to you; may the Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace. from Deuteronomy 6:24-26

A couple of Christmas songs celebrating God with Us:

O Come O Come Emmanuel and Emmanuel God with Us

Grace & Peace

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Advent Week Four

Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, "Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests." 
Luke 2:13–14

Angel’s Candle: Peace

During the fourth week of Advent we light the last purple candle in the name of Peace—marking the final week of prayer and penance as we wait for the birth of our Savior. As I mentioned in my post for Advent Week Two, in some traditions, the second and the fourth candles may be interchanged, with peace being the second candle and love/faith being the fourth candle.

Since we lit Bethlehem’s candle of Faith during our second week, this week we will light the Angel’s candle symbolizing peace. The candle reminds us of the message brought to the shepherds in the field that night: “Peace on earth, good will toward men.” The angel announced that Jesus came to bring peace, bringing people close to God and to each other again.

Indeed, Jesus is our peace—God’s plan of reconciliation.

For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.
Colossians 1:19-20

Jesus’ ministry is peace. Throughout his travels, he announced peace for the Kingdom of God was at hand. At the Passover meal with his disciples, Jesus told them that he would soon leave and he comforted them by saying, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid” John 14:27

Jesus’ words are reminiscent of the prophet Isaiah comforting the people of Israel: “You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you.” Isaiah 26:3

During the fourth week of Advent, let us remember, with all thankfulness, to allow the peace of Christ rule in our hearts, since as members of one body we are called to peace. (from Colossians 3:15)

A Christmas song announcing Peace during the season: Angels We Have Heard on High

Grace & Peace

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Advent Week Three

And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. Luke 2:8–11

Shepherd’s candle: Joy

The third candle is called the “Shepherd’s Candle” and symbolizes joy. Rather than purple as the other candles, this candle is pink, the liturgical color for joyfulness and rejoicing. The third Sunday of Advent is also called Gaudete Sunday by some traditions, coming from the Latin word, gaudete, for rejoice.

Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! 
Philippians 4:4

This candle reminds us of the joy the world experiences because of the birth of Jesus. To the shepherd’s great joy, the angels announced that Jesus came for them as well—humble, simple, unimportant. Indeed, Jesus comes to bring joy, faith, and hope to all people. Especially to the least—the tired, discouraged, the blind, the deaf, the lame, the poor, the captive, the oppressed.

And the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to him (Jesus). He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor.” And he rolled up the scroll and gave it back to the attendant and sat down. And the eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him. And he began to say to them, “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.” Luke 4:17-21
The desert will rejoice, and flowers will bloom in the wastelands. The desert will sing and shout for joy; it will be as beautiful as the mountains and as fertile as the fields.
Everyone will see the Lord's splendor, see his greatness and power. Give strength to hands that are tired and to knees that tremble with weakness.
Tell everyone who is discouraged, “Be strong and don't be afraid! God is coming to your rescue, coming to punish your enemies.”
The blind will be able to see, and the deaf will hear. The lame will leap and dance, and those who cannot speak will shout for joy. 
Streams of water will flow through the desert;
Isaiah 35:1-6

We who have been observing Advent can rejoice that we have reached the midpoint in the season of anticipation of Jesus’ birth as we eagerly wait for his future return—a day when all creation will rejoice. Until then, we will sing to the Lord and bless his name, telling everyone everywhere that Jesus Christ has come.

Oh sing to the Lord a new song; sing to the Lord, all the earth!
Sing to the Lord, bless his name; tell of his salvation from day to day.
Declare his glory among the nations, his marvelous works among all the peoples!
For great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised; he is to be feared above all gods. 
Psalm 96:1-4

grace and peace

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