One of the things I love about participating in a church-wide fast is that a large proportion of people are on the same journey. We choose different things from which to abstain. We are not legalistic, because life must be lived. But the unity that comes in assuming (mostly correctly) that everyone is fasting something offers a huge sense of camaraderie. On days when it just feels too hard that camaraderie is gold.
In our church, we are constantly reminded that we are denying ourselves of something natural so that we become hungry for the supernatural. We are leaning in and challenging the things that weigh heavy on our hearts, in the supernatural, to see breakthrough; to see God's goodness in the land of the living (Ps 27:13). We have personal stuff and we have corporate stuff. And we are pausing; waiting for God to move as we sit and breathe in the stillness and quiet.
As I have been working on doing better with sustained, focused prayer I have been finding the following things helpful.
Ann Voscamp's Lent devotional 'Trail to the Tree' reminds me to stop and linger in the Word.
Discovery Church's leaderhip blog helps me to take a fresh perspective on long familiar stories of the Bible and grows my understanding of God.
I'm learning to be still. To push through the distractions in my own mind. To claim the power I have because Jesus shed his blood for me to be able to do that. To pray with authority and wisdom. I am learning to wait and inhale and trust. We are still busy with life but this season feels set aside. Holy.
Last week we had a major first. It felt bigger than all the other first's we've had, but perhaps I'm forgetting the magnitude of all the other milestones.
Last week Miss Sunshine got her driver's license. She was ecstatic. I was ecstatic. We have worked very hard for her to get her 120 hours of experience in the space of 12 months. She was a bit of a slow starter. I took her down a quiet road just to get used to steering and stopping and going. In her early days she began with a bit of stand-off on the front verandah with her Dad.
Dad: You WILL get in the car!
Miss S: No, Dad, I don't want to drive
Dad: YOU WILL get in the car!
and so on....Dad won.
Last Wednesday my very reluctant learner driver hopped in my car and took herself off to work. By herself. As she left she said "I'm going now Mum". And I panicked.
Me: But who's going to remind you to go slow round those corners?
Miss S: Mum, I'll be fine.
Me: Who's going to remind you to do 60 on that dirt road, because 80 isn't safe?
Miss S: Mum, really, I know!
Me: But you've never done this before by yourself. I'm not ready!
Miss S: Bye Mum...I'll be fine.
And off she went. Just like that. By herself.
The photo above is evidence she arrived safely, not that we heard that from her. The photo was put on facebook by her uncle, for whom she works.
As she was due to come home I sent her a text: "watch out for the roos and wombats that will try to jump out at you." There was a dead wombat along part of that road yesterday morning....it happens around here.
I'm still not ready. A 45 minute drive to Uni looms in her very near future. So, so not ready!
In my last post I mentioned that our annual church-wide fast has begun. This year we are going well beyond the usual 21 days, and going the full 40 days of Lent. I'm so glad we dipped our toes into fasting with a mere three week effort! Because we know what to do now, we're using the framework of the Daniel Fast again. So far I have not had any "I need a cup of teeeaaaaa" (imagine whining here) or "I just want a CRACKER!" (my children were afraid...gritted teeth, clenched fists) moments, as I did last year. Although crackers do look very enticing. And hot cross buns. Did you know how good those otherwise harmless little buns smell in their plastic bags on the supermarket shelf, when you're walking past, and you can't eat them? Let me tell you - really dang good!
This afternoon as we were returning from picking Mr Busy up from a meeting at church we stopped off at a strawberry farm that was boasting "5kg for $10". Dh was unable to resist and a box came home with us. Mr Busy and Miss Sunshine dove in right there in the car. After all the hype about getting Hepatitis A from frozen berries you'd think they would pause for a moment and ask if it was OK. But no. Apparently our dirt is familiar dirt and they are happy to eat it. So we have strawberries for eating and freezing and making into smoothies. Most of them will be frozen because the rain and heat have made a lot of them a little spongy. I can't wait to try Shauna Niequist's "Blueberry Crisp" recipe...with strawberries instead. It will be our post-fast first dessert, I think. I love that Shauna's recipe calls for maple syrup as the sweetener in the "crisp", rather than sugar so I'm looking forward to trying it.
Meanwhile, a plate of vegies for dinner: potato, sweet potato, corn, carrots, green beans, cauliflower and broccoli. Just....Yum (really, truly!).
Internet Siberia is where you end up when your family has outgrown its data limits. It is a dark, cold world in which you have little to no access to....anything. No access to emails, university enrolments, job advertisements and applications, favourite blogs. Nothing. We have been living on a restricted diet of hot-spotted data off our phones for the twice-a-day email check and a couple of other urgent things. Our plan had us paying extra for exceeding our limits, rather than just going slow. The extra costs are exorbitant.
It has been about two weeks. We were desperate people!
Our Knight-in-Shining-Armour (Dh) has organised us into unlimited data and, with a computer techie friend, managed to bring us back from the brink of our desperation last night. These, my friends, are the heroes of the modern world. The people who do crazy things like double degrees and PhD's in computer stuff and then they come riding along on their bike on just the right evening to weave their knowledgeable magic and fix all the things. I don't know what things. But just all of them.
During those two weeks life has been whizzing along, as life does. Here's a quick update...
Miss Sunshine has her driver's license and is now driving herself off to work. Without me. I'm not ready for this development, but she seems to think it's perfectly reasonable. What would she know?
I've had my first day in the classroom as a bona fide teacher, doing relief teaching. I spent the day with a gorgeous little group of Prep/Year 1's, one of whom was my niece. Adorable. It just felt so completely right.
We have begun our 40 Day Fast at church, which ends just before Easter. Fruit and vegies and wholegrains are to be our best friends for the next little while.
My foot is nearly 100% healed from its snarling little allergic reaction. I am now a lover of 'old lady' shoes that have good arch support. Scoff if you will. Feet are important.
And I have been applying for jobs. One of which is in the school where I did my rounds at the end of last year. I am praying with all the fervency I can muster that this is "the one". It is a maternity leave position in a Prep classroom. In a Christian School. This is my dream job and my God is in the business of answering the deepest prayers of his children's hearts. So I am believing for good things. But 53 applications (and counting) has a way of knocking the confidence out of you.
I'm off to catch up with all my favourite blog friends, and everything I've missed over the last two weeks...
Finally, today it has all come together in our house. Miss Mischief is back from her VCE retreat and I took both her and Mr Busy to school together. At the same time. And we made it before the first bell today. Tomorrow we're aiming for 8.20 - it seems like moving our departure back 10 minutes a day is more do-able.
Because I have lost the ability to leave the house effectively and efficiently it seems other members of the family are struggling with this skill as well. I discovered Mr Busy's sandwich on the bench when I got home this morning. *sigh* It's rubbing off. It was a good excuse to go an visit everyone at an off-site location where the whole school was doing fun stuff together, so I drove his lunch over (not far away) and he was on me before I reached the group. Grateful, and hungry!
Tomorrow's goal: leave the house at 8.20am with everyone lunched and snacked up for the day.
We made it through our first day at school today. But again, remembering how to get out of the house. It's a whole thing. I was aiming for 8.30am. Tomorrow I'll aim for 8.20. Perhaps then we'll get there before the bell. I shoved Mr Busy out of the car just as the bell rang this morning. Me apologising, him slamming the door and walking fast. Easy to do at 6ft+.
I managed to make it, on time, to meet with one of the pastors at church, and she has agreed to help me with my bored and brain mush problems. Actually she says I'm helping her, but we both know that's only a half truth. I cannot tell you how many times I said "yep, I've done that before" or "oh, I already know how to do that", or "I just did that". She thinks she's won the jackpot and all the other pastors are jealous. Both the Senior and Youth pastors offered to take me off her hands. Such gentlemen! Anyway, my brain mush is starting to fade and I may very well make it back to the land of quick thinking. It seems more possible now.
At the other end of my body, though, resides a very snarly foot, which is doing its darnedest to keep me mushy-brained. I say snarly because it is swollen, red and very angry. It alternates between itchy and painful; the result of an acute allergic reaction to medical adhesive tape. Note to self: there is no tolerating medical type tapes any more. None. Not a little bit or sometimes. None. I'm taking a photo diary for my physio. I have been prescribed some heavy-duty antihistamine and cortisone medications along with rest.
And now, even though I need to keep my foot up, I need to do some things so we can eat dinner tonight. Before I drift off. Apparently the drug I need to deal with my immune system, that keeps you awake, is no match for heavy-duty antihistamine. I don't think I'll need too much help with that rest. Thank you phenergan! (actually I hate the stuff, which tells me I'm desperate!)
Today has been a day! So far I have attempted to leave my house three times - I have one more to go.
Miss Sunshine woke me up at 8.45am to tell me we had to go in 10 minutes. I raised my just-woken-up head from the pillow and questioned where we needed to go. I had promised to pick up her best friend and take them down to the movie cinema. Apparently. Maybe I vaguely remember something about that, but really, at 8.45am?? What was she thinking?
I had to go back and pick the girls up from the cinema. At the time I should have been there I realised I shouldn't have been at home. Talk about panic...I raced out the door yelling "I'm going to get Miss S....I'll be baaaccckkkk".
I popped in to the mum of Miss Sunshine's friend when we dropped her off. We're chat-chat-chatting and then at 1.05pm I suddenly went "OH NO, I shouldn't be here. I have to go out!" Miss Sunshine sorted out L Plates and such and off we went. I got home, grabbed all my bits and pieces and rushed out the door with an apple and a banana because God made great fast food.
Good news though: the girls got to their movie a little late but thanks to advertising didn't miss a second. I remembered to pick them up and was there before they got out. And I made it to work on time, and since they moved the meeting time back half an hour I had time to catch up, eat a banana (because who has time to eat when they need to leave the house yesterminute?), have a drink and set myself up.
People, it is really bad when you realise you no longer have the ability to leave the house in order to get to all the places. I need to be at the physio at 9am tomorrow. I'll probably be awake at 4am worrying about whether or not I'll remember to wake up, get up and get there.
I have now done all the work I have planned for the year - presenting a PD to my former colleagues. I need a job. I wander about the house moaning "I'm soooooo bored", but then when I have something to do I can't figure out how to get there. And now I need to leave in 30 minutes...and the child I have to take needs food.
Jesus please help my brain come back. None of us can operate if my brain falls over.