40 Days

Simply put, Lent is a period of fasting which leads up to Easter. It recalls the 40-day fast of Jesus in the wilderness. It begins on Ash Wednesday and ends right before Good Friday. The purpose of Lent is to be a period of fasting, self-denial, spiritual growth, and simplicity. Essentially, Lent is a spiritual spring cleaning for Christians. It is a time to eliminate things that hinder our personal relationships with Jesus Christ and our service to Him.

2012 was the first year that I participate in Lent. Some denominations do not put as much emphasis on this season as others, and I grew up attending a church that didn’t press the importance of fasting and self-denial during Lent. Feeling the need to spiritually spring clean, I decided that I would observe it on my own.

Many people choose to give up an array of things during these 40 days. Most people select their favorite foods, while others decide to fast from certain habits. My obvious choice for 2012 was to give up peanut butter. Anyone who knows me (and my family) knows that we have an addiction to Peter Pan peanut butter. We use it as a condiment, we eat is as a protein, we add it onto our desserts… but we are most known for sitting down with a jar and a spoon, and enjoying just it with an ice-cold glass of milk. Giving up all brands and types of peanut butter was a true challenge. I craved it for weeks. Each time I wanted it, I prayed. I found myself speaking to God literally every hour of the day because that is how often I wanted a spoonful. Lent proved to be extremely effective.

For 2013, I pondered giving it up again… but decided that I needed to be more creative in my selection this year. I then considered the “Real Food” pledge, where I would eliminate all proceeds food from my diet. The pledge is to eat only whole grain, fresh fruits and veggies, locally raised meats, nuts and seeds, limited beverages, and no refined sweeteners, including granular sugar. I’m sure to a lot of folks, this could seem like a drastic measure. However, I already eat this way 99% of the time. Although denying myself peanut butter and non-organic foods for 40 days would certainly prove its point again, I felt like there were other things hindering my personal relationship with Jesus. Actually… there was one specific thing.

I have to admit that I have an addiction greater than that of peanut butter, but it isn’t in food. It’s a habit. I abuse the use of my iPhone. At night, it is right by my pillow. I use it’s alarm to wake me in the mornings. As soon as I turn the alarm off, I am checking Facebook and Twitter, my email, and Game Center (because I have several on-going games with friends). I spend at least an hour in the mornings on various apps. Throughout the day, I am constantly checking in, updating, scrolling, and pinning to the point of ignoring friends, co-workers, and family. It doesn’t stop until I am lying in bed at night… and even then, I can stay awake longer than I should if there is a good Google + chat going on.

At first, I tried to talk myself out of giving up my phone for Lent. I had every excuse in the book. What if someone urgently needed to reach me? When I travel to Haiti, how will I communicate with family? How will I let folks know where I am if I don’t Foursquare my location? The more I tried to talk myself out of it… the more apparent that I needed an intervention from the one thing that consumed a large portion of my life.

After many prayers, I realized that I can set my own rules, as long as they were drastic enough to refocus my brain, heart, and time… and help me spring clean my spirit. I don’t have to give up my iPhone entirely… but I do need to give up a large portion of it. This is what I will be fasting from and denying myself to in the next 40 days:

– My iPhone will NOT be within my reach while I’m in bed.
– I will not access ANY games.
– I will only have access to Facebook, Google +, Instagram, and Twitter from any device for one hour per day, probably 8-9pm (although the time may vary when in Haiti.)
– I will not use Get Glue, Foursquare*, or Pinterest.

– I will still answer phone calls, emails, and text messages when time permits. I plan to only respond to emails twice a day, unless there is an emergency. I do still plan to blog, also when time permits. I want to stop my iPhone dependency, live more simply, and spend free time reading books and in prayer.
*I will allow myself to check into MIA & CLT airports ONLY during my travel for my family.

The next 40 days are not going to be easy, but they are going to be worth the sacrifice.

Are you giving up something for Lent? Please comment below. I would love to pray for you during this time!

 

No Boundaries

I did it!! I just signed up for the No Boundaries 5K Training at my local Fleet Feet. I’m so excited!

I have participated in many charity 5Ks over the past 5 years. I’ve never had the intention of running them. I would occasionally jog but I was primarily there to have a leisurely stroll with friends, while raising awareness and funds for the nonprofit hosting the event.

For the last 12 months, I have had an unsettling desire to become a runner. Yes, me… the girl who once said I’d only run if something was chasing me. Since my dad’s heart attack, I’ve looked for ways to become healthier internally. Of course, losing a few pounds on my outward appearance would be nice too, but I really want my heart to be in top shape. In all the research, and in all of the prayers, the only answer I only received one answer — RUN! Of course, I laughed it off the first few months. Me, a runner? I have bad knees. I don’t have the time. I’m not disciplined enough. I can’t find good running shoes at an affordable price. You name it, I had an excuse.

Recently, I acquired a brand new pair of Nike Air Max Ultras – a $160 pair of shoes – for a mere $45. How? Long story… but in a nutshell, there is an undisciplined teenaged boy who isn’t getting to play basketball because he can’t keep his grades up. His parents were so serious about not letting him play until he did better academically, that they sold his new kicks. I was the lucky recipient.

I also have a friend who committed to running. She has done so well that, on her third 5K this weekend, she finished 3rd in her class with a under a 9-minute mile. She looks great and has become a huge source of inspiration for me. She invited me to join her in The Color Run this coming March. I accepted the challenge, then panicked.

I have become a terrible abuser of my time. I have gotten slack about prioritizing. How would I ever get caught up to her speed by March? What have I gotten myself into?

In a random conversation with my hairstylist… she brought up the training sessions at Fleet Feet. I had no idea that literally, around the corner from work, was a company who specializes in training runners. This is exactly what I need. A coach, and fellow beginning runners, to run alongside me and encourage me… in a location that is extremely convenient to me, at a time that is perfect for my schedule. Hallelujah!!

Could it be? My dream of becoming a runner – a full-fledged, determined, goal-oriented, healthy-hearted runner – are literally withing my reach now? This is big.

I’m not one for making new year’s resolutions. But I am one for grabbing at every chance to change, re-evaluate things, and if need be… start over. 2013 is that for me. A chance to be more more positive, healthier, stronger, and more focused. It’s time to take charge of my schedule again. It’s time to prioritize life. This training will help me, in every aspect. No restrictions. No regrets. No boundaries!