23 February 2015

Fasting Bread...for Lent

Right after college I first became familiar with the idea of fasting more personally when I went to Medjugorje. Although this Marian apparition site is not officially approved by the Church, I still am grateful for my experience of going there and how much it strengthened my faith. 

One of the 5 weapons the Blessed Mother recommends against evil is through her messages is fasting (oh great!) on bread and water both on Wednesdays and Friday. Whenever I had fasted in the past, it always seemed by lunch time I was craving a cheeseburger with a chocolate or something equally delicious.

But when I was in Medjurgorje, I really began to think about fasting differently. This and that book really helped challenge me and stretch me on this ancient spiritual practice. When I came home, I actually for time did fast on bread and water once a week. Though it is not something I still live out in my spiritual life, I was re-reminded of its great power when Jim told me on Wednesday's of Lent he wanted to fast on bread and water.

So on our Saturday date night, we decided to put some aprons on and make a batch of fasting bread...
This recipe was taken from Sr. Emmanuel's book, "Healing and Liberation Through Fasting". Its very hearty and sustains one who is fasting on bread and water.

3 cups white flour
4 cups wheat flour
1 package of yeast
1/2 cup of warm water
2 cups boiling water
1 beaten egg
1 tablespoon salt
2 tablespoons sugar or honey
2 tablespoons of olive oil
1 teaspoon butter
1 cup raisins
1 cup almonds or walnuts (we didn't have any but used dried cranberries instead)
1 cup plain oats
1// In a medium sized bowl, dissolves yeast in 1/2 cup of warm water. Cover with plate and wait a few minutes until bubbly.

2// In a large bowl, combine the flours, Make a well in the flour and add the yeast mixture. Mix just slightly.

3// Again use the medium bowl to combine the salt, sugar, melted butter, oil, raisins, nuts or dried cranberries, 1 beaten egg, and 2 cups of boiling water. Pour this over the yeast mixture. Knead the dough, adding flour and water as needed.
Adding some holy water from our bad a@$
St. Michael the Archangel sprayer

punching also is a great alternative to kneading...

4// Knead the dough until comes clean from the bowl. Cover the bowl with a plate and let it rise for 10 minutes. Knead a little bit more.

5// Place mixture in a well greased bowl and cover, letting it rise until doubled in size (about 45 minutes).

6// Form in loaves. We got two large loaves out of the mixture.

7// Place on greased pan. Brush the top with any remaining egg and sprinkle with oats or poppy seeds, if desired.

8// Bake at 375 for 35 minutes

Fasting is like spiritual dynamite, it has great power. It is a weapon, a tool against all the evil and temptations we are up against in this world. Just watching my husband take up this ancient spiritual practice has reminded of the great power fasting and prayer have together...and why it is something to practice in living the Christian life.

Goodbye cheeseburgers and malts, hello hearty fasting bread!! :)

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18 February 2015

40 days of Affirmations

Ash Wednesday. The day where on more occasion I have been asked a) what is the black stuff on my forehead and b) did I walk into a chimney? #truestory

So anyway back to the title...

This Lent, I'm doing a unique twist to the almsgiving piece. This year I am sending 40 notes to 40 different young people who are alumni of youth ministry programs I worked in. Each day of Lent, a different young person will get a note in the mail from me. I am really excited to do this and think its an awesome way to re-connect the alumni back to their parish community. It is also cool for me to reflect and think about the special, unique memories I have of the different teens I have worked with over the last 8 years. And there have been a lot.

People can be so negative in today's world and really who doesn't need a little more affirmation and encouragement? Young adults away at college especially need support while trying to balance college life with being a disciple of Jesus. Excited to see what happens with this little experiment of 40 days of affirmations:)

What about you? What are your Lenten plans for prayer, fasting, and almsgiving?

Where I'm hanging out for the next 40 days...

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16 February 2015

Something Beautiful for God

I have always loved Mother Teresa. Growing up, she was one of my favorites. I remember as a small child watching early documentaries of her work in Calcutta as she began to be known around the world. While some of it was graphic for a little girl, I was captured. Something inside of me has always been drawn to that sweet little nun on a very deep level.

Saturday night I was looking for a book to read while Jim snored away in bed. I guess the Valentine's Day dinner/dance really wore him out. I am kinda a book nerd and like to organize books by categories on the shelves. #dontjudge I came across my "Mother Teresa" section and it felt like I was sitting down for a chat with a dear friend.

As I was sitting in the living room amid my Mother Teresa book collection, I turned one book over to see the above quote, which is one I have always loved. The notion of doing 'something beautiful for God' is an idea that has always caused me to think about and reflect on what I want my life to be about. The love behind all of my words and actions is my 'something beautiful to God'. At the end of life, it doesn't matter how money you made or bestsellers you never wrote, but how much love is put in the little, daily actions and interactions of life.

What is my something beautiful to God? Its loving the difficult people in my life...being patient and kind to Jim when I'd rather slap him silly...less mindless living, more purposeful living...sharing faith and encouragement with others...allowing the joys and sorrows of life to make me stronger...
Ultimately my something beautiful for God is a life lived well; loving God and loving others. To some it can be seen as a humble offering, but to God it is treasure chest of precious jewels.

Mother Teresa once said, "I am a little pencil in the hand of a writing God, who is sending a love letter to the world." Each of our own lives is that little pencil Mother Teresa is talking about. God tells the most amazing stories through the lives of His children, just read the Bible! Our lives can be a letter that tells a story to the world about the amazing power of God and share our own healing/transformation through it.

Every life has a story to tell. Me? I am still sorting through and writing that story out. But I know the letter God writes to this world through my own life will be something wild, precious, and rare...and whatever it is at the end of the my life will still be something beautiful for God.

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10 February 2015

50 Shades & Lies to Women

I find it incredibly ironic that a movie coming out on St. Valentine's Day promotes the total opposite of what true love looks like.

Yup, I'm talking about 50 Shades of Grey.

As opening day draws near for this movie, I have spent a lot of time thinking about the lies this supposedly freeing, liberating film/book series is telling women of all ages....

1. Romanticizes sexual violence against women

2. Sex is all about pleasure and being selfish

3. Sex is about using another person for your own desires

4. You have to change yourself and compromise your boundaries to get a guy

5. If you do not meet a man's sexual desires and wants, there is something wrong with you

6. Relationships are all about power and control

7. Manipulation apparently now equals romance

8. Purity is seen as a challenge to be conquered and overtaken

9. You to be sexual with a man in order to matter or be of worth to him

10. Men looking at porn is bad but this new thing of "mommy porn" is now completely acceptable and okay

11. Sexual morality is viewed in shades of grey rather than black or white

12. True love is about using another person

13. People are disposable...when you're done with them, just throw them away

14. Pornography is acceptable

15. There is no concern for the other person

I know there could be many more listed, but these are the ones that have gotten me thinking.

I don't know about you but the positive, upbeat publicity this movie and book series is getting just makes me sad. I am sad and angry that our culture is glamorizing pornography, sexual violence, and sexual addiction. It is disgusting on so many levels.

On Friday I will be spending some time praying for all those people who will go see this movie...will you consider joining me?

Seriously.Consider doing this...I know I am!

03 February 2015

Fasting from Social Media...Say what?!?

I chose a word to define 2015 for me. With the help of these little gems, I've also crafted three goals to work on: greater simplicity in home/life/possessions, continue to prioritize my physical health, and moving from mindless living to purposeful living.

 A huge part of purposeful living for me is being aware and honest with myself of the ways I waste time. And I've gotta be honest here, I have a tendency to waste a lot of time on good ol' social media. Sure its an awesome, powerful tool but sometimes there can be to much of a good thing. I am starting to see how my constant social media use has perhaps gotten a smidgen out of whack. I really don't need to be checking my e-mail or Facebook first thing in the morning, last time I checked I wasn't THAT big of a deal. I often will be watching a 30 minute show on Netflix or TV and find I just "have" scroll through Facebook to see what's new and happening...you know its bad when your husband notices it too. And apparently my addiction to tweeting and graming is even bad for my brain. Surprise, surprise.

 When I am more intentional of how I use social media, I manage my time better and focus more on what truly matters...I am able to do more of what fires me up. So one action step of my third goal was once a month to have an entire weekend fasting from any social media. This past weekend was my first time doing it. I didn't flunk out but I didn't pass with flying colors either. By late Friday afternoon I was chomping at the bit and managed to wonder on Facebook twice. Saturday I did great and found the disconnect relaxing and peaceful...go figure I was able to be more present to other things I did. Sunday was good until the Super Bowl came on...and then it went downhill. I rationalized going on Instagram because while Jim was yelling at the TV I needed something to occupy my time.

Okay, so my 72 hour fast wasn't a full 72 hours, but I am REALLY glad I did it.

What did I learn???
1. Intentional significant breaks from social media are refreshing and good for my soul. I can focus more on what really matters and I was blown away just at being aware how much time I can easily waste mindlessly on social media. I need a break from the noise of the world; from being overly concerned about what others think about me, feeling like I have to keep up with others, or how many likes a picture on Instagram gets.

2. I am going to continue doing weekend media fasts...but I actually do plan to follow through for the whole 72 hours. It wasn't a total sham, but this first weekend has fueled me up to better the next time!

3. I was reminded sometime this past Saturday (the one full day I wasn't on social media) that in all the Gospel accounts it talks of Jesus going away to a quiet place. Even Jesus had to get away from all the people and noise of the world, He needed to connect with what truly mattered most, a personal relationship with His Father. We all need to re-charge our batteries. And what I've been reminded of is that constantly being connected to the world through social media can distract me from what matters most in the world. And for me that is knowing Jesus...hearing Him call me by name...allowing myself to be reminded of my dignity and worth...wasting time with Him in silence and quiet.

We all want to be a part of a community and be connected to people through meaningful relationships. But that need to always be connected to the world has started to wear on my soul a bit, and even if I don't do it perfectly, I know retreating from being SO connected actually makes my life richer and more meaningful.

What things do you do to be more intentional and focused in using social media? How do you make time for social media without allowing it to control you?
I'm all ears!

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