Take a Bite

A few of my journal musings from our 40 day Daniel fast.

Isaiah 58:6-12  “Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke? Is it not to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter— when you see the naked, to clothe them,  and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood? Then your light will break forth like the dawn, and your healing will quickly appear; then your righteousness[a] will go before you, and the glory of the LORD will be your rear guard. Then you will call, and the LORD will answer; you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I.

Day One The internet is alive with Daniel fast recipes, blogs, thoughts, ideas, advice, forums, debates. My aim is to avoid these. (Except for recipe ideas;)  Today I kicked off with barley and spicy tomato soup. Whilst it was for us fasters, the kids devoured it with Emily declaring ‘Mom, you can really cook’!

During this time I aim to allow Him the chance to speak into my life to see if there is anything within that is cluttering up His ‘well spring’ of life

Day Two I realize how a drive thru coffee is part of my psyche.

One of the key areas of praying during this 40 days is to focus on our years. So, Day 5=5 years old etc. The aim is to reflect on and rejoice over or redeem those years. Not unnecessarily digging and searching healed situations, but allow the Spirit to shine light into areas.

Day Three ‘Why are you fasting mom, don’t you know Jesus enough’?

Top tip. Wean off caffeine before the fast. I stopped abruptly, Phil wisely weaned.

Day Four My head rages, my stomach cramps. My malaise body hates me. I’m lethargic. My skin is dry. Time to hit those forums for a minute or two. Yes… Common ‘withdrawal’ symptoms. I really thought I was healthy before this… It feels like a holistic cleanse. As my body reacts and kicks out dependency so do attitudes, behaviors and emotions surface. The light shines brightly on them, a little too brightly.

An uncomfortable place to be.

Day Five I am reminded today of when I started school and felt complete, traumatic separation from my Mom. I remember chasing after her, my stomach churning, tears burning. Separation sickness. Today I pray for those separated.  Those who are apart from loved ones. Those whose hearts are separated from their creator, that they would grasp the truth of the love of Father God. The estranged will be restored.

I’m naming names.                                                                                                                

Day Seven I went to Starbucks with a friend. The Christmas drinks were 2 for 1. The aroma was pounding my every pore. It was a feast to my born again senses. Eggnog, pumpkin spice, peppermint mocha…breathe it in.

Day Eight Headache finally subsided. I cannot believe it! Very worrying…

Day Ten Good grief? I think so.

Day Eleven We are both finding that sleep and waking comes easier, with natural chemicals doing their thing. Sharp as the lemon in my hot water.

Day Twelve Saying no to food at a Mennonite banquet is not acceptable. Particularly when those serving like to ‘Bless the Pastor’ with more. Our children enjoyed the more…

Day Thirteen It’s not a diet it’s a fast!! I’m not eating sugar, bread, any chemical goodness, not drinking anything but water. I don’t know about you but that speaks to me of abstinence.

‘Do you miss a glass of wine in the evening’? ‘No, I miss a cup of tea in the morning’

Day Sixteen Regret. This could crop up across various years. 16 in particular. The coulda been. The what ifs. The if only. Hmmm.  The great Aslan says that “it is not given to man to know what might have been…”       I know my decisions are anticipated whether ignorant or rebellious and I am thankful for a transformed mind in this area. I choose to focus on his grace and power not my limitations and failures. I pray you will grasp the will of God to be thankful for where you find yourself this day. The paralysing effect of regret is not Gods will for your life.

Day Seventeen The year of my salvation. Stopped in my wild tracks and wooed by the lover of soul. I listened. Pursuing an alternative wildness. I’ve valued reflecting on the journey to salvation.

Day Eighteen Away for the night. Godspace. breathe. I realise 18 days in, the fast soon becomes a way of life. Where my body is not reacting to the change as it did. Where cravings are less. I need to push in more. To dig deep into God’s word. Praying breakthrough for the church.

Day Nineteen God’s kingdom, like a water table, lies just below the surface of our lives. May springs break out and wells be opened up. Gerard Kelly

Yes they may. Yes, yes, yes.

Day Twenty Halfway. Whoop.

Day TwentyOne Could quite easily give up now. I think I’d have the ‘what did I miss’ not a guilt trip or a failure thing but I know in a kingdom perspective there is much to be achieved.

So yes, a marathon it is, but Christmas is coming!

Day TwentyThree The busiest 2 weeks of our church life are coming up. If ever there was a time to fast for our church it’s now. As thousands of visitors come through for Living Nativity or Christmas Eve, we pray it’s not only their tradition or a feel good activity but that the presence and light and love of God will shine into hearts.

Day TwentyFour I’m baking cookies. I don’t even lick the spoon… I’m beginning to wonder if I will be changed for good. That this will be my way of life now. This design. Is this the way it should be?

Day TwentySix Psalm 139: 23-24 – Search me God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way of everlasting.

Day Thirty Intentional. Demands are still the same. You have to carve out time. To linger, journal, ponder. That’s the challenge. Or is it? Discipline is discipline.

Day ThirtyFour “The LORD your God is with you, he is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing.” Oh I’m in love. Shhhhh. Can you hear your song? A love song written for you. For some of you it’s not a language you’re used to.  The heart speaks a language of love.

Day ThirtyFive Unprocessed times with Christ have to be priority.

Day ThirtySix I love the personal nature of fasting, the discretion, the understanding of it being a  meaningless spiritual activity without Gods blessing on it. Each individual must discern their own requirement of a fast. For some it’s a day of water, others 3 days of juice, the next person 21 days…  It’s not about how long or how much. Take encouragement from  the Desert Fathers: the hegumen (abbot) would send his monks to their cells far apart from each other in the desert during the fast, so no one knew what the others were or were not doing in this regard. Another cave dweller was Catherine of Siena. She was given to fasting and to the LORD in intimacy and fellowship. Catherine began an active ministry to the poor, the sick, and the imprisoned of Siena. Result.

Be who God meant you to be and you will set the world on fire”

Back to my cave.

Day ThirtySeven Tough day. I’m surrounded by feasting delights. I choose fasting delights for 3 more days.

Day ThirtyEight Advent. Waiting. It’s not about me…

Day Forty Fast complete. Thankful.

Day FortyOne Full.

For You
My response is to get down on my knees before the Father, this magnificent Father who parcels out all heaven and earth. I ask him to strengthen you by his Spirit—not a brute strength but a glorious inner strength—that Christ will live in you as you open the door and invite him in. And I ask him that with both feet planted firmly on love, you’ll be able to take in with all followers of Jesus the extravagant dimensions of Christ’s love. Reach out and experience the breadth! Test its length! Plumb the depths! Rise to the heights! Live full lives, full in the fullness of God. Ephesians 3:17-19

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Oh Danny Boy

Phil and I have just finished a 40 day Daniel fast ending on Christmas eve after our final church service.

Chin Chin.

…..40 days before Christmas, probably not the easiest time to fast, with banquets, meals and parties especially with the wonderful Mennonites.  This will explain to people why we sat with a mountain of veggies at social gatherings, also explaining why you found Phil and I gazing at the meat dishes and inhaling Starbucks christmas specials. Our senses received new life.

We realize it’s not meant to be easy…

The next few posts will be dedicated to the Daniel fast.

Why? What is it? What did we eat? And of course my musings…

Fasting

The Hebrew word for fast means ‘to cover the mouth’

The Greek word for fast means ‘to abstain from food’

Why Fast?

We fast from particular foods during a specified timeframe, so that we might experience clarity, deliverance, guidance in decision-making, breakthrough. Fasting connects us to God in a unique way, beckoning us from the distractions of our lives, inviting us to re-focus on what is most important: our relationship with and obedience to God. When we fast, supernatural happens. In fact, the Bible reminds us that some things only change when we fast and pray (Matthew 17:21) and of course words in Matthew 6  ‘When you fast’ presume it is normal practice for believers.

Onto Daniel…

The Daniel fast is modelled on Daniel of lions den fame, from these verses in particular.

Daniel 1:12 “Please test your servants for ten days, and let them give us vegetables to eat and water to drink.”

Daniel 10:3 “I ate no pleasant food, no meat or wine came into my mouth, nor did I anoint* myself at all, till three whole weeks were fulfilled.”

*you’ll be relieved to know anointing continued as normal…:)

1. Only fruits and vegetables 2. Only water for a beverage 3. No sweet foods and no breads.

Another guideline is drawn from Jewish fasting principles, where no leaven is used during the fast.  So that’s why yeast, baking powder and the like are not ‘allowed’.

Finally, it’s pretty obvious to say no artificial or processed foods nor any chemicals are allowed on the fast.

Daniel 10:12 says: Then he said, “Don’t be afraid, Daniel. Since the first day you began to pray for understanding and to humble yourself before your God, your request has been heard in heaven. I have come in answer to your prayer”

Daniel had been fasting for 21 days and 3 days later an angel appears to him.

I reckon the mathematical equation after a 40 day fast brings us to New Year for our visitation, I’ll let you know!

There is a ton of info available on the Internet on the Daniel fast. Too much.  Don’t get too distracted by it, lots of opinion and rules. We are under the awesome grace of God thankfully, so I believe we should follow guidelines rather than rules and laws, remembering the Daniel fast is not a command.

So, In a Daniel fast friendly nutshell – Daniel sought God for clarity, breakthrough and understanding, he fasted to show others God was his source of strength – he did this by eating only fruit and vegetables, abstaining from choice (processed, prepared, sweet, yummy) foods, drank only water and kept it simple.

This was intentional.

This was a fast with purpose.

Bill Johnson says ‘I don’t fast to pay a price. The price has been paid. I fast to refine my focus so that I might more fully apprehend all that has been purchased’

Mahesh Chavda writes in Shifting shadows of Supernatural Power

‘Fasting reveals to Heaven the love-hunger that resides in our hearts for the Lord. And it is this love-hunger that moves Heaven to respond’

During this feasting time of celebrating the birth of Christ, are you are moved with the same love hunger to seek God?

Did I hear someone say ‘In the New Year’?

Meep Meep

Today, I ran my first half marathon with 15,000 runners, the Bupa Great Birmingham Run, UK  – 13 miles or 21km as some would prefer.

I have a thousand blogs zipping around my head.

I’ll run with this one.

We got up super early having been out for ‘Phil’s birthday carb up’ the night before.  Arriving in Birmingham we walked for around 15 miles after parking, dropping off our bag, queuing for the portaloo and finding our running zone.  We were fortunate to spot a couple of good friends who joined us in our zone.

An exercise warm up to this, classical singers and local radio saw us through 20 minutes of fairy steps to the starting point.

It was our time to go. Nessun Dorma playing. Adrenaline racing. We began running.

Phil skipped for the first 30 seconds creating cheers and whoops from the crowds.

Obviously, I’m not going to take you through minute by minute, but to summarise, my training which I now consider minimal, created a run which I honestly found tough – hills especially, oh those hills, one after the other.  I had 2 coaches, my husband and our friend  Jason who has a unique physiological make up where he can run an Ultra with very little training, don’t you just love him!

They ensured that I ran and didn’t walk. Ever….

I am thankful. No, really.

Besides the obvious – ‘running the race, not quitting, enduring the pain, internal coaching’ and one I like – ‘you might not have completed it, but that’s OK too’

I’m going to share a line of thought which ensured I ran with purpose.

We all had our names on our running bib which was great when I heard ‘Keep going Michelle’ just at the right time – as I offered a look of fatigue to the supporters.

On our back bib was a blank space where we wrote what/who we were running for. I confess I was not fundraising but simply achieving a personal goal.

As I ran, I started to read lives and stories – people running for loved ones, lost ones, charities, themselves.

Cancer, Macmillan, Cystic Fibrosis, Mary Stevens Hospice, Help for Heroes – I saw photographs and faces. Dates and times.

I ran 13 miles consuming these stories, carried by the runner, held close – sometimes written in one word.

The runner – his wife, her son, his daughter, her mother, their friend.

I realised they were my story, my life, my experiences. I cheered them on.

That is what it is about, life – cheering, joining another’s story and running together in this exhilarating, painful, beautiful and often uphill road.

I couldn’t have run it alone.

I can’t run it alone.

Stay connected, don’t run alone, more importantly allow others into your story and if necessary hold someone’s hand and allow them to carry you along for a while.

I did…

Hebrews 12:1-3 The Message

Do you see what this means—all these pioneers who blazed the way, all these veterans cheering us on? It means we’d better get on with it. Strip down, start running—and never quit! ….Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we’re in. Study how he did it. Because he never lost sight of where he was headed—that exhilarating finish in and with God—he could put up with anything along the way: Cross, shame, whatever….When you find yourselves flagging in your faith, go over that story again, item by item, that long litany of hostility he plowed through. That will shoot adrenaline into your souls!

 Thank You Father

The List

One of the first things I did when I turned 40 was try out an afternoon nap. I had heard about them and was often advised to take them, especially when I had twins. But no, they didn’t come.

I realize now after relinquishing afternoon control just once, that naps should be made compulsory for all mankind.

Proverbs 3:24 You’ll take afternoon naps without a worry, you’ll enjoy a good night’s sleep.’ The Message.

It’s official.

I like numbers and this month I’m liking 40. I look around and 40 is everywhere – 40 winks, Top 40, Life begins at… and not forgetting this little number

Then there is the bible.

Full of fortiness – it rained for 40 days and nights, Moses was on the mountain top for 40 days, it took the spies 40 days to search out the promised land, Elijah was in Horeb for 40 days.

That’s a lot you say… there’s more, Goliath came for 40 days before being killed by David, Jesus fasted for 40 days in the wilderness and Jesus was seen in the earth for 40 days after His resurrection.

With all of this mind I have written my 40for40 list.

Why? For me, 40 demands a time of revaluation. A time to consider. It’s like 40 has taken me by the scruff of the neck and among other things said ‘let’s have some fun girl’ this isn’t ‘things to do before I die’ this is ‘things to do in the next while’.

It involves people – my family and friends. I’m not doing these alone. Choose one if you like…except 25 – that’s an exclusive.

So here it is, the never done by me before list, I will aim to post a 40for40 update monthly!

1: Play 9 holes of golf – ‘I regard golf as an expensive way of playing marbles~G.K. Chesterton’ I’ll give it a shot

2: Go SUP boarding – hoping it’s not SDP or FOP boarding

3: Travel to Rome

4: Go to a spa in October – never been in October!

5: Run the Birmingham half marathon, now known as the Great Birmingham Run – October 23rd 2011

6: Drive from Seattle to San Diego – 2600 miles round trip

7: High tea at the Ritz – because it’s a British institution and it costs…wait for it… 40 pounds

8: Dine at Jamie Oliver’s restaurant – I like a revolution

9: Design new website for my Blog – michellecollins.org

10: Ski a black – to make my Auntie Steph proud

11: Grow own veggies – because it’s good and I live in the Okanagan

12: Join a Flashmob

13: Try Zumba

14: XC skiing – I’ve heard it’s better in small countries but I’ll give it a try

15: Go panning for gold – there’s a rush for this one

16: Go indoor climbing

17: Go on a famous winery tour – again. I live in the Okanagan

18: Home make a curry – confessions of a Sharwoods user

19: Have a family pillow fight

20: Go whale watching – I’m thinking Tofino

21: See a Shakespearean play – I’m thinking Stratford – to be or not be

22: Go fly a kite – I like a natural high

23: Go indoor skydiving – looks like fun, thanks Chan

24: Attend a monastic retreat

25: Sunset meal on the beach with Phil Collins – in the air tonight?

26: Watch Mama Mia live show – I love cheese

27: Make Sushi

28: Get a photo published

29: Try Planking – shows my kids just how very cool I am

30: Watch all of the Harry Potter movies – sorry, I haven’t seen them

31: Try a new recipe every month ongoing – ‘hooray’ say the Collins clan

32: Lazy morning in bed until 12 – one of the hardest on the list for me

33: Go on Daniel fast for 40 days – I cannot wait for this one – really

34: Take Emily and Jessica on a mission’s trip to Africa

35: Attend a laughter therapy session – with my Momma, I’m laughing at the thought

36: Clay Pigeon shooting

37: Walk a glacier – always helpful to achieve something that may not be possible for the great grandkids

38: Visit Ground Zero

39: Go to U2 concert – I’ve been told it’s compulsory

40: Holiday in Brisbane – also compulsory

Thanks for reading. What’s on your list?