Tuesday, March 15, 2011
My Lenten Rule for 2011
Each year as the season of Lent approaches, I seek God's plan for my Lent. For me, Lent is the most precious time of the year--a time for spiritual spring cleaning, a time to draw closer to God.
I've been familiar with Lent since I was a young child, but I didn't start practicing it until my last couple of years of college. And over the last twelve years, I have practiced Lent with all seriousness and devotion.
For those of you who aren't familiar with Lent, I have a page above that I wrote as a presentation for last Shrove Tuesday which I gave to a Bible study group at Lake Murray Community Church. It has always seemed odd to me that we celebrate Advent at our Evangelical Free Church, but not Lent. But I was asked to share my Lenten experiences, and so I have. You may click on the "On Lent" page under the header or simply click here: Ash Wednesday and Lent.
So this year I knew that God was going to want to address my food issues. I know that I've been depending on sugar and caffeine to get me through my chronic fatigue, and it's also keeping me from losing the excess 60 pounds that I gained from steroids for inflammation control when I was wheelchair bound with my autoimmune issues. I lost ten pounds late last year, so I now have 50 more to go.
I had several ideas for fasting from certain foods or tracking food and keeping below a certain daily caloric or points intake. But when my husband, who has struggled with candida since November, e-mailed me information about the candida diet and chronic pain, I felt immediately that this was the way I should go for Lent and beyond. So I am not eating any grains or sugars, only certain low-sugar fruits combined with protein, and only certain dairy products (yogurt and non-aged cheeses). I've lost five pounds since Ash Wednesday--not bad for seven days!
My fasting goal is not merely vanity. Partly I chose this diet so I can eat more like my husband who had to go through Thanksgiving and Christmas without sugars or grains and continues to eat this way; he's lost 35 pounds over the past five months. His diet is not the maintenance-level mine is; it's much stricter, and I may tighten mine as I go along, too. But mostly I felt convicted about turning to sugar and decadent foods for comfort rather than to prayer and God, so that's the main reason behind this fasting plan.
I've also added more prayer into my days, using the Book of Common Prayer 2011, The Divine Hours by Phyllis Tickle, The Diary of Private Prayer by John Baillie, and the Magnificat Lenten Devotional. So I have different readings and prayers set up for Morning Prayer, Family Devotions, Midday Prayer, Vespers/Evening Prayer, and Compline. I've allowed my prayer life to kind of wander off the last couple of months, so I'm desiring to renew my time with God.
Also, Keith has been kind in offering to take all three boys with him on Wednesdays so I can have a day--wait for it--to myself!!! Each week!!!! As a homeschooling mom for the past 13 years, I have rarely had a day alone once every six months, much less every week!!! I am planning to use my day for journaling, writing, contemplative prayer (extra time meditating on Scripture and its application to my life), and rest. I am SOOOO excited about this opportunity and am vastly grateful for a dear husband who recognizes my need and makes it possible!!! Woo--hoooo!!!!
I will also be helping with a Lenten study of C.S. Lewis' The Four Loves with Father Acker of Alpine Anglican Church of the Blessed Trinity for four of the Thursdays leading to Holy Week. I'm really looking forward to this study. I love reading Lewis!!!
So these are my Lenten plans, what Father Acker calls "A Lenten Rule," arrived at through much prayer and soul-searching. I pray that during this Lenten season, I may draw closer to God, may more thoroughly study and apply His Word, and may glorify Him more in all aspects of my life. Yes, we can do these things any time of the year, but when we're anticipating Holy Week, it makes these disciplines all the more important and my relationship with my Lord all the sweeter.
Wishing you all a blessed and holy Lent through Christ Jesus,