praying and fasting (and praying really fast)
Yesterday at church, our pastor spoke on praying and fasting in order to discern God's will. He challenged each of us to begin our own "fast" by giving up something to which we are somewhat (or very much) addicted. Now, over the last couple of weeks, I have been much more careful about limiting my carb intake. I know from past experience that my body feels better when I eat this way, even though I am forced to deny myself many guilty pleasures. When Pastor asked us to give something up, my first thought was, "What's left??? I already gave up all my carbs!". But then I knew: I needed to let go of Diet Coke. I've given up Diet Coke multiple times in the past, including before and during my pregnancies. I even gave it up last month and was doing just fine until the time came to help my sister pack for her move to Texas. Getting only three or four hours of sleep each night for a good week, my body insisted that it needed caffeine, and I don't do coffee, tea, or anything but Diet Coke. So I started up again. As I've denied myself potatoes and desserts while doing the low-carb thing, I've reasoned that I still can have Diet Coke, and that has kept me going. I left church yesterday determined to let go of my final vice. Pastor explained that when we wanted the thing from which we were fasting, we would be reminded to pray. I knew it would not be easy, but I also knew how spiritually powerful this could be, and I was excited. Unfortunately, I think Audrey heard about the fasting challenge from down the hall in the church nursery. She decided last night to give up something to which she is typically addicted: sleep. She woke up at 2:30 am and would not go back to sleep! She was awake, and she was mad, and nothing I did for a long, long time seemed to help her at all. We walked and rocked and sang for more than two hours. I can count on one hand the number of times I've had to work so hard to soothe that baby since she was born eleven months ago. Want to know something kind of amazing about Audrey? The very first night after her birth, she was a little bit fussy, so I was singing softly and rocking my new little swaddled bundle. She continued to squirm off and on until I sang the old hymn "Great is Thy Faithfulness." I'm not sure what even inspired me to sing it, but as soon as I began, she completely relaxed. Part of the song says, "Strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow," and as I sang, it struck me that the name Audrey means strength, and her middle name is Hope. So often I feel like I have neither strength nor hope in different situations, but Audrey has been such a great reminder of Where my strength and hope really lie. Anyway, Audrey finally allowed herself to calm down and relax last night (and yes, it was while I sang "Great is Thy Faithfulness"; it still works!), and I was able to go back to sleep around 5 am. When my alarm went off an hour and a half later, one of the first thoughts that ran through my head was, "How am I going to do this day with no Diet Coke???". To make matters worse, Audrey also refused her morning nap today. As I longed for that beautiful, silver 12 oz can, I definitely remembered to pray. Of course, some of my prayers were not very deep...a number of them were fast, desperate pleas, such as, "Lord, please help me stay sane!" or, "God, please don't let me yell right now!". The day is over now, though, and, by God's grace, I made it. Although I am very tired, I really cherished the time I was able to spend rocking my sweet baby girl, as well as the time I spent talking to my Creator. I am excited to see what He reveals to me over these next days and weeks as I turn to Him, my Strength for today and bright Hope for tomorrow.