ashes to ashes, dust to dust

today i had coffee with a friend, a girl i used to work with at a coffee shop a few years back. we actually met there, and it was so good to catch up (and to not be working there!)

our old boss saw us and said rather directly, "you two got skinny! you look great!"

i didn't actually realize i was smaller now than then, in the days before dylan. (am i? did he make this up? i'm not actually sure.)

i do know that i'm healthier now that i don't drink a 20 ounce syrupy-sweet beverage every day along with whatever fat-laden pastry happened to break and become "unsellable." (having my drink with skim milk did not make it healthy, no matter how i deluded myself with the amount of calcium and protein i was consuming!)

in light of all that, i think for lent this year i want to cut back my sugar intake. i'm thinking more of moderation than complete abstention: drinking once cup of juice and not buying sugary snacks or candy. i still want to occasionally bake for my family. i guess the goal isn't to give up all dessert so much as to be more discerning and intentional about what i'm eating.

i admit, this is not spiritually motivated--it's really more about health. on the spiritual side of things, i want to spend time each day with God. I know, this is something i already should be doing, but to be perfectly honest, i just haven't.

the last time i had a good, consistent devotional practice was last summer. then dylan stopped sleeping well, and all my prayers for her/us to sleep better felt ignored. i was mad at God, tired of feeling alone in my prayers, and i stopped spending regular time with him. then i felt guilty for making such a big deal of it. plenty of "good" christians have serious life-or-death problems and don't blame God--it's just sleep!--but i was so exhausted and frustrated. the guiltier i felt, the farther i withdrew.

in my life, i've certainly dealt with pain, loneliness, and disappointment without blaming God, but for whatever reason, i just felt like God was holding out on me. it seemed so simple--couldn't he just make her sleep? just for three or four hours at a time? was that so much to want?

finally, a few weeks ago, i broke down. i confessed my sin, returned to writing in my prayer journal, read the psalms, and received the grace God extended. we had a few better nights. mostly, it was the same, but at least my attitude was better. i slammed fewer doors. i held my tongue. sometimes.

this week, it's actually getting a little better. dylan's mostly been waking only twice, and she hasn't been crying (much) when i put her back to bed. it's still not great, but jim and i are starting to feel less like zombies.

so, this lent i want to cut back on sugar and more importantly, to grow in the discipline of a daily devotional practice. what about you? are you adding or subtracting anything from your life this lenten season?

When we genuinely remember the death we deserve to die, we will be moved to remember the death the Lord did in fact die--because his took the place of ours. Ah, children, we will yearn to hear the Gospel story again and again, ever seeing therein our death in his, and rejoicing that we will therefore know a rising like his as well. --Walter Wangerin, Jr.


Penny said...

I'm trying to cut my sugar intake too - not because of lent but in general. Also my portion sizes because I've got into a bad habit of putting more on my plate than I need.

Finding time for devotions is always a struggle no matter where you are in your life journey. I like to be able to spend time in the morning and evening to do this. When I was at home it was easier for me to make time around mid-morning (rather than when I woke), after the breakfast/get hubster off to work/Tim off to kindy rush. I found if I left my Bible open and on the bed it was much easy to take some time to read during the day.

Now I'm back at work it's so hard because I'm always tired and rushed. If I can at least make time for prayer the day goes so much better for me. I have been known to pray in the shower cubicle at work after getting dressed (having ridden to work).

Becky said...

I got mad at God, too. I thought I was the only one. Thanks for sharing.

Jenney said...

I forgot it even WAS lent...I missed fat Tuesday darn it! You gave me something to think about though...
Did your husband have any luck recruiting at Cedarville University a few weeks ago?

Misty said...

did i mention i love your blog? i'm glad i stopped by today.... i've had so many petty arguments (always one-sided mind you) w/ God. He's so patient, isn't He? And sleep is no little thing. Hang in there. it gets better. i promise. (i can't remember if you're still cosleeping or not) just think: when d is a teenager, you'll have to pry her awake!! not much help now, i know!! lol
thanks for being honest and vulnerable. i need the accountability.

Mary Ann Hartzell said...

At our community Ash Wednesday service the young Princeton Seminarian had figured out that if you read just 2 chapters of Scripture a night you could complete all 4 Gospels before Easter Sunday. That seems worthwhile and profitable for me. Something I have done in the past is read 5 Psalms a day. You can complete them in one month and I find the Psalms really enrich one's prayer time. 1 proverb chapter a day and you can complete them in a month. Then you have good motivation/edification for how to pray and how to live. As far as giving up, I'm cutting down on T.V. most of it is trashy anyway, it's just become a bad habit. Doug said on Sunday that an average American watches 6 hours a day times 5 days a week and it equals 3 out of 12 months in a year. That is sobering...I waste a lot of time! And then there is eating to live instead of living to eat! ...

Mary Ann Hartzell said...

oops it was 6 hours average before a screen: that included computers as well as T.V.

Stef said...

my friend and i have cut out all fried foods for the month, which should be a good choice. i'm also adding daily devotions as well. i'm hoping both of these will become habits, not just lenten observations :)

Suzy Leonard said...

My eyes are filled with tears because your words are my un-expressed thoughts. How is it that we can all be in such a similar "place" and truely believe we are all alone?
Thanks Zan...I'm starting to see the faint light at the end of the tunnel.

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