5 casual look-backs on a very casual Friday

Oh how
this week has felt like a century but it has only been five days.
Five days of self-control, five days of self-reflection and five
days of the utmost reverence. This is what I’ve learned: 5. Dining
etiquette does not succumb to those that fast. Asking a server ““Do
you only cook in saturated fat? Does this ginger dressing contain
vinegar or cream? Does this whole-wheat past contain egg or any
artificial ingredients?” might not be such a good idea. Never fear,
I told myself before the waiter told me, if my diet is that
restrictive I should eat at home. Furthermore, as a waitress, I
became the customer I loathe. Shame on me. 4. Bring people on the
journey but the rationale has to be individual. People have offered
to cook for me. Friends have prayed for me. Colleagues have given
shouts of encouraging words. But at the end of the day, when I am
left with myself and my thoughts, I remember my self-control is for
a higher purpose, understanding and love. Friends can commit with
me but when they are unavailable I am still serving. And only he
can prevent me from feasting on my favorite foods. 3. Fried Chicken
will still exist on January 24. Just as I tithe when payroll hits
my bank account, I fast at the wake of the New Year. Chipotle,
Cherry Coke, Crème Brule and so on, will all be there when I have
completed this fast. So I carry on giving my first fruits of 2011
and shame the opportunities to deviate. 2. “No one really likes
hummus. “ The reflective words of my brainy co-worker. I gravely
tried to offer a rebuttal use my cunning wit (a.k.a. smart
mouth). Yet, the actuality is, even though it tastes satisfactory,
there are hundreds of items that would proceed it on my
non-restrictive grocery list. *Drum Roll* 1. Sharing my Story isn’t
all that bad. I do not know who I am blessing by giving my
testimony of fasting and divine expectation, but I am called to
give my story. Instead of deferring I chose to speak. Surprisingly,
it was not all that bad, in fact, my chronicle landed in favor.
Instead of “good luck with that!” I received “That’s admirable.”
Journey with me, this weekend and beyond? Who knows what is in
store. Love G-d. Love People. See you on Monday. 143. Please leave
a comment and share your story too.

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My Truth Behind Food

A Moment of Clarity by Anthony Shenton

I call my apartment the boarding house. You have four very unlikely women all living together in an effort to not spend half of our income on Chicago’s sky-high living expenses. And with roommates comes excitement, friendship, breaking bread and the best of all fun!

But then there is the unpredictability of roommates. Will there be any toilet paper left? Will the trash be all over the kitchen because the dogs decided they wanted an early afternoon snack? (Did I forget to mention that we also have two midsized dogs?) Will I have a note on my door saying, “I tried to stop after one cup but it was too delicious. I will buy you another carton of peach green tea.” The most exciting one of all: Is there going to be a Tuesday night “just because” bash in the living room when I get home?

Well of course the latter was true because we like fun and with numbers comes more fun. One of the ladies, who just so happens to be a good friend, was hosting a small dinner party. She recently decided to cook dinner as often as possible as opposed to eating out. She decided these two days before I went on my Fast. Tisk.

So I sat in the kitchen for the second day in a row, (are you noticing the patterns?) smelling the aroma of drumettes surrounded by popping grease alongside hand cut potatoes sprinkled with garlic and cayenne with cherry coke. Now I am not a soda lover but there is something about a cherry coke that calms my soul.

“I’m going downstairs to pray.” These words from the wise, so imperfectly blurted out, yet so perfectly illustrating my inner disposition. I had a rough day, a rough yesterday, and now a rough night.

After all, food becomes a comforter when friends and family aren’t in the coddling mood. Food becomes an activity when boredom has run it’s toll. Food becomes a tool for fellowship with friends, family, co-workers and well…just about anyone. And for me personally, food is a primary means of expressing my love.

And so there was a moment of feeling an unrequited love. So I prayed. So I studied. So I asked for strength. So I could see a path clearer and a journey purposeful. And no sooner that I asked, in that solemn moment I received a bit of clarity and I remembered…those slow-cooker black beans would be ready in the morning…fabulous!

Posted in 2011, Daniel Fast, NajaLeigh, New Year, Prayer, Preparation, Trader Joe's, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Preparation Does Not Equate Occurence

Black Beans Galore

Miserable. Pitiful. Depressed. Hungry. CONVICTION. All in day one…yes, that’s what I felt. To be frank…I was upset.

I had my second grocery store failure when I stopped to buy a bag of black beans. No. I am not an efficient shopper.  Yes. I went to the grocery story two days in a row. And, yes. I still have items left to purchase. I almost renamed my blog Confessions of a Fasting Supermarket Dweller. The shelf of beans was full of red beans, split peas, kidney beans but of course…no black beans. Two days after New Years Day and there were piles of black-eyed peas…but not a black bean in sight. But I had planned my first meal: slow cooked black beans over brown rice with pico de gallo and corn salsa. Preparation does not always equate occurrence. I went home empty-handed and had humus and whole grain flat bread for dinner.

One of my accountability partners and I sat in the basement of my apartment reflecting on Daniel 10. It was a mix between study and praise and worship. We couldn’t help but get up and dance when Judith McAllisters’ “To Our G-d” cued, followed by crying when “My Worship Is For Real” played on iTunes. Once again, I immediately felt conviction because I was complaining about food…food…of all things…food. I have never wondered where my next meal was coming from or when it would arrive. A few moments earlier I evened eyed my humus with despise.

“Just as complaining about the cold makes the wind bite harder, me complaining about fasting is just making the days longer.”

Saints I will not look back at this 21 day period and say “I had to do without.” Instead I will look back at the doors that have been opened. I will look back at the areas of weakness that have been revealed and I will work earnestly to make them stronger. I will look back in self-reflection so that I am better prepared for the next time around.  And I promise to do this without complaint!

Posted in 2011, Daniel Fast, NajaLeigh, New Year, Prayer, Preparation, Trader Joe's, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Daniel Fast vs. Trader Joe’s

Mile-long lines for Mile-long savings

 I threw some bags of salad, fruits and vegetables in my Trader Joe’s cart and I was almost out the door. This was out of the norm for me in several ways. I’m usually opposed to bagged salads and precut fruit. Companies triple charge for the packaging and keep half the product for the next. Then again, did I have the right to be upset? Isn’t this bag of salad the blueprint to capitalism?  Plus, I leave for work at 7:00 in the morning and chopping up vegetables will not become a part of my bachelorette morning routine.

In my mind I thought I was preparing because, after all, I did go to the grocery store one day before the actual Fast start date. And on top of that I went to a grocery that specialized in natural and organic ingredients, and all at a low price compared to their competitors…’the poor man’s Whole Foods.’

I made a slight detour to pick up a pack of yogurt before I headed to the mile-long checkout line. Traditionally, yogurt is not included on the fast but I eat it everyday for health reasons. I didn’t feel guilt for this one waiver because I can’t ever remember waking up in the morning and craving it.

As I waited to ring up my lonely 10 items, I began to contemplate as to why I was standing in this line, so long, I was standing in the aisle. Immediately, my thoughts were interrupted when the man knocked over a six-pack sending droplets in a complete 360 all over the front-part of the grocery. So as I stood there with organic pure cane root beer dripping down my wool coat, while simultaneously the clerk, halted scanning items in my line, and screamed for a clean up on aisle two. In the midst of the Northside Lincoln Park chaos I smiled. I smiled because in a few moments the marquee of Trader Joe’s would be in my rearview mirror. I smiled because tonight, without constraint, I would feast on sautéed chicken in puff pastries, grilled squid and caramel tres leches cake. But I especially smiled because I knew in 21 days I would have a vision clearer than my vision today.

Let’s start off strong saints. Let’s finish strong saints. Let’s pray more steadfastly than we’ve ever prayed for. Let’s smile when the checkout line is a mile long because at least we’re covered indoors. Let’s laugh when the root beer runs down our newly dry-cleaned coat because at least it’s organically free from dyes and artificial ingredients. Let’s worship more than we’ve ever worshipped before. Let’s draw nearer to the Lord to find our true purposes in 2011 and in the kingdom as a whole. And let’s do it together! Daniel 10:2-3

“Fasting without prayer and devotion is simply a diet.” –Amar R.

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