Saturday, May 31, 2008

Pre-race carb loading

Welcome to 40 Days of Faith!

We'll start the official countdown tomorrow (Monday, June 2). Today is a warm-up day, sort of like when all the runners gather for a pasta dinner the night before the Boston Marathon.

This is an apt comparison, actually--as I discovered the first time I tried asking God for something that mattered to me each day for 40 days, this is a marathon, not a sprint. There will be times you want to give up, days where you couldn't care less, and moments when you think this might be the stupidest thing you've ever tried. It comes with the territory--this is hard, this thing we're doing, putting our hearts out there before God and asking him to make our dreams a reality. But, as Dr. Phil always says, "You can't argue with results..." I've seen amazing results in the times I've set aside to see what God might have to say about my hopes and desires, and I'm only one story out of dozens and dozens. Hard is often worth it; here's hoping this is one of those times!

By way of preparation, here's the basic shape of what we'll be doing.

First: Let's each ask ourselves, "What do I want Jesus to do for me?" If you're not sure about Jesus, that's totally fair. I include him here because he says some pretty astounding things about answering our prayers and giving us a new life that exceeds our expectations...I like the idea of taking him up on this offer. But if this is a new idea, feel free to to preface the question with, "If Jesus really is who he says he is in the Bible, what would I want him to do for me?"

A note on this asking: be specific. Ask for something tangible, where you'll know whether or not your prayer has been answered. (For example, I knew exactly when Jesus answered my prayers for a husband. My prayer for a happier attitude towards cleaning the bathroom, on the other hand, is a little tougher to pin down).

Second: Let's consider fasting from something for these 40 Days. I talk about this idea of fasting a bit in my book, and how the Bible suggests it goes hand-in-hand with prayer. During my first 40 Days, I fasted from coffee. In subsequent years I've fasted from reading (which made trips to the hairdresser long as I stared out the window while my highlights foiled...), baked goods, or television. The idea here is that when we're craving coffee or sweets, or passing up the latest issue of People at the salon, we can offer this up to God. I find myself saying, "Lord, I want a husband more than I want caffeine/pop culture updates/dessert right now." Somehow this connects me to my real desires, because I can't escape into the lesser things I use to comfort or distract me.

Important Note: if an eating disorder has ever been a struggle for you, PLEASE don't fast from food. Ask God what your fast should be; he has lots of good ideas!

Third: Teamwork. Each day, I'll post three things on this blog: An inspirational story or passage, some thoughts on why it inspires me, and a song that bolsters my hope when it's flagging. By the end of this time together, not only will we have amazing stories of answered prayer, we'll have a playlist to commemorate this time...what could be better?

Your part in this teamwork facet is to check in via the comments. Post a comment every day, letting us know how you're doing. It can be a reaction to the day's writing, an update on something specific, or a funny anecdote that happened that day. If you're losing hope, let us know. If your prayer is answered, let us know. We're in this together!

Okay, that's all for today. I'll see you tomorrow for Day 1. Until then, remember: "What is impossible with man is possible with God." (Luke 18:27) That pretty much covers everything, right?

(This would be a great time, by the way, to click on the comments and say, "I'm in!" If you want to share what you're praying for, great. If not, feel free to keep it private. But let us know you're on the team :))

Bring on the linguini!

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

On your mark...get set...

Mark your calendar: JUNE 1st is the day! We'll be starting our 40 Days of Faith, asking God to bring husbands and book deals and babies and better jobs...the deepest desires of our hearts. I think most of us feel like there's some sort of hole in our lives that we'd love to see filled in, but we're not sure how to get there. I, for one, have tried many of my own fill-in-the-blank projects, all of which failed SO spectacularly that they let me write a book about it. But the truth is, I think there's a better way :)

If this sounds like it might be for you, you might spend the next few days pondering, "What do I really want?" It doesn't have to be fancy or profound; you don't need a seventeen point list of pros & cons. If it's bouncing around in your heart, looking for a way to get out, then that's probably it. Grab a post-it, write it down, and come back on Sunday, June 1st.

See you then!