Day 24: Cue Confession(s)

Whose cup of tea is that? Sure looks like it’s hanging out with your algebra homework, Lydia.
Cheater.
Yeah, basically.
It’s raining! I haven’t felt my toes since eight this morning! It’s my first visit to Mugs Cafe! (http://www.mugscafe.org/)
Go ahead, throw stones. This tea is perfect. I’ll sit here trying to muster an acceptable level of guilt.
I call myself “cheap” but this month has been trickier than I expected! Even with multiple sets of “parents” across town who feed me, and a full schedule, I’ve had to shut down trips to Chick-Fil-A and the movie theater. I’ve tried to sit nonchalantly at restaurants with friends without ordering anything, but, truth be told, a gluten free pizza was bought just for me last Friday night. I haven’t had time to be as creative as I wanted to be. Oh well, I’ve learned a lot, and that’s the point anyway.

Confession: I have plans to buy some stuff (T-shirt, music, redbox, etc.) on October 1st. I hate myself.

You were dead, because you were sinful and were not God’s people. But God let Christ make you alive, when he forgave all our sins. God wiped out the charges that were against us for disobeying the Law of Moses. He took them away and nailed them to the cross.~Colossians 2:13-14

Day 17

Here in the U.S. spiritual laziness can seem inevitable. This is because we don’t need God. We have food, jobs, clothes, medicine, and our lives are so well supplied that God becomes more of a side dish than an entree. If He does not take the liberty of interrupting our lives-whether through health issues, financial troubles, or our own sin traps-most of us do not see the need to rely on Him fully. Left to our own devices we think we’re good.
A more wrong conclusion has never been reached.
We have to seek hard the God of our salvation while we live on this big, distracting planet. Otherwise we neglect the only Good there is. He offers Himself to us every moment. You want to know Him? Ask.
I did not know it when I started but this is why I am on a “fast.”If I settle into my default routine I forget about God. It’s ridiculous beyond ridiculous how ungrateful I can be.
Wow.
He saves me from eternal death, puts life and joy in me, and I have to forfeit the use of my green plastic credit card just to remember to thank Him. I’ve got an extremely long way to go.

Let us fall into the hand of the Lord, for His mercy is great.~2 Samuel 24:14b

Seek Him. He’s setting me straight through a slow process.

For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds.~2 Corinthians 10:3-4 <<<That's why it is so hard. We can't see the enemy, we can't see God. But He is there, and there are no better offers than this:

Trust in the Lord and do good….Delight yourself in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord; trust in Him & He will act.~Psalm 37

Day 11: Wrestling My Resolve

I have gotten confirmation from God on this whole fast thing. In what way, you ask? Piercings are $13 at the Golden Lotus tattoo parlor this Friday only. That’s the way. THIRTEEN BUCKS! Such temptation. 

In my experience, when things get difficult, God is working. I sure hope He is working through this because I would not want to miss out on $13 piercings to no avail. 

The control is in Your hands where it belongs, Lord, but let me know before Friday if things change.

Just kidding!

Day 9: Imagine

You are hungry but there is not a dime left to your name. You have 21 days to pay rent but you don’t have a job. There is no money anywhere. All the wrong choices have been made. All the bad luck has run its course.
Hold up, rewind. You are hungry. What do you do when you’re hungry? Go to the fridge. What do you do when there is nothing in the fridge you want to eat? Go to the pantry. Nothing good there? Restaurants, vending machines, take your pick. Pay with ease, and be done with it.
You’re hungry but there is no fridge. You’re hungry but there are only cockroaches in your pantry. If there isn’t food then there certainly is no money and therefore no restaurants. So you’re hungry, you stay that way.
Imagine the child you brought in to the world staring at you with big, hungry eyes.
And there is no food.

Imagine feeling 100% paralyzed by your bad choices. Imagine that there is no one to help.

You received without paying, now give without being paid.~Jesus, Matthew 10:10

Now imagine being the one to help. Imagine trying to reach out to the working class poor. Imagine yourself stepping out in the knowledge that but for God’s mercy you too would be trapped.

This month I have spent $0.50 on ice water at school (can’t we agree that this is a necessity when it is 99 degrees outside?!) and not a penny more. Just the thought of all the people out there who have reached the end of their rope and truly have nowhere to go…overwhelms me. There is poor, and there is spiritually poor. Hundreds, thousands of people are both. How blessed am I to have everything! I, a spiritual beggar, have richness that all Heaven cannot contain. I, a selfish sinner, have never known hunger. It is hard to even thinking about sinking our hands in with people who are in debt, but the debt I owe to Jesus is more real than any amount of dollars and cents. That’s real, crazy love.

Forgive my apathy, Lord. I spend more time delighting in my material wealth than in my spiritual blessedness.

For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members.~Romans 7:22-23

I’m going to end with a prayer excerpt from my journal dated 8/27/13:

I rejoice in You, Lord God, for who You are and for the blessings that you pepper my life with in the form of unique and special people.
I’m thankful for the travelers whose paths You have led across mine here in Little Rock &; North Little Rock. I thank You for bringing the world to me here.
Thank You for feeding me today.
I desire You now more than ever. Good day or bad day…You are all my hope and peace. All the joy that I feel, I know it is from Your Spirit connection within me.
Sweet God, creative God. The God of fulfillment and earthly poverty that leads to Heavenly joy. The God of unexpected mini road trips to Roland, dirt, and Diet Coke.
He blesses me and I rejoice!
When these blessings are withheld, I am going to be happy.

Whoever has the Son of life has life, whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life.~1 John 5:12

Day 5

Leave it to me to discover that I need to spend more money while on a fast from, yep, you got it: spending money. It’s not that I’m stingy, or I never give anyone anything. No, I do OK on that I suppose. The problem is that I get so caught up in saving and calculating and earning that I forget to just…chill. And be a fun human being.

Lydia: I want food! (This born out of a twenty minute fantasy about Domino’s gluten free pizza)
Co-worker: Let’s get some when we get off.
Lydia: Dude I can’t afford to eat the food here!
Co-worker: I’ll buy. Really, it’s no big deal.

Yeah that happened tonight. I never would have made the offer that my co-worker made here. Had anyone come to me hungry or looking sick, sure, I’d buy them a meal (AND a soda!!) without hesitation. But short of a good Samaritan situation, nobody is getting overpriced food out of me.
There. My focus is on prices and quantity instead of time. How dare I forget the importance of simply breaking bread with another person. I am so busy thinking about helping people I don’t yet know that I neglect to take a minute and get to know someone whom God has placed in my life. If expensive food is what it takes to tell someone they are important then I should be all in for the pricey eats.

Lessons abound and it’s only day 5. How exciting! Brainstorming to find creative ways to meet and love on people without spending money…or being a complete mooch.

It’s All God’s Anyway

Pardon the abrupt transition from airy hypothetical posts filled with wordy generalizations to, well, me.

Three days ago I started a “fast” from buying (I know that to fast traditionally means to abstain from food. Use your imaginations, people.)
Thanks to my ingeniously frugal mother I’m not a huge spender, (OK, so I pack my lunch everyday, never order anything but water, and make it a point to avoid weekend movies because of the price) but I am a rabid control freak. I want to be in control of….it all. A few days ago I noticed a thoughtlessly consumerist tendency in myself: when I get to what I see as a comfortable place financially I start to spend. I spend on me and I buy other people stuff and then I spend more on me. Not huge amounts of money, but the green is flowing faster than it was two weeks ago when I was tight-wadded due to worry. I hate that my spending (giving included) fluctuates depending on how I feel I’m doing financially.

And why worry about clothes? Look how the wild flowers grow: they do not work or make clothes for themselves…It is God who clothes the wild grass….~Matthew 6:28 and 30a

So I’m not going to spend. Extreme, you say?

Abject poverty is extreme. Not being ABLE to buy things to meet ones’ basic needs is extreme.
My aim with this silly little fast is not to save money; it’s about not having control. The time I would have spent in line, I will spend in prayer. The movies, book sales, dinners or sports games I would have attended will be replaced by conversation and by solitude. I’ll have to get creative. I’ll have to go without the luxuries I usually bestow upon myself with the swipe of a card. And next time I roll up to a couple of ladies sitting outside of the Salvation Army on 2nd street it will just be me. No brownies and baby shoes. I won’t be a giver or benefactor, I’ll just be a face, and hopefully, soon, a friend.

There it is then, written down. I won’t be buying anything but gas this month (not even Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zero’s new and undoubtedly wonderful CD!) My food is well provided for-gosh, I’m not that crazy. But right down to chewing gum and loose-leaf paper, I hand my control of the money that passes through my fingers to God. Sayonara receipts and restaurants.

Distractions minimized, I hope for two things: clarity towards my own wrong perceptions of money, and a better understanding of how to close the gap between the well-meaning rich and the hungry poor.

The first question which the priest and the Levite asked was: “If I stop to help this man, what will happen to me?” But the good Samaritan reversed the question: “If I do not stop to help this man, what will happen to him? ~Martin Luther King Jr.

Talitha Cumi

Who am I that You have brought me thus far?~David, 2 Samuel 7:18-29

Who am I that You pour out all joy on me?
Who am I that You bless me in every way?
Who am I to help care for the needy people here on earth?
Who am I that you lead sojourners into my life?

The world I see is a lovely one. It’s a world of hope and mercy. A place of confusion but not suspicion. It’s a world of broken people and broken hearts, and potential to be made well. It’s a land bursting with opportunity, with chances to make changes. This is a world where people who believe in something can come together and give their dream birth. It’s a nation indulging in sin while crying out for knowledge. It’s a world that says, “help, I’m drowning!” It’s a country that gives some much so that they will be equipped to help those with little.
It’s a planet in the hands of a lively, creative God who loves His children and looks forward to the time of restoration.

And He says to me, “Little girl, arise.”

Let us hold less tightly to our interpretations of God’s law and cling more desperately to Jesus and the relationships we have with other sinners.

You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets. ~Matthew 22:37-40