This week we have had three themes, so I am writing this morning a little bit about each.  

THE HUNGRY

I’m hungry. I eat, and then pretty soon I am hungry again. It’s amazing what a simple thing like removing flour can do. Yes, I eat healthier by not filling up on breads, but the point has been to turn to God by fasting. Has it worked?
Yes, I think so.
Earlier this week, sometime post-meal, I had that hungry-an-hour-later feeling, and I talked to God about it. And He brought to mind how hunger is a normal part of life for many people globally, and even here in the United States. We are very fortunate to have so many programs in the States to help even homeless people get food, but it doesn’t reach everywhere. And that’s just “food” – forget about GOOD food! The junk food is unfortunately, sometimes easier to come by, but what about a really good piece of meat, or a high-quality cheese, an artisan bread, or piece of produce at its peak? Food can be amazing, but the poor among us often don’t get the amazing food. My husband and I have four kids, and  we don’t usually have the budget for the “best” ingredients, but we do sometimes. What about the people who never eat GREAT food?
I am thankful. Even when we have faced times of financial hardship, we have never had to go hungry. That my kids are picky eaters is a sign that they’ve never had to go hungry (despite their often telling me they are “starving”). This week especially, I am thankful, and I am mindful. I am praying for the hungry.
Our church is collecting food to give away, and we are preparing some meals for a local ministry to homeless people. What can you do this week to help the hungry?
(And by the way, I did make an extra peanut butter and jelly sandwich this week, but I didn’t see anyone to give it to! So my kids ate it later.)
THE HOMELESS
I rent my home. At one time we owned our place (well, we owned a loan…), but the combination of a bad housing market and an 884 mile move means that now we rent. For awhile I have been kind of grumbly about that. We have tried to save up for a down payment, but circumstances work against us, and the money always seems to cover a car repair, a medical expense, or a period of unemployment instead. In talking with God about that, it’s often “When? How will we? Will I ever be able to live in a house that I really love? With all the features we’d really like?” When I drive around town, and even in my own neighborhood, and see great homes, big homes, pretty homes, and big-yarded homes, it is easy for me to slip into a place of discontent. But lately God has helped me to open my eyes to the great blessing of the home I am in. Though it is not truly “ours,” our home is great! It is big enough for now, and has many features I really like. The neighborhood is great, with friends living next door and just down the street, and there is good sun for a backyard garden. My kids can ride the bus to a great local elementary school, which is a huge blessing! There are things I don’t like, but honestly, that will be the case no matter where I live. And though we may outgrow the house as our kids get older (and bigger), it meets our needs wonderfully right now.
Living in Eugene, Oregon, we see plenty of people who live in much worse conditions. We are kind of known for being a “homeless-friendly” community, and there are places we can drive and see large tent communities. There are poorer neighborhoods, and less-safe parts of town. Our friends at the homeless church help people who live on the porches of abandoned homes. There are people who live in much more crowded conditions than I.
Truly, I have nothing to complain about. One of the action challenges this week in our reading and reflection guide has been to collect five “helpful home items” to give away. I haven’t done this yet, because it is hard for me to know what to give away. We pared down a lot a couple years ago when we moved. But I think I have some ideas. I could try to sell these items, but if I give them away, it is a greater blessing for someone else (and it’s easier for me too!). One of the statements for this week is that fasting is to “welcome poor wanderers into your homes” (Isaiah 58:7). In my cultural context, and with my little kids, that is not safe for me to do. But, I can be hospitable, and I can help someone who is homeless or down on their luck be a little bit more comfortable. What can you do?
CLOTHE THE NAKED
Another one of our prompts this week  is to get five good quality clothing items to give away. This, I have done, and I am preparing to donate them to a women’s and children’s shelter in town. I gathered several items (more than five!) that still have a lot of wear in them, but they just don’t fit me quite right. I also have some kids’ clothes we can give away, because my kids have a ton. Most of what they wear is handed down from others, but we can give some of that away.
Some of what I am giving is kind of hard to part with, because it was expensive when I bought it! But do I wear it now? No. And am I planning to gain weight again so that I will need that size? No. (It may happen, but I am not going to plan on it!) so is there a good reason to hang on to it “for maybe someday” when there is someone that could probably benefit from it right now? Not really. It is easier to give something away when I think about it like “this will help a single mom feel confident in a job interview” or “this will help a homeless person be a little warmer at night.” When I think about it that way, it makes me want to give MORE away! And I think this makes Jesus happy. It also makes it easier to find what I want in my closet. Win-win!
The thing about all this is, What is my attitude toward stuff? How do I look at things? Are my things MINE or are they provided by God for me to steward? Hoarding never made anyone happy. Really, hoarders are people who live in fear that someday they may need something and it won’t be there. Greed never made anyone happy, because the greedy can never be truly satisfied. I want to live in trust that “God will supply all my needs according to his glorious riches” (Phil 4:19). Beyond the practical things I can get rid of, I also have a lot of clutter that I don’t need. That no one needs. This is something I am working on with Jesus this year. I want to live free.
Free in my home, free in my heart. Free to love and be generous. These are some of the things God is speaking to me about.
Anyway, I hope God has been speaking to you during this Month of Dedication! I haven’t written as much this month as I’d have liked, but I hope God has been speaking as you seek Him each day.
If you haven’t noticed it yet, check out the fasting recipes page; it has some tips on liquid fasting, which if you are going on the graduated plan, starts soon, as we enter this last week of the fast. 
 
Also, did you have a Feast day with God yet? If not, look at your calendar and see what you can do!
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