Fasting and the Emotional Eater

dfpb239-282Last week I became a vegan and I live in Texas.

As you might already know, meat raising, preparation and consumption is basically a sacrament in Texas, so a decision to quit eating it casts immediate suspicion about infiltration by tree-hugging, West Coast liberals.

Mention that you quit sugar, dairy, eggs, caffeine and alcohol too and you might as well tell folks you walked precincts for Obama.

Which I did.

But as labels go, I’m a Jesus-freak too and he’s the reason I started the 21-day Daniel Fast.

When I began reading the Bible three years ago, I decided there was present-tense value in doing what it says. As I kept reading and studying, I developed some control over what comes out of my mouth, but I still struggle with what goes in it. When it comes to what I eat, my squealing, whining, impulsive, thoughtless, unconscious human nature is still well in control. Christians call this “the flesh.”

Sam calls it cycling.

Because I’m a yoga instructor, organic farmer and lover of food politics, I know what to eat and I can go ages doing it well, but when I go off the rails look out; it’s a spectacular, nutritional train wreck that can smoulder for months. And Texas is the penny on the tracks.

I know I can’t eat dessert at every meal, but at a gathering where Texas women are putting on the dog, turning out warm peach cobbler, German Chocolate cake and coconut pies from the kitchen, seriously, who can resist that?

Crispy, greasy french fries and beer go with the state’s famed barbecue like Captain goes with Tenille, and the portion sizes…please…especially at Tex-Mex joints,  food nearly falls off plates the size of hub caps.

And all of it makes my jeans shrink.

Box of Sprinkles Cupcakes in Dallas, Texas, in...

Box of Sprinkles Cupcakes in Dallas, (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

But more troubling is my habit of absorbing all of my husband’s anxiety and calming myself down by blankly staring at the refrigerator door and shoving cupcakes in my mouth.

Sprinkles Cupcakes in Dallas is torture because I fear I will choose wrongly between red velvet, lemon or salted caramel, so if nobody’s looking I buy all three.

Luckily I’m 5’9″ and have kind of gotten away with this behavior for years, but now I’m 40 and let’s not kid about what happens to 40 year-old women with cupcake issues.

Fasting is about discipline and consecration, sweeping the decks of useless clutter. It uses physical hunger to bring quiet awareness to spiritual hunger.

This fast is based on the Jewish Prophet Daniel who, while conscripted by the Babylonian king, refused to eat rich, palace food. Daniel lived on water and only things that grew from seed. The Bible says he thrived.

So for ten days, I’ve done just that. Here’s what I’ve learned:

1. It’s not about the weight. It’s about poking around in the dark rooms I’d rather you not see, the ones where I can hide, pound cupcakes and loll around in pools of self-loathing. In those secret rooms, fear, depression and anxiety tell me “don’t worry, you deserve it. As long as nobody sees it, it’s not a problem.” Whoa. Thank God I don’t love alcohol like I do cupcakes.

I realize that’s a lot to unpack, so we’ll talk more later, but the point is, I don’t believe those crappy lies in other areas of my life anymore. Why in this one?

I want bacon.

Sam likes bacon.

2. Praying hard ahead of time is a good idea. Here was mine: “Lord, you know I suck at this, and if you don’t help me, I will quit in three days, so please help me.” Today is day ten, and it’s evidence of the Holy Spirit that it really hasn’t been that hard.

3. Cattlemen like Sam Kirk don’t want to be vegans. They will ask at every meal, “where’s the meat?” to ensure you aren’t tricking them with tofu. So planning meals for everybody ahead of time is crucial. The book is helpful in this regard.

Do you struggle with your eating too? What triggers it? What do you do about it?

This is What Love Does – Part 1

This is the first in a series about the 2013 Love Does Stuff Conference, hosted by NYT bestselling author, justice seeker and Jesus lover Bob Goff.

Photo Credit: Lisa Long

Photo Credit: Lisa Long

On my flight home from Seattle yesterday, I imagined what it will be like when Bob Goff meets Jesus Christ in person.

Of course, I hope that doesn’t happen for another 50 years or so, because I need Bob in this world teaching me how to love people like Jesus did. He’s better at it than anyone I know.

Bob is a living, breathing disciple of Christ, a first-century apostle on a stage with balloons, hollering about fireworks and felons and child soldiers in Uganda, exhorting us to expand our territory and L-O-V-E  people so extravagantly that the world thinks we’re nuts.

Because that’s what Bob does. That’s what love does.

But when he’s done here and we are all weeping and toasting him, I imagine Bob will run as fast as he can into heaven, right up to the crystal lake and do a cannonball.

As the angels applaud and hold up scorecards, Bob will surface and yell, “How cool was that?” And Jesus will nod to Peter and John and say, “There he is, there’s our Bob.”

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My new BFF Lisa Long, Bob and me.

Then I think Jesus will grab Bob’s face and kiss his forehead, exactly like Bob did to many of us over the weekend. I can almost hear Jesus say:

“Thank you, Precious for delivering so many of them to my feet. Thank you for helping them find me, even the ones who have done heinous and horrible things. Thank you for showing them they are not just invited to my table, they are welcome.”

In Tacoma, Washington, at the first ever conference based on Love Does, Bob’s bestselling book, he must have said that 100 times. “You are not just invited here, you are welcome.”

Photo Credit: Lisa Long

Photo Credit: Lisa Long

You are welcome to speak your dreams out loud.

You are welcome to quit stuff, even your job, if it keeps you from Jesus.

You are welcome to not have all the answers about Christianity.

You are welcome to show up with whatever faith you have and leave the rest to Jesus.

Bob Goff is  a revolutionary, reminding us there’s only one four letter Jesus used all the time.

L-O-V-E

In God’s kingdom, love is supreme and without direct, exuberant expression of it, we are just noisy cymbals and clanging gongs. Sadly, the noisy cymbals get a lot more attention than conference speaker Veronica Tutaj does.

Veronica started doing love by handing out programs at church on Sundays eight years ago. Today, she loves on hundreds of pregnant and parenting teenagers in Austin, Texas. She does love with fire in her belly and told all 1,500 of us how to do the same. I think Jesus watched, elbowing Peter and John saying “there’s our Veronica, watch her go.”

Do you want to know how to do love better? Here’s a start.

Pick up Love Does* and let it change your mind about Christian behavior. If it surprises you, then pick up the Gospel of John. Find out what Jesus actually said, not what people say he said. It doesn’t matter what you are currently doing, or who says you are unwelcome. They are wrong.

You are welcome here.

*Proceeds from the sale of Love Does support the school Bob and his friends built for former child soldiers eight years ago. It is now the #1 school in Uganda. For more information visit Restore International.

We Are All Bombers.

Oh America.

I felt so helpless this morning as I prayed for the people in Boston. How Lord, have we gotten here?

They don’t know who planted those bombs but surely it’s the question on everyone’s mind. Was it a McVeigh or an Al-Zarqawi. The answer changes the context but not the bottom line.

Flower sad

(Photo credit: @Doug88888)

Here’s how you know we live in a civilized nation: As the bombs exploded, cops, firemen and volunteers ran toward the blast, offering brave and selfless effort on behalf of strangers. As Mr. Rogers’ Facebook meme said yesterday, when something scary happens, people always run to help. May God richly bless you public servants and kindhearts everywhere.

Here’s how you know we don’t live in a civilized nation: All of us inflict lesser forms violence on one another every day. Given the ease with which we can do it on-line with no personal consequence, we spew hate on Facebook, slander our President, denigrate other cultures and shoot the bird in traffic, running up on their bumper to make sure they know we hate them for cutting us off.

Is it so hard to imagine that Boston’s bombing is the same behavior writ large? It’s hate. It’s unforgiveness. It’s our unregenerate, unrepentant human selves running the show like we know what we are doing.  Like the coward who planted the bombs in Boston, we hide behind online profiles and wheel of our car. Rarely do we call someone an asshole to their face. We the plant bomb and run.

We are releasing our frustration and negativity into the world, in ways we believe are harmless. But our personal violence has spiritual impact on this planet we don’t even understand.

For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Ephesians 6:12

Evil celebrates every time a bomb explodes or a name is slandered. So when we pray to our God today, thinking ourselves righteous and civilized, asking how such evil happens, pause and consider that it happens everyday in our own hearts.

Friends, the answer is Jesus.

As he was mocked, whipped then tortured to death he said, “Lord please forgive them, they don’t know what they are doing.”

We don’t know. We are selfish, fearful, unforgiving little creatures who carry all the potential in the universe to become the love of God. But if we could do it without him, we’d have done it by now. Jesus is the love of God incarnate, the Prince of Peace and the Messiah who came to the world, not judge it, but to save it. John 3:16-17.

It’s still our choice to believe that and live accordingly.