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Sugar and Noise

I did not grow up with Lent.  In fact, I’m not sure I even knew what “giving something up for Lent” meant until I read the story of the Von Trapp Family Singers (the family Sound of Music was based on).  Maria gave up sweets, or maybe it was just chocolate, for Lent.  And I read that book sometime in early high school I think.
Lent was something “those Catholics” did.  Not something us enlightened and freed from the law Protestants participated in.  I had a lot to learn.
In college I heard a lot about different takes on Lent – all from Protestant Christian types.  They talked about using the Lenten season to re-connect with God, to re-focus.  And so they suggested ADDING something to our lives.  Like focusing on a sense of gratitude during Lent, or taking 30 minutes out of our day to spend quietly before the Lord, and many other cool ideas.
At that time, I didn’t care enough.  The first time I can remember giving something up for Lent was when I was in Bahrain.  The girls I taught with and I gave up chocolate….sorta…kinda…maybe.  I tried anyway.  About three years ago I wanted to participate in this season, but knew I needed to keep it do-able.  So, I turned off the radio in my car and didn’t turn it back on until after Easter.  I tried to use the time to pray, but often became convicted of how easily my thoughts wander.  But somehow, the quiet is good for me, even if my thoughts don’t stay focused in prayer.  So it’s become a tradition during Lent.
This year is interesting, because while I’ve always driven a lot, I am driving like three or four times the distance than I have been, due to how far away the Seminary is from my home.  And so I live in silence for at least an hour a day…or relative, busy-road silence anyway.  And I cannot tell you how good that has been for my soul!
Noise adds so much clutter to our lives.  It often does an amazing job of cancelling out God’s voice in our lives.  And I haven’t done any studies on the subject, but I bet minds that have quiet as part of their daily routine are incredibly healthier than those that are constantly bombarded by music and noise.
But I also added something this year, mostly because the idea that the idea that my body is God’s temple, and so I need to take care of it as such, has been niggling at the back of my mind for months now.   Not that I have been abusing my body, per se.  At least, not anymore than the normal American.  But I do eat way more sugar than my body needs, and, indeed, over the last four months or so, I’ve come to notice how dependent I am on it.  Whenever I’d get stressed or tired or wanted to write or stay awake during class, I suddenly craved chocolate, or doughnuts or a mocha, or maybe ice cream.  If I was hungry for a snack, I’d grab something sweet.
A desire for dependency on God and not myself or things in my life has been growing.   So, with that two-fold goal of treating my body with better respect and with wanting to be more dependent on God during my times of stress and tiredness, I decided to give up sugar – to the best of my abilities.  I’m pretty sure to completely go off of refined sugar I’d have to only eat meat, veggies and fruits.  And I’m not going that extreme.  But I’m giving up everything that I can that I know has sugar in it.  AND IT’S CRAZY HOW MUCH DDOES!!!!
And while I do have sugar cravings every now and then (and fully expect them to get worse), it’s good.  I can’t say I’ve noticed any major difference in my body, but I no longer beat myself up for eating sugar.  And really, at least for now, that’s not the point.
But the coolest part of giving up sugar, is how present God is in my thoughts these days.  When I choose to eat a certain way that is radically different than how I was eating, then everything I put in my mouth is suddenly a very conscious choice…which reminds me of God, of His love, and who He is.   And what He’s done for me.  Which is the point of this season.
And that is worth it.
So, take some time this Lenten season (so, from now until Easter, April 20th) to remember God.  To be silent and listen.   And maybe, if you’re brave, ask yourself what you’re depending on instead of Christ.

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Music Notes

I have made a discovery.  This is going to blow your mind.  Really.  Are you listening?  Okay, pay attention now.

Girls dig boys who make music.

WHAT!?!

I know, right?  Whether he sings heart-throbbing lyrics, strums a guitar, hammers on a drum, knows how to make a banjo dance, or simply can really buzz a harmonica, boys who make music tend to cause women to swoon (definition of swoon as I understand it is along the lines of instant crush).

True statement.

And if a boy writes his own music – oh man!  Better watch out!  He’s very likely to have mobs of girls running after him.  Or screaming his name.  Or wearing his name on homemade t-shirts.  And have posters of him in their rooms.  And know all his songs by heart.  They might even randomly burst into those songs in the middle of a mall, or a hall, or a classroom.  They might even dance to those songs.

I bet you had no idea.

Music is powerful.   It can turn a stiff board of a person into a ball of spinning energy.   It can open doors.  It can alter a person’s mood quicker than a puppy, a caramel frappaccino, a great workout, or a cute new outfit.  It also has the power to keep a person in a mood, or even heighten an emotion.

When we break up with boys, we play depressing and angry songs over and over again.  When we’re in love, or really, really, really want to be in love, we listen to any and every love song that is on our ipod.  Over and over and over again.

Music is the quickest, purest way to our soul.  Really and truly.  I’m not kidding.  Hence the reason if a boy REALLY wants you, he’ll write you a song.  Or struggle through it on his newly-bought guitar.  Or, at the very least, he’ll make you a playlist.

So, it makes sense that a chunk of our time in fellowship with other Christians be spent singing, worshiping our God.  I know it probably feels weird.  I mean, where else does that ever happen, except at concerts, where a group of people just sing together?  Nowhere.  Weird.

But…but for me, it’s been during times of worship when God most often talks to me.  Or when I can finally express to Him what’s been bothering my heart.  It’s during times of worship that I have literally felt God cleanse me of all the gunk life threw at me that had been clinging to my heart. I have felt refreshed, convicted, comforted, and encouraged.  And I know, without a shadow of a doubt, that worship is the key to all of that.

When we take the time to tell God how much we love Him; when we take the time to remind ourselves in song of His goodness, of His power, of His grace; miracles happen.  Chains are broken.  Lives are changed.  God’s glory is displayed.

 

So, two things –

Be careful what music you listen to.  I’m not saying only listen to Christian music (NO WAY am I saying that), but do be careful.   Remember, what you listen to is a reflection of where your heart is.  Music has the power to put your heart in a good place, or in a down-right rotten one.

And, take some time this week, all on your own, separate from church or youth group, and tell God how much you love Him – in song.  You know how awesome it is when someone sings to you; I’m pretty sure God feels the same way.  I’m pretty sure your belting your favorite worship song in the shower (because who DOESN’T sound amazing in the shower?) puts a huge, little boy grin on His face.  And it’s a wonderful thing when God smiles.

 

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