Wednesday, March 5, 2014

IWSG: Giving Up to Gain? What? And . . . a minor web error


IWSG: Giving Up to Gain? What?

During IWSG, I usually refrain from going "obvious" with my faith, but today is Ash Wednesday, and as I prepare to help with worship at my church tonight, I can't help but think about some of the practices associated with Lent and how they've helped my writing journey.

During Lent, many Christians give up something and focus on Jesus' time of temptation in the desert, or in the days leading to his death on the cross on the Passover, representing the perfect lamb slain for all of our sins for all time. It's a time for reflection and contemplation. Although Lent isn't mentioned in the Bible anywhere, fasting is mentioned several times, usually in mourning over brokenness in sin or in the context of prayer.

The first year I practiced fasting, I didn't fast from any kind of food. I fasted from fiction reading.
A conversation with a friend had led me to realize that while I had read some of my favorite fiction books not just once, or twice, but sometimes more than a dozen times, I hadn't read my Bible all the way through even one time, with the exception of a Children's Illustrated Bible I had as a kid.

So, I gave up fiction that Lent, and while it was extremely challenging for me, it was also freeing. I had time to pray. I had time to read the Bible (on my 7th reading this year). I had time to focus on faith.

On the Easter side of that experience, I started writing again. Fasting from fiction reading helped me not only have time for a deeper faith walk, it also helped me find creativity within.

I'm going to fast from fiction again this year, and I'm worried I won't be able to make it for 40 days, even with the special exceptions I've made for myself: I can read fiction that I'm teaching with for my lit classes at homeschool co-op, I can write fiction, and I can read short stories on Sundays - mini-Easters and not part of the Lenten 40 days.

Even if Lent isn't something you practice, have you ever given something up to gain?


And if you've ever wondered how they make the Ash stick to your forehead on Ash Wednesday, I'll let you in on the secret: olive oil mixed into the ash. And that's my part of worship tonight at my church - trying to get the mixture right so it doesn't dribble down everyone's foreheads.
In this way, everyone is anointed with oil and ashes. The ash represents the death of the tree of life aka Jesus for our sins, and the oil anoints us all as a part of the royal priesthood of believers. The ash also represents our mortality while the oil represents the eternity of life in Christ. It's all about undeserved, amazing grace.


And this post was inspired by Julie Luek's post: 40 Days of Contemplation.

And, has anyone had blogger install links to other websites in their title without permission - somehow some of the words in my title area are linking to other sites - I don't want this, and I'm not sure how to turn it off. Anyone know?

41 comments:

  1. Stepping back can give one perspective, so I can see how fasting from something is a benefit. (Outside of developing a stronger connection with God, of course.)

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  2. Wow! now that's a fast. May I should try it this summer. There are some self helps books that would be good for me to read.

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    1. Sometimes fasting from fiction helps up my non-fiction reading habits. :)

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  3. I do believe that a fast can help the soul. For me it brings clarity.

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  4. Interesting! For me I've noticed that giving up something during a structured period like this helps me be more disciplined, I feel like I've gained in that sense. Best wishes with your fast this year, Tyrean.

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  5. Fasting from fiction sounds tough. We Indians believe in fasting (as in eating just one meal a day or a special kind of food), its supposed to be good for our spiritual growth.

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    1. I think fasting can definitely lead to spiritual growth, as we have to depend on God instead of our own strength.

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  6. Our Ash Wednesday service is something I look forward to. One year I gave up Facebook. The first year I practiced giving something up, I gave up television. I usually give up sweets. But one of those years, Ash Wednesday came right before Valentine's Day. And I have a birthday during Lent. Still thinking about what I can give up this year, I have six hours to decide.

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    1. It's good to be creative with fasting. I think it keeps it fresh, keeps us focused, and keeps us reliant on faith.

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  7. Some great points here. You've got me thinking...
    Fasting from fiction sounds really difficult. But then I suppose that's the point of fasting - to abstain from something close to your heart, for spiritual gain...
    HAPPY WORLD READ ALOUD DAY!
    Writer In Transit

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    1. Happy World Read Aloud Day to you too!!! I didn't know, but now I'll go read out loud to someone! :)

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  8. Once I started on my author and speaker journey, there were many things I gave up, like photography. I wonder if I could give up the Internet for 40 days?

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    1. I don't know if I could give up the internet for 40 days. It would be tough. Maybe . . . maybe, next time. :)

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  9. I loved reading this! I have a funny story about the ashes. Last year, our minister went out to the streets with his ashes-- a community kind of involvement. But it was so cold here, none of them would stick to foreheads-- oil or not. He said that, indeed, it can be too cold! LOL

    I had so many good suggestions on that post about both giving up and adding. So I decided to do both too. I'm adding some devotional reading morning and before I go to bed. I'm giving up some eating and habit things that I know are not healthy for me. We'll see how it goes--it's my first time through this. (thanks for the shout-out!)

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    1. That is a funny story. I didn't know it could get too cold. I knew it could get too dry, but too cold - interesting.

      Best wishes with your fast - both the drops and the adds!

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  10. I gave up Pepsi for Lent once long ago. I bet people would pay me not to do THAT again!

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    1. Funny. I had the same experience with caffeine last year. I think my family thought they were going to have to do an intervention, but we made it through somehow.

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  11. An internet fast would be a great thing and something that would give me hours of my life back. I can see how giving up fiction might help creativity. I'd be making up my own stories left and right.

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    1. An internet fast would be a good thing - but not now. :) Or at least that's what I've decided for this year.
      And yes, it definitely helps stir creativity when I don't have all the reading going into my head. :)

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  12. I give up all forms of sweets for Lent, and all computer games. It's amazing how much more productive that second one can make me. But I also make a commitment to "do" certain things, i.e. give more time to the church and related service, and exercise daily - take better care of the body God gave me.

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    1. I have a friend who calls that second part a reverse fast, and I try to do that too - more water, more Bible, more exercise, and more service.
      Have a great day!

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  13. A very nice post. I enjoyed it. Food for thought. The giving up fiction instead of food for fasting touched home with me. I read every single night. I have done this since I was a child, so giving up fiction would be a huge thing for me. I will remember that.

    I'm new IWSG. Just dropping by to say Hello.
    Juneta at Writer's Gambit

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    1. Hi Juneta - nice to meet you! I have a tough time not reading fiction, but it helps me in other ways, so it's worth it to me to fast from it now and then.
      I still read before bed, but I just make it non-fiction reading.

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  14. I remember Lent well. Once my brother and I gave up candy...the worst forty days EVER! LOL!
    Blessings, Joanne

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    1. Joanne - funny. :) It's always interesting when we live with someone fasting from something they love. :)

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  15. I'd have a really hard time with that fast. I love reading fiction every day. I don't write every day but I do read fiction. Glad you found it helpful.

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    1. Reading is really tough for me to give up . . . so I give myself those "outs" that I mentioned in my post, and I read more non-fiction, especially my Bible - that helps. :)

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  16. I've done "regular" fasting (giving up food) for a few days, while juicing, to gain health benefits. It's tough, but worth always worth the effort, I think.

    As for your Blogger issue, I haven't noticed that on my blog, but I'll be keeping my eyes open.

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    1. Juicing is great - it's definitely revitalizing to juice and fast for a few days at a time.

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  17. I have given up things for Lent, but found it extremely difficult~ I am happy you are writing again!

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    1. The first time when I fasted from fiction, I had come to a stall in my writing, and when I started again is about the time I started to get serious about writing and finishing my writing projects. This time, I'm already experiencing added writing time and momentum.

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  18. A most interesting write and most enjoyable and thought provoking.

    My name is Yvonne Lewis and am one of Arlee Bird's Ambassadors for the A to z Challenge, I hope you manage to take part and I wish you luck.
    I look forward to visiting you during the challenge.
    Yvonne.

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    1. Thanks for stopping by Yvonne - I'm late to sign up this year because I really wasn't sure I would be able to manage the posts with life and writing . . . it's still going to be a stretch but I'll be A to Zing anyway.

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  19. What an interesting idea, giving up fiction for Lent! That's great it helped you how it did. I've never fasted or done Lent, but it sounds like a great way to focus on other things (wow, impressive--7 times reading thru the Bible recently!) ;o)

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    1. 7th time this year - and the first year was about 15 years ago - I guess I should have said that.

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  20. This is an interesting idea! I haven't had any problems with Blogger lately. Will let you know if I hear about any solutions. :)

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  21. Thank you for sharing this post. A lot to think about here. I actually do "fast" twice a week with my eating. I eat only 500 calories on those two days and I started it to "gain" weight loss. It worked, amazingly well. I've always wanted to try a way of eating that would enable me to not have to sacrifice so completely some foods I truly enjoy. This way I can still eat what I like to eat and still maintain the size I'd like to be. I do this also on a different scale when I make myself wait to check emails and do social networking until after I've worked in the mornings on my writing. My carrots, one could say... Really enjoyed this post. Thank you again. Came over from IWSG.

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Thanks for taking time to share your awesomeness!