When I ask Rosie what she would like for lunch, I’m likely to hear “Garlic muffrooms, please Mummy?” It could be a dangerous question to ask a two-year-old, but we trust our daughter to know what, when, and how much she needs to eat. She’s been doing it since she was born.
It makes sense that our heavenly Father would have given us a built-in awareness of what our bodies need in order to thrive. One of many amazing things about breastfeeding is that a baby who is kept close to his mother will regulate his own food supply, if he is allowed to. When Rosie was a little baby, I let her lead the way as we worked out a pattern of feeding. When she began to dabble in the world of grown-up food at about seven months of age, we just continued to follow her lead, setting out a baby-sized portion of family meals for her and letting her experiment for herself.
We learned that there were names for our approach to infant feeding. Baby-led weaning (BLW) refers to letting a bottle- or breast-fed child learn to eat solid food on his own; child-led weaning means letting a child self-wean from the breast (a process we are going through now). In both cases, the point is trusting the child to know when he has had enough. There has been research done showing that both breastfeeding and BLW are linked to a lower risk of obesity and eating disorders later in life.
By supporting her natural awareness of what her body needs, we are doing our best to set Rosie up for a lifetime of healthy choices. So far, I think, she’s on the right track.
Mary Lynne Mountjoy is originally from northern Ontario, but now lives in Devonshire, England, with her husband and daughter.
When I was in high school, I participated in a 30-hour fast with a group of fellow students. It was the longest hours of my life! I felt faint and nauseated and had trouble thinking of anything but food. It reminded me of times when I would try silly diets like eating only cabbage soup or grapefruits at every meal. It seemed the harder I tried to fast the more I focused on what I did not have.
So when I was invited to fast as an adult, I quickly rejected the notion. I didn’t want to feel sick and deprived. I didn’t want to think about food all the time. However, with this new invitation came some direction and guidance that opened my eyes and my heart to the true meaning of fasting.
First of all, I learned that I could fast in many different ways. I could abstain from all food and liquids, except water; or I could skip all food but drink liquids like juice, broth and herbal tea; or I could give up certain foods. I learned that fasting is not so much about going without something as it is about using the time I would spend on that activity to pray.
I learned that fasting acts as a reminder to pray. So every time I felt hungry, I would be reminded to pray. Fasting is a time to abstain from the physical and devote my attention to God.
There are many mentions of fasting and prayer in the Bible. I learned that people fasted for a number of different reasons including during times of celebration, in petitioning God for healing, for His intervention for victory in battle, and in preparation for ministry. In the Old Testament, Ezra 8:23 says, “So we fasted and petitioned our God about this, and He answered our prayer.” Nehemiah 1:4 says, “When I heard these things, I sat down and wept. For some days I mourned and fasted and prayed before the God of heaven.”
In the New Testament, Jesus began His ministry with prayer and fasting. And the first missionary journey began with prayer and fasting.
Many of us cannot physically go away to a quiet place to pray yet we can pray as we go about our daily routine. We can begin our day fasting and then pray while driving, walking or cooking. I plan to spend time in prayer asking God how He would like me to participate in a fast. How about you?
So after they had fasted and prayed, they placed their hands on them and sent them off (Acts 13:3 NIV).
I recently returned from a belated honeymoon with my husband. We stayed in a gorgeous hotel that featured a wood-burning fireplace and therapeutic tub. It was the perfect opportunity to put up my feet and relax.
One evening, after a fine meal, we returned to the hotel and noticed a computer sitting alone in the hotel lobby. I felt drawn to this machine. I wanted to check my e-mail. Imagine that. I had five days to be away from my palm pilot, cellular phone and computer obligations, yet I felt compelled to sit behind the keyboard and check in on work.
How ridiculous. We live in a world driven by technology. Yet instead of giving us more freedom, it seems to have shackled us further.
In the Bible, we are directed to take a day off. A day where we leave the worries of the week and focus our physical and mental energies on God. Now this is something we should be doing daily, but most of us don’t take even an hour out of our day to focus on God. We are commanded to take a day off. Silly, really, that we must be told to take time off? We must be reminded to relax?
The Ten Commandments express God’s unchanging standards for moral living. In Exodus 20, we are told to, “Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God.” We know that Jesus is the new covenant because He fulfilled the law, but He still wants us to follow the spirit of the law.
After my vacation, I returned refreshed and rejuvenated. I was ready to tackle my regular routine with renewed vigour and enthusiasm. Imagine if I did this once a week. Imagine how much better I would feel on Mondays if I only did what God asked of me.
Observe the Sabbath day by keeping it holy, as the Lord your God has commanded you. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God (Deuteronomy 5:12-14 NIV).
The year was 1991. Laurier faced Mt. Allison at the Sky Dome for the Vanier Cup. This was my graduating year from Wilfrid Laurier University, so six of my girlfriends and I decided to go to the championship football game.
We drove from Waterloo to Toronto, and then took the subway into downtown. The excitement in the air was energizing. Most fans dressed in the WLU colours of purple and gold. I remember wearing a gold coloured scarf to support my team.
Once at the stadium, we found our seats and joined in the cheering. What a game! I had never been to a football game and so my best friend described to me exactly what was happening. It was so much fun! I was caught up in the brouhaha and yelled and screamed until my voice was raw. I’m not sure why I even bought a seat because I didn’t sit down for the entire game. I waved my scarf up in the air until my arms were tired. You can imagine the burst of sheer joy when my team won the cup. The party continued late into the night. I was elated that my team had won. I was proud to be a Laurier student. I was happy to be on the winning team.
Remembering that football game reminded me of a poster my son had in his bedroom. It was a picture of a muscle-clad man sporting a T-shirt with the motto, “Be on the winning team!” At the bottom it clarified, “God’s team.”
I am a member of God’s team. I joined when I gave my heart to Jesus. I feel proud to be a Christian. I am happy knowing that when I die I’ll go to heaven. Funny though, one would think that my salvation is a little more important than my favourite team winning a sports event.
Knowing where I will spend eternity is a tad bit more inspiring than a plaque on the wall with the year of the championship. So why don’t I treat it as such?
Why can I go to a football game and scream, jump and raise my arms in support of my team, yet on Sundays at church, I am reluctant to even raise a hand? Why is it that as a fan of a sporting event I feel it’s okay to act fanatical, but within the walls of my own church family I am so much more reserved?
This year, I resolve to act more enthusiastic about what truly matters in life. I’m going to sing out loud, cheer, and yes, I’m going to raise both my arms at church.
David, wearing a linen ephod, danced before the LORD with all his might, while he and the entire house of Israel brought up the ark of the LORD with shouts and the sound of trumpets (2 Samuel 6:14-15 NIV).
Today I started out on my walk, breathing in the sweet smell of early morning blossoms. I drank in the beauty of the majestic blue spruce trees reaching to the perfect sky. I eavesdropped on the call of one blue jay to another. It was a glorious morning.
Ready to start my time in prayer, I began with thanks to God for the beauty all around me. But then it started; the buzz of a horsefly as it flew near my ear. And again. It was circling my head as I walked. I tried to swat it away, but it was too fast. I pulled the collar of my shirt up over my head so that only the eye of my sunglasses was showing. I must have looked like quite the sight. Unfortunately, this strategy not only didn’t work, it seemed to excite the pesky fly and I think he called for his friends. Three horseflies surrounded me now.
I returned my shirt to normal and began swatting again. It didn’t work. So I started to run, thinking I could get away. This didn’t deter them.
Aha, I thought of using my arms in helicopter motion, alternating my swings so that there was never any open opportunity for them to land on my head. I succeeded in hitting them, but I think it actually encouraged them to try harder. I was in a losing battle.
Funny thing, by this time I was a third of the way through my walk and I hadn’t even started my prayers. I was too busy focusing on the problem of these horseflies. I had ignored my Lord in favour of focusing on my problems.
Realizing this, I straightened my shirt and held my head up high with my arms naturally swinging by my side. I decided to ignore the horseflies and focus on God. I began my prayers.
By the time I had rounded the last corner to my home, the flies had lifted and I was free to walk without aggravation. Coincidence?
There are many times in my life when instead of focusing on God, I pay attention to the problem at hand. I put so much energy into fixing my situation that I ignore my Lord altogether. But God wants to be part of the solution. He wants me to spend my energies on Him.
When I set out on my walk tomorrow, I plan to start with an open heart and a clear focus on my Lord.
And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints
(Ephesians 6:18 NIV).
My girlfriend is a runner. She runs every day and even participates in races. She didn’t start running until her mid-twenties and she was eager to learn as much about it as she could. She joined a runner’s club, hired me as her personal trainer, and bought books on the subject. One day, she shared with me her excitement upon finding a gem of a motivational statement in one of the books. It read, “Strive for progress, not perfection.”
As a beginning runner, it was easy for her to get discouraged watching others win the race when she was struggling just to finish it. It was discouraging for her to suffer from shin splints and leg pain after the first few outings. But this became her mantra, “progress, not perfection.” She wanted to improve and work toward perfection. However, every day she only needed to see that she was progressing. Each day she had to try.
In our faith journey, God expects the same. He does not desire perfection, although this is our end goal. He wants to see progress. He wants to see us trying everyday to live a Christian life modeled after Jesus. However, some days we may feel discouraged because other people seem more “Christian” than us. Maybe they can memorize and quote Scripture or maybe they have a melodic ability to pray. We can feel discouraged seeing others leading people to Jesus when we are still working on ourselves. However, God sees our hearts. He knows our intentions. And although we may fall short of where we’d like to be, God is patient. He wants us to get up, dust ourselves off and continue our walk.
This reminds me of my children working on their schoolwork. Each day, they are learning something new. They come home with new assignments and new tasks in each subject. I don’t expect my kids to get 100 percent on their homework or their tests, but I would like to see progress. I want to see that they can now handle math concepts that were new to them at the beginning of the year. I want to see that their spelling is improving and they are working on their writing skills. I don’t expect a perfect spelling test, but I do want to see them study and work at it.
God desires the same. He wants us to try to be more Christ-like every day. We should strive toward the goal of perfection, but keep our attitudes in line with the goal of progress every day.
I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith
(2 Timothy 4:7 NIV).