Every Advent I determine in my heart that my family and I will fast something. 

And every Advent we all fail. . . miserably. . .

The other day my husband and I were discussing our ever-expanding / never-decreasing waist-lines.  We both have these bellies for different reasons, and for different reasons, we find them hard to get rid of.  My husband asked me what I thought were the two biggest hinderences to my losing that belly weight.  My response:  Dr. Pepper and lack of exercise.  After sharing his biggest problems with me, we decided to each work on our two biggest problems.  That, for me, translated into a big, “NO MORE DR. PEPPER!”

Ugh.

And the first day I was an internally miserable, crying, whining, feet-stomping mess like a little three year old girl not getting her way.

And I realized this Dr. Pepper thing was much more than a beauty problem – this was a heart idol.  I have come to rely on a soda for things I should only be looking to God for – comfort, strength, energy. . .

And, as this first day of Dr. Pepper withdrawl was also the first day of Advent, I realized that this was an opportunity to fast something that really had a disturbing hold on my life.

Today I’ll be sitting down with my family.  We will discuss if there is a food, beverage, or electronic media that has an unholy hold on our lives (of course, I’ll be having this conversation on a 3-9 year old level).  We will decide, together what we should, as a family fast – meat?  large meals?  meals out? dessert? TV? computer? – and we will try to hold eachother accountable to this fast and discuss each day why it is difficult and what that means our heart desires have become and what our heart should actually be desiring. . .

And when we slip, we slip. . .  we do not fail. . .  we get up and go at it again, realizing that this is just another indication of our need for God because we in our own weak flesh cannot do these things on our own.

I encourage you and your family to choose a fast for Advent.  And, if you choose to fast meat, here are some of my family’s favorite meat-free meals for you to try out.

Mexican Black Beans and Rice.

Add a packet (or a 1/4c.) taco seasoning to the equivalent of 3 cans of black beans and simmer till hot.  Serve over rice with shredded cheese, salsa or tomatoes, sour cream and tortilla chips.

Vegetable Curry

Adapted from this recipe at Family Fun.

Heat a tablespoon of oil in a skillet.  Stir in one minced garlic clove, a teaspoon of salt and a tablespoon or two of curry powder and heat for a minute till curry powder has just browned up a bit.  Add a bag of frozen mixed vegetables and a can of chick peas and a half cup of water and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat, cover and simmer for about 15 minutes.  Stir in some sour cream to thicken the sauce, only if desired.  Serve over rice, possibly with some flat bread.

Veggie Chili

Saute a few chopped bell peppers, onions and carrots in a tablespoon of oil.  Cook till onions begin to turn translucent.  Add a can of dark kidney beans, a can of red beans and a can of drained and rinsed black beans.  Add a can of tomato sauce and a can of diced tomatoes.  Stir in 1/4c. chili powder, 1/4c. cumin, 2 tablespoons oregano and salt and pepper to taste.  Serve over rice with sour cream and cheese and corn chips if desired.

Curried Lentils

Recipe from The More with Less Cookbook

In a pot, combine 1c. Lentils, 2 1/2 c. Water, 2 Beef Bouillon Cubes, 1 Bay Leaf and 1 teaspoon of salt.  Bring to a boil and simmer for 20 minutes.

While lentils are cooking, saute 1 large Onion (chopped) and 1 clove Garlic (minced) in 1/4c. Butter or Margarine.  When onion is translucent, add 1 teaspoon Salt and 1-2 tablespoons Curry Powder.  Fry briefly.  Stir mixture into lentils once lentils have finished cooking.  Then stir in 2 tablespoons Lemon Juice.  You can also add some chopped Parsley for added color.

Serve over rice with salad and maybe some flat bread on the side.  We add sour cream to cut the heat a bit for the kids.

Old Fashioned Southern Pinto Bean Meal

To give the pintos good flavor, I cook a few cans of pinto beans with a couple beef bouillon cubes, a tablespoon or two of oregano, a tablespoon of dry minced onion and salt to taste.

Serve the pintos over rice or mashed potatoes with a side of greens (I don’t attempt to cook these on my own, we use canned), your family’s favorite corn bread, and maybe some coleslaw.

Just one thing to do today:

Sit down with your family and choose a fast that you all can stick to.  If a full-fledged fast or a fast from meat is going to set everyone up for a stumble, go with something you can stick to like a media fast or a sugar fast or a fast from eating out. . .  or consider only fasting certain days of the week or certain meals. . .  Talk about the importance and reasons behind fasting and remind everyone of the need (and greater importance) of prayer during your time of fasting.

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