Fasting as a Church -Notes on My Experience

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This is the Last Meal I had before starting my fast for 24-hours.

This is the Last Meal I had before starting my fast for 24-hours.

“I used to fast with my mom.”

That’s what I quietly told my husband during church when the preacher talked about fasting the first time in January.

He nodded politely at me when I said it, as he does when he’s trying to concentrate on the sermon.

‘…But I really did fast with my mom.’  I thought. She’s the one who taught me how to do it, but I really didn’t focus on anything or concentrate on anything when we did it.  I just learned to pray, usually about something specific that we had a need for.

Just in case I haven’t made myself clear, when I state “fast” I mean that we skipped a meal, or two, or purposely not eat for a few days.

When I was younger and would fast, it would usually be for something I needed.  Or something that was concerning me.

◊ ◊ ◊ 

The preacher of our church asked us to fast for 24-hours as part of a “Spiritual Arsenal” series he was teaching on during the month of January.

A link to his blog post about the subject and his thoughts are here:

Jason Locke’s Blog: Spiritual Arsenal #4: Fasting

A link to his sermon about the subject is here:

College Church of Christ Sermon – Spiritual Arsenal, 4: Fasting

Essentially what we were to do was to fast for 24-hours, and during the sermon he asked us to fast on a normal work day, either Thursday, January 28th, or Friday, January 29th.  He asked that we consider it worship while we fast, and listen to what the Lord is telling us during that time.  We had a hashtag created for photos (#ccofcfasts) taken during the time and afterwards, and the preacher asked that we break the fast with fellow members (family and friends) and discuss questions about our experience.

Here were his questions:

(1) What was it like to go without food for 24 hours? Was it easy?
(2) Share about a moment when you were tempted to cheat-or cheated.
(3) When you felt hungry, did you pause to pray & listen to God? What was that like?
(4) What thoughts or feelings came to mind as you prayed & reflected?
(5) Do you feel encouraged?
(6) Is this something you’d do again?


My experience….

My husband and I decided on Thursday as our day of fast, and we started after dinner on Wednesday at 630 PM.  This meant that we weren’t going to eat anything until after 630 PM on Thursday.  I considered my running schedule while picking this day, as I wanted to eat the night before running, and eat after my run, and I run on Friday mornings.  See my half-marathon training plan if you want to know more about this.

A photo of the “last meal” (on Wednesday) is shown above, and I had picked pork chops, green beans and brown rice.  I also ensured to have a bit of almond butter as that is my current substitute for dessert.

That evening, although I wasn’t’ hungry, I was consciously aware that I wanted a snack, preferably peanut butter.  I intentionally did not get up to get it, but I found myself acknowledging my craving, yet not being hungry.

I was running late in the morning so skipping breakfast was really easy the next day!

But come 10 AM, break time at work and my time I usually have a snack, I heard my stomach audibly growl.  I took the time to fill my coffee cup, drink some water, write some notes down about this experience and pray.

My husband checked in on me, and here’s how our conversation went:

Conversation for break

The prayer I wrote down in my notes was “Lord, what is it that you want me to focus my prayer on?”

I kept busy during my hunger pangs.

At lunch, I sent my husband this text and as always, he has a quick wit and made me LOL!

Lunch Conversation with hubby

So during lunch, I typed up this blog post, while listening to Jason’s sermon about Fasting.

During the sermon he states the following things that hit me across the head like a brick thrown at me (and I am paraphrasing) –

God tends to show us a real need where we are needy.

The work of the Lord is the real need.

God can speak to us when we are needy.

Did you get hit across the head too?

Jason also goes into how sometimes we don’t like being quiet and needy (and not busy). Sometimes – we’re too scared to find out the problems we have inside.

My confession – I stayed busy.  I admit it.

I was scared what the Lord would tell me.

◊ ◊ ◊

I got through the rest of the day, asking the Lord what to pray for.

As my stomach systematically reminded me that I haven’t eaten since the night before, I closed my eyes and put my head on the back of my chair in my office to focus and pray.

My answers came in waves as I prayed, and I wrote them down in the order I got the thoughts about what and who to pray for.

Pray for Sebastian (my new supervisor);

Jim (his supervisor).

It’s not about me.

My friends.

Being thankful.

Giving Him glory.

After work, I left with a co-worker and we walked together to the parking structure I park in.  During that time, we somehow got into the conversation of how I was surprised how I liked my forced hour-long lunch.  My exercise now consisted of running in the morning even though I couldn’t go to a personal trainer anymore, and I enjoyed the time in the morning with my children that I didn’t have before because I left so early with my previous schedule.  I told him that other than the complaints everyone else has about the work environment, I really couldn’t complain about the change for me.

I said “Good bye”to my co-worker and walked to the car in the parking structure.

When I got settled into the seat of my car, ready to go …

It hit me.

That’s what The Lord was trying to tell me.

Pray for those supervisors and the work environment.

It’s not about me.

Be thankful He’s in charge.

Give Him the glory for knowing what’s best for me and my family.

Everything in the last hour and a half or so before I was ‘scheduled’ to start eating again was what I was I needed to hear/feel/pray for.  I felt the clarity of my situation and what He has done for me really set in.  What I told my co-worker was what I needed to hear.

The meal after the fastbreaking the fastMy husband cooked tri-tip beef cuts in the smoker and we ate a delicious meal after thanking the Lord for it.

As far as the questions, I think I answered some of them in this post.

Would I do this again?

Yes. But – My longer answer is this – I really like doing things like this with other believers.  That’s the part that made this special to me.  Other people I knew were praying during their hunger pangs and not eating at the same time I was.

I felt very encouraged by the preachers personal posts on Facebook, and several others who were going through the fast on the same day we were.

I was also encouraged the next day when we saw many of our personal friends at a house gathering to discuss what happened to us.  Hearing their stories made me feel like we are were all bonded through this and I don’t have the vocabulary to describe how that feels.

It’s just awesome.

I hope this post encourages you to try something new for the Lord, even if it’s not fasting.  Worship can come in many different shapes, sizes and forms, and this was definitely a time to get closer to Him and listen during those tiny times of peace and reflection.  I can’t believe when it “occurred” to me in such a small window of time and after I had to hear myself explain it to someone else.

But that’s just me.

I’d love to hear your story!


Our Trip to Ensenada, Mexico

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Trip-Us with the ShipEarly in January, my husband and I were able to take a trip to Ensenada on a Carnival Cruise ship.

The trip was awesome, and here are some highlights as well as a few things I learned about to plan the next cruise for our family.


FYI: We purchased the $50 per person per day option for drinks, usually called totally inclusive.  My husband and I figured that if we were able to drink five (5) drinks a day, that would make the purchase easily justifiable.  Mental note for those who purchase this plan – you can only drink 15 drinks a day, and the drink cannot cost more than $10.00.  This was easily do-able.

I’ll just let you know that we were able to meet that small goal.  Hee, hee.  Don’t be judge-y. We were without children you know.
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Trip-Queen MaryThe cruise left from Long Beach, California.  We took a photo in front of the Queen Mary, a ship that is permanently docked and is available for both dinner and nightly stays.  I’m not interested in the whole “being haunted” thing, so I probably won’t be making a vacation to stay on that ship anytime soon.

This is the Long Beach, CA skyline behind my husband. DeAndrasCrafts.com

My husband is standing at the very back of the ship in front of the Long Beach skyline as we left the port.

We picked a room with a king-sized bed and a window, and we discussed at length how we don’t know how people can pick rooms without windows.  It’s less expensive though, and we could see how being on the ship is exciting enough.  Other than sleeping or napping, you really don’t spend a whole-lot-of-time in your room.

The team of crew members treat you like royalty, and I personally love the small touches that cruises offer such as ‘all you can eat food’ at any time of the day.  It’s an extremely gluttonous experience if you haven’t experienced anything like that.  They also place extra towels on your bed each evening in the shape of animals.  The frog was my favorite on this trip.

Trip-Towel FrogThe first full day was spent in Ensenada, Mexico, and in the morning before we docked, I ran around the walking/jogging track as we came into port.

Note for any future joggers/walkers: If you use an app on your phone, the app may or may not take into consideration the movement of the ship.

This is my selfie as the ship parked into the Ensenada port.

This is my selfie as the ship parked into the Ensenada port.  I was bummed that I didn’t get to see the enormous Mexican flag that ~usually~ flies on the pole behind me.

According to the run tracking app on my phone, I was able to do the first mile in 4.32 minutes.  As I know that is not possible for me EVER, I knew the app didn’t take the speed of the ship moving into its calculation.  This also made it difficult to judge how far I actually ran that morning.  If I had to guess, it was probably about three miles, but I didn’t count the laps around the track.  The track has a distance marked on the deck as 1/11th of a mile around.  It takes 11 trips around the track to go a one-mile distance.

The shipped docked around 8:30 AM or so and cruisers were able to get off the boat for excursions and local shopping/touring.

We easily purchased a excursion that morning for a 10 AM departing time, to go see something called “La Bufadora” and wine tasting at an Ensenada winery.

This is my second (or maybe third, I can’t recall) trip to Ensenada, Mexico, and it was my husband’s third or fourth.  We had both been on mission trips to Ensenada, but separately and thus this vacation was our first trip to this city together.  Neither one of us had experienced “La Bufadora” and it was a spectacular site that was worth seeing at least once in a lifetime.

My husband is standing in front of La Bufadora in Ensenada, Mexico.

My husband is standing in front of La Bufadora in Ensenada, Mexico.

The cruise-ship provided tour guide said that there were only three locations of this type of phenomena in the world, and Ensenada is one of the three.

For me, one of the coolest things I experienced was seeing a rainbow in the occasional water spray after the water shot up from where the ocean meets the rock formation.

I wish I got video.  It was quite beautiful, loud, and breathtaking when the splashes occurred.

A rainbow formed in the spray at La Bufadora.

A rainbow formed in the spray at La Bufadora.

The drive from the ship to the spot where La Bufadora is located is about 35 to 40 minutes on a chartered bus that was part of the excursion purchase.

The tour guide told us all his favorite spots along the shops at La Bufadora, and we were one of the first visitors of the day there.  From the dirt parking lot where the bus parked, there is about a quarter-mile walk to the rock formation of La Bufadora where you walk in between local shops of clothing, purses, jewelry, souvenirs, and food of every kind imaginable.

If you haven’t been to Mexico before and you’re reading this to find out more about it, let me be the first to warn you about Mexican sales personnel.

They are VERY PUSHY.

And sometimes, just sometimes, if you know enough Spanish, you can tell they are not very nice when you politely say “no thanks.”

It’s just a hard day’s work for them and that’s how I like to look at it.

Also – The rumors about Mexican water are true – be very careful about drinking anything with ice in it as well, as that includes free samples of Pina Colada mix that the vendors push on you as you pass by.

Very few things are regulated in Mexico like they are in western countries, and water cleanliness is not a priority to them.

There were also people performing dances and singing for us, such as this fine gentlemen to allowed us to take a selfie with him.

Trip-With at LocalWe make sure we pack plenty of one-dollar bills for tips before we leave for any vacation, and this vacation was no exception.  We gave him a couple of bucks as he was not only serenading us, but let us take a photo.

I purchased a clam shell the size of my head from a local vendor that was filled with crab meat, clam meat, seasoning, and shrimp on top.  There’s no way to tell if something is undercooked while there, but I didn’t get sick so I highly recommend it.

We ate lunch at the taco shop closest to the parking lot.  (This was also something that was recommended by our guide and worth every bite.)

Before we left we paid the 50-cent fee (each) to use the bathroom at the taco shop.  Don’t forget about the water coming out of the faucet in the bathroom to wash your hands.  It’s still a good idea to wash your hands, but ensure that you pack a small container of hand sanitizer to use AFTER you wash your hands with Mexican water.

The trip back was relaxing and I took a short nap on my husband’s shoulder in the bus.

There was nothing special about the wine tasting at the San Tomas winery, although it’s always interesting to hear history of places and the wine tasting room had plenty of history in itself.  The wine we tasted was … well … it was … sweet, but it was not our preferred type of wine.  I’ll just leave that comment for your own judgement.

That evening was our “elegant” dinner on the ship, and the waiters and waitresses sand the song “Celebration” to us which was quite a treat.

We finished off the evening with a “Diva’s” song and dance tribute, and then a comedy show.  The day itself was exhausting, so it was easy to get some sleep the second night.

The second full day is on the sea, and we didn’t plan out much except to eat and play a few “what’s that tune” games.

We walked around before the games started to take photos on the ship and that’s where my Selfie Stick came in handy.

The cruise ships exhaust ports are in the background, along with one of the water slides.

The cruise ships exhaust ports are in the background, along with one of the water slides.

My husband and I talked about bringing the kiddos on a cruise like this, and for now, we’ve convinced ourselves that it would be possible.

First, it would have to be warmer, as the pool and the water slides would be a big seller for our children.  “Warmer” as in a daytime temperature of 75-degrees or higher.

Second, I think we would take grandma, or a friend to help be a sitter, as we would want to purchase three rooms and have the children in the middle.  Even though we are adults, our experience with trying to sleep during the third night reminded us that we are older adults and do not care for the young adults waking us up at midnight, 2 and 5 in the morning with his/her conversations and antics.  It was clear that one of our neighbors had a friend for the last evening, and I literally tried sleeping with my fingers in my ears.  It doesn’t work well at all.

The walls in between cabins are seemingly paper-thin.

Note for next time: Bring earplugs.

Lastly, we figured that the children would have to get off the boat for an excursion of some kind.  The bus ride was just the right length for us, but 40-minutes might have been too long for our kiddos.  Perhaps something closer or more exciting would have to be planned out for them.

Maybe after a three day cruise with the kids we could take it up a notch and go on a four or five day cruise.

All I know is that I like going on cruises.

I like them immensely.

This is my third one in my lifetime and I hope to go on many in the future.

Thanks for reading!

Name for Blog Posts


August Goals Update

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August Goals UpdateThe thing about goals is that ~usually~ you’re challenging yourself.

The thing about having a blog and posting about your goals is that you feel somewhat accountable to get the goals accomplished and can post about it if/when the goals are completed.

I appreciate both of those things and am happy to report that I’ve accomplished my August Goals!

Here are the goals in a nutshell –

Goal No. 1 for August: Finish reading the book, Ready to Run.

◊ Check! I read the book and now I need to implement the practices in it to get my body in shape for continuing to run.

Goal No. 2 for August: Finish the book, Pastrix.

◊ Another check! I completed this book in the same week I started it, which included staying up one night until midnight reading it.

Goal No. 3 for August: Begin the book Why did Jesus, Moses, the Buddha and Mohammed Cross the Road?

◊ Check this one off too.  Note that I said to “begin” the book.  As of this post, I am up to chapter seven, and am enjoying it, although there are many words I don’t understand and had to look up.

Goal No. 4 for August: Continue to pray for good weather and safe passage to and from Hawaii.

Praise the Lord that this was met.  We are safely back, and I had the time of my life. A few blog posts about the trip are here:

And finally, Goal No. 5 for August: Post at least five blog posts this month.

I published four posts in the month of August.  I have three more in the non-posted list, which would have brought my total to seven, if I had pushed the post button.  This post was written in August, but I didn’t end up pushing the post button until October.  I’m still proud of myself though as my children are alive and well, and I didn’t miss any of life’s big moments because I was blogging.

As I’m posting this in early October, I really didn’t set any goals in September to “accomplish” except for getting through the month.  It’s crazy to think I can be so on top of things one month and the realities of life get in the way for the next one.  Oh well.

If there’s one thing I’ll promise you, it’s that it’ll be honest when I can’t meet my goals!

Cheers and have an adult beverage for me this week!


My Affliates – “Your what?”

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A non-blogger understanding of how to make money from a blog.

As a rather newbie blogger, I can’t write the book on how to make money by owning and operating a blog.

I can however, write a blog post about what a mommy blogger knows about “Affiliates” and tell it to you in a way that will hopefully make sense, because I only speak ~mommy blogger code~ otherwise known as “simple language.”

So here’s the deal –

I was am trying to sign up with a new affiliate company, namely Flex Offers.  They are over at www.flexoffers.com.

They specifically asked me to use their name on a webpage, so that they would know that I own the domain name and that means they want to make sure I own the name “DeAndrasCrafts.com.”

Edited to add – I got accepted.  Thank you Flex Offers.  It’s an excellent site.

Okay, so now that’s out of the way….

What’s an affiliate?

The DeAndrasCrafts Answer (with help from my marketing genius husband):

Being an affiliate is where I as a webpage owner send traffic to another site, and I get a tiny commission from the other site if some other person clicks on the link on my webpage and purchases something.

With each affiliate company, Step 1 is to get approved by the company that you are going to try to make sales for them.

The four three companies I currently have affiliates with are:

Amazon.com (they call us associates, not affiliates)

Commission Junction (cj.com)

shareasale.com,

and now Flex Offers.

How do you make money?

An affiliate company is just an online company that runs the affiliate links for other major corporations.  After you get approved to become an affiliate with the parent affiliate company, Step 2 is to become friends with the advertisers (aka merchants.)

This can be harder than it seems.  I’ve been rejected by both JoAnn’s and Target, two major corporations that I spend a portion of my own salary shopping at.  But that’s okay.  I’m sure they have their reasons and I will be trying to get approved to show their advertising links another day.  And yes, I still shop there.

Once you’ve been approved to use the website links as an affiliate, then you can use the advertising code provided by the affiliate company.  (That’s Step 3.) Learning code can be a tiny bit tricky, but once you get the hang of it, it’s not as hard as it seems it would be.

Some more interesting info:

Each advertiser has his/her own commission rates.  This means that if you buy something from a Walgreens link on my page it will pay differently than a link from Craftsy.

I am very picky with my advertisers.  I don’t want to advertise companies that I wouldn’t personally shop at.  That’s just my thing.

One last tidbit of information – I don’t try to overwhelm you with advertising.  That’s one of my personal pet peeves when on a website.  I’m sure that method is working for many bloggers, but because I primarily keep this website up as a means to communicate my thoughts to my family and friends, I try to minimize the flashy ads to the banner links at the bottom of each post, and the text links throughout the blog post.

I do however, include affiliate links throughout my post.  USUALLY, but not always, the links embedded in my post (such as this one for oldnavy.com) to a website that refer to a product or that sells something, is an affiliate link, where if you purchase something, I will get credit for that purchase.  That’s how it works.

To Summarize on how to become an affiliate ~

Step 1: Get approved by an affiliate company.  The ones I use are listed above.

Step 2: Get approved by the advertisers to use their links.  More on my advertisers below.

Step 3: Use the code links provided from the advertisers on your webpage for people to click on and hopefully buy something from.


Finally, I present to you my current advertisers, you know, just in case you need anything…. 😉





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Please pray with me for our Nation today

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9-11I remember the day.

It was 2001 and I was driving to work early in the morning like I had been doing for the past few months. It was a few months after graduation from College for me and this was the first job I got after graduating college.

I live in California so 6:30 AM is 9:30 AM on the East Coast.

I don’t normally listen to the radio on the way to work but for some reason, that day I did, and the station was set on a local channel.  The DJ’s were mumbling something about a plane crashing into a building in New York.

As I continued to drive to work I continued to listen and details were coming in about a plane crashing into the Twin Towers in New York City.

We were under attack.Our Nation was under attack.

I will never forget.

I was twenty-five years old at the time.  I didn’t have any children and my biggest concern of the day was if I was going to get a pedicure or full set of nails.  I was also probably thinking I needed to go to the craft store, because I did that often back then, without purpose and just to spend money on the “someday” list of crafts to do.

I was a very different person thirteen years ago.

As I write this today I think of my children.  They weren’t around yet and I have a mix of emotions of feeling blessed that it wasn’t our City, our State, or anywhere near where I live.

I am still saddened that so many lives didn’t get to see their children, grandchildren and family members getting older.

I am joyful that more attacks did not happen.

I am thankful that the Lord blessed us all by saving us from attacks that could-have happened.

The older I get and the further away I get from that day you would think that I couldn’t remember details but I still do.

I will never forget.

I don’t think if you lived through that date and time you can forget.

Everything has changed since then and thankfully, things will continue to change.

I pray that the changes will be for the glory of the Lord.

I pray for our Nation, that we will again come to realize what the Lord and his son Christ has done for us and find our strength to fight the evil along side of Him that is hindering our choices and taking over our Nation.

I hope you pray with me.

Psalm 121:1-2

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Does Guardians of the Galaxy replace Star Wars for me?

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I am your typical nerd mama.

Don’t believe me?

For comfort, I watch Star Wars.  All six movies.

See: Star Wars: The Complete Saga (Episodes I-VI) [Blu-ray]

I have a rebellion symbol tattooed on my lower back.

I have a teddy bear my husband gave me named Anakin.

I have a daughter named Leah, because my husband wouldn’t let me name her Leia.  (It was close enough for me.)

I used to watch comic-based cartoons when I was growing up about X-Men, Iron Man, Spider-Man etc. – pretty much all throughout high school and dare I say it – even in college (all in secret of course) because of my nerdy tendencies to love hero’s.

I made my own Princess Leia costume because all good cosplay costumes are made by hand.

The list could go on and on.

So it shouldn’t surprise you when I say that I am obsessed with the Star Wars series.  To the point where I own books, games, DVD’s all the first series released figures from the re-release of Star Wars in the late nineties, stuff like that.

Everyone’s got an obsession; some just don’t like to admit it.

I watched Guardians of the Galaxy for the first time this week.

It was an incredibly fun movie that made me laugh, cry, smile from ear to ear, cringe, hold my son’s hand (who went with me) and made me fall in love with a movie all over again.

Seriously, could Guardians of the Galaxy take Star Wars’ place in my heart?

Maybe.

I’ve been watching many YouTube videos that interest me about the subject, including my new favorite character, that I can only compare to Chewbacca, the hard-to-understand-sidekick that you have to love, named Groot. (#IloveGroot) Marvel Comic's - GrootGroot doesn’t say much throughout the movie; just the words, “I am Groot” with various inflections.

Here’s Vin Diesel’s  video on voicing Groot:

One of the nuggets of video (actually the soundtrack) that I found on YouTube can be found here: http://youtu.be/dSj4vmbyh5M.  I just play it in the background at work nowdays.

And I leave you with this thought –

A bit of both quote-GuardiansYes, it might just replace it in my heart.  And best of all, it’s not owned by Disney….

I was mistaken.  It is owned by Disney. =( Oh well.  At least there’s only one place to go on vacation in the future.