Saturday, January 19, 2019

My Breastfeeding-Friendly Exodus 90 Plan

When I first heard about Exodus 90, a program in which men practice asceticism, pray, and grow in community for ninety whole days to experience greater freedom and dependence on God, my reaction was not very supportive. It was something like: 

Wow, that sounds really great...for single men. But I CANNOT see a married man doing this, because what if his wife wants to watch a movie with him? SHE CAN'T.

Yes, I'll admit it: my hesitance to anything resembling Exodus 90 came from a desire that my husband would not do it, because I didn't want to be watching movies and eating ice cream all by myself. 

Well, here we are one year later, and...several men in our church are about to begin Exodus 90.
Not only that, but I will also be participating (to an extent). The program is designed for men, so I'm modifying it a bit since I'm a stay-at-home mom who currently breastfeeds a baby. To be completely honest with you, though, I am not excited about this. Just thinking about it fills me with dread and makes me feel a bit miserable. Yet, I'm still planning to do this, because I need it.

I need more silence in my life.
I need to get my prayer life back on track.
I want to love my husband better, and sacrifice for him more.
I want to get in a better routine of exercise (exercise has been practically non-existent since summertime).
I want to focus on writing more, because I have so many halfheartedly begun projects or ideas that are still percolating in my mind and want to see the light of day.

From October until now, life has involved lots of visits with family, holidays, and sickness. So, I've become rather undisciplined in many areas of my life, and I've gotten really comfortable with laziness. With my modified Exodus 90, I am motivated to kick myself into action. It won't magically achieve these goals for me, but it will help me to create an environment (both external and internal) to strive for them, I think. I hope. Who knows?

All that said, what will I be doing in my "modified" Exodus 90? (you can read the full list of ascetical practices that I'm drawing from here)

1. Twenty minutes of mental prayer and Scripture reading a day.
Up until the baby came, I was doing this with my husband. Once baby came last summer, prayer time became a little more sporadic, but it still happened. Once holiday season came along, I still got prayer time in, but not really a "I'm going to sit here for twenty whole minutes and pray silently" prayer time. I'm excited to really get back into doing this regular routine of silent prayer.

2. No sweets.
I AM NOT looking forward to this at all. But, the sacrifice will be so, so good for me. I plan to offer up my sacrifices for my husband, the unborn children and their mothers, an end to abortion, and victims of sexual violence. I love chocolate a lot, so the thought of going 90 days without it-aside from a couple treats on Sundays or Solemnities-is kind of daunting. But in the grand scheme of things, it isn't a Hard Thing, and I just need to stop being a baby about it.

3. No social media.
Since I don't do Twitter or Instagram and really stick to Facebook, I don't think this will be a huge deal. I do think it will be tough to miss out on a Facebook group or two that have pretty good community, though. I will hop on Facebook a couple times because of a raw milk co-op that I'm in (which operates via Facebook) and a couple local Catholic mom groups that organize events via Facebook. But, I will restrict myself to only occasionally hopping on to check those and then get off.

4. No streaming videos via YouTube and Amazon.
I think this will be pretty tough for me. When I'm doing a late night/early morning nursing session, it's really fun to watch a show. And, when I'm exhausted and could easily fall asleep if I'm praying or just sitting and thinking, a show can engage me a bit. HOWEVER, my caveat to this part is-I just bought 1 month of Netflix because the latest season of The Punisher comes out right before Exodus 90 begins. And I don't think it'd be healthy to try and watch the entire season in just a couple days. So I'll watch that, maybe watch a couple other things on Netflix if I want, but when the month-long subscription ends I won't watch anymore.

5. Limit computer use.
Besides blogging, checking e-mail, and listening to podcasts while I do the dishes, I'm not really going to use my laptop all that much. If there's something that I need to research or look up, I'll do that, though. I don't use my laptop very frequently as it is, so I don't think this part will be too challenging for me, but who knows?

6. No alcohol.
I don't think this will be hugely awful, since I don't drink very frequently-but now that it's easy to buy wine (since it's now available at grocery stores) I do like to sip a glass on occasion while I make dinner or in the evening. So, it'll be a sacrifice, but manageable.

7. Do workouts/exercise twice a week.
I need to get back into physical activity, and it has been a struggle. I'm hoping that "twice a week" will be a good way to slowly get back into exercising-I guess I shall have to see how it plays out!

I think that sometimes, it can be easy to hold back from something because we can't do it "properly;" we can't participate fully. But the  more I thought and prayed about it, the more I realized that I need to get more disciplined. Even though I'm a stay-at-home mom, even though I'm breastfeeding a baby and can't fast, I can still do something. 

I'm not excited about doing these practices for ninety days, but I am excited to grow closer to God, and to see how He will work in my life through all of this. It's going to be an adventure! 


  1. I had the same thoughts as you when I first heard about Nineveh 90. My husband was invited to do it with a group of friends and he declined because as he said Family Life requires a lot of flexibility and he didn't want to make the promises that the other men were going to take rather seriously and then have to bend or break them if his family needed something different from him. This Lent he has joined with a group are my Parish who made up their own version a different prayer disciplines sacrifices and accountability together. It is All fathers of young families and they are on the same page.

    1. That is so awesome that your husband is going to do a version of this with other men in a similar lifestyle! I'm very interested to see how this Exodus 90 goes for us-most of the men in my husband's group are fathers of young kids, so I'm hoping that they will be flexible and understanding with each other as needed.

  2. I love this post so much. It's both authentic and inspiring. Your point about doing something like this doesn't achieve your goals but creates the environment/atmosphere for you to achieve them is such a good thought. I actually just deactivated my FB b/c I realized in this season it makes my life more fragmented (and it already feels fragmented by the nature of little kids). If I take out the "easy" interruptions like FB, I'm hoping that when I get a down moment, I will use it to pray or read even just a few paragraphs in a book, instead of the easy way out of checking a FB group. (though I do love the community of groups!!).

    1. Thank you so much for your kind words, Laura! I hope that going FB-free helps you embrace some peace! I find it quite ironic that the day before I cut out my FB use, the internet (and facebook groups I am in) all started exploding with some nastiness over the Covington high school-March for Life controversy. And I realized that maybe I won't be missing out on too much after all (though I also do love the community of groups).

  3. What a great idea! I am inspired to do the same - it can be tough to have order when caring for little ones but breaking it down into specific goals and practices makes it seem a whole lot easier.

    1. Thanks, Elisabeth! Feel free to join me in this! I have definitely already felt the struggle of wanting to dive into chocolate to de-stress when the kids are crazy (and yesterday and today they have been rather wild), so I think this is going to be tough, but worth it because it's forcing me to rely on God and his grace for help instead of material things.

  4. This is inspiring, AnneMarie! Man do I need to up my game too. Exodus 90 definitely sounds like a serious commitment, but it's smart how you're adapting it to what's realistic for you right now. I hope it is very fruitful for you, and look forward to hearing more about your experience!