I’m Terrible at Fasting…

In an attempt to always share real life, I need to confess: I’m a terrible faster.

But really, I’m so bad at it.

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I didn’t grow up with fasting being a regularly practiced spiritual discipline; despite growing up in a passionate and God centered home, that wasn’t something we did.

Prayer, Bible study, learning, teaching, serving etc.. All normal practices in my home growing up.

Fasting? Not so much.

In fact, I was in my early 20’s the first time I fasted! – That was a bad day, and I was hungry and frustrated all day.

I can confidently tell you that as I am about to turn 32, I’m still bad at fasting, but I’m practicing it more regularly now.

I have fasted food, social media, TV, meats and dairy products, sugar, caffeine… So many things, but every single time I come back to the understanding that I think I may be doing it wrong lol

Here’s what I have decided and/or learned as I practice fasting:

Fasting takes practice. 
It isn’t about success or failure for me, it is entirely about learning HOW to fast well. Because, if I am being honest, I don’t entirely understand it… I mean, I understand the concept, but it doesn’t seem to be for me what other’s explain fasting to be…

I mean, don’t get me wrong, I have experienced a more full and fulfilling life while fasting!
I have had a shift in perspectives!
I have even been able to see something’s grip on me get broken (think you may have an addiction to food, sugar, social media, tv? – Fasting is where it’s at!)

Fasting is hard.
Literally, it is actually really difficult to fast.

Fasting sets you up for some really bad days.
I have yet to experience a day/season of fasting that wasn’t actually really frustrating. I have concluded that all of the things that come up while fasting are classic case devil tactics. – I recognize the tactics for what they are, but sometimes not until much later… After I have been ready to kill people (oops) haha

Fasting can kill your focus.
Reportedly fasting can give you mental clarity… That has not been my experience. At. All. – In fact, on days I fast, a lot of the time I find myself unable to focus on anything longer than two minutes; and end up rotating between 15 different projects in order to see some sort of productivity!

Fasting by yourself is the worst..
I have fasted alone, and I have fasted with others… Fasting alone is terrible. I can never seem to get it right when it’s by myself. My focus, attitude, attention, perspective, all awful.

AND, sometimes I forget to even pray on days I’m fasting.

I’m terrible at fasting.

Fasting with others can make all the difference.
When someone is agreeing with you in prayer, and when you’re able to share the frustrations of the day, it makes or breaks the fast… (at least for me currently).

When I fast with others, and talk about it with them; we began to notice more of the prayers being answered, clarity on each other’s behalf, and we can see more tactics being used by the devil. Not to mention, more solidarity as we learn to navigate through how to fast better when we reflect on the successes and failures from the day/season.

Fasting requires preparation.
If you go into a fast willy nilly style and expect God to show up, you’re going to fail. Every time. – But really, this has been my experience.
If you are doing the Daniel Fast, you will need to prepare with the right foods.
If you’re doing liquid only, you need to prepare your day.
If you’re fasting social media/tv or something else, you need a plan for what to do instead. Otherwise you’ll fill your time with equally useless things…

But, you also need to know what you’re praying for/over, otherwise your focus will prevent you from praying well… or maybe at all.

I think it should be said again: I have fasted before and forgot to pray for the ENTIRE DAY.

Fail.

Fasting should include Bible reading.
Read your Bible kids… I have failed at this frequently. How do you forget to read  your bible when you’re fasting? I dunno, but I do!

More than just reading your bible, know what you’re looking for and planning, otherwise it can feel like empty words. (trust me)

Fasting doesn’t always mean better Jesus time.
I often find fasting to feel more like an uphill battle trying to connect with Jesus rather than a sweet beautiful or intimate time with Jesus and the Holy Spirit!

Fasting can make all the difference.
I know with all the confidence that some strongholds can only be broken through prayer and fasting… I’ll let you know when I experience a life changing stronghold being broken. I have complete faith that this is crucial and important, which is why I continue to press in and practice fasting.

One day it will make all the difference.

Fasting isn’t as simple as people make it out to be.
Fasting isn’t as simple as: “I’m going to pray, read my Bible and then *BAM* the Holy Spirit shows up and we have a beautiful time together.

Fasting is actually really hard mentally, emotionally, and sometimes even spiritually. But, I’ve come to the conclusion that either these people are lying, or they just have more experience at practicing fasting than I do. So, because I believe that fasting matters, I continue to press in. I continue to practice, and I will slowly get better at this… Maybe. 😉

What I know for sure is that I am terrible at fasting; but, I need to hone my skills and tactics for doing it better…

But, as of today, I am still pretty bad at it. 🙂

Is there a classic spiritual discipline that you’re terrible at?

#NeverDull2016 Year in Review

At the beginning of the year I was asked by several people, and challenged by several more to come up with a word or theme for 2016. I am not really a goal setter. I do not have enough organization as a personality to plan things out well…Nor do I enjoy it. I more often than not fake being organized, and typically use all of my organizational capacity for my job.

However, this year I decided to try to pick a word or theme. So, I picked “Never Dull”. It felt like a way of focusing on all the big and little things, noticing how interesting and worth while life can be. After having a few hard years, I needed a year not focused on healing or regrowing, but instead a year focused on the life I have, the good, bad, interesting, growing, and adventures that can be found every day!

Thus, #neverdull2016 became my social media hashtag.

You can read my 2015 year in review posts here.

So, what a year 2016 was!

January

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We had a record-breaking snowstorm in DC, with over 30 inches of snow in 24 hours.
My sister came to visit, and I surprised her with a whirlwind trip to NYC.

February

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Uganda team meetings started! #Ugandaexcited
I studied Romans with a group of other leaders.
I got to tour the Capitol building for the first time.

March

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Threw a bachelorette weekend for one of my best friends.
We continued our Easter tradition and several college best friends came and stayed. – We failed again at going to the top of the Washington Monument lol
I started my big side tattoo!

April

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One of my girls from MI came to visit for her Spring Break.
I went to Philly and got to hang out with some of my favorites.
Threw a super fun fundraising house party for clean water wells in Uganda.
I also started having much more regular meetings with other churches to talk about First Impressions things.

May

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One of my best friends got married! #Howboutthemappels
Our Uganda meetings started happening twice a month!
People continued to join us at the gym haha

June

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We had the 2nd Annual Race for H2Ope Run/Walk fundraising event for our Uganda mission.
I went to Nashville, did a whirlwind visit, and helped her drive back to DC for the summer.
I continued my tattoo process.
I got to help teach dance classes throughout the summer with a super fun group of ladies!

July

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I finished my tattoo just in time for it to heal before going to Uganda!
Our team went to Uganda and dug 2 clean water wells! You can read more about it here.
Our house shifted as one roommate left and a new one began living with us.

August

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I spent the first 8 days of the month in Uganda.
I went on my first date in a year – Had a great time, but it didn’t go anywhere.
We did a presentation at the Fairfax JDC about our work in Uganda.

September

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I went to Disney World for the first time! – With a ton of my family! It was awesome!
Family Dinner Mondays started up again for the fall. – It has been such an amazing weekly time!
College friends had a free weekend, so they came to visit and we all headed to the beach!
A group of us undertook project get Amy’s iron up.. which meant a more strict diet than normal; it sucked and was great all at the same time.
I put all of my roommates on a traveling ban because we travel SO much…. it failed miserably. lol

October

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I went to visit 6 churches to learn from them and deemed it my #tourdechurches – It was amazing!
Our church celebrated its 20th anniversary.
My little brother’s wife had their first baby! – She’s so cute!

November

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I was able to go to Puerto Rico for free cause I have lucky friends haha
I had to say goodbye to friends who followed a God-given dream across the country.
My roommates and I are now fluent in food as a love language.
I finally finished my “corner office” for my consulting work!

December

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This is always one of my favorite months in DC. There’s so much happening, fun parties and sweet time with friends.
I got to spend a lot of time with my family for Christmas, it was amazing.
I got to snuggle my new niece.

Overall

I feel like this year was full of adventures, big, small, and everything in between.

How did this year compare to what I thought it would be? – You can see some of my goals and predictions here.

In some ways I feel like it was pretty spot on… In others it was close, and obviously in some ways it was totally different.

In general, my sentiments are: What a beautiful year it has been.

I find myself grateful. Incredibly grateful that I was able to experience such amazing things this year with so many wonderful and amazing people. I feel rich with friendships and people I love. I am grateful for the adventures and the laughter. What an incredible year full of ups and downs and everything in between.

#Neverdull2016

Love of Traveling…

I love traveling.

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Seriously, short or far, driving, the train, or flying, I love traveling. Even the obnoxiousness of delays, weather, unforeseen obstacles, I love the unknown adventure that comes with traveling.

I think my love for traveling is why I miss Europe so terribly every day. Seriously, I think about my two-week trip to Europe every single day.

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I replay conversations had with one of my best friends…
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I remember amazing food… and some.. not so fabulous food.
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I laugh to myself about funny conversations, signs, experiences, reactions etc…

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I miss exploring, and walking until I have cankles, and getting to just play and experience something entirely new that I had no idea existed, or had on my bucket list to cross off.
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I love seeing things that take my breath away.
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I miss having nothing to do but talk about anything that comes to mind whether serious, silly, ridiculous, precious, touching, memories, heartaches.. all of it.
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I even miss the crazy adventures that were inadvertently created trying to lug everything around from city to amazing city.
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Every single day I miss it.

But, mostly, right now I think I miss how my heart felt traipsing around Europe. I felt full, excited, loved, like God and I were connected, and as though my partner in crime understood me perfectly. For the very first time in my adult life, I had the chance to take a real vacation and just relax and let my mind not think about work or school for an extended period of time. I was able to just focus on the things in front of me, not the things I had to do tomorrow or checking things off my to-do list… I was able to use the time to process through hurts and bounce thoughts off of someone repeatedly as I worked through them over the course of the couple of weeks. I had the chance to look through my camera lens and be creative and see beauty.

Taking Pictures

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Life just looks different when you purposefully look for beauty.
I want to do better at purposefully looking every daily.

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And, we laughed. All the time, every day.

I will often find my heart suddenly transported back to the feelings I had when I see pictures of (any of) my trips… Such as, I will once again find my heart full of thankfulness to God for allowing us to see the sunrise on a completely cloud covered morning.

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While I realize, that sometimes it may just be that it is easier to miss something purely because it was fun and great, and I am in full on hatred mode of winter right now… (since the snow pile in the driveway is taller than me…) But, in reality most of my sentiments are not really a new feeling, every single day since getting back, I have thought about my trip to Europe. I will find myself going about normal activities, and things I learned will bubble to the top of my mind to be mulled over again, conversations we had will replay in my head, people we talked to will spring to mind, and all of the time we were able to just be together and be friends; it was exactly perfect.

I think that the beauty I see in traveling, the experiences that follow me for the rest of my life, and all of the things that I find myself learning and going back to for such a long time add to my love of it all.

I could talk endlessly about all of the things I have learned and the ways that traveling has changed me, but it would be better conveyed over a cup of coffee in person.

Although, in reality, sometimes the learning takes place while you travel will show up in the form of just fun trivia… Like seeing a scene in a movie (Now You See Me) and knowing that the place does NOT actually look like it is depicted on the movie.. therefore it is a set.Lock.KiraLock.MeLock.Both

And, like the one time I was thumbing through a “100 things you must see before you die” book and seven of them I saw on my trip ONE trip to Europe, and three others I had seen on other trips… (And, I even think that some of my pictures were better than in the book!)

I have now experienced two types of travels: Travels to help others, and travel for the sake of fun. Either one is great and honestly life changing in different ways, but both serve a wonderful and unique purpose. I love each type of trip.

All of these things, and so many more are what continue to grow my love of traveling, and why it will always hold a special place in my heart unlike anything else.

Overcast With a Chance of Frog

Me on the Great WallI spent the last couple weeks in an East Asia country, and the next few posts will be about various aspects of that trip! You will quickly be able to figure out which country I am speaking of, but I am choosing to not name it specifically, on purpose, and I ask that you not comment with the specific name either… There is a reason for this, one of which I cannot directly mention, but just know that it has to do with the big man upstairs, and the type of government and control the country I visited has.

This was the first time I have visited a non-third world country, and it was a lot the same in some ways (such as squatty potties, and some retched smells in the large cities), and totally different in other ways (hello smog/fog…translated accidentally into frog).

I found out once again that my natural reaction to trying to communicate in a foreign language is to fall back on Spanish.. “Ni Hao…” “Hola!..” *facepalm* Thankfully, most of the time I was able to catch myself before I responded in a totally different language haha

I have never been so intensely interested in bathroom facilities.. Western toilets are a wonderful and lovely thing!

I have never thought a bathroom could smell better than a food court… Uhm. Ew.

Who knew that red beans could be used for more than Mexican food… Much less in a shake, and taste, not horrible. lol

I was able to cross off seeing the Great Wall from my bucket list!.. Not to mention a few other famous places that I was oblivious even existed before this trip!

I found a camera hidden behind a mirror (without snooping behind the mirror), I was able to see the recording light by standing in front of it. It was a sobering reality of the government control/snooping, and a slightly amusing realization that they likely saw a foreigner’s butt…

Internet use is frustrating at best, and if by chance you put in the wrong word choice for files or in an e-mail, suddenly a website doesn’t work, the internet shuts down or goes so insanely slow that you just get annoyed and give up. All of the rumors you’ve heard about the content control is no joke, and the stories are likely true!

Foreigners are watched constantly, and if you have blue eyes you will likely be asked to take a picture with someone.. Ironically my pink stripe got very little attention haha

The locals take pictures ALL THE TIME… and the peace sign is a local girl favorite pose.. Not even kidding.

Fashion is unique, and I am not sure what some of the people are thinking when they get dressed in the morning. Seriously, the best way to describe it is cutesie anything is the “in” style.

The food was amazing! Seriously! And, much to my surprise, we ate way more noodles, and hardly any rice in the areas we visited! I also tried a piece of shrimp (what?!), but somehow was able to find non-seafood things to eat for the majority of the trip!

More thoughts and info to come, but for now that is all of my random thoughts on the trip!