Love is Patient…

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I shared on instagram a couple days ago about how the Lord and I have been in this intense and intimate season over the last couple months. – Fear not, there are no signs that it is slowing down anytime soon.

I have had several people ask me about what I do or have been doing to create this intense and intimate season with the Lord… That’s actually another blog for another day that I am working on; but, I will say, it requires a choice to press in rather than continue as is or pull away. You must choose to create space to communicate a lot throughout the day with our Sweet Savior, remove distractions (I haven’t watched Netflix in months.. and I haven’t been listening to the radio in the car either). – Write. Down. Your. Prayers. – Just do it, and copy impactful scripture into your journal. Everything else I will talk more about later in a different blog.

Ok, onto the actual Love is Patient portion of this…

Yesterday, I was fasting (apparently something that I am actually getting better at compared to the beginning of the year). At the beginning of this year I realized how absolutely terrible I am at fasting, but I have continued to press in and practice, and can say that I am actually beginning to feel like I am connecting with the Lord differently than I used to. (Yasss!)

So, I took my lunch time and went to just sit on a park bench to soak in the sun, attempt to dwell and abide in the Lord, and pray through a slew of different things turning over in my head and heart.

I can honestly say there was no overwhelming sweet or intensely confident “the Lord told me this” moment… But, what I do know is the feeling in my heart and stomach when the Holy Spirit meets me. Sometimes I have a hard time telling the difference between what is just my creative mind thinking as I pray and what is a picture from God. – I wish I could tell you how to do this, but I really I am just a baby in my figuring this out, so I cannot share much wisdom here. (However, you can go listen to my church’s series Whisper, it’s about hearing the voice of God. It’s very good.)

Yet, even when I don’t know specifically if something is inspired by God, or inspired by my creativity, I feel like it’s worth writing in my journal and revisiting until I have a sense for the accuracy of it!

So, back to the park bench… I “got” three separate things that I feel like are probably inspired by the Lord… Even if I didn’t get anything close to a confident assurance or audible voice.

Here are the three things:

1st thing:
Was a mental “picture” of me standing in front of a closed door.
I was getting ready to open it, to step into the next thing/season. I was full of anticipation and excitement, but I had paused to stop and take a deep breath to calm my nerves.

God or my own creative brain? I dunno actually, but does it matter? – Is there anything right or wrong with this mental picture? I do not think so at all, so I copied it into my journal to continue to pray over. But, maybe one day I will look back and see what that door was, what season was beyond it, and will be able to point to that park bench conversation and praise the Lord for this picture.

Or maybe it was my stomach just excited about dinner ūüėČ haha

The 2nd thing:
1 Corinthians 13
If you are not at all familiar, this is known as “the love chapter”… Basically everything you need to know about love: actions, attitude, perspective etc.. are all spelled out here in this chapter.

The 3rd thing:
The ending of “Faith, Hope, and Love” – This actually hit me as I was standing up from the park bench to walk back, and it felt a little like a resounding gong in my head.

So, before I had even got back to my desk to dig into this more, I found myself reciting what I knew from this passage, and then pulling out my phone to read through all of the things that “love” is.

As I walked back, I settled that the Lord’s answer to the things I had been praying through on the park bench boiled down to this: Faith, Hope, Love.

I was both happy, full of peace, and had a bit of an “well crap” moment all rolled into one.

Once I got back to my desk, I proceeded to look up the main portion of 1 Corinthians 13 in several different versions. My favorite two versions for this passage are the ISV and NLT, and while I read the whole chapter, I focused mainly on verses 4-7 & 13.

However to make it easy for you, the ISV version of these passages reads like this:

Love is always patient;
Love is always kind;
Love is never envious or arrogant with pride.

Nor is she conceited, and she is never rude;
She never thinks just of herself or ever gets annoyed.

She never is resentful; is never glad with sin;
She’s always glad to side with truth, and pleased that truth will win.

She bears up under everything; believes the best in all;
There is no limit to her hope, and never will she fall.
Right now three things remain: faith, hope, and love. But the greatest of these is love.

Can you insert yourself into this and it still hold up? – I can’t. At least not all of the things, and certainly not every day.

Humorously, after all was said and done and the day was over, one of my prayers as I laid in bed was:
“Lord, I don’t want to be patient anymore…” – Which is super fun given my conversation on the park bench earlier that day with God.
For a chuckle, be sure to read my blog post from just 2 weeks ago on cultivating patient endurance.

What has struck me the most is that Love is always patient. Period. – I am certainly not even consistently the FIRST THING mentioned as to what love looks like and how it tangibly plays out.

I have so far to grow.

Just so we’re clear though, I do not believe I am the exception, and this doesn’t mean I am beating myself up over my failures, nor does it make me think that everyone around me does this well. What this all does is highlight for myself once again that no matter what anyone else is or isn’t doing, I am responsible to carry out the command of Jesus to love Him and love others (well).

I like the ISV version of this passage, because love is described as “she”, so it is easier for me to see and connect these actions to myself for comparison.

Some of the areas where I realize I actually need a lot of work:
I am not patient (even if I am working on it),
I often think just of myself,
I definitely can get easily annoyed,
I for sure get arrogant with pride (the “I don’t need you” kind of pride),
I really do not believe the best in everyone all the time,
and there may possibly be a limit to my hope.

However, these three remain:
Faith, Hope, Love.

The greatest is love; because Jesus is Love. He died, resurrected, and since He is love: Love restores me every single day.

Now cycle back through the list…
Jesus is Patient.
Jesus is Kind.

Jesus is never envious or arrogant with pride.

Nor is Jesus conceited, and Jesus is never rude;
Jesus never thinks just of himself or ever gets annoyed.

Jesus never is resentful; is never glad with sin;
Jesus is always glad to side with truth, and pleased that truth will win.

Jesus bears up under everything; believes the best in all;
There is no limit to Jesus’ hope,¬†and never will Jesus fall.
Right now three things remain: faith, hope, and Jesus. But the greatest of these is Jesus.

If Jesus is restoring me every day, if His mercies are constantly new (because He is constantly making morning somewhere), then I too am love and patient and kind and my hope knows no limit (and on and on)…

The difference between me, left to my own, and who I am in Christ is astounding.

If you experience love and patience from me, I can most certainly assure you it is the change that has occurred through my Sweet Savior.

Because I believe honesty is essential…. My prayer stands, “Lord, I don’t want to be patient.” – Yet, even still, I will choose to follow Him and do my best to choose patient endurance too.

He has told me to cling to Faith. Hope. and Love. With this means more of the Fruit of His Spirit must be learned and cultivated within me so that I can endure through a myriad of life’s seasons and relationships. My want and desire to succumb to my impatience doesn’t get to be what guides me, obedience to what He has told me is what guides me and ultimately determines what I will do.

Cultivating Patient Endurance…

I have always said “I am not known for my patience…”

I don’t recommend identifying yourself as even a simple thing that is not from the Lord.

I naturally tend towards the side of being a bit of a whirlwind, charge ahead, figure it out as I go, and fly by the seat of my pants type person. I like to keep moving, feeling progress, and feeling stuck or stagnant feels more like jail than anything else. Can you imagine how I feel when God forces me to stop, pause, dwell, abide, and wait on Him?

Struggle.

On one hand, I desperately want to be obedient. But, on the other it is fighting my natural instincts. I feel a bit like a caged horse just anxious to move, to do something, to go, to take off and make progress.

Ahhh, but you see, patience is essential. Patient endurance is actually key to life with the Lord. – Crap.

I have been learning so much over the last couple of months, my themes get progressively harder and more nuanced. Each theme takes on a compounding weight with the previous themes…

But, true to form, here I am to share some of what I am learning.

Patient Endurance РIt means the tolerant and even-tempered perseverance. It is the capacity or state of withstanding a hardship or stress, the act of persevering. The fact or power of bearing pain, hardship, or adversity.

If you have not, you may want to go read more about what I have been learning about Perseverance and Grit, or just a few of the themes God has given me to process.

For the longest time (aka pretty much my entire life) I have sorta separated out the Fruit of the Spirit. I have split them into two categories: the ones I am good at, and the ones I’m bad at. Naturally a lot of my life and actions are done through the lens of Kindness (pre-meditated thoughtfulness, consideration, and care for those around me)… Every single day, I am typically keenly aware of how what I do impacts those around me (sometimes for the worse, but also for the better).

Because honesty matters; what Fruit of the Spirit am I naturally bad at? Gentleness and Patience. – Shocked is no one ever.

I mean, don’t get me wrong, depending on the day, if I’m in a particularly unhealthy place, I’m bad at most of the Fruit of the Spirit!.. But, overall, on average, Gentleness and Patience are the struggles.

(A couple of years ago, my church did an “Elements” series. It was awesome, and I highly recommend checking it out to give you a good starting place too!)

So, I keep coming back to this:

“If we live by the Spirit, let us also¬†walk¬†by the Spirit.”
– Galatians 5:25

When we are in-tune with the Holy Spirit, the evidence of that is each and every one of these descriptors:
Love,
Joy,
Peace,
Patience,
Kindness,
Goodness,
Faithfulness,

Gentleness,
and Self-control

Yet, throughout scripture I’m realizing that these qualities are not all equal. Some Fruit of the Spirit are gifted, others you actually have to work towards diligently, still others are primarily an overflow of time abiding with God, unfortunately some are straight up a willful decision in moments and situations, and then some are just cultivated over time.

Awesome. Not easy.

Self-control is cultivated.
Gentleness is a choice response; usually after wisdom and compassion have had a chance to work in and through us.
Patience, oh sweet dear patience is cultivated through difficulties. Repeatedly throughout scripture patience is linked to humility, gentleness, kindness, tribulations, proven character, hope, faith and love. – Ouch. There’s really no great and wonderful rainbows and butterflies; this one is a matter of grit.

Patience is cultivated.
Patience is learned and created through difficult situations, learning, growing and choosing the response.
Patience is born out of some of the worst seasons of our life that create compassion and love for others.

Also, just so we are clear, there is a huge element of patience that is connected to pressing into the presence of God. I have started to actually see the shift and change within me as I continue to spend more time abiding, dwelling, and going to God open-handed with every bit of who I am with the situations I am facing.

Here are a few things about patience that I am learning about in this accidental growth in patience processing season:

Patience cultivation is so freaking hard. – Like truly, learning patience means being aware of your mindset, your heart, the stress and situations you are facing, and being aware enough to know how to respond well… Even if that means actually not responding at all.

Patience is equated with perseverance, which means there is a longevity associated with it. There is nothing quick about patience cultivation.

Patience is a process. As in, I have realized that as I respond poorly in situations with little or no patience, I absolutely must spend some time processing what and why I didn’t have patience and learn from it.

I have realized that when I do not have capacity for patience, I am stress and overwhelmed, and likely tapped out. My only option and saving grace is for me to force space for myself to spend some time with God. – Over the last couple months, I have come to realize, no matter how busy I am or how pressed I feel, if I do not create daily time and space with God, patience is going to dwindle alarmingly quickly for me.

God is continuing to tell me to hold steadfast, to persevere, and then issuing the challenge of “are you going to be obedient?”… Only, the challenge has shifted slightly to “do you have the patient endurance to persevere through the process?”

What process?

This process; the re-shaping, learning, growing, and creating a new foundation within me.
This process is changing me intensely and incredibly from the core of who I am outward.
God has changed the game, He has adjusted the way He and I communicate, and He is teaching me about patient endurance day by day.
A huge part of this process has been God restoring the credibility I didn’t know had been damaged. I have started learning how to recognize my need for time with Him first before reaching out to someone else for comfort… It’s a huge step for me.

Each day, I feel as though I am living out and learning that in order to actually have patient endurance, I have no choice but to live by the, “So do not¬†worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will¬†care for itself.¬†Each day has enough trouble of its own.” command in Matthew 6.

What’s coming soon, the stress of tomorrow or two weeks from now, it is literally too much to handle and it sends my fear, stress and anxiety over the edge… And graciously, lovingly with more tenderness than I realize, the Lord calls me back to today, to this moment, to Him, and asks me to Trust Him. – Allow Him to navigate the process and restore my faith and His credibility as I learn patient endurance. Some days, I easily do this with the feeling of contentment and grace, other days I am a waffling crazy person in my head and heart…. Who’s to say which way I will go each day!

Patient Endurance is intensely difficult because there’s a decision to choose steadiness that requires me to resolutely and dutifully hold firm and unwavering regardless of how I feel or see before me.

Patient Endurance begins to create a peace within your soul because of the time needed in abiding and dwelling with my Sweet Savior.

Patient Endurance forces me to confront my fears and the things I do not have control over and hand them over to the Lord trusting that His timing is better.

Patient Endurance changes you and slowly creates a calm confidence that God can be trusted.

God can be trusted. His timing is better than mine.

It will all be worth it in the end.

Wisdom and Foolishness

“But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him.”
– James 1:5

“The foolishness of man ruins his way, and his heart rages against the Lord.”
– Proverbs 19:3

Since I was a child, literally 11 years old, I can remember praying for two things for and over myself: Wisdom and Understanding. – If that gives any insight into the type of child and person I am! haha I realize and love that I’m a bit of a weirdo haha

I remember, and continue to feel like if only I have more wisdom and understanding, then I can and will do better at life. I will handle situations better, I will see people differently, I can assess and respond to various things that I encounter more effectively, I can keep the best and most important things in perspective… But, ultimately, I can just love others well.

Occasionally, I will also swap into my prayer mix, clarity and knowledge for myself before the Lord.

The opposite side of wisdom is foolishness, so it is no surprise that I want to perpetually stay as far away from that as possible.
One of the big things I process and struggle through before making decisions is wanting as much information and perspective as I can get to ensure that I do not make a foolish decision. – I don’t want to ever look back and feel like I had been foolish, hasty, thoughtless, or stupid in my decisions or actions.

So, given the way the Lord and I are working through things lately, Foolishness was the theme a few days ago, and Wisdom was soon to follow… As in, the next day.

I was amazed to realize that when you look up “foolish” in scripture, and when you read through the passages one right after another; it is actually very clear about who is considered foolish and what is considered foolish! And then, because God has a sense of humor, there’s one section of verses that throw a little wrench into what man considers wise vs foolish and what God does. (1 Corinthians 1:18-31)

Just so we are all on the same page, other descriptors of foolishness are: thoughtless, senseless, stupid, mindless, unwise or incautious actions… The level with which I do not want to be or ever be described as these things is intense within me.

So, I began to dig deeper in scripture to get a handle on what it means, and compare myself authentically to see if I am foolish.

Here are some of the things I learned reading through the 88 passages that talk about foolishness in scripture:
Those who are foolish don’t even try to understand or seek wise counsel.
Foolish people are quick-tempered.
The Foolish have eyes but do not see, ears but do not year, and they do not honor or give thanks to God even though they know him.
Foolish people speculate futilely knowing it will lead to arguments and strife.
The foolish seek riches, fame.
Foolish people, who do not believe and follow Christ are actually enslaved to their evil thoughts, coveting, deceit, sensuality, adulteries, envy, slander, and pride… They are even described as having qualities that are evil and proceed from within them.
Foolishness is something that comes from within, it produces actions that harm ourselves or others, and entirely disregard the Lord.
Foolish people operate in pride and don’t even attempt to see or care about what is right, nor do they give thanks to the Lord and honor him in any way.

But also, interestingly enough, believers and followers of Christ are described as righteous, and that they previously were foolish but are no more…

However, I find it interesting that Paul won’t let believers sidestep people who are foolish. We must seek after them with love too. He says that we are actually under obligation to both Greeks and barbarians, to the wise and foolish. We must love and follow hard after our Lord making disciples of all people and all nations.

(You can read more about where I’m getting this information from here.)

One of my favorite things about the really hard, and honestly exhausting season that the Lord and I are currently in together right now is that I spend all day every day mulling and praying through things that He is teaching me. I feel as though in my head, in conversations, in my prayers, and journaling, in my seeking, in my rising and laying down I am working out my salvation with the God of the Universe. That, while He has already saved me, He is taking this season, and making me new. On a foundational level we are re-evaluating things and removing lies and insecurities, and also replacing and building new hope and faith in the process. – It is draining in every possible sense of the word, but it is intensely good and rich.

I feel like daily I am consumed by this season. I spend every spare moment reading and digging deeper. Exhausting.

As I get my Theme’s of the day and begin to dig deeper and try to wrap my mind around them, I have realized there are a lot of thoughts and assumptions that I have that are not actually described in scripture… or better yet, other things that are incredibly clearly defined that I was totally ignorant of!

There was so much internal sigh of relief when I realized that while I certainly have plenty of foolish moments and have done foolish things, *I* am not foolish by any stretch of the imagination.

This whole internal process of mulling and praying my way through this topic was sparked because I have been trying to figure out whether it is considered foolish to hope and pray for things that are more just “wishful thinking” when I do not know if it falls within the will of God.

My everyday struggle is that, I want intensely to do things well in the eyes of the Lord. I want to follow the Lord, and pursue Him with everything I am. I desire for my prayers and actions to be in alignment with him.

So, what did I find out as I dug deeper into wisdom and foolishness?

No, it is not foolish in the slightest to hope and pray for things that we don’t know whether they are or aren’t in the will of God… There is actually nowhere in scripture that foolishness even comes close to touching praying and hoping for things in the Lord. – Instead, it is actually the opposite, wisdom and understanding slide up right next to hoping and praying for things we want. It honors God when we go to Him, foolish people do not give Him honor, nor do they care about the things of His kingdom.

Throughout scripture, wisdom and understanding are intimately acquainted with every type of communication between us and the Lord.

In fact, the more we press in, the more we seek and ask for wisdom, the more we are actually changed by the Spirit. We find ourselves in alignment with Him as part of the process, and even if we don’t get what we want, we are content and continue to hope and build our faith throughout the journey.

“Who among you is wise and understanding? Let him show by his good behavior his deeds in the gentleness of wisdom… But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, reasonable, full of mercy and good fruits, unwavering, without hypocrisy.”
– James 3:13 & 17

I do not know that I’ll every consider myself “wise” but, the more I learn about wisdom, the more I want to pursue it and also just find it fascinating. I seek the Spirit of Wisdom that is talked about throughout scripture. I want the blessings that come with having knowledge and understanding that is only given from the Creator of the Universe.

I also find it interesting that wisdom is given a gender, and that gender is female.
I also find it interesting that wisdom is ranked above coral, crystal, silver, gold, and any other riches or desirable things cannot compare.

Also, I very much am drawn to the fact that the righteous utter wisdom and their tongue speaks justice.

If your mouth speaks wisdom, then the meditations of your heart will be understanding.

Fearing the Lord is the start of wisdom, and it is pleasant to the soul within you.

Did you know that in scripture, wisdom is better than weapons of war?

And, just when I didn’t think it could get any better, the wise make the most of every day and every opportunity, especially with people who are not believers of who Christ is.

So, what is the biggest key marker between wisdom and foolishness? One seeks the Lord, the other does not care in the slightest.

My loves, be wise in all that you do.

Accused of Thinking…

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I have been processing through so many comments I have heard or read on social media over the last couple months spanning almost every topic you could imagine.

People assuming the thoughts and intentions of myself (or others) and making grandiose statements of what the reasoning is behind it, and substituted truth for what they have decided must be facts.

“You think ____.”

“Obama/Trump/Hillary thinks ______.”

“Refugee’s think _____.”

“Women/Blacks/Whites/Rich/Poor blah blah blah, all think ____.”

Stop. It.

You have no idea what anyone is thinking, you are not in their head, you do not have to make the choices they do, and you do not have all of the information. Not to mention, it is poor form and terrible logic to try to create a false process for someone else’s actions.

Stop telling me what I think and what my motivation was for something.

Because at best, your thought process is what you would have done in my shoes, with your background and with the limited information you have. And, at worst, it is the classic case, “when you assume, you make an @$$ out of U and Me…..” mantra.

But, just so we are clear, the opposite side of this coin is that, if you are making assumptions and judging me or others based on what you have decided we/they/someone is thinking, then you are likely also judging yourself based off intentions alone. Oranges and Apples.

What’s the solution to this flawed way of operating?

Ask. Questions.

“Why did you do ___? What was your thought process behind ____?”

Learn. Gain perspective, play devils advocate to your own views, set aside your desire to be right. Just because you disagree with your limited knowledge, does not automatically make them wrong.

Be humble.

You do not have it all figured out, and there are likely hundreds of reasons behind someone’s decision. Making an assumption of what anyone¬†must have been thinking is going to create a wider gap between you and everyone… Not to mention lower the respect others have for you.

It is possible to disagree and be kind about it.
It is possible to hate the decision, but understand the process.
It is possible to learn from those we don’t like.

We do not have to be a people or culture of throwing the baby out with the bath water.

We absolutely can be a humble people, with the intention to learn, gain wisdom, and perspective and still disagree.

Sometimes all that matters is that we understand the why behind something, and it changes our whole view of the situation.

Step aside from your arrogance, take a humble posture of learning, ask questions, listen, seek wisdom and understanding before elevating your own voice and opinion.

Stop seeking for others to see and hear you first, and instead choose words and language that invite others into a safe place of learning and discussion.

Iron sharpens iron… But, only when both are equally willing to be sharpened. It falls apart when only one takes the perspective of learning and humbling themselves enough to be willing to be wrong.

There are differently blessings in life for those who humble themselves, and sometimes blessings for others because of our own humility.

Just to share a small portion of the scriptural basis for my perspective:

“Because your heart was tender and you humbled yourself before God when you heard His words against this place and against its inhabitants, and because you humbled yourself before Me, tore your clothes and wept before Me, I truly have heard you,‚ÄĚ declares the Lord.” – 2 Chronicles 34:27

“He leads the humble in justice, And He teaches the humble His way.” – Psalm 25:9

“When pride comes, then comes dishonor, But with the humble is wisdom.” – Proverbs 11:2

“Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” – Matthew 11:29

“Whoever then humbles himself as this child, he is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.” – Matthew 18:4

“Whoever exalts himself shall be humbled; and whoever humbles himself shall be exalted.” – Matthew 23:12

“He has brought down rulers from their thrones, And has exalted those who were humble.” – Luke 1:52

Or do you think that the Scripture speaks to no purpose: ‘He jealously desires the Spirit which He has made to dwell in us’?¬†But He gives a greater grace. Therefore it says, ‘God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble.’¬†Submit therefore to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.” – James 4:5-7

To sum up, all of you be harmonious, sympathetic, brotherly, kindhearted, and humble in spirit;¬†not returning evil for evil or insult for insult, but giving a blessing instead; for you were called for the very purpose that you might inherit a blessing.” – 1 Peter 3:8-9

Read more here.

There are two things I pray for almost every single day, and have for as long as I can remember:

Wisdom:

“But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him.” – James 1:5

and Understanding:

“So give Your servant an understanding heart to judge Your people to discern between good and evil. For who is able to judge this great people of Yours? It was pleasing in the sight of the Lord that Solomon had asked this thing.” – 1 King 3:9-10

So, stop assuming the thoughts and intentions of others. Ask them, learn from them, be respectful, and learn to use your words better.

What is it you ask God to bless you with every day?

What could you do to make your communication better?

 

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. ūüėČ

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. ūüôā

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

Learning…

I feel like I spend most of my days trying to figure out what I am supposed to be learning or doing during this season.

Sometimes I reason with myself that the quicker I learn, the faster all of this will be over.

Maybe if I just DO more, learn more, pray more, spend more time in scripture, apply to more jobs, revise my resume for the 600th time, write yet another cover letter or send a “just checking in” e-mail… Maybe if I just be better all around.. maybe that will help this whole season to end quicker.

Even as I write that, it just sounds silly and stupid and I am tempted to erase it and not share that bit of information.

“Be better”?! That’s never solved anyone’s problems, ever.

That’s why God’s grace and mercy are so crucial to His story; because of people like me, in times like this. We always fall back to being or doing better, and it has nothing to do with that except maybe being a byproduct of the learning that takes place.

Really, I am just admitting that despite everything you see on my social media, or the conversations I have had with you recently, life is hard, I don’t “love” this season or stage at all, but I understand at least in part what if happening, and often I have the mentality of just trying to survive and get through it all.

So what is all of the struggling for?

Compassion and Faith.

One of the things that I have never been good at is compassion. Truly, I struggle with it constantly and have always admitted that I am really not the best when it comes to having true compassion for others. Realistically, whatever compassion you think you see and experience from me has been entirely cultivated by Christ in seasons such as the one I am in currently… And, that is no exaggeration or dramatization of the reality of the situation.

The other thing is faith. Growing faith is something that I have come to realize is just about as difficult as growing compassion. It is like growing pains, and in order for it to get deeper and stronger, it takes trials that force you to dig deeper to increase your faith.

For example, I keep finding myself in a cycle of worrying about finances, and then having no other option but to fall back into convincing myself that everything will be ok.

I have been unemployed for six months. This is the longest I have not worked 40+ hours a week in more than a decade.
I have lost a lot of things over the course of the last six months.
I have worked my tail off applying to hundreds of jobs all around the country.
I have done consulting work to help make up for some of the financial difficulty.

And then, sometimes it just seems like when I get to a point of “ok, I’m good, I will be fine for (length of time)” something happens that throws all of that out the window…. Such as a $300 car repair that came out of the blue.

Yet, throughout it all, I have money to cover the essential bills.

I do not have any way of explaining how my finances have covered my bills for more than six months, especially when I did not have enough of a savings to cover more than a month’s worth of expenses.

I try to rationalize, that this shouldn’t be happening to me because I have THREE degrees, eight years experience, a strong and solid resume… Not to mention I am willing to go wherever the job is.

“How can this be my situation?”

The reality is that, I do not know the answer… nor does anyone else. The only explanation I have is that God is truly using this to grow me. It sucks. This is by far one of the most difficult seasons I have experienced in my life.

I am also confident that I am learning compassion and faith throughout all of this.

Everything has worked out, despite my stressing and worry, so I keep reminding myself that God knows my situation, and He will get me through this… Regardless of what I “do” He will prove Himself faithful.

“…we also¬†exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about¬†perseverance; and¬†perseverance,¬†proven character; and proven character, hope; and hope¬†does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.” – Romans 5:3b-5

Truly Knowing…

Everyone has things that they are completely blind to. Which, if we are being honest, is sometimes why our best friends can aggravate us, because the best of friends call those blind spots out… But then, there are other instances when it is the culture, the raising, the circumstances that we are accustomed to that make us blind.

Today I was talking on the phone with a friend, and we were discussing a couple different situations going on in each of our lives, and the best possible way to approach them and handle them. Mostly it consisted of nailing down the correct¬†verbiage to ensure that no offense is taken in the midst of difficult and sensitive situations. One of the things we began talking about was how sometimes we can cognitively “know” something, but really not have any idea all at the same time. In some cases that is a benefit, and a good thing… In others it can be a very dangerous thing.

For example, I cognitively understand the ramifications of having absent, angry, unloving, abusive etc.etc.. parents, but I no matter what will never really have any idea the ramifications that could have on someone’s life because my parents were as far from that as they could be… That is a good for me thing, but it becomes challenging if I am faced with someone who came from that type of situation.. Because my answer can never be “I know…” or “I understand..” cause I don’t, and I can’t.

Then there are situations were there is actually a false sense of knowing.. For example, believing you are free, and yet having all sources of your education, knowledge, news, and whereabouts controlled and tracked. When you are that type of “free” and do not realize what true freedom is, it becomes an entirely different sense of what true knowing is because crossing from thinking you are free, to realizing you actually are not can be an earth shattering revelation.

Then there is the type of knowing where you have no way to logically or cognitively explain something, and yet in your very core the Truth is there. When you know something to your core, not having all of the answers does not change the fact that you know Truth… Not being able to explain in excruciating detail, while frustrating at times does not change the nature of how or why something works, it just means you yourself cannot adequately describe it.

I will never completely know or understand a lot of things.. Like why some people are treated so poorly, and the way that impacts their worldview for the rest of their life… Or the perspective that an entire people group can have simply because they have never had before… And, I will never completely know the mental games or thought process that takes place in a person who does not know Christ and did not grow up with Him to help them through painful and crippling situations… But, what I can know is how much my heart longs to love and care for those people… I pray that no amount of pain or people in my life will ever kill that desire in me. I know that there are people who have, and will take advantage of me in order to benefit themselves, but I also pray that I keep choosing to seek them out and love and care for them no matter how much I have been hurt or used. I never want crossing from cognitive knowing to truly understanding to leave me so jaded that I stop doing whatever I can to help those around me know to their core how deep, and wide, and tall, and far, and near, and great is the love of Christ for them.