So I turned to the Lord God and pleaded with him in prayer and petition, in fasting.
The real reason for my break from blogging was for an intentional purpose. If you read my Thursday post it was probably good that I wasn't trying to blog while I was dealing with everything else, but the reason I started the break was because Steve and I were going to do the Daniel Fast.
What is fasting?
Fasting can look different, depending on the type and duration that someone does. Basically, you restrict your food intake as a form of self-denial and worship, setting aside your basic physical desires for spiritual ones. You pull away from life's distractions and focus on your Savior so that you can be strengthened, refreshed, and renewed. God is ready to bless anyone who has an insatiable appetite for him and his Word.
What is the Daniel Fast?
The Daniel Fast is a partial fast, in the sense that you remove certain foods from your diet for a specific length of time. The Prophet Daniel chose to undergo a partial fast when he sought the Lord. His fasting experiences form the basis of the Daniel Fast. The fast requires eliminating commonly enjoyed foods for 21 days as an act of worship and consecrating oneself to God. Foods that are allowed are fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts, seeds, and oils. Restricted foods include dairy, meat, sugar, all forms of sweeteners, yeast, refined and processed foods, deep-fried foods and solid fats.You can only drink water during the fast.
People fast for all sorts of reasons. Maybe they are looking for divine wisdom to guide them, maybe their marriage is falling apart and they have lost hope in each other, maybe an illness has taken over their body and the are desperate for deliverance and healing. No matter what life has thrown at you, fasting is a powerful discipline that allows you to connect with God on a deeper level. By denying yourself certain foods, you are showing an act of surrender. You are, in essence, saying, "God, I have to have your help in this situation. I don't know what to do, and I'm willing to sacrifice my time, my physical comfort, and my desires so I can hear from you."
Why we fasted?
1) Connect my heart with God (intentionality)
2) Spiritually connect my heart with Steve (doing fast together)
3) Divine wisdom for our decision on future of Bradenton Home
4) Prayers for Ava
5) Seek to listen, not speak
6) Purge "junk" from my body (food part of fast)
We initially decided to do the fast to seek guidance on our Bradenton home. Like so many people we are big time upside down in our home, we currently have a renter, but it is a tough situation and we are trying to manage it halfway across the country. Over a year ago we submitted a request for a mortgage modification, but where denied because we weren't delinquent. As Steve puts it, no we haven't crashed yet, we see the train coming down the track and we are waving our flag asking for help before the crash happens. Unfortunately the mortgage companies don't seem to care until you have a major catastrophe on your hands and you stop paying all together, then they will talk to you. We financially can't survive long-term with our current situation. We don't want to make any rash decisions, we want to do what is right.
The rest of the reasons are pretty self-explanatory. I felt like I had been in survival mode and was seeking refreshing time with the Lord, Steve and I haven't had many date nights the last few months with all of our transition, and wanted to connect on a deeper level with each other. Ava is one of our neighbors twin girls. She was having major surgery during the time of our fast and I wanted to be in prayer for her. Hear more than speak, not always easy for me :) and finally I feel like I had lost control on the junk (sweet tooth) that I was putting in my body. I loved the idea of eating "pure" foods.
We ordered a book that was a great resource for our journey. It helped with preparation of your mind and body, had a 21-day devotional to walk you through the spiritual side, and recipes to help direct your food intake for the duration of the fast.
The food part was initially very enjoyable for me. I love eating fresh and light. We had to budget a little more money for this fast because eating fresh (and eating a lot of nuts) is not cheap. I had to cook every meal from scratch. It was very difficult the weekend we traveled for Steve's cousins wedding, but it was a good challenge to see how dedicated we were to the fast. Many of our meals were still very flavorful, but it was very time consuming cooking everything from scratch. Steve had a more difficult time right away. He consumes so many calories, that the types of food we were allowed, didn't support the diet he usually eats, especially the protein aspect. By halfway through the fast, I was challenged in the food area as well. Not only was it tiring spending so much time cooking, but apples and peanut butter and trail mix were getting old. We did have a good finish and some of my favorite meals were the last few days (Grilled Portabello Steaks with Tofu, and Black bean burgers on a bed of greens with tomatoes and avocados).
The denial of food was difficult, but a good test for me. Here is the honest part, I didn't experience the huge wave of intense, personal time with the Lord that I had imagined. I had thought that I would have times of one-on-one with the Lord where I was weeping (not normal for me) and pouring my soul out to him and receiving his Spirit so strongly in my presence. In the journal part of the book, there were so many stories of how people's lives were forever changed because of their fast. I felt like my time was being attacked. I was unable to wake early to spend time with the Lord because I was getting very little sleep at night (due to sick kiddos) and my children, who usually take really long naps, decided to have very short naps much of the time, leaving me with little "quiet time." I will say though that my thoughts were definitely focused more on the Lord. My mind wandered towards conversation with him throughout my day, no matter what I was doing. So maybe my connection with the Lord wasn't going to come through some emotional experience, but rather through the mundane of everyday, seeing him as part of everything I do, even the "boring" things that take up time in my day.
I also read "Redeeming Love" by Francine Rivers which is one of my all time favorite books. I really read this book from the perspective of seeing how God pursues me and lavishes his love on me. If you want to read a book that you just get lost in and can't put down, go this one! This was actually one of my 30 before Thirty to do's, I can check that one off!
Steve and I had some rough times during the fast. This was "supposed" to bring us together, yet we found ourselves so worn out from life that we didn't have much energy for each other. I kept thinking"great, this is supposed to be connecting us and we are fighting or ignoring each other." The last weekend of the fast was at the Lake and Steve and I always seem to connect our hearts there. Maybe it is because there are less distractions (especially technology) and we slow down long enough to look into each others eyes and heart. So it was in the 11th hour of the fast that we were finally able to connect as husbands and wives should.
Finally the Bradenton home. I often read blogs via google reader on my phone while I feed Colton. Since I was staying away from that distraction while fasting, I would often read a Proverbs for the day. On April 6th, I was reading Proverbs 6 and really felt confirmation from the Lord that we need to get out from under that house. Steve is still wrestling in his spirit how that looks, he has actually continued the fast (an altered version) this week to seek final clarity with our home. We want to have such assurance and peace with whatever decision we move forward with, knowing that it is honoring to the Lord. We are considering a short sale, but we don't want to take "the easy way out," if such a thing exists.
So for those of you that have hung with me and read all of my thoughts, thanks. I really do believe in the power of fasting, I believe it is a great spiritual discipline that believers should practice at different seasons in their life. The fast might look different, but denying self to focus on the Lord has nothing but positive outcomes.