My nieces made me do it.

The May Kingdom Fast was games. That’s easy for a girl who shies away from board games, card games or most any game of strategy. (Put me into a game of Taboo or Catch Phrase and watch out.)

I blame my brother-in-law Dick. He completely thrashed my siblings and me in Monopoly years ago. I never experienced anyone so ruthless. He showed no mercy. I think I cried. Other than Apples To Apples with the whole family a few Christmases ago and Saboteur with the family in Cairo last spring, I’m not sure I’ve played a game with him since. I usually walk away when he suggests one…and always if he’s making it up on the fly.

So I don’t play games very often, and I don’t currently live in the Arab World with a Live Dead team where game nights happen every few weeks. The extent of my games is some form of solitaire on my iPad while flying (boredom!) or a few runs of Minion Rush after a day in the office with people (introvert time!). Fasting games, no problem.

Until I arrived in Grand Rapids for Memorial Day weekend and faced my beloved nieces. Less than a day in Michigan and my fast was broken. I blame my nieces; their cuteness is irresistible. Before I realized it, they had me chasing them through the front yard in a game of “Flower Tag.” It’s your standard game of tag, except each person is a different flower that takes on human form. Ava was a snapdragon (it pinches while breathing pretend fire), Elizabeth a stinkweed (not really a flower, but a plant that allows her to stick her bum out), and I a tulip (it kisses cute nieces on the head with its two lips). Then there was the Oodles of Doodles at the cabin over the weekend. So much for that fast, but I trust Jesus hears the giggles of little girls and I know it’s OK.

The challenge this month as we fasted games was to fill game time with prayer time for unreached peoples.* My challenge was to fill a time slot that didn’t exist in my life. Like I said, I play games on airplanes and after a day of meetings in the office. Well, I haven’t been in the office much this month (I work from home) and I’ve been on four airplanes total. Since decompression from the office was unnecessary, that left me with flight time. On two of my four flights I fell asleep (oh well). But on the other two I turned off my phone and left my iPad in my bag and prayed my way through Arab World countries from Morocco to the Arabian Peninsula. It was a meaningful time as I thought about my friends in those countries and about the cities I’ve visited. Through the exercise I discovered prayer is a more productive use of time than playing Solitaire for an hour (duh).

Resolution: Take at least one flight segment to pray through the Arab World whenever I fly, and perhaps leave the iPad in the bag all the time to engage with the world, even if it’s just the few people sitting around me in the metal cylinder zipping through the sky at 600 miles per hour (use that as a conversation starter with your seat mate).

Next up – Restaurants: June’s Kingdom Fast is restaurants. This is less about saving money from eating out or ordering in. This is about intentionally and lovingly preparing food to share with friends and neighbors in your home. During this fast we want to increase our generosity and hospitality among friends and strangers. I was very excited for this fast until I realized I will only be home for three days in June. I need my creativity to kick in for this one.

*These prayers would be in addition to ones prayed during daily abiding time.

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Shopping Fast

The March Kingdom Fast for Live Dead is shopping (groceries and bills not included). Physically this fast is easier than caffeine. There are no withdrawal headaches. Mentally though, it takes some work, like remembering not to hit “Buy now with 1-click” for a $0.99 book on Kindle. Oops. Goal #1 for the remainder of March: Stay away from Amazon. And Target, too, just to be safe.

With a new month and the new fast came a desire to do some spring cleaning. I thought, if I’m not buying any unnecessary items this month, I should try to get rid of some unnecessary items at the same time. Take the less is more approach to my entire living arrangement. So far, a stack of items are ready for Goodwill, three Thai cookbooks have new homes, a load of old paperwork is in the recycle bin, and a few tiny DIY projects have been completed. Goal #2: Find more stuff to move out of the apartment.

I didn’t realize how a shopping fast could influence my Bible reading, but it has. My reading this month has been enriched by thinking about shopping (or not shopping) while reading the Bible. Goal #3: Continue to read through that lens and take lots of notes.

I have a number of friends raising funds to leave for the mission field for the first time and a few friends on short furloughs to bring their budgets back to full support. I felt God wanted me to direct this month’s unused shopping money, and money from each month to follow, to my friends. Goal #4: Support more missionaries. Done.

We are now midway through the month, and I feel lighter than I did two weeks ago. Did the care of money and the possession of things weigh me down in some way? Feels like it, and that’s a thought I will ponder for the next two weeks….

Caffeine Fast = Complete

I did it! I completed the caffeine fast. And I lived to tell about it.

February 28 marked the end, and the morning of March 1, I bought a soy chai tea latte at the Atlanta airport before boarding my 12-hour delayed flight back to Springfield. The drink was dreamy.

My first cup of coffee after 28 days... Hello, my friend!

My first cup of coffee after 28 days… Hello, my friend!

This kingdom fast was a healthy one for me, physically and spiritually. I realized quickly how my body responded to the lack of caffeine in my system. It didn’t feel good. So, resolution #1 upon reintroducing caffeine to my life: Do it in moderation, please. If the desire is for a hot mug in hand while reading, fill it with caffeine-free tea or just water.

Second, my realization that I longed for coffee more than Jesus was like a punch to the gut. I vowed to say out loud “I just want Jesus” at least once every day for the second half of the fast. Which I did. And every time I said it, the response was, “Here I am.” In those moments I found the reality that there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother or sister (Prov. 18:24). It was powerful. Which leads me to resolution #2: Say his name out loud at the start of the day. I need to start my day with his name, and then have my cup of coffee.

March’s Kingdom Fast: Shopping. Stay tuned.

Caffeine Fast

When Headaches Turn Into Loneliness

This month’s kingdom fast is caffeine. In my life that means coffee. My dearly beloved. My morning’s best friend.

The first week was rough, complete with headaches.

This second week, though, something interesting happened. Loneliness replaced the headaches.

I miss my friend coffee. I smell coffee, and I become sad that coffee is not in my life. I just want to hold, smell and taste coffee. My heart hurts a little because I love coffee so much, but it’s not part of my life right now. I just want coffee!

Then it hit me. “Huh, interesting. Do I ever miss Jesus this much?”

Do I ever miss Jesus when I fall into a busy spell of life and my abiding time is abbreviated and the to-do lists and work thoughts push aside my all day continual enjoyment of his presence?

Are there ever times in my day when I sit and think about my friend Jesus in the same ways I’ve dreamt about coffee this week?

How many times this week have I cried aloud, “I just want some coffee!” A lot. And how many times have I cried aloud, “I just want Jesus!” Zero.

….

My goal for the remaining fifteen days of February is to cry aloud each day, at least once, “I just want Jesus!” and see what happens. I’ll let you know.

PART THREE: People

The final installment in my short update series.

PART 1: Outgrowing Things

PART 2: The Work


The work is necessary, but it’s also fun and worthwhile. Still there is something else in life to keep in mind: people. My word this year, SHARE, has much to do with people.

I finally wrapped my head around leaving Nashville for Springfield. I finally figured out what my work actually entails. Then I saw that my life must revolve around more than content strategy and writing and editing. There are people God has placed around me, both for my benefit and for theirs.

That is where my one word for the year, SHARE, comes in. I am being pushed to interact more with the people and world around me. Much of that will come through downloading thoughts and quotes and life lessons through this blog.

Others will be more personal interaction. Like the ‘surprise’ meet-ups I’ve had with Springfield friends I haven’t seen in months. I ran into my friend Adie at the grocery store last week. We’re having breakfast this week. I dropped a few books off at Evangel University and thought, I wonder if I’ll run into Deb [one of the young ladies who traveled to NYC with my team last March]. I did! We went out for Pineapple Whip the next day with another one of my Evangel/NYC girls, Brittany.

This week is my birthday. This is my third birthday since moving to Springfield, but it’s the first one I’ve actually spent in Springfield. The last two were in Phoenixville, PA with the Global Initiative team. I had no idea what to do this year. Usually I have no problem deciding how to celebrate my birthday. Three years ago, before I moved, I had an epic grilled cheese party.

But up until yesterday, I was at a loss. Then my friend and fellow The Human Right team member Alyssa suggested we make sushi for my birthday. YES! From there it seemed right to invite my Springfield sushi friends, Monique and Susan, to the little party (especially because both are moving soon). Then I invited Leslie who was with me in Pennsylvania last year when a winter storm knocked much of the power out in Phoenixville. She planned a little party by lantern for me. This year I invited her to a party that will have lots of light.

It’s all part of SHARE. Two little divine meet-ups last week led to more intentional time with friends. A birthday leads to another round of birthday memories with people that I didn’t even know three years ago. God moved me here where he needed me when he needed me, and now I celebrate another year of friends and life with another round of new people. The people I meet, the friends I make, not one is by mistake, and I intend to SHARE with them and them with me.