December = No Books

December’s kingdom fast was books. Of all the things. Books. I love reading. I usually have a half dozen going at the same time. On different subjects to different ends.

But for one month, no reading of books for business or pleasure. Again, in these fasts we give up something good for something greater in Jesus. Time not spent reading books means time to spend reading the Bible.

Not picking up a book for the whole month was not hard, but it was sad. I missed my book reading. But on the flip side, I found the words in my Bible that much sweeter. I spent more time in various passages practicing Lectio Divina, a way of praying the Scriptures, letting phrases and words sink in and connect with those before and after. I bought a new notebook while on the road in November; I filled pages and pages of it with thoughts last month.

I read and heard some wonderful truths as I took my time with Scripture last month, so I keep on with Lectio Divina today, even though my dear books and I have been reunited.

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November = More Words

This month the fast is words. For the ones who love to talk about themselves, they should talk more about Jesus. For the ones who tend toward silence, they need to talk more.

In November I will fast words by talking more. Seems contrary, but whatever.

Since I live by myself and work from home, I had to make a plan in order for this to happen. So here it is: When I’m in Springfield, I plan to leave my apartment complex at least once each day to have a conversation with at least one person (be they friend or stranger). And for the days that I’m on the road, I will also have at least one conversation with someone who is not Alyssa or Vince (my co-workers/road companions).

Perhaps you find it strange that I have to make a plan to leave my apartment. What you are now learning about me is that I am part hermit. I can go for days without seeing or talking to people and be perfectly happy. So this month becomes about fasting my comfort zone of quiet to feast on divine appointments with people around me. Besides, when I leave Springfield for Dubai, I need to be ready for daily conversations with friends and strangers. This is practice for the future.

October = No Sweets

The Kingdom Fast last month was sugar. A tough one for a girl with a major sweet tooth. I chose to fast desserts and chocolate.

Like the caffeine fast, I found myself missing chocolate midway through the month. I just wanted something a little sweet. In those moments I started running through Romans 8. “For those who live according to flesh set their minds on things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on things on the Spirit. For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace….”

We fasted sugar to feast on the sweetness of Jesus, and this month I realized the power of memorizing Scripture. When faced with a temptation (or a sweet tooth), I started calling out Romans 8 and regained perspective. Jesus is much sweeter and sustains much longer than any type of refined, processed simple carbohydrate.

I could have done better.

I admit it. I kind of didn’t want to participate in the Kingdom Fast for August.

The fast was Image. It’s meant to keep in check what I look like to concentrate on what Jesus looks like. Some suggested ways to participate are wear one outfit for the month or alternate between two, cover up the mirror, forget the hair appointment, skip the make-up, give extra clothes away, stick to one pair of shoes, etc.

I can tell you I did none of those things for the whole month. I did some of those by accident. With 25 days away from home last month, I wore the clothes and shoes that fit in my carry-on. And working from home often means no make-up. But those were not intentional fasts; they were more like an afterthought. Like “Hey, I’m fasting image right now!”

The goal was to concentrate more on what Jesus looks like. And I feel like, because I didn’t try to fast any of the above for the month, because I was a bit lazy, I missed the chance to feast. I’m the type of person who makes a decision and stubbornly does her best to stick with it, and because I didn’t make a choice to give up something that I encounter daily—like my abundance of clothes, all my shoes or the mirror—I missed the opportunity to create a habit of thinking about what Jesus looks like in those daily moments.

Bummer. I could have done better.

NEXT UP: The September Kingdom Fast is Screens. I have not yet decided what screens I’m fasting for the month, but with these August thoughts fresh on my mind, I know I need to decide ASAP….

Be Gone, Facebook!

I happily gave up Facebook for a month.

The Kingdom Fast in July was the Internet. We were encouraged to give up the extra conveniences of the Internet, like social media, news, sports, online shopping, personal email, etc.

For my fast, I chose to ignore Facebook, at least my personal page. Since I manage social media for the Arab World, staying away from it entirely wasn’t possible. My travels overseas in July with no data plan and limited wifi made it easier to accomplish.

Sigh. How wonderful to ignore Facebook for a month. I often want to get away from Facebook. It can be such a time suck. And it holds such a limited view of present situations and circumstances. I only see what people want me to see.

But it can also be so convenient to log in and check for a birthday or message someone whose email I don’t have. Or when the Spirit brings someone to mind and I wonder, “Where is she or he right now?”

My lesson for the month: Find the balance. Facebook in moderation. Facebook when needed. Facebook when useful. And find the time to see someone’s actual face.