Categories
Correction Family Love Parenting Perspective

How Are You Sleeping?

There are some things we can’t avoid.

As parents there’s no way out of nightly feeding, potty training, skinned knees, and many many tears. Just like we can’t get out of the hard things, there are also positive moments with our children that fill our hearts: the first word, the first step, the first laugh, graduation, marriage, and perhaps the best of all being GRANDCHILDREN.

I find it curious the amount of energy we put into lessening the blows of the negatives we face when raising our families. Theories abound on how to get our babies to sleep all night; the inevitable question, “How are you sleeping?” is bound to arise at some point. Of course no one is sleeping those first weeks, sometimes months, and for some children even longer as they resist every technique that promises parents several hours of uninterrupted sleep. Two of my four children fell into the category of “resistant sleepers” and the dark circles under my eyes still pay tribute to many midnight hours of rocking, praying, pleading, and halfway dozing in my chair with my baby in my arms. I’m sure millions of dollars in revenue have been earned by those writing the popular “how to” books for sleep training our children. Some work and some don’t; it all depends on the child.

The truth of the matter is that a child’s personality cannot be contained – what works for one won’t always work for another. Parenting is the one job I’ve had in my lifetime that has taught me, brutally at times, how to read situations from different angles, how to empathize, sympathize, and most importantly how to love in the middle of misunderstanding. While learning this I have had to, at the same time, maintain a standard for our children of what is important to us as parents. Truly parenting, not just having children, has been the challenge and joy of my lifetime.

I imagine, as God’s child, I have been a challenge to raise. I have resisted many of His prompts, schedules, and standards. He has sympathized, empathized, and loved me in the middle of the midnight hours and my loudest of tantrums. Never once has He compromised His stance, but in His discipline I never found rejection. On the contrary, I found a Father Who was true to everything He stood for and faithful to love in the middle of my refusing to settle down and trust Him.

I’ve heard it said that children are looking for boundaries, for safety, and will test those boundaries (albeit unconsciously perhaps) to see how much they are loved. While human parents will fail, I have failed miserably from time to time as a parent, God cannot. Human parents may give up on their children for one reason or another – God returns to us time again refusing to give up on any of us.

Could there be a better example of parenting? I don’t think so.

I used to think that my parenting career would retire at some point; that my children would no longer be as connected as they grew up and moved on into their own lives. This is true to a certain extent, our children need to form their own families without our overbearing interference. However, I’ve also found that I’ll always be their mom, that my heart will always be full when they call or message me, that there won’t be a day that I don’t think of and pray for them, and that I’ll always be there when they need me.

While my own mother has gone to heaven and I often feel the sting of her absence, and someday my own children will face my departure, I won’t face the absence of God, my heavenly Father, ever. I remember growing up into young adulthood and often resisitng my mother’s advice for one reason or another because I knew I could “do it better” than she did. As the years passed, I began to realize she knew much more than I did about many things and I began to seek out her advice. When she died I realized what a treasure of advice and counsel I had lost. In the same way, the older I get, the more I realize how much I need and rely on my Father’s counsel.

I”m grateful, so grateful, to have learned to trust Him rather than resist Him.

Life is beautiful in His family.

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On a side note, another innocuous change in me as a parent as I’ve grown older is found in my lunch offerings for my fourth child, our bonus baby. Yesterday, she had samosas (a fried slightly spicy meat pie that is the food of heaven) and marshmallows for lunch. I was tempted to feel “parent shame” until my oldest son (who I had messaged her menu to) said, “It’s ok. Let her enjoy life.” 

The student has become the teacher!

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Categories
Comfort Death Loss Love Ministry The Unexpected Why

Leave Your Shoes At The Door

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Two weeks ago, we received the very sad news that a young woman, a niece of one of our church members, had died suddenly. Until very recently, she had been a healthy young mother of 3 young children all under the age of 8. When this news came to us, immediately our hearts hurt for the family – especially for the young children who had lost their mother.

After Sunday service, a day or two after hearing the news, we went with other church members to the “kilio” (wake) where friends and family had gathered. According to custom, men sat outside in chairs that had been quickly set up under a makeshift tent. Women and children filed into a small front room from which all furniture had been removed. There were woven bamboo mats lining the floor where everyone sat. Most of the senior ladies sat closer to the bereaved, while those who weren’t so close as well as children sat along the opposite side of the room.

I followed the line of ladies into the room designated for them and brought my 10-year-old daughter along with me, we all left our shoes at the front door as it is customary to remove shoes when attending a wake. It may sound strange that my daughter accompanied me, however, the church member who we were visiting whose niece had died, is our children’s church director.It was only natural for children from church to come and show their love and support for their leader who is very much loved. This wake was the first time my little girl had experienced anything of this kind and I wondered how she would react. My worries were soothed when I watched her follow her friends and remove her shoes as they did, and sit on the floor with all the other children. I told her it would be alright if she wanted to sit with me but she declined, she wanted to be with the other children. Her bare feet mingled with those of her friends and her eyes took in the setting. Indeed, the Kingdom of God is seen in the children and I saw it that day when in the rawest of settings, my little girl embodied the love of the Kingdom when she sat to comfort those who mourned.

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We all took turns, one by one, hugging family members; the inevitable flow of tears and sobs ebbed and flowed throughout our visit. The children even took their turn to give their condolences and theirs was perhaps the most appreciated by their teacher as she talked with each one and took in their hugs and love ever so deeply. I understood even more on that day the priority that children take in the Kingdom of God.

Luke 18:16 NKJ“But Jesus called them to Him and said, ‘Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; forof such is the kingdom of God.'”

Not many days after our visit, we drove to the graveyard and laid this young mother’s remains to rest. Present were her children, husband, and hundreds of friends and family. The weeping at the site is one sound I’ll never get used to and neither should I. The pain felt in those left behind is very real; if we ever become accustomed to the sound of death and the pain felt by those losing loved ones, how can we ever comfort them? We do know that life apart from the body is lived in God’s presence (2 Cor. 5:8), but there remains a real loss for those left behind. This is why we are told to “weep with those who weep” (Rom. 12:15). This “ministry of presence” brings strength to those whose strength is depleted when death comes knocking as it does for everyone, even multiple times, during our lifetimes as loved ones leave us when eternity comes to call.

Still, it remains in my mind some days later, the picture of the children’s shoes outside the front door of the house on a warm Sunday afternoon. I can feel the warm breeze blowing through the front door, hear the weeping of children, and feel the sting of death – and there was my little girl in the middle taking part in the “ministry of presence.” 

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Categories
Courage Destiny Endurance Family

Half Baked or Old School?

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My parents were “old school.”

Go to bed on time.

Do your homework.

No TV until homework was done.

Clean the house on Saturdays.

Eat what was set before you, every last bite.

We had to make sure we did everything we were told in its entirety. If our chores were “half baked,” that was considered to be worse than not having done anything at all. If dinner wasn’t appreciated and eaten with gusto, ours was a fate worse than early bedtime. The worst was the unending lecture that carried on for days – we would do anything to avoid that lecture. Even if it meant eating all of our dinner!

I’m not as old school as my parents were. When we started our family and had our first child, we tried to be perfect: regular bedtimes, natural foods, you name it we tried. It was very exhausting but we did our best. Then we had our second child and our resistance came down just a bit. With our third born, we kind of threw all caution to the wind. Gone were the days of schedules, all-natural foods, and a predictable rhythm. We were just thankful to get through the day when there were 3 young ones running around the house. My motto in those days was, “If there’s no blood then you’re going to be OK.”

When our third born was nearly 15, along came #4 and to hear the others tell the tale, we are different people than we were with them. Perhaps we’re more like grandparents? I’m sure there’s some truth to what they say but I do know the important issues like brushing teeth, cleaning bedrooms (working on that), and getting schoolwork done are all still intact. I confess to being guilty of allowing more chocolate into the house than in years past and bending more with bedtime than most younger parents would. All of that being said, #4 is everyone’s treasure and life with her, while a bit messier and more chaotic than with the others, is wonderful. We are committed to raising her just like #1-#3 to the best of our ability, we will see the task through with joy!

Parenting, it requires a “stick-to-it-iveness,” a commitment to finish the task that is reminiscent of my parents’ old school style. There’s no bowing out gracefully of parenting, it requires all of your energy and faith. You have to finish every part of it: from potty training, homework, high school, college, to finally letting them go as they grow into adulthood.

God is a parent to many; I can’t imagine what He goes through with all of His kids! As I consider my own failures and flaws as a parent (I’m like you, I rehearse all of the good, bad, and ugly of my parenting over and over in my mind), I am comforted to know that He has walked the same path as I have many, many times over. I’m seriously inclined to take His example in parenting over my flawed thinking.

God’s first Son, Jesus, our Elder brother, came after us, the younger rebellious siblings, to bring us back to the Father (see Romans 8:29). The Father trusted Him to get the job done, much like the firstborn children in our families. I remember my firstborn being left to watch the two younger ones overnight once when their father and I had to drive overnight to meet some visitors. I knew that he took his assignment seriously; I didn’t worry at all about his ability – he was well able to handle any backtalk the others might try to give him (which wasn’t likely, he didn’t tolerate any backtalk from them at all).

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What an assignment Jesus had! There was no one who was able, besides Him, to bear the load of what was needed to bring the family back together again. The family had been fractured; as a result everyone was far from Dad. Jesus, like the Elder Brother, loved His Father and His siblings enough to take bringing everyone together seriously. He was old school; He came to earth to finish a task that everyone else would have left “half baked.”

Matthew 26:42 TLB “Again He left them and prayed, ‘My Father! If this cup cannot go away until I drink it all, Your will be done.’ ”

Because of the loyalty of our Elder Brother, Who finished what He started, we now have access to our Father, our Dad, Whose arms have ample room for all those who dare to accept Him as Father.

What about us today? The assignments we have on hand from the Father; are we finishing them “half baked” or are we sticking to the “old school” values? Let me remind you today, you come from a great history of “old school” brothers and sisters who were able to finish the task assigned to them. Think of Deborah the Prophetess and Judge, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Daniel, Mary the mother of Jesus, the list is long and impressive. Full of family like you and me: imperfect but able to finish the task. Jesus came as the perfect example of tenacity and didn’t give up on His goal that had you and me in mind.

It’s inside you to finish, so go ahead and drink the cup. You can do this!

Categories
Courage Faith

It’s All Downhill From Here

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I don’t think I’m much more than ordinary but there might be a few things about me you don’t know (everyone here has a story). Maybe you don’t know that I am first generation Finn. My parents, both Finnish, moved to the USA in the early 60s. Then I was born!  My first English word, I’m told, was “underdog.” What significance does that hold? I don’t know. It’s just fun.

So I spent much of my early childhood in New York and New Jersey where it’s slightly cooler than in Africa where I’ve spent most of my life.

I loved being outside during all seasons (still like being outside) but especially during winter. When we lived in New Jersey, we lived in an area where there were plenty of ski resorts and lakes. During the summer, there was an abundance of outdoor fun to be had; from building treehouses to fishing and swimming. It was a great place to grow up.

During the WINTER, to me, it was a wonderland! When it snowed in our part of the country, it snowed. I relished in making snow forts, having snowball fights, sledding, ice-skating, and cross-country skiing.

Yes, you heard right. Cross country skiing. Being of Finnish descent, I had no real interest in downhill skiing. In the “old country” (Finland) everyone knew how to cross country ski. My parents told me tales of how they skied to school, church, and family gatherings during the cold, long winters in Finland.

Cross-country skiing requires incredible physical stamina: no ski lifts, no pre-marked hills, it’s all strength and understanding – just you and nature. It is, undoubtedly, the superior one of the skiing sports.

So when we lived in New Jersey and I grew old enough to try, I asked to use my mother’s cross-country skis since she, due to a knee injury, no longer skied. My parents had no objection and so I began my illustrious career as a cross-country skier.

There were hills behind our house, just perfect for my mission to cross country ski. I had visions of myself stealthily whipping around trees and hills in the woods– but that first year of skiing was not at all spent as I envisioned. Instead, I spent a lot of time with my face planted in the snow. My father tried to instruct me on how to strap the ski boots into the skis, proper form, how to hold the ski poles, how to stand on the skis, how to care for the skis, even how to wax the bottom of the skis. In my enthusiasm, I didn’t give his advice much thought, and began tumbling down the hills face first. I had a lot of nosebleeds and bruised knees. I wasn’t interested at first in learning – I figured I could do it alone without the hassle of being instructed.

Dad stood at the tops and bottoms of the hills, yelling instructions, and gritting his teeth as I fell. I shut a lot of what he said out as I tumbled and stumbled my way around. Those first months of learning how to ski were pretty tough; I spent more time on my knees in the snow than I did standing on the skis. Instead of anticipating going down the hills, I was afraid, afraid of the spills but too embarrassed to admit I was wrong, at least for a while.

Around the middle of that first winter, I grew tired of the bruises and nosebleeds and found myself thinking, “What was it that dad said?” Then, I tentatively began recalling his words, implementing what he said, and spending less time on my face in the snow. I have a vivid memory of one of the first big hills I climbed up and successfully skied down without falling – I was so proud of myself! And dad was at the bottom of the hill that day, waiting for me, congratulating me. There’s nothing like getting to the top of the hill and coasting down after all that effort – I’d say to myself, “It’s all downhill from here!” No wonder I began begging for my own skis for the following Christmas.

The next winter, at Christmastime, it was gift opening time. I was so happy and there were gifts under the tree. But by the end of the evening (we opened our gifts on Christmas Eve), I had not gotten many presents while my sister and brother had plenty of spoil. All of the sudden, coming up the steps wearing a Santa Claus mask comes Dad with a big pair of orange cross-country skis – he was supplying me with my very own skis! I did nothing to get them – he saw I learned and gave me better skis than what I had been using. That’s a father for you.

Our heavenly Father is like that: He sets a landscape before us (life) and gives us skis (faith) to navigate with. He stands, instructing us how to use those skis and sometimes we see what’s before us and think we know the way to go and how to use those skis. Nevertheless, He continues coaching us and waits for us at the bottom of the hill.

There was a man many of us know from the Bible named Abraham who had a goal, or a landscape set before him by God the Father. That goal was for him to have a son and through his son have many descendants. It was quite a long journey on his faith skis to get there – the only way he could get to the destination was by faith for faith is the way of the Kingdom:

Habakkuk 2:4 NASB “Behold, as for the proud one, His soul is not right within him; But the righteous will live by his faith.”

Hebrews 11:6 NIV “Without faith it is impossible to please God.”

So we have to live by faith or we won’t make it, nor will we even please our Father without it. Here’s a heads up: we won’t understand it. Living by faith is like skiing for the first time: you have to listen or you will fall. The terrain is rough – sometimes isolated and cold – but you have your skis, remember the instructions on how to use them: trust Him and His faithfulness. That means you have to turn off your thinking from time to time. If we can just trust Him, we’ll get down the hill with fewer bruises.

Now Abraham is known to us as the “father of faith” (see Romans 4). A great reputation to hold and one we need to aspire to. We feel a bit overwhelmed when we hear about Abraham and think we can’t even think we could get to that level of faith.

Why do we do that? Think God has made others greater than He made us?

Abraham was just like you and I, full of imperfections. In fact, there are some things that I hope you DON’T emulate from the life of Abraham (keep reading, you’ll see).

Psalm 139:14 NKJ “I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; marvelous are Your works, And that my soul knows very well.”

So the Father made us all on equal footing – He loves us all and made us all “wonderfully.” Why then do we put ourselves down? The only one among us better than us all is Jesus Himself – and Philippians 2 tells us He became like us because we couldn’t possibly be like Him.

So, you can read from Genesis 15 all the way through to Genesis 22 about God’s promise to Abraham (who was “Abram” before being renamed “Abraham” by God). He and his wife didn’t have children of their own for years and despite God’s promise, Abraham had a few wobbly moments of trying to ski down the hills by himself and get to the goal his way.

Genesis 15:2 NCV “But Abram said, ‘Lord God, what can you give me? I have no son, so my slave Eliezer from Damascus will get everything I own after I die.’”

Abraham tried to give his inheritance to Eliezer his servant; God then promised him an heir, a son. Not many verses later after the God made his covenant with Abraham (a time of establishing God’s promise – it was a heavy moment with animals being offered and God committing Himself to Abraham and his descendants) where Abraham learned the fate of his descendants, again he wobbles on his skis:

Genesis 16:2 NKJ “So Sarai said to Abram, ‘See now, the Lord has restrained me from bearing children. Please, go in to my maid; perhaps I shall obtain children by her.’ And Abram heeded the voice of Sarai.”

Sarah “helped” Abraham get to the goal since she wasn’t apparently able to have children on her own by telling him, “Please go in to my maid.” Abraham agreed and this is how Ishmael was born – and even though he was born out of Abraham’s moment of weakness in belief, God loved and provided for this son.

Those wobbly moments, those mistakes along the way, are not irretrievable! Some of the greatest growth you’ll experience along this journey won’t come by way of great Christian books but by your drawing nearer to the Father in the middle of the frozen wilderness, standing on your skis paralyzed not knowing what to do! Then you remember, you have your faith – you don’t know how to work it too well – so you trust, and that’s when faith works.

Things didn’t get any better for Abraham as he waited for the promise as he pawned Sarah his wife off to Abimilech, king of Gerar. All of the women of the household of Abimilech didn’t have children while Sarah was with them (seems it was a while even though the scripture doesn’t specify how long, it was long enough for them to realize no one was getting pregnant – interesting they were struck with barrenness and Sarah was barren).

There goes the father of our faith, wobbling along in his faith – afraid for his life even though God had promised him an heir and that heir hadn’t been born yet. Wobbling on the skis. Climbing up the hills without a ski lift to help him, barely making it.

But of this Abraham we see it written:

Hebrews 6:15 NIV “So after waiting patiently, Abraham received what was promised.”

What? Abraham waited patiently? According to my judgment he waited IMpatiently – but God’s way of seeing things is different than mine. If there’s an element of faith in us, God sees it and rejoices! He doesn’t beat us up for lack of faith, He finds a reason to cheer.

Every day we find ourselves bumbling and stumbling along trying to reach goals, make our way along the journey towards those promises God has for us. You see, just like Abraham, God chose you (1 Pet. 2:9 chosen generation).

Nehemiah 9:7,8 NASB “You are the Lord God, Who chose Abram…And gave him the name Abraham. You found his heart faithful before You, 
And made a covenant with him
…And You have fulfilled Your promise,
For You are righteous.”

NLT vs. 8 “when he proved himself faithful…”

Not only are you chosen but like with Abraham, He changed your name from lost to found, from bound to free, from sad to happy, and from unwanted to wanted. And like Abraham, we are going through the process of us finding our hearts to be faithful to Him – and guess what? They are! Even through the stumbling and momentary slips, as long as there is that element of faith there God sees it and rejoices.

One thing is certain, our Father is faithful to fulfill His promises. Sometimes, in fact most of the time, they are not filled as we want or when we want. And to be honest, this is why we get angry because we think we know better – but we don’t even see a quarter of the picture:

Job 26:14 Rotherham “Lo! These, are the fringes of His way, and what a whisper of a word hath been heard of Him! But, the thunder of His might, who could understand?”

MSG “And this is only the beginning, a mere whisper of his rule.
Whatever would we do if he really raised his voice!”

It’s as if we are on skis and those skis and ski poles represent our faith. We didn’t fabricate the poles, we didn’t make the skis, the Father supplied them like my father gave me my skis. Yes, the Father gave us our faith (Rm. 12 “everyone given a measure of faith”), we didn’t do anything but receive it. But more than supply our faith (or our skis), He yearns to teach us how to use our faith just like my father yearned to teach me how to use my skis.

Our Father sees things we don’t and we couldn’t understand or bear it if we did.

As a child, I didn’t understand what went into the skis and why it was important for them to be just right, straight, waxed on the bottom, ski boots buckled in properly, all of the details that went into a successful journey – but when I followed instructions without really knowing why, I made it to the end with fewer bruises than having tried on my own, following what looked good to me.

What we forget it that our Father knows we are imperfect, He knows we have feet of clay. All He is looking for is for us to have faith in Him, trust His counsel on how to use the skis. We can’t conjure up anything on our own – faith isn’t a magic spell or positive thinking – faith is all about the Father and His faithfulness!

Once the subject of our faith ceases to be “me and my” (I want this, I need that, I think it ought to be this way) and turns into “Him and His” (what does He want, what does He need, and how does He think it ought to be) then things change. None of this relies on what we do – it all relies and rests on His shoulders whether we understand why or not. He wins in the end; of this we can be sure.

Zephaniah 3:17 NASB “The Lord your God is in your midst, A victorious warrior. He will exult over you with joy, He will be quiet in His love, He will rejoice over you with shouts of joy.”

Faith will go through its ups and downs in life – and in the middle of the trials it is still faith, whether it feels like it or not. He is rejoicing over you and He is the winner. His love and joy over you doesn’t change because of circumstances. So, why then, do we change in our feelings for Him when our circumstances change? He never fails us – He sees the bigger picture.

You’ve not lost it just because you are struggling to remember what the Father has said. He is faithful to remind you and will be waiting at the bottom of the hill, cheering you on. But let me give you a hint: don’t do this on your own. Once we can do this, we’re at the top of that big hill and guess what? It is all downhill from here!

 

 

 

Categories
Fasting New Year Prayer

Day 1 – Lost in the Woods

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One of the most terrifying experiences I had as a child was getting lost in the woods behind our home in New Jersey. We lived in a fairly remote area that, while developed, had a good amount of undeveloped land surrounding it. The area was mountainous enough to have ski resorts not far from where we lived. However, the wooded area behind our home wasn’t an unending wilderness full of monsters as I thought then; it was just a small patch of woods that wasn’t as scary as my 8-year-old mind remembers it. At that time, when I was out adventuring in the woods together with my older sister and younger brother, I put on a brave face since I was the default “leader” in wilderness exploration. No, I would not admit that I was lost and afraid. I loved exploring in those woods and would daily spend hours (usually not far from the house) climbing trees and looking for whatever strange and wonderful treasures I could find. Once on such a trek nearby our home, my sister and I stumbled upon a very old, unkempt cemetery from at least a century ago. Some of the coffins were peeking out of the soil – we made a quick retreat home!

Mom and Dad knew that I loved exploring and daily warned me to “stay close” to home –I obviously did not heed their warnings on that day all three of us were wandering in the woods. My sister began questioning me, “Lea, you really don’t know where we are do you?” to which I replied angrily, “Of course I know where we are, I’m always out here.” After putting a brave face for quite some time (I was hoping I would stumble on a familiar marker to lead us home), I conceded defeat! I couldn’t deny her accusations any longer and really began to worry. Tears stung my eyes as I admitted, “We’re lost! No one will find us! We will die out here!” I had mental pictures of those coffins sticking out of the ground opening up to swallow us. My sister and I began crying out for our Dad in earnest, “Dad! Dad!” My little brother, too young to understand why we were so upset, busied himself with carrying as many sticks as he could which was his obsession at the time.

In the distance, much to our relief, we heard a very familiar voice calling out to us, “Where are you?” Dad had come! He swiftly gathered our brother in his arms and led us home at that “angry Dad” pace that children everywhere well understand.

This story came back to me this morning as I read in Genesis the account of Adam and Eve’s sin. God had made a world and the culmination of His creation was forming man and woman to fellowship with Him in the garden. God never spent time chatting with the elephants or lions or opossums in the garden; His desire in creation was to be with Adam and Eve, to create a family, to be a Father.

God had come to the garden and was walking in the garden to be with Adam and Eve. They were nowhere to be found. God knew where they were, but they didn’t know – this is why He called out to them in Genesis 3:9 NLT “Where are you?” Adam and Eve’s sin opened their eyes to the consequences of their choice, being lured away from home, and they were ashamed to face the Father. Their solution? Hiding themselves among the trees, in the woods.

Genesis 3:8,9 NLT “When the cool evening breezes were blowing, the man and his wife heard the Lord God walking about in the garden. So they hid from the Lord God among the trees. Then the Lord God called to the man, ‘Where are you?’ ”

Life has a way of pulling us out into the woods, places that aren’t cleared or familiar to us. There are undeveloped places that, if we enter them, draw our focus away from home. There are many reasons to fast, as we are for the next 21 days, but for me, the primary reasons I fast is to get a clearer picture of home. To renew my focus and get out of the woods, out from where life has brought me spiritually, and back to a place where my Father’s voice is very clear.

Fasting is not simply abstaining from food or whatever activity we might have chosen to fast (some fast media, TV, entertainment, etc.) Fasting is setting those meals, those activities, aside and spending time with God. If we don’t replace them, we are simply on a hunger strike or advanced diet. Begin your day and spend several times a day with time in God’s Word and prayer. Have a journal nearby and begin noting the verses that speak to you, noting the things that come to you in prayer. Write down your prayers, your thoughts, and by the end of the fast you can reflect back on what you have written and see how God led you out of the woods.

Our Father is faithful; He always comes looking for us when we’ve lost sight of home. His voice calls out to us when we’re lost – we simply need to follow Him home.