Fasting to Fill Up

Being an adult in this current world can feel burdensome at times.  No longer are we graced with the carefree days of running amuck with the neighborhood kids, or squealing with delight as games of tag or backyard baseball are played.  Those days are often replaced with big daunting tasks that come at us, crippling us, creating fear or anxiety, panic, or a depressed feeling. Big things like job losses, tax troubles, parenting heartache or uncertainty, friendship woes, marital relationships in the trenches or failing, and when these trials come, we can often be left feeling helpless, inadequate, unsure of the next step or unwilling to take that next step because it just feels too easy to fall.  

Kayla Anderson Hunger and thirstOften my first solution can be to talk.  I’m a verbal processor so I just want to talk with anyone and everyone about what situation is going on in my life.  Talk to my best friends – they’ll comfort me, hug me, let me cry, and give me encouragement. Talk to my husband – he’ll try to offer a solution because solutions and resolution come so naturally to him.  Talk to my dad – he’ll offer me wisdom and advice because so much has happened in his life that is mirrored in my own so he’s likely been there.

Sometimes my first solution is to just put my head down, pull up my boot straps and start at it to just get through the daunting, overwhelming life task at hand because I’m a hardworker and just like to get things done.  I’m a bandaid ripper; just do it and get it over with. So often, that’s my mindset.

Not often enough is my first solution to pause and pray.  Yet when I read the Bible, so frequently I am shown that prayer and even fasting (voluntarily abstaining from eating while devoting time to prayer or reading the Bible) is the first and best solution for many of those men and women.  As Jesus himself was entering into ministry, he fasted.

“Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the desert, where for forty days he was tempted by the devil.  He ate nothing during those days, and at the end of them he was hungry. The devil said to him, “If you are the Son of God, tell this stone to become bread.” Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man does not live on bread alone.’” – Luke 4:1-4

Jesus was referring to fasting, relying less on himself and his solutions but relying more on God.  I remember spending a few days as a youth group attendee doing some preset fasting as a group but never in my adult life have I devoted a day to fasting.  Not because I don’t know the Biblical principle of fasting or because I don’t want to – that just honestly isn’t something my mind is trained to think about.

David Mathis wrote, “Jesus assumes his followers will fast, and even promises it will happen.  He doesn’t say ‘if’ but ‘when you fast’ (Matthew 6:16). And he doesn’t say his followers might fast, but “they will” (Matthew 9:15).  We fast in this life because we believe in the life to come. We don’t have to get it all here and now, because we have a promise that we will have it all in the coming age.  We fast from what we can see and taste, because we have tasted and seen the goodness of the invisible and infinite God – and we are desperately hungry for more of him.”

Hunger and thirst Kayla AndersonEsther was a woman in the Bible with arguably one of the most daunting life tasks laid at her feet – a task that could literally take her life.  Esther was Queen when her cousin Mordecai (both Jews) learned of the king’s orders to “destroy, kill and annihilate all the Jews – young and old, women and little children” (Esther 3:13).  Mordecai told her “Do not think that because you are in the king’s house you alone of all the Jews will escape. For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father’s family will perish.  And who knows but that you have come to royal position for such a time as this?”

Do you know what Esther’s first solution to this huge life task was?  It wasn’t to immediately talk it out with friends, her husband (the king), or even Mordecai, her family.  It wasn’t to just pull up her bootstraps or attempt to just jump in and try to save the Jews with her own wisdom and judgment.  Esther’s first solution was to pray and fast.

“Go, gather together all the Jews who are in Susa, and fast for me.  Do not eat or drink for three days, night or day. I and my maids will fast as you do.  When this is done, I will go to the king, even though it is against the law. And if I perish, I perish.”  – Esther 4:16

I am challenged and encouraged to make my next “first solution” to a big life task to spend time in prayer via fasting.  To take the Esther approach. The Moses approach (Exodus 34:28). The Jesus approach. To make my life one that is not relying on bread alone but fully relying on God.


Kayla AndersonKayla Anderson is married (for better or for worse) to the one who she knows without a doubt that God created her to be companions with.  Together they have four young children, Ezekiel, Asher, Ellery and Alder, and run a hand-crafted soap shop.  She is a stay-at-home, homeschooling mom and is in a season of learning how to gracefully be the central point and glue of their family.  Thank the Lord that she has Him to look to for wisdom, guidance and strength!  She loves reading in the quiet, early morning hours, decorating their sweet little home, writing has been part of her soul since she learned how to write letters, and her love of coffee runs deeper than her coffee pot.  You can find more from Kayla on her blog or Instagram.

 

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Knowing Love

Some 16 years ago, back in high school, I remember one of my good friends speaking about 1 Corinthians 13:4-8. We’d all heard it many times; “love is patient, love is kind, it does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud…” Yes, we knew all that well. They are great verses but it was nothing of news to me; I’d heard it preached many times already. Those specific verses had even just played a big role in one of the hit films “A Walk to Remember.” Except this time, instead of where the film had depicted the verses in relation to love between humans, my friend was relating the verse directly to God and his character. He was explaining that God and love are synonymous. God IS love.

“Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God.  Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.” 1 John 4:7-8 (NIV)

Kayla Anderson Character of GodThat connection was new to me. I knew God is love. It’s one of the most talked about character traits of God but never had I considered using the words synonymously and in exchange for one another so effortlessly in that manner. And so, my friend read 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 to us in this way,

God is patient, God is kind. He does not envy, he does not boast, he is not proud. He does not dishonor others, he is not self-seeking, he is not easily angered, he keeps no record of wrongs. God does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. He always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. God never fails.


All of the sudden, looking at those verses (and don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying scripture isn’t perfect as it is but this was simply a thought change) made them mean something deeper to me. Since the new revelation I had that day, 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 have always been life verses to me – verses to live by, for I know that we were created in the image of God and these verses have no grey area of who God is and what his character is like. Verses that were cut and dry of what I was to model my life after, truth about God and who he was, is, and will always be. Not only that, but they remind me that he is a God that is for me and not against me – which I need to remember in the midst of challenges, both minuscule and mountainous.

About a year ago, I found a wood sign with 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 painted on it. I picked it up and brought it home with me. Without much thought, I hung it up on a wall in my home that had the right space for it. It didn’t dawn on me till much later that the wall I chose to hang it on was the most central wall in my house – one that was in the middle and central point of the six lives dwelling in our home. On a wall that supports and holds our home in place soundly. A perfect spot for the encouragement and reminder that God is Love and what we should be modeling our lives after.

Character of God Kayla AndersonReminding me to have patience when my kids have spilled milk for the fifth time that day (because sometimes it’s hard to not cry over the spilled milk). Patience for the baby clinging to my heels.

Reminding me to do as I always tell my kids, which is to “use kind words in a kind voice,” even when it’s asking the same thing of them for the tenth time. Or to be gentle and kind to all those which I encounter, whether in my home as guests or as soon as I step out of it, because I don’t know what mountains or valleys they are walking through in their life.

Reminding me to not be self-seeking and looking after what I want to do – but to serve my family eagerly.

Reminding me to not be easily angered and to keep no record of wrongs when in conversation with my husband. To not dwell on past hurts from my husband, my friends, family or even the mail lady, but to release them and truly keep no score sheet, no tally marks – no record of wrongs.

Reminding me to keep faith in all things because there is always protection, trust, hope and perseverance in him. Because if God IS love, then God never ever fails.

And that’s the kind of God that I can put my faith in.


Kayla AndersonKayla Anderson is married (for better or for worse) to the one who she knows without a doubt that God created her to be companions with.  Together they have four young children, Ezekiel, Asher, Ellery and Alder, and run a hand-crafted soap shop.  She is a stay-at-home, homeschooling mom and is in a season of learning how to gracefully be the central point and glue of their family.  Thank the Lord that she has Him to look to for wisdom, guidance and strength!  She loves reading in the quiet, early morning hours, decorating their sweet little home, writing has been part of her soul since she learned how to write letters, and her love of coffee runs deeper than her coffee pot.  You can find more from Kayla on her blog or Instagram.

 

Out of the Bondage of Bitterness

I had the perfect recipe brewing for letting bitterness take root, for letting it fester, consume me by taking over my thoughts, and even for seeking revenge. I believe most people wouldn’t have blamed me if I had taken any one or all of those actions. After all, I did have a husband who had been unfaithful to me.

A husband who had, not just once, but repeatedly for nearly the entire length of our two-year marriage chosen other women over me. People would have understood my anger. My bitterness. My unforgiveness of “the big one” in marriage.

Kayla Anderson BitternessThankfully, before I knew what was to be in the coming days, the Lord knew the path my life would take and only three weeks into marriage, He led me to sneak into the back row of the church my dad was a youth pastor at while he was speaking to a group of teenagers. Dad’s message for that night about all about forgiveness. He shared a story about a friend he had who repeatedly hurt him in the same way over and over again. Dad shared that he had learned to forgive ahead of time – anticipating another similar hurt, he prepared in his heart that he would forgive again before it even happened.

I purposed to take that nugget of wisdom and store it. The first time I learned about the unfaithfulness of my ex-husband, I was shaken to my core. I didn’t expect it or anticipate it; I never saw it coming. However, I chose to forgive as my husband wept and repented. And then I recalled what Dad had said – and I decided to box up and store away some forgiveness for any future offenses of this nature.

A few weeks later, I found myself reaching into the forgiveness box again (and all too quickly again and again, and about every 2 or 3 weeks for the remainder of our marriage). This all continued for two years until finally my ex-husband ultimately decided that he really did think his life would just be better off without me in it.

In the aftermath of this all, I had some girlfriends astonished that I would go through this ordeal over and over with him for two years. “Why are you putting up with that!?” “Why are you not just so angry with him?” “Why do you keep forgiving him and giving him more chances when he keeps hurting you like that?” they would ask me.

Why? Well, because God is the God of forgiveness. Because God is the God of healing and of restoration. And because I wanted those things He offered so much more than I wanted to hold onto anger or bitterness. God didn’t tell us to forgive one time and only give one more chance – He just simply instructed and called us to forgive.

“Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, ‘Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?’ Jesus answered, ‘ I  tell you, not seven times, but 77 times.” Matthew 18:21-22

Bitterness Kayla AndersonForgiveness does not always mean that you have to stay but it does mean that you have to choose to release all of the emotions binding up your heart and mind. I wasn’t certain of our future but I had chosen to fight for our marriage until the choice was out of my hands and decided by the other person in my marriage. I wanted to choose forgiveness over and over again, regardless of how “foolish” that might lookto the rest of the world. Beth Moore, one of my favorite authors, wrote that “forgiveness may be excruciating for a moment, but anger and bitterness are excruciating for a lifetime.” I wanted wholeness and healing from the pain and sought it with my whole heart, broken as it was. I wanted to be free of the bondage of bitterness or anger that could take root in my life and spread like weeds if I allowed it.

“Keep a sharp eye out for the weeds of bitter discontent. A thistle or two gone to seed can ruin a whole garden in no time.” Hebrews 12:15, The Message

We all battle hurt feelings, being let down, feeling betrayed, humiliated or angry at the hand of another person. However, it’s our choice of how we are going to handle those feelings. I knew I didn’t want to nurse a grudge and refuse to forgive. I knew that choosing to not forgive him would cost me a whole lot more than it would cost my ex-husband.

Bitterness is willfully choosing to hold on to hurt or angry feelings and forgiveness is willfully choosing to release it. Because while sometimes it can feel like we are unable to or justified in choosing not to forgive, sometimes we need to realize that we are simply unwilling to forgive. Just as loving someone is a choice, so is the act of forgiveness because that’s exactly what it is – an act, not a feeling.

I didn’t feel forgiving towards my ex-husband. You know what I really felt? I felt angry, betrayed, humiliated and like a used piece of trash just tossed to the wayside. I felt hurt that he had not taken his marriage vows as seriously as I took them and that I was now going to be a 21-year- old divorcee, used and abused, and without the life companion that I so deeply longed for.

However, feelings aside, I deeply wanted that healing from the Lord which would bring wholeness again. That redemption for my life and my story. I begged God to take my broken heart, to fill in the cracks and smooth them out again. To move towards having a healthy heart again, I knew it needed to start with forgiveness and releasing any potential of bitterness in my current situation. Though I didn’t feel it, I needed to act upon it.

Forgiveness is an act of surrender: surrendering to God’s will, God’s instruction, and God’s plan for redemption. We don’t have the ability in ourselves to forgive others but God can empower us to extend forgiveness, even in the hardest of situations where we are left feeling completely shipwrecked by the actions of another. Something we often can misunderstand is that forgiveness is not about the other person. It’s not agreeing or condoning what happened, it’s an acceptance of what has happened and then releasing it to the Lord in exchange of healing.

Forgiveness is a gift that God has given us to free ourselves of the bondage of bitterness and control that someone else had over our life. Forgiveness is a gift because Jesus died on the cross for us to forgive us of our sins.

“But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds, we are healed.” Isaiah 53:5

Friends, did you catch that? We all have great potential to want to hold on to our wounds inflicted upon us and let them fester…but we don’t have to. So rather than clinging to bitterness, offense and resentment, may we all learn to cling to the forgiveness and healing of our wounds which is found in Jesus. For by His wounds, we are healed.


Kayla AndersonKayla Anderson is married (for better or for worse) to the one who she knows without a doubt that God created her to be companions with.  Together they have four young children, Ezekiel, Asher, Ellery and Alder, and run a hand-crafted soap shop.  She is a stay-at-home, homeschooling mom and is in a season of learning how to gracefully be the central point and glue of their family.  Thank the Lord that she has Him to look to for wisdom, guidance and strength!  She loves reading in the quiet, early morning hours, decorating their sweet little home, writing has been part of her soul since she learned how to write letters, and her love of coffee runs deeper than her coffee pot.  You can find more from Kayla on her blog or Instagram.