Rend Your Heart: 5 tips for a #holyfast

The first time I ever fasted I had no clue what I was doing. All I knew was that my family was in crisis, my heart was broken, and I was desperate, DESPERATE for God’s mercy rain.

{Mercy; love, compassion, a feeling that prompts action – an action that is undeserved by the one who benefits from it} 

So, I got behind the idea of fasting to forego food for one day. The idea was to deny all else but God. I told no one. What I received in exchange for this simplistic act was the gift of knowing. Assurance. A vision of hope. Heaven and Earth did not literally break ground that day but, eventually the breakthrough I prayed and fasted for came to pass. 

Fasting. It’s a simple, sacred act that very few Christians are choosing to partake in. Why? Have we forgotten that our destiny resides in self denial? Perhaps we are afraid – there is a certain trepidation when we lay ourselves bare before God. But, when the fear of doing NOTHING becomes greater than our TROUBLES we should fast.

When the fear of…

Our world falling apart.

Our church falling apart. 

Our relationships falling apart.

Our bodies falling apart. 

Our broken selves falling apart.

… we rend our heart.  

{Rend; to tear, rip apart, or split in two} 

These calamities, they rend our heart and we ache for the mend. These 5 things have helped to make a deep and lasting connection with God during my fast experiences.
  1. Declare it. Take possession of the burden. Allow yourself to hold it {not carry} for the moment. Gather the assembly. Who shares in your sorrow? Invite them to join. When Esther commissioned the fast for all the Jews in Susa she declared it! {Esther 4: 15-17} 
  2. Repent. Ask for forgiveness. This will cleanse you of all unrighteousness. Basically, make sure that you’ve checked your heart and cleaned up your inner sanctuary. 
  3. Create space. Life is busy and on days of fasting it can feel almost impossible to “stop” life from happening. Especially if you have little ones who will still feel the need to eat and drink. Creating space amounts to being creative. Get up before everyone else. Create a worship playlist that you can listen to periodically in the day. Close your bedroom door for 5 minutes and get on your knees. Keep a journal and write words, verses, phrases that the Spirit is speaking to you. Open your eyes to the world around you. Nature has a way of speaking to the heart when we choose to go looking for it. Go where the wind blows. If the Lord is leading you don’t be afraid to go through the doors He is opening before you. 
  4. Frame it.  The things revealed to you during this sacred act should be mounted in your heart. I write everything down and keep it as a way of remembering. Because God delights in His sons and daughters He gives those who fear Him the desires of their heart. Your sacrifice will not go unnoticed. It’s only a matter of time, dear friend. Hold fast to the gift exchange in this process.
  5. Believe. Stop doubting. There is nothing left to prove because the proof died on the cross. We now can pray and fast with confidence that He will fight for us. 

{Restore; to bring back to a state of health, soundness, or vigor. To reconstruct}

Last week I shared my heart for Sierra Leone and the horrible Ebola disease that is attacking the countries in West Africa. Doing so, I declared a #holyfast for Monday, August 18th. Would you be willing to join us? If you’ve already said, yes, then LET US gather back here to encourage, edify, and share the awesome things that God will do through this day. Leave a comment or send me a message. 
Love to you all.

The Lights Just Went Out: Ebola, Sierra Leone,& my Heart. #holyfast

I’ve been pretty quiet about this whole Ebola thing. I mean, what can be said that hasn’t already been said. Like you, I’m sad and have felt helpless. When reports first began to surface perhaps I was a little naive. It seemed isolated. It seemed that this West African outbreak with fingers barely scrawled across the border of Sierra Leone would keep it’s distance from my heart.

But it has not. 

First, I’ve been pretty quiet about this guy. This little love that stole my heart 16 months ago. Ibrahim. Remember how I shared with you our first encounter. It’s still so sacred to me.

A lot has transpired since then. Last October I received word that another family had stepped forward to begin the process of adopting Ibrahim and his two older sisters. I need to be real here and tell you that this was very painful. It felt like a miscarriage to me. A baby I believed was destined to be my son.

I had to let go.

I had to trust that my prayer for God’s sovereign will over this boy would be made whole. And so, I mourned the loss of my hope and in time was able to celebrate for him. In the process, I’ve made a new and lasting friendship with a dear family.

Meet my friends Amber and Tyler. Together with their four kids they are currently fighting to adopt Ibrahim and his sisters.

The initial purpose of this update was to rally adoption support. But, as we all know there is this diseased cloud looming over the nation of Sierra Leone and it needs to move on, dissolve, and disperse itself into the abyss. Oh Lord, we pray.

On Tuesday the orphanage announced that they are going into a state of lock-down due to the Ebola virus. What does this mean? It means minimizing the staff to slow down the volume of traffic in and out of the center, stockpiling food and supplies for a period of 6 to 9 months, no outside schooling, church will be closed to the public, and monthly Skype calls have been suspended.

Communication has been halted. It feels like the lights just went out.

So what can we do while we wait? I have an idea.

“Declare a holy fast; call a sacred assembly.” – Joel 1:14

This is a summon to all who abide in the house of God. A gathering of His people to cry out in one accord, on one single day, for one single purpose.  A holy fast. A time of public abstinence from food or drink. A demonstration of sorrow, a plea for God to breathe His breath across the West African plains and spare the nations.

“…Why should they say among the peoples, ‘Where is their God?” – Joel 2:17 

Let us gather together on MONDAY, AUGUST 18TH for a #holyfast. The day may seem dark but, He is the hope of the future. The God of light. What can we do? Join me as I…

Pray for Ibrahim.
Pray for the orphanage.

Pray for the city of Freetown.

Pray for the World Vision villages in Bo. 

These are the people we are fighting for. Let us take up the torch. We are the ambassadors.

Who’s with me?

Do you have any food for me?

What if she looked into your eyes and asked, “Do you have any food for me?”

This is Zaneb sitting in the hospital with her 16 month old daughter. During my stay at the orphanage we had a few outreach opportunities planned to get out and do good for the community of Freetown.

Visiting the hospital was first on the list. Brad, a doctor from Missouri, who was traveling with us brought a case of medical supplies to donate. Other than the donation, our intention was to see the facility and pray with those in need.

Zaneb was the first woman to make eye contact with me. I’ll admit that I felt a little fear rise up in me. Maybe fear isn’t the correct word, rather vulnerability. My American mind-set was fixed on the idea that my presence, my approach, my offering of prayer would offend or insult her. So, I first began by asking her name. I asked a little about her baby, but her face looked confused. She wasn’t fully understanding me and I wondered if she understood my English. I made small talk and eventually asked her if I could pray for her baby. She nodded her head in agreement. I reached out and touched the baby’s foot then bowed my head and prayed a simple prayer of health and healing. I opened my eyes and into those chocolate drops peering straight back at me.

“Do you have any food for me?” Zaneb asked.

I stopped breathing for a moment. My mouth dropped. I had nothing with me; no money, no food, not even a crumb. I had come empty handed even though I am not empty. In fact, I am very full. I wanted to say “Yes, yes I have food for you! How much do you need? Whatever you ask I shall give to you!” Instead, I had to tell Zaneb “I am sorry but I do not have anything for you.”

I left feeling like a wretched person. I felt as though I had failed an epic assignment.

When we returned to the center I overheard the staff discussing their return to the hospital the following week and then it hit me, my second chance! So, I gave a sum of money along with the picture of Zaneb to the person returning the next week and asked that they bless her with the gift.

I’ve thought a lot about her and wondered if she ever received the food I sent for her. This side of Heaven I will never know the outcome, but this I do know, if I am willing to give out of my whole heart He will be faithful to complete it.

Even if it takes a second chance!