Tag Archives: fasting

Be Inspired! Conversation with Julia Roller (part 2)

Be inspired! I’m excited to launch a special focus in June featuring interviews with Christian women whose stories, thoughts, ideas, and choices inspire me—and will inspire you—to love more deeply, to seek God more passionately, and to live more abundantly.

be inspired
To kick things off, we’re continuing the conversation with Julia Roller about motherhood and the spiritual life. (Click here to read part 1 – you’ll love it!). Julia’s new book Mom Seeks God honestly depicts the ups and downs—and the hidden beauties—of her journey as a mom toward experiencing God in new and different ways.

At the end of this post, read how you can easily enter a drawing to win a free signed copy of Mom Seeks God as well as a free, signed copy of my Bible study guide Awaken Your Soul!

Here’s part 2 of our conversation.

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Your book Mom Seeks God chronicles your experiences with different spiritual disciplines & practices and how they fit (or sometimes don’t) with the reality of motherhood. How has your faith-life (practices, etc.) grown and changed as a result of being a mom? What practices or disciplines seem to “work” best for you in this stage of life?

Julia Roller lowres

My faith life has changed in many ways, most of them for the better. I find that I see God more easily these days, in my children as they grow and learn, in my husband, in those around me. I feel less pressure to get everything right and more of a feeling of confidence that God can make beautiful things out of my broken and imperfect efforts.

 

The disciplines that are most dear to me right now are some of the disciplines of abstinence (of taking away rather than adding): simplicity, silence, fasting (from all kinds of things in addition to food). One of the overall things I realized after that year was that I was trying so hard to DO MORE. In order to be a better parent, to be a stronger Christian, I thought I had to add more stuff to my list—more activities, more books, more prayer, more time. No wonder I felt so exhausted all the time!

It surprised me how much I benefited from and felt close to God through the disciplines that involved doing less. As I was able to turn things off (in the practice of silence), give something up in order to increase my focus on God (fasting) and try to do one thing at a time (simplicity), I found that I was able to open up some space in my life to slow down and listen for God’s voice.

Mom Seeks God jacketWhat practices or disciplines might you recommend for other moms to try–especially those who may be new to the idea of spiritual disciplines?

Prayer is always a great place to begin. I think we often put prayer off—to a time when we have more time, when we have quiet, when we can really focus. For moms, that time may never come! I am a big fan of praying short prayers in the moment. When I tell someone I’m going to pray for them, I do it right then. When I find myself in a moment of frustration or anger, I try to take time out to pray right then. This gets easier with practice. I also encourage moms to look for that time of day that can be the best time for them to have a consistent daily time with God. For me it’s at night before bedtime; I know for many other moms, the early morning works best. I love the idea of coming before God when I am at my best and since I am a night owl, for me that time is at night, when I can reflect on my day and look forward to the next one.
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A Blessed Collision — Mom Seeks God (part 1)

Friends, to wrap up our “Be Mom” focus in May and to launch into our “Be Inspired” series for June, I’m excited to introduce you to my friend Julia Roller. She’s recently written a great new book looking at two of my very favorite topics: that blessed collision between motherhood and spiritual disciples. It’s called Mom Seeks God. Join me for a two-part conversation with Julia about the spiritual side of motherhood.

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Julia, can you tell my readers a bit about yourself?

Julia Roller lowresMy husband, Ryan and I have two boys, ages 4 and 7, and live in San Diego, where we are often busy driving to (seemingly) every soccer and baseball practice and game in town. I love reading so much that I do it while I’m cooking (which is probably why I almost invariably burn the garlic bread). I often wish I were more crafty, but alas, I use Pinterest mainly to find quotes about reading and new ways to trick my children into eating vegetables.

I love the title of your new book, Mom Seeks God, because it sort of describes my everyday life. Can you tell readers more about your book? What motivated you to write it?

You receive a lot of warnings about life after becoming a mom—you’ll be so tired, so covered in spit-up that you won’t even care that you may never lose the baby weight, etc.—but no one ever warned me that becoming a mom might lead to a time of spiritual dryness. As much as the incredible love I felt for my new baby taught me about the inexhaustible nature of God’s love for us, I also struggled to feel connected with God after becoming a mom because my new life seemed to leave little time for prayer and Bible study the way I had practiced it before. Mom Seeks God is the story of my journey to figure out how to reconnect with God in the middle of the busy life of a mom with small children.Mom Seeks God jacket

Yes, I totally get that. The same experiences led me to write a book too! Like you, initially, as a new mom, I found my spiritual desires sort of colliding with the reality of motherhood. The practices I wanted to do didn’t seem to fit with my reality. What are some of the specific struggles or spiritual challenges you faced as a new mom? Continue reading

22 Ways to Be (a Little More) Present

Be present.

What can this actually look like? How can we be more present to God (who is always, ever present with us)? How can we, in general, be present to our lives—to our experiences, to our loved ones, to our work and our world?

Here’s a list of 22 ideas, but a big, giant caveat on such lists: No one person can do all of these things at once! And I’m not suggesting that you do – because I certainly don’t (and can’t). Peruse a list like this with your soul listening to the Holy Spirit. What one thing might you want to focus on? Or what new idea springs to your mind as you consider this? Go with it.

paints Live a little more.

• Make it a goal to laugh more today! Laugh and smile with someone you love.

• Pause from busyness to enjoy beauty: nature, music, art, ideas. Just 5 minutes can transform your mindset for the rest of the day.

• Immerse yourself in a creative endeavor: Cook a meal with gusto, write a letter to a friend (on actual paper), scrawl out a drawing, sing your heart out in the shower.

• Enjoy your work. Value the tasks or employment God has put on your plate today, be it housework, office work, or whatever. Find meaning it in – sacredness – and find joy in utilizing your skills and efforts to get a job well done.

• Move a little more. Get that heart pumping. Use that body God has given you. Exercise (and try to enjoy it).

• Pause to be grateful for your life. Say thank you. Say it again. And again.

Love a little more. Continue reading

Hollowed Out, Fired Up

What is justice? A good place to start with this question is with its antithesis: What is injustice? We know it when we see it. We feel it deep down. It unsettles us. It hollows us out. It fires us up.

RubyIt’s so wrong. So horrifying. So against-all-goodness.

Racism. Abuse. Violence against the vulnerable. Genocide. Trafficking. Slavery. Oppressive poverty. Disease and death caused by environmental degradation.

This list could go on . . . and on . . . and on . . .

And it overwhelms us. Its weightiness can stop us in our tracks, can freeze us into inertia.

Can any one person actually fight these huge, systematic global problems? Is there really anything you or I can actually do? Continue reading

Train

What’s the first thing you think of when you hear the word discipline? As a mom of three, I think of child-tears, frustration, time-outs (or worse), and me feeling frazzled and worn out. Discipline, if we’re honest, is not fun. Rewarding in the long run? Sure. But not exactly a word with a positive connotation.

So when I talk about spiritual disciplines? Well, the danger for you and for me is that we can bring this somewhat negative connotation into the conversation. But Scripture uses several words that are translated at “discipline.” One means to chastise, correct, or instruct (see Hebrews 12:6-7). But here’s some good news: God’s Word uses entirely different words to talk about discipline in terms of our spiritual formation. Consider this excerpt from my book, The Busy Mom’s Guide to Spiritual Survival:

trainersAs we look at the spiritual disciplines, we’re instead aiming for the concepts of gumnazo and askeo. Gumnazo—from which we derive the English word gymnasium—means discipline in the sense of athletic exercise and training. We’re talking about a spiritual sweat here: regular “workouts” that keep our faith in shape. This is the word Paul uses when he urges Timothy, “[T]rain yourself to be godly. For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come” (1 Timothy 4:7-8, emphasis added). This is the same connotation the writer of Hebrews intends when he prods his readers by saying, “Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teachings about righteousness. But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil” (Hebrews 5:13-14, emphasis added).

Askeo means the discipline of a master craftsman who employs skill, persistent determination, and great effort to turn raw material into a piece of art. Continue reading

Fasting From Worry

A colleague of mine wrote a great piece, “I Gave Up Worry for Lent.”

Wow! If worry is a struggle for you, consider JoHannah Reardon‘s insights in the above article.

40 Days of Being

Lent begins today. I’m from a non-liturgical church tradition that generally doesn’t observe Lent, but it has become a meaningful time for me personally each year to intentionally reflect on Jesus’ sacrifice on my behalf and to anticipate the joy we celebrate on Resurrection Sunday.

If you’re interested in doing something special for Lent this year, here’s a fun idea  for families involving baking  and eating something yummy (it’s an annual tradition for us!).

Another meaningful way to observe Lent is to fast; for inspiration if you’re considering fasting, reflect on the ideas here, here, and here.

Stay tuned because our next blog post will feature an interview with an amazing Christian writer, Keri Wyatt Kent, who will share thoughts about rest, Sabbath-keeping, and how these practices can work in the reality of our busy, modern-day lives.

Meet My Friend . . . Nicole Unice

This month I’m pleased to introduce you to a friend and co-worker of mine, Nicole Unice. She’s got great insights to share about a unique fasting experience she recently participated in with her church.

Nicole! Thanks for stopping by. Can you tell my readers a bit about yourself?

Yes! I’m a woman going in lots of different directions. On any given day, I’m doing the mom thing, the writer thing, the leadership thing….but my favorite thing to do is talk with women about the intersection of God’s word and their reality.

This month we’re talking about fasting on my blog. I know you recently participated in a fast together with your church family. Tell us more about that — why did you fast? What was the experience like? How did it challenge or inspire you? Continue reading

The True Fast

“Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen?”

This is God speaking. And a statement like this should get our attention.

God is about to tell us how he wants us to fast in pretty specific terms . . . but his message may not be what we expect. Continue reading

Fasting: Up Close

As I wrote in The Busy Mom’s Guide to Spiritual Survival, “fasting is not a lone ranger discipline; it is intimately connected with other spiritual practices. In the Bible, fasting is nearly always accompanied with prayer. Fasting is often an immediate response of those who through self-examination have been led to mourning and repentance over sin. Fasting is also an extension of the discipline of simplicity; through denying ourselves the ability to satisfy an appetite (whether it be for food, things, or an activity), we’re able to narrow our focus on our soul’s true hunger for intimacy with God.”  

Two women in Scripture provide examples of the way fasting partners with other disciplines. Here’s more from The Busy Mom’s Guide to Spiritual Survival:

In the Old Testament we encounter Esther; she was young, beautiful, and in the middle of a life-threatening crisis. Esther had been chosen to marry a pagan king who had recently gotten rid of his previous wife. When Esther was informed of an edict that would effectively result in the genocide of her people, she devoted three days to fasting and prayer and was joined by all the Jews in her city. Through this intense time of focusing her energy, hunger, and entire being on God, Esther found the strength and courage to do what God was calling her to do: risk her life in order to protect her people.

Early in the New Testament, we encounter another awesome portrait of fasting in Anna. A widow, at least eighty-four years old, Anna lived in the temple and spent her time “worshipping with fasting and prayer night and day” (Luke 2:37, ESV). Her fasting and prayer were acts of her utter devotion to God, and as a result of her connection to God she was able to clearly sense God’s leading and hear his voice. Prompted by God’s Spirit, Anna recognized the infant Jesus as the promised Messiah! She was one of the very first witnesses of the gospel, “speak[ing] of him to all who were waiting for the redemption of Jerusalem” (Luke 2:38, ESV).

How can you, like Esther, practice fasting as a way to deepen your prayer experience? Or how can you, like Anna, offer a fast to God as a sacrifice of worship? How do their examples inspire you?