My least favorite part of going through physical therapy is having my fingers and joints stretched out. My hand was immobilized for six weeks and right now I feel like I’m learning to use it all over again. My therapist has taught me to breathe through the pain , to not back down and to push through. I’ve been counting through the stretching because I know each stretch lasts only 10 seconds so I focus on the numbers declining, not the pain.

If you’ve been walking through your life with Jesus chances are you’ve gone through stretching seasons, probably more than you’d like! The thing is, God brings those stretching seasons not to hurt you but to get you stronger , to prepare you for your purpose. Inflexible people aren’t just resisting change but when change comes they get hurt. Don’t believe me? Go ahead, do the splits right now and see how you feel afterwards ! Not pleasant , right?

So how do you go through God’s stretching seasons successfully?
First, breathe! Seriously! When God stretches you He also breathes new life, new hope into you ! Inhale His life, His presence and exhale all the tension. By focusing on God’s breath , His Spirit , you stop focusing on the pain and discomfort of the stretching.

Second, don’t resist or fight against the stretch. Here is where your YES comes in. You have the choice to push through the pain, to stop resisting God’s work. Whatever it is God is calling you to do that’s beyond your comfort zone, step into it and say yes. I learned that resisting my physical therapist will cause me more pain but when I would choose to cooperate with the stretch the pain would slowly ease.

Third , count through the stretch. That means you focus on what’s ahead and what God is preparing you for not on how long it’s going to take. Sometimes  God’s stretching seasons are quick and sometimes they last a long time. It’s really easy to become discouraged as you go through the stretch when  time doesn’t seem to pass, so let your focus be the end result.

So don’t resist His stretching, don’t run from it but lean into it, into God and get ready for the greatest season of your life so far!

“I can’t help other people feel valued until I know I am.” Kris Vallotton This little quote just hit my heart. My primary love language is words of encouragement. I love encouraging people and speaking into their lives. And in return I feel loved when people encourage me. 

Now, please hear me out! I’m going to be very transparent so if you feel that this article is about you, it’s not! My heart is to share what has set me free and to allow my journey to help others through theirs! 

I’ve been going through a season where there seems to be a drought of encouragement in my life. To tell you the truth, I’ve been feeling disappointment and even have been getting a little attitude with friends who used to be my source of life giving words. Now, the biggest lesson I learned was that I needed to get my encouragement and sense of value from God first and He has done that and will continue to do that so well! 

Nevertheless, as I read this quote I realized that first of all I expected people to make me feel valued when I really didn’t believe I was! It’s like feeding one single potato chip to a teenager- it’s not going to sate their hunger! While it’s great to receive words that build you up you can’t let those be your only source of building your identity. I think in order to replace feelings of inadequacy and low self esteem we need to draw both from God and others. It has to be balanced.

On the other hand, how can we expect others to show us how valued we are if they don’t even know they are? I realized I had placed expectations on people they couldn’t possibly fulfill! You can’t give what you yourself don’t have . Not getting what I thought I needed hurt my heart and almost destroyed dear friendships. 

My responsibility is to allow God full access into my being, take time to listen , really listen to His voice, dig for treasures in His word and then, and only then will I be able to make people feel valued because now I know I am valued! So dig in! Great treasure waits for you! 

Daniel Fast, day one.

Day one of the fast is behind us. I don’t know about you, but for me the first few days are tough physically. My body begins to detox and all those toxins are causing some symptoms I don’t like. There are those caffeine- withdrawal headaches, my kidneys are working overtime and causing my lower back to hurt and my body is dragging its feet, literally!
There are a few things I’ve learned over the past years to help with those things. First of all, please help your kidneys out by drinking lots of water! I also drink coconut water, as it is full of minerals the body needs. Another drink that will help your body detox quickly is detox tea. I drink Yogi peach detox. Trust me, it works wonders! Most of all, just hang on in there. After a few days you’ll feel great!
My pastor gave a great message on fasting last Sunday. There were many great points, but one jumped out at me. He said in order for us to move into our future we have to cut off ties from the past. This grabbed me because , for the past few weeks, I’ve been walking through a season of repentance, forgiving and healing. There were many areas God pointed out, but one stood out. It was my need to perform and be perfect. I had reasoned that my German upbringing was the cause of that and , to tell you the truth, I was even proud of it.
God showed me that my need for performance and perfection were caused by not trusting , trying to please people and not understanding God’s grace and mercy. This mindset had become a stronghold in my life, causing me to have to perform, become legalistic and not being able to be me! I felt I could have done more, didn’t do it right, felt like I had disappointed those around me, especially those in leadership . I didn’t realize how this mindset had blocked not only my freedom, but also Gods presence and anointing to flow in my life. I felt like I had to perform in order to earn those things.
Starting this fast, this was my major struggle. I saw what others were fasting and felt guilty because I wasn’t doing those things. Get it? I was performance focused, felling that I needed to earn Gods presence by “doing”! God encouraged me and let me know that I was fasting the way He wanted me to and to stop comparing myself to others.
Ok, you ask: What’s the point? Well, here it is .
Our unconfessed sins, our wrong attitudes, strongholds we’ve been imprisoned in for ages, are like boulders in us, blocking the flow of God’s presence, the anointing. We wonder why we can’t get freedom from addictions and unhealthy patterns. We struggle with apathy and lethargy. We feel oppressed and like we are carrying a heavy burden. We want to worship freely, pray in power, walk in freedom but there seems to be this blockage. We try to force our way around it just to encounter another boulder downstream. Life just doesn’t flow; it feels like a constant struggle.
Isaiah 58:6 talks about breaking every yoke through fasting and in verse 11 we are compared to a spring of water whose waters will not fail.
I am starting this fast by asking God to do a house cleaning in me. I’m giving Him permission to search me and show me the blockages that are preventing His presence to flow freely in me and through me. I want to be that spring of water that flows freely!
How about you? Are you tired of going though the same routine every day, fighting and struggling without victory?
Spend these first days of the fast asking God to put His finger on those blockages and when He shows you, just repent of having allowed them in your life, ask Him to forgive you , invite His presence into your heart and then watch life begin to flow freely again!
It’s God’s kindness that causes us to repent. He’s not mad at you and desires to bring freedom to you! You’ve been bound long enough; go after the freedom you crave!

Yesterday I shared about detoxing and generally preparing for the Daniel fast physically. It’s so easy to become so focused on the food, what we can or cannot eat, on recipes and where to buy all this organic, clean food that we tend to neglect the real reason for this fast.
The first few years of doing the Daniel fast I was so totally focused on the “how” that I lost my vision of the “why”. So while it’s important to plan meals, go grocery shopping in advance and prep your body for the fast , it’s even more important to prepare yourself spiritually. Why are you doing this fast? What areas in your life need a thorough house cleaning? What are those dreams that you’ve placed on the shelf? How close do you desire to become in your relationship with God? And most importantly, what is God desiring for you in these 21 days?
How about taking the next few days and preparing your soul and spirit for this fast? Take some quiet time, journal, pray, do what calms your mind and opens your heart and begin focusing more on Him.
Your body will protest, your emotions will crave coffee, your mind will try to talk you out of fasting but being focused on God, on His plans and receiving His encouragement, hope, strength and yes, correction, will help you going strong through this fast!

Daniel fast blog.

Every year my church begins the year with a Daniel Fast. We usually start the first Monday of the new year and go for 21 days.

Every year, a few weeks before the fast, I have these great plans to prepare so when the time comes my pantry is stocked , my body already detoxes and my spirit ready to receive. And then, well, you know….

Before I know it its January first and I scramble to get ready for the fast.

This year will be different. So many things have happened in 2014 , things that went to my core and changed my heart. So I’ve decided to blog about my fast. I am going to be real with the struggles and hopefully encourage you to push through, even when it gets tough. And let me tell you, it will be worth it!

So, won’t you join me on this journey and let’s walk together, overcome obstacles together and most of all keep our focus on what this fast is really all about – our relationship with God.

So let me share some of my pre- fast preparations with you. About one week ago I began to cut my caffeine intake. Oh, I hear some of you groan already! ” I can’t function without coffee!”. I feel your aim, but let me share something with you. A fast is not about what you feel like doing, and what your soul, your mind, will and emotions tell you you can or cannot do. It’s about decluttering and detoxing that very soul and telling it who’s boss in order for your spirit to become stronger. So tell that will of yours to zip it! You can do this!

The  way I wean myself off caffeine is by cutting my coffee with decaf, replacing a scoop of regular coffee with decaf every other day. Just a word of warning. When you stop your coffee intake the first day of the fast you will have some major withdrawal symptoms. There will be leg cramps ( last year I barely was able to work , so severe were those!), headaches, moodiness, tiredness (doh!) and lethargy. Beginning your detox early and gradually will help with those symptoms.

I also have started cutting down my sugar intake. Now that’s a big one for me. I’m a sugarholic, for sure! Read your food labels and you’ll be surprised where sugar hides! It’s even in Nutella!

I will share more about prepping for the fast this week. Before I end and have another cup of half caf let me just encourage you. Committing to this fast will have rewards that go way beyond the 21 days. Every year God changes things in me, spiritual and physical, that bring lasting freedom in my life and draw me closer to God. It’s going to be worth it!