Streams in the Desert


streams in the desert  


California is in a drought, a real drought with limited water supplies and earth cracked open, parched.  Perhaps your soul knows how that feels. The soil's dry and rocky inside, and you wonder where the fruit has gone.


If only it would rain.


This is what the Lord says— “Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland. The wild animals honor me, the jackals and the owls, because I provide water in the wilderness and streams in the desert, to give drink to my people, my chosen, the people I formed for myself that they may proclaim my praise. (Isaiah 43:17-21)


Few things are harder than giving praise in the desert, as though He's already brought relief; thanking Him for the healing when healing hasn't come; boasting about His kindness when our circumstances seem downright mean; and proclaiming His praise because of what He can do, regardless of what He chooses to do it.  How can we do all that in a barren wasteland?  Because of faith, believing, we offer up our sacrifice of praise...

Lifting our heads up to the skies, trusting He will bestow good and not evil. bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the LORD for the display of his splendor. (Isaiah 61:3)

For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. (Jeremiah 29:11)

"This is what the LORD says: "'I will restore the fortunes of Jacob's tents and have compassion on his dwellings; the city will be rebuilt on her ruins, and the palace will stand in its proper place. (Jeremiah 30:18)


And I will restore to you the years that the locust has eaten... (Joel 2:25)


If you are in a drought of any kind today - spiritual, emotional, relational, financial, physical, circumstantial - press on believing that rain is coming.  Rain is promised because a kind God reigns - so give Him the reigns to all the dry-bone places, gloomy expressions and soul-sad complaints as you fast and pray you way through this season.

Press in and press on... believing.


"I do believe; help my unbelief." (Mark 9:24)


(Dear friends, I am blogging my way through a 40 day sugar-fast and this is day 5. Some days, like today, I will simply post scripture devotions inspired by our 40 scriptures. Other days I'll journey down paths paved with stories of what I'm learning, or I'll invite guests to share how God is at work in their lives as we press in and press on together.  Fasting is a private thing, and we're not putting on a show, simply offering encouragement in the abiding and the stretching and the growing.  Join us?)

Return to Me


I wake up most mornings serenaded from within by this verse, this childhood Sunday School song.

"This is the day (this is the day), that the Lord has made (that the Lord has made) I will rejoice (I will rejoice) and be glad in it (and be glad in it).

You might not typically wake up singing, but I do.  Always have.  Maybe it's because my mom would wake us by playing her piano, or singing some made up melody about it being time to wakey-shakey. However, somewhere in my teens this verse became the soundtrack to my morning routine and has remain so for 30-plus years.  The lyrics bid me rise and shine no matter how much or how little sleep I get.  Scriptures hidden in one's heart can do that, welcome us into our days, and remind us each moment of struggle to fix our eyes on what is true, combating the focus of our flesh when we are sleep deprived, anxious, or hurting.

While the scriptures of my youth have carried me well through years of hills and valleys, I know that it is time for me to gather new verses.  I've been resting on the laurels of my childhood faith for far too long.  Maybe you have too.

When we began these 40 days of fasting (if you are new this series, here is a good place to start)  I wrote out a list of 40 scriptures, and have been diving into a new one every day.  However, out of them all, the third day's verse that has most shaped my conversation with The Lord during this fast most of all.




Before my eyes opened this early morning, around the time my good morning tune usually sings me awake from within, this verse spoke into my waking dreams.


"...return to me with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping and with mourning." 


With eyes still shut I whispered back, "Have I left you, Lord?  Have I truly left you?"


I opened my eyes, rolled over and pulled back the covers, then sat on the edge to listen.  The silence remained but I knew without a word that I had abandoned Him, I just didn't know the details of my wayward devotion. A third time the verse washed over me like a wave and then I asked the Lord for something I do not suggest anyone pray for, unless they want to weep and mourn - I whispered, "God, please convict me today of how I've strayed from you, so that I know how to turn back."


[Tweet "Conviction is like a roadmap if we're willing to take the journey back."]


His answer didn't come in the form of a lightening rod, but almost immediately I began to mourn.  Morning turned to mourning, so to speak, and I started longing for His nearness like a child would a parent who's stayed gone far too long.  Though I knew it was the child in this case who has tarried.  I was weepy, though I could have blamed the fast, blood sugar dropping low and body craving protein, but I knew down deep my tears meant so much more than physical hunger  -I was grieving, though I still didn't know what exactly for.

Over the length of the day, homeschooling my eldest, bringing glasses of iced tea to my husband who was working from home, transporting my two younger kids back and forth from one event to another, planning our family dinner and folding clothes, I began to feel the prick of conviction in the unlikeliest of places.  The way I turned to Facebook in most every quiet moment, my short responses toward loved ones over the top of another basket of clothes needing folding, the way I fantasized about time to myself as I surveyed home and all it's natural chaos... little things and big things all day long suddenly showed themselves for what they were - a temptress, brazen and bold, and how I longed to follow her toward self-focus and the things of this world that can never truly satisfy.

"God, please convict me today about how I've strayed from you, so that I know how to turn back." Those were the words I had prayed, and come the day's end I could not deny His faithful Spirit-voice. In the busyness of life, I had become a wanderer. Wandering toward the approval of man, wandering toward my selfish desire to love me first. I had strayed.

While I thought this 40 day fast was solely about sugar-addiction, God is good to not set boundaries on His extravagant redeeming Love.  "Good," He said, "I'll take your sugar addiction, but I don't want to stop there.  That one thing you are willing to deny yourself is not my heart for you... I want it all.  Your fast from sugar is simply the door through which I will come in.  If you are willing I will meet with you in earnest and have a sit down talk about every corner of your life, every idol you bow down to, every cistern unable to hold water."

My husband uses the term "Let's have a come to Jesus meeting," when He really wants to address issues.  It's said as a joke, but Jesus coming in to meet with us is certainly no joke. I see now that's exactly what a fast is - denying one small earthly pleasure, that He might come in that open door and talk with us about every facet, every stronghold, every bit of our wander-lust life. Sitting there, talking and listening and caring so deeply about our transformation, He works His goodness, so much like a fetter, binding us back to Him again. "Return to me", His whisper is soft but firm and altogether compelling.  "Return."


Oh to grace how great a debtor Daily I'm constrained to be Let your goodness like a fetter Bind my wandering heart to thee Prone to wander, Lord I feel it Prone to leave the God I love Here's my heart Lord, Take and seal it Seal it for thy courts above

(Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing, Robert Robinson, 1735-1790)


Made To Crave

It's time to hanker for Jesus, like we do Chocolate covered pretzels, potato chips and praise. It's time to run to Him, like we run to our phone, to our computers; any screen really and all day long.

It's time to dive into His Word, like we dive into a fresh pot of coffee to get us over the hump.

It's time!  Because we were Made to Crave so much more!


Today I'm not sharing any of my own thoughts, just giving you a taste of the wisdom and encouragement found in Lysa TerKeurst's amazingly enjoyable and transforming book, Made to Crave: Satisfying Your Deepest Desire with God, Not Food. May it whet our appetites for Him.




To set the stage for why this book fits perfectly in with our 40 day fast, read this comment that was shared by one of you only two days in: "I have neglected God's Word for over a year and it is such a relief to be back. I have been malnourished from neglecting the Truth."


The word caught me by the heart, because that is what we become when we stop consuming the Bread of Life and The Living Water.


That's what fasting tends to remind a hungry soul.

These paragraphs below all come from Chapter One of Made to Crave.  I will share a few more selections in the weeks ahead, but I'm giving you some insight into chapter one now, hoping that you'll hustle out to Barnes and Noble right now to grab a copy and read along.  Here we go:

"In addition to helping you find the desire to conquer your unhealthy cravings, (this book) also holds the key to something very significant for most of us women - malnutrition.  We feel overweight physically but underweight spiritually.  Tying these first things together is the first step on one of the most significant journeys you'll ever take with God. It reminds me of a journey described in Matthew 19.  A rich young man comes to see jesus and explains that he is following all the rues but still feels something missing form his pursuit of God. 'All of these rules I have kept,' he says to Jesus. 'What do I still lack?' (Matthew 19:20).

In other words, How do I really get close to God?

Such a vulnerable question.  Such a relatable question.

Jesus responds, 'If you want to be perfect (whole) , go, sell our possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.' (Matthew 19:21)

The rich young man then goes away sad because he won't give up the one thing that consumes him.  He is so full with his riches he can't see how undernourished his soul is.  He's just like people today who refuse healthier breakfast options like egg whites and fruit so they can fill themselves up with candy-sprinkled, chocolate-frosted doughnuts.  Even when their sugar high crashes and they complain of splitting headaches, they steadfastly refuse to consider giving up their doughnuts...

"When Jesus says 'Follow me,' it's not an invitation to drag our divided heart alongside us as we attempt to follow hard after God. When Jesus wants us to follow Him -- really follow Him -- it's serious business.  Here's how Jesus describes it: 'If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.' (Mark 8:34)...

God made us capable of craving so we'd have an unquenchable desire to for more of Him, and Him alone. Nothing changes until we make the choice to redirect our misguided cravings to the only one capable of satisfying them."

(Lysa TerKeurst, Made to Crave, pg. 15-16)


At the end of each chapter, Lysa asks us to reflect on our own personal journey with God and with food. Here's one question I thought we'd grapple with together:

"I had to get honest enough to admit it: I relied on food more than I relied on God.  I craved food more than I craved God.  Food was my comfort.  Food was my reward. Good was my joy.  Good was what I turned to in times of stress, sadness, and even times of happiness (pg. 29)"  Consider your eating experiences (in recent years). Using the list below, can you recall specific situations in which you turned to food for these reasons?








Yes, as a matter of fact, yes I can.  Not so much reward and joy for this girl, but sadness / comfort and stress, absolutely. How about you?