When God takes a straight blade straight to a woman's heart - restoration


My skin hurts today.  Aching from without to within, like a steel toothed brush has been working at the rust spots in my life.  Working in small, calculated circles on the chrome, with the kind intention of cleaning me up to make me a beautiful display of splendor.   But it hurts.  And He's working down-deep too, down under the hood and into the achey guts of my engine, that I might run this race to the end.

El Roi, the God who sees, sees every bit of iron oxide clinging to my chassis, and loves me too much to leave it there, so He's using this forty day fast to take His straight-blade straight to my heart.


For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart. And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are open and laid bare to the eyes of Him with whom we have to do. (Hebrews 4:12-13)

I've seen my husband work those oxidized reddish-yellow spots from each classic car he's carefully restored, and there's always a razor-blade in his skillful hand.  I call him in for lunch, but he's bent over like a craftsman, focused, tenderly involved in the beautification process.  Nothing else matters in that moment, or the next or the next. He doesn't hear the dinner bell either, or little boy voices calling daddy to the table.  He's focused in and won't stop till that chrome shines right and bright. Late into the night, long after he turns the floodlights on, he's still cutting, scrapping it away, sanding it down into particles.  Finally, at long last, he leans in and blows upon the dust, until nothing ugly remains. There is only the shine of chrome, restored.

God's that way with me right now, wrapping His fingers around the blade and carefully cutting away, scrubbing away, sanding away what's fixed itself unbecomingly upon me and within me. Then He blows, knowing I'm but dust, so that all that remains at the end of this restoration process is a holy thing.

This temple is a holy thing cased in flesh.

I was so naive when I suggested this 40 day sugar fast.  My intentions were good, no doubt, but I hadn't the foggiest idea what fasting was really all about. No, that's not true, I did have an idea, a wrong idea, an incorrect expectation of how this would play out.  I fully excepted a mountain top jig with my Savior, as I turned from the false gods who had taken up residency in my life. All the rust slowing my engine down spiritually would fall like shackles, then Jesus and I would dance upon them together. Sure there would be convictions, and those would be unpleasant for a time, make me cry, cause me to cling, but on the other side of repentance I would know Joy.

That was my expectation for the majority of this forty day fast... Joy.

But I'm still languishing in the valley, under the knife, with my close companions weeping and mourning, because God's not yet  finished with my restoration process.




Where'd I get this idea that being all emptied out would be fun? That humility and the cutting away reality of God's convicting Word would take place atop a mountain. And then today I remembered that time Jesus fasted for forty days - 33 days in and I'm just thinking to look there now.

Leafing through thin Bible pages I came to this heading:


Jesus is tested in the wilderness


Tested.  No, not, "Jesus fasts and prays in joyful celebration" or "The Son of God has a spiritual high when He goes forty days without eating," but "Jesus is tested in the wilderness."  Missing the fine print, that's one thing, but this bold text heralds how it's really going to go down... with testing... in the wilderness. I'd missed that, because I was expecting to dance my way through this spiritual journey, leading captives to freedom, and maybe lose a couple of pounds in the process.  And the sandpaper burns as I learn, it cuts away pride as I learn, it divides falsehood from truth as I learn...


Jesus is tested in the wilderness

Today the Lord has given me His understanding of fasting - This is a wilderness time, a lonely, dry and parched, hungry time, as the master craftsman wields His knife, separating joints from marrow, dealing with my thoughts and intentions, making me beautiful and able to run the race strong and to the end.

At the end of Jesus' fast in the wilderness, angels attended Him. Today I wondered and prayerfully asked if the same will be true for me, will angels come to my side and bind me up?  I think I hear His answer clear on this one: "No, it is my job to bind up the brokenhearted. No, my angels are not attending your side during this season of testing... I am.


I Am.


I am restoring your soul.




Fasting Like a Child - a guest post

img_3586Our guest today is very special to me.  In fact, Christy Nueman has taught me more about Praying and Fasting, and therefore seeing God in the everyday moments of a simple life, than anyone else.  More than any book, any blog post, any other friend. And so, I find today's story especially sweet because, in a way, I had the same experience her son had... I saw the way his mother would fast and pray, and the joy she received coming to the Lord this way, and I wanted to emulate her as well.  

Fasting Like a Child, by Christy Nueman


My 6-year old son matter-of-factly announced, "I'm going to pray and fast. No bananas for 4-days."

I stopped talking mid-sentence. Silence settled. I shot a sideways glance across the dinner table. My husband stiffened like a bronze statue. He stared at the ceiling. His forehead crinkled and eyebrows furrowed.

I sipped some water to stall. My head felt like a 15 pound bowling ball resting on my clinched fist. Questions flooded my mind. Can a child fast? Does he know what fasting means? What will he do without his favorite snack for 4-days?

My son swallowed his last bite of buttered pasta. “Mom, I’m all done. Can I have dessert now?”

He started fidgeting in the chair. I stammered, “Sure, sweetheart. We’ll have dessert soon. But are you sure you want to fast? You know that means no bananas for 4-days.”

He confidently answered, "Yeah. I want to fast because I want to get this close to God." He pushed his pudgy palms firmly together to emphasize, “this close”. Somehow with those four words—THIS CLOSE TO GOD—our simple supper became sacred.

I locked eyes with my son. His hazel eyes beamed. Mine brimmed with tears.

“When do you want to start?” I asked.

“Tomorrow” he answered.

And he didn’t eat a single banana for the next 4-days.




Almost immediately, we saw the Lord begin to move in unusual ways during and after our little one's fast.  Funny to me, he gave up fruit and suddenly we saw spiritual fruit in his life.  However, this ripe “fruit” initially looked blemished and bruised.

Let me explain. About a week after his 4-day “no bananas” fast, my son got sick. We had just moved cross-country and my husband was on an extended business trip. I sent a desperate SOS text to a brand-new friend in my neighborhood. And before I knew it, she dropped off a bunch of bananas, a coloring book and medicine at my doorstep. I had only asked for prayer. And like a flash flood this storm-of-sickness passed.

A couple days later my son scribbled a single sentence. He read it out loud, “I can see Jesus.”




I scooted next to him and said, “You know. That’s like the verse from Matthew 5:8. Blessed are the pure in heart for they will see God.”

Then a thought illuminated my mind like a bolt of lightning. It was an image of Jesus calming my son’s storm-of-sickness—just like He calmed the furious squall on the Sea of Galilee for His fearful disciples.

My heart instantly warmed. Praise pulsed from my head to my toes. I exhaled deeply and blurted out, “Hey! Do you remember right after you fasted bananas for 4-days you got really sick? And I sent that prayer request to my friend and she brought you that big bunch of bananas. We didn’t even ask for bananas.”

His eyes widened. A gradual grin formed and he said, “Yeah, yeah! I remember. That’s a miracle!” I nodded whole-heartedly.

Yes, I do believe God performs miracles every day—miracles ordinary and extraordinary. Sometimes I think the greatest miracle is awareness of the nearness of our “Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9:6).

Dear Friends, are you in need of a miracle?  Are you needing to sense the nearness of God in your life? Fasting improves our spiritual senses. Just like looking through a magnifying glass helps us see an object in greater detail—fasting magnifies God. We begin to see God everywhere—His presence, power, peace, provision, and protection our lives. Jesus was called Immanuel which translated means “God with us” (Matthew 1:23). And He promises us, “And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age" (Matthew 28:20).

Do you want to see a miracle? Have you considered joining this fast?

Today marks day 24 of this “no sugar” fast. which means that if you start today, you have a glorious (albeit challenging) 16 days ahead of you!  It’s not too late for you to join.

Maybe you’ve heard about this fast from family and friends, but you’ve thought, “This isn’t the best time for me. I’ve never fasted before. And I can’t possibly fast from sugar that long.” But you just can’t silence that persistent urging to give it a try. Join us!

Or perhaps you began this fast leading the pack, but you stopped because of stress or sickness. And now you feel disqualified. Let me assure you there is nothing that can make you ineligible to fast. Join us!

But if you’re still not convinced that fasting is for you, can I tell you a funny fasting faux pas?

When I casually mentioned this 40-day fast to my husband, he looked hesitant. But without wavering, my son said, “Yeah, Daddy! Let’s all fast together!” He couldn’t resist my son’s infectious enthusiasm. So fasting became a family affair.

However on the first day of the 40-day fast my Kindergartener bashfully admitted he ate a cupcake at school. So we made this age-appropriate exception: our son’s fast started when he got home every day.

And this is good news for two reasons: God’s grace never changes and there’s not just one-way to fast. Keep in mind that Biblical fasting is going without food, but other examples of fasting are abstaining from things like: sugar, caffeine, alcohol, TV, social media, sleep and even sex for a period of time.

After his cupcake confession, my son looked deeply into my eyes and said, “Well, I think it’s going to take two or three fasts for me to get really close to God.”

I paused and prayed for wise words. “You know. God loves you so much. And He is always with you. But in this life, we’ll always desire to feel closer to God—no matter how many times we pray and fast. Our earthly eyes can only see God like a dim reflection in a mirror, but in heaven we’ll have new eyes that can see Him.”

My son’s eyes brightened and he said, “I can’t wait to see Jesus!” And in the very next breath he said, “Mom, will you make me snickerdoodle cookies when this fast is over?”

I tickled his tummy. Tiny giggles erupted.

“Of course, I will!” I answered. And I sealed the deal by kissing his round cheek.


Lord, I want to see miracles. Help me to walk by faith not by sight. I desire supernatural eyesight to see You working all things together for good in my current life storm. Teach me lasting lessons from this simple story about fasting like a child. In Jesus’ name. Amen.


“When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child…For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known.” 1 Corinthians 13:11, 12 (NKJV)

“At that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, ‘Who, then, is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?’ He called a little child to him, and placed the child among them. And he said: ‘Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me.’” Matthew 18:1-5 (NIV)


Don't you agree?  Isn't Christy just the most darling example to follow as we tentatively learn to draw near to God in this new way?  Of course, she'd blush in my literal Living Room if we were all sitting around together today.  But here in this virtual space... I can gush as much as I please!

Christy Nueman lives a simple life deep-in-the-heart of Texas with her college sweetheart and son. She’s passionate about marriage, motherhood and ministry. She’s co-founder of A.B.I.D.E. Adoption and Infertility Ministry and on the Board of Directors for Sarah's Laughter. She warmly welcomes guest bloggers from all seasons of life to share their stories on her blog called The Write Season.


Flash the donkey - A Give-Away


Y'all may have heard I'm doing a 40 Day Sugar-fast with a couple hundred of my closest friends, right?  And we're talking about deep stuff, like every day.  Which can get exhausting.  Then yesterday I hit the wall - just worn out by all the deeply theological heart work, crying so much I thought I'd dry up and blow away, but I didn't.  So today I just wanted a break, you know, just a piece of chocolate maybe.  Nope, can't do that.  Maybe some mindless surfing online. No, gave that up too.  Maybe a book, yeah, a fluffy easy read.  Then this story about a donkey came to mind - seemed safe enough (or so I thought).  Yes! Just the thing. book-cover-flash-white-764x1024

Three chapters in, on an afternoon I desperately wanted to escape any more deep heart work, I was reading about Flash the donkey, who'd been abandoned then found a home with a new family, a family that was feeling rather abandoned as well.

Here's the part that really got me... One night, smack dab in the middle of an ice storm, Rachel and her husband Tom went out into the frigid night air to marvel at the icicles hanging from their rustic Texas barn.  It was then that they found their recently rescued pet standing wet, cold through, and shivering with ice hanging in clumps from his coat - just outside the confines of his warm sanctuary, full of hay and oats.

I was totally into the story, just for the endearing equine quality mind you, (remember I was taking a day off from all the spiritual lessons God's been teaching me) and then this happened:


"I suddenly had a vision of my own self - in the darkest moments of my own life - standing outside, cold and alone, just as Flash had been. Oh sure, there had been many times I'd needed help and had been comforted by the shelter of God's presence. But there had also been just as many times that I'd stood shivering in lonely misery. Could it be possible that in my own moments of deepest need I had been just that close to comfort and not realized it?

Refuge -- true refuge in the face of life's struggles -- can be found only in Him. I know that. So why was it that when times got tough for us, the first thing I wanted to do was go shopping for a new purse? And eat something completely decadent, like a molten death-by-chocolatedessert topped with gooey ice cream? It's like I wanted to find comfort in the mall.  Or more specifically, the food court of the mall.  Or both.

Sometimes my refuge du jour was losing myself online in Facebook and Twitter.  Doing Google searches for red-carpet hairstyles or shopping on Amazon. I never got into alcohol, but I hear it does a bang-up job of numbing the pain.  I've got plenty of little "coping techniques" for stress and storms, but in reality all of them are just substitutes for true comfort. Temporary relief for my deeper problems.  They are counterfeits that seem like the real things, but in the end, don't work."

(Flash, by Rachel Anne Ridge Pg.50-51)


Seems as though God was chasing me down through a donkey named Flash, just like he'd done from cover to cover in the lives of Rachel and Tom, just like he's willing to do in your life - wherever you are, whatever you're going through.

My friends, I cannot recommend this simple, easy-to-read story of a donkey and his people near enough.  Especially if you are a bit tired of all the deep soul work faith seems to require, here's a delightful donkey-tale, full of application and opportunity to grow in faith.

You can order your own copy of Flash: The Homeless DonkeyWho Taught Me about Life, Faith, and Second Chances, or enter to win one today.

That's right, I'm giving a copy of this sweet book away! Choose any number of ways to be entered to win.  I'm also including a $25 gift card to PANERA, because sometimes you just need to get away from the farm to read for the afternoon.  And I love Panera. And God loves you!


a Rafflecopter giveaway


Just a Closer Walk with Thee


20 days ago I read this verse then prayed the most ridiculous prayer.  



Since I didn't actually know if I had strayed from the Lord, or if I even needed to return to Him... I simply asked Him to break my heart and cause me to weep and mourn if He wanted me to.

Stupid woman.

Stupid, stupid woman.

Today grief came upon me like a heavy cloak. I couldn't see it, but my body felt it something awful.  I ached from the peach fuzz softness of my skin to the calloused soles of my feel - then down deep into the sole of my soul. The basest lowliest places of myself - the bottom of every breath, every pore, every thought, all of it aching.

Miraculously I was all by myself at home for the day - so I grabbed my down comforter and gave in to the Great Comforter.  Praising Him for these unlikely hours, I opened wide my bedroom windows and crawled back under the covers.  When was the last time I'd spent a day heartsick under covers, hurting in those deep places? Before children - maybe before marriage altogether?  No, I can't recall... even in the midst of all the overwhelmed seasons of motherhood, I'd not known a day like this.  Slow and filled with ache.


"...fasting with weeping and with mourning."


Hour after hour, tears came then dried, again and again, always returning for another scathing journey down my cheeks, flushed.  By noon there was a thin white powder caked beneath my eyes.  Salt.  Dry salt.  I felt the granular texture of this salty faith-life between my fingers and thought of God's call that we are to live as salt in a flavorless faithless generation.  And then a knock at the window shifted my thoughts.

It was a butterfly fluttering her wings against the glass, darting off to the morning glory vine, then over to the milkweed just beyond, and back again for another gentle tap-tapping.  The scent of jasmine and orange blossoms wafted through opened windows and filled my room, and the melody of eucalyptus leaves rustled light and hopeful, which only made me cry again. Dear God, I wept big tired tears as I laid there like an invalid nursing a soul-sick heart.

Are you curious as to the particulars of my soul sickness?  Do you want to know what broke me to the quick today?  I'd tell you right now, I surely would, except there's really no story to tell.  It's just life; my own brand of challenges and you've got yours, but this was the day mine caught up to me. Overwhelmed from within and weighed heavy from without.  I'm guessing that's happened to you. Sometimes you get worn and weary from the journey, knees sore from praying, eyes strained from too little sleep, overwhelmed by the blessings that each carry challenges.  Yes, even the blessings carry their own trials. But you already know that, don't you? How even the most grateful heart can get worn out?

Again that monarch danced up close to the window, doing her most natural dance, erratic yet graceful, tempting me out of my cocoon. Suddenly I was hungry, craving a kiwi of all things, so I pulled the covers back and walked by the window where the butterfly remained. Touching the glass she brushed her wings against the outside pane and then fluttered off.

My hair fell unkept around my shoulder as I walked to the kitchen, grabbed some fruit then continued out into the promised sunshine of my garden.



hydrangeaDSC_0203DSC_0204DSC_0205 DSC_0201DSC_0083


There is no word to describe it, try as I may, the absolute peace that met me there. Sandals on, skirt getting a gentle snag as I passed by branches, weighed down heavy with blooms.

And I thought of my own life... weighed heavily down with good and glorious fruit. Marriage, children, this home, these flowers. Heavy laden.

Strolling up and down the rows I picked out the blossoms that would minister to me from vases. Garden sheers in my hand, my hand showing signs of sunspots already, and a basket at my feet. Clipping carefully the biggest, boldest blooms, I piled them high. Another tear spilled down because there were so many flowers. I could take as many as I desired and still the garden wouldn't lack. So many flowers. So much beauty. So much thanksgiving on a spring day mixed with sadness.

Carrying the basket from bush to bush I hummed, "Just a closer walk with thee, grant it Jesus, is my plea. Daily walking close to thee, let it be, Dear Lord, let it be." Humming turned to lyric as I came into the kitchen and began clipping and cleaning and arranging vase after vase.

I am weak, but Thou art strong; Jesus, keep me from all wrong; I’ll be satisfied as long As I walk, let me walk close to Thee.

In the quiet of my empty home I sang it loud and needy - as I decorated the inside of my home with the miracles God's done all around on the outside.




Isn't that the way it goes? Finding God at work all around us and choosing to glory in His goodness even when we are most sad? Though it's not always a magic wand and poof we are healed and happy.  Sometimes we are simply to walk with Him in the garden when we'd rather hide.

Working through my basket full of petals this afternoon, feeling the breeze minister through open windows, the leaves continued to fill my heart like a conversation. And so I responded, "Through this world of toil and snares, If I falter, Lord, who cares? Who with me my burden shares? None but Thee, dear Lord, none but Thee."

As His handiwork in nature decorates my home today - may the nearness of His Spirit decorate the hurting places in our lives. Yours and mine.

So often we stay tucked away inside our minds, our comfort zones and the literal protective girdle of our homes when we are hurting. However, closed up and detached when we are crying is dangerous! We need to eventually throw the comforter back to walk with The Comforter in the cool of the day, out into His garden, and praise Him there.

Just a closer walk with Thee, Grant it, Jesus, is my plea, Daily walking close to Thee, Let it be, dear Lord, let it be.

That time I ate ice cream and then remembered I was fasting - a guest post


I met Julie last fall when I came across her engaging blog series The Poetry of Raising Boys.  Because I sort of love poetry & have three boys - and she loves poetry & has 2 boys, we figured we were destined for friendship.  Therefore, having her join us today in my virtual Living Room is especially fun.  My only heartbreak is that SHE DIDN'T WRITE THIS POST IN RHYMING COUPLETS! Next time, she promises!


"A shadow of the real – spiritual truths from physical cravings" guest post by Julie Kieras


He leaned in and whispered, “Do you want some ice cream?” After a hard night of getting the boys to bed, my one thought was, We deserve this time together... and a treat!


So he handed me two scoops of in a porcelain bowl. It wasn't just cold and creamy sweetness, this ice cream spoke LOVE to my soul. My husband's love language is service and he was serving me ice cream.  Yes, please. Before I could think “sugar fast” I'd already dug in, a slow savor of each cool drop.

Oops. Sugar fast, right?

When Wendy proposed a 40 Day Sugar-Fast a few weeks ago, I thought, “I’ve done the Whole30. This’ll be a cake walk!” Ah, but see, there’s the rub. No sooner do I commit to being off sugar, then I bring up… cake!? (Apparently, I have a serious sweet tooth.) I should have known up front that this was going to be a challenge, but I jumped onboard, expecting things to run smoothly. And they did.  For the first couple of days I was pleased with my success. I purposefully left the sugar out of my coffee, said “no thanks” to a friend’s offer of a mint, and drove by the coffee shop (because their offerings of blended-frozen-caffeines would certainly be my undoing).

Yet here I am, 19 days in, confessing with chagrin the times I’ve caved. When the cravings won out.

When I read this post here about falling off the wagon, I was both smitten and encouraged by the idea that “life doesn’t just happen.” That bowl of ice cream, that's just one example of the excuses I made. But there's always an excuse. And I always have choices.

That was sobering. So I've been thinking through it all - nearly halfway in.

What was so important about having that ice cream? Why did I out of habit drop a spoon of sugar in my coffee without realizing it? Why did I choose to indulge instead of deny? What were those choices saying about my life, my dependencies, and in turn, my walk with God?

Immediately I berated myself for how I'd failed at self-control, but then I read this and found my ability to do this religious thing was never God's heart for me:

julie quote


He wants me fixed on Him - on what He has to teach me throughout the fast. 

As I sat there beating myself up for the times I stumbled, God showed me I had the wrong focus… I kept looking at the choices, the food, the results, and those things in my control. But that was never God's plan for me at all.  He wanted to talk to me about my deep desire for perfection, and that natural instinct I have to gut-it-out in my own strength… that's what He wants to do in me. The food was just a shadow of the real heart stuff He was getting at.


“How sweet are thy words unto my taste! Yea, sweeter than honey to my mouth!” (Psalm 119:103)


David clearly saw the connection between physical experiences and spiritual experiences -  physical sustenance mirroring our deep spiritual hunger! My deep hunger. The physical world simply a dim shadow, a hazy reflection of what is to come.

Therefore, let us look closely, then, through the lens of food, at our spiritual lives.

Bodies naturally crave sweetness, just as souls were created to crave the sweetness of His fellowship. Jesus spoke of  "those who hunger and thirst after righteousness” (Matthew 5:6) and we believe it, so let us look to both sides of this same coin. Just as we were “made to crave” physical sweetness when we have emotional needs... can we learn to feast on His righteousness instead?

  • I’m sad.
  • I’m distracted.
  • I’m being social.
  • I deserve a treat
  • I’m taking a break

Can the reality of our natural cravings prompt us to consume Spiritual nourishment?  Wow!  What a thought! So much simpler than figuring out what spiritual cravings look like and feel like.  That sounds very elusive, don't you think?


As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul longs for you, my God... (Psalm 42:1)


No, actually, I don't have holy cravings all the time.  And I can't seem to manufacture them either!  But what if we use these physical cravings to remind us of the deep spirit-cravings that are harder to identify?

When my husband serves me that delicious, decadent bowl of ice cream… I am overcome by a raw desire to taste the sweet… so much so that I cannot resist… I want to desire Christ like that. But until I do... I'm asking God to use these hunger pangs like an invitation...  To feast on Him, draw near to Him, to “taste and see” how very good He is.

I am most grateful for the physical blessings the Lord gives. For the pleasure of food. But I need to be careful that the pleasure of life doesn’t distract me from indulging in pleasure for the soul. Life, and all its sweetmeats, can never fill me.

I’ve had failures in this fast, maybe you have too, but I’m not going to let the failures overshadow the lessons.  Remember, this fast is just a shadow... pointing us to the only One who can ever truly satisfy.

As much as I love a bowl of ice cream, and it satisfies my “sweet tooth,” that too is just a shadow of the spiritual sweetness I can enjoy in His Presence.

Crave Christ. Give in to the sweetness of His Words. But until you do... let the earthly cravings point you to Him.  I'll be chasing hard right along with you.

*Written in collaboration with Wendy Speake!




Julie is a former English teacher turned boy-mom. She entertains the idea of a novel in her head, while making up her own lyrics to popular nursery songs to entertain her young boys. In between the mess, she has a heart’s desire to see her family and home grow happy and strong in their faith. She writes about natural living, raising kids in faith, family activities, and motherhood musings at happystronghome.com