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

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?

Renouncing lies - Believing truth


She grabbed hold of my wrist, tight like a shackle, and leaned in close.  I could smell the morning's coffee on her breath and saw the weariness in her eyes at the start of a new day.  "I can't do this anymore..." She whispered it frantically again, "I can't do this anymore... I hate this and I can't do this anymore.  I hate myself and I hate my kids and I hate my life.  And I can't do this." Our children were playing together at the park and we'd just put our things down.  All I had asked was a simple, "How you doing?" and out it flowed, from the heart of a pent-up woman standing too terribly close to the brink.  And the most frightening part of all was that she could have been you, she could have been me.  A simple, well-intentioned, loving mom and wife who was taking the fiery arrows of the devils lies right in the heart.  She clutched me like I could save, because she knew she was going down.



Jesus rebuked him, and the demon came out of him, and the boy was cured at once. Then the disciples came to Jesus privately and said, “Why could we not drive it out?” And He said to them, “Because of the littleness of your faith; for truly I say to you, if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible to you. [“But this kind does not go out except by prayer and fasting.”] (Matthew 17:18-21)



Can a woman, in-dwelt by the Holy Spirit of God, be possessed by Satan and his demons? No, I don't believe she can. But she can be oppressed. So thoroughly oppressed she feels possessed. Still, unable to claw his way into our souls, somehow his ugly whispers can seep into our thought-life like sulfuric poison. Slipping in stealthily, lies make their beds in our minds.

I know this full well, because, like this sweet friend of mine, I'd found myself speaking similar lies as though they belonged to me.   "I am not good enough; I do not love enough; if I were more spiritual... then it would be different, I'd have the fruit of God's Spirit baring fruit instead of this rancid stuff."

Alone in my room I'd cry out night after night, "That's not the truth, Satan you're not welcome here!  I love my family, I can do this, I love my kids, I love myself.  I am fearfully and wonderfully made! They are fearfully and wonderfully made! I can do all things through Christ who give me His strength.  He is stronger than you are and He's going to win in the end.  So get out of here, you bastard!  Christ is my peace, in His presence there is fulness of joy, I choose to consider this all joy, knowing that the testing of my faith produced endurance, that I might be perfect and complete lacking in nothing when this is over..."  Out they came, scripture-truth hidden for years, combating the enemy's fiery darts.

But still, the war raged on.  Day after day, negative thoughts about myself, my kids, and my marriage would slip from my lips in the quiet chamber of my room as everyone napped and I folded clothes.  And then I'd sob, "I keep praying, I keep believing, why is he not fleeing from me?"

One night these words came quick like an answer: "...this kind does not go out except by prayer and fasting."

The very next day I reached out to a Godly woman and asked her to pray over me, to pray over my entire home.  I didn't tell her much, just asked her to pray.  Of course she came fasting.

* Let me preface this by saying that I wasn't raised in a Holy Spirit, standing-up-raising-hands-anointing-each-other-in-oil-and-speaking-in-tongues home, but this friend of mine did all the above. Then she asked me, as my eyes remained closed, to tell her what I was seeing."

And I was seeing.

I saw Jesus, clear as day, on His knees with His fingers in rich soft soil. And I knew in an instant that the soil was my heart. There were weeds all around and he was gently combing through the supple dirt and lifting each gnarly root out. When he got to one particularly terrible weed I gasped, because there seemed to be no end to the root system. I started weeping uncontrollably, shaking and crying as she gently stroked my back, all the while jesus was pulling gently and the serpent-like body of the root kept coming up and up without end. Finally I cried out loud, "There is no end to my pain, there is no end... I cannot do this... I hate this... I hate this... I hate this... It will never get better."

Crying even now at the memory - ashamed to confess the home those lies had made for themselves in my soul. But the story goes on... because Jesus kept pulling and eventually the claw-like torn from the earth and cast aside.

There I was, torn apart and empty in the end. But this dear woman didn't let me rest, immediately she asked what I needed to replace the lies with. I started weakly mumbling truth, "I love my children, I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength, God knows the plans He has for me, plans to prosper me and not to harm me, plans to give our family hope and a future. I love my children." My voice grew stronger. "I love my children and I love my husband. And I trust You Lord! You did a good job when you wove me together in my mother's womb!" And stronger still. "I trust You!"

Only a time or two in these past years have I been tempted to let those lies slip back in. But I know whose voice it is now. They are not my thoughts. And so today, let me encourage you to remember what is true. You do not hate your children. You do not hate your life. You are not less than the women to your right or to your left.  You are incredible, as a matter of fact! And your husband does love you. And Christ will redeem your brokenness, because that is what He came to do - repair and redeem and restore.

So much wonderful truth to implant in the bare and fertile soil of our hearts, especially if you are fasting through this series with us.


"It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery." (Galatians 5:1) "Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free." (John 8:32) "So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed." (John 8:36) "Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom." (2 Corinthians 3:17) "He has not given you a spirit of timidity, but of power, love, and a sound mind through Jesus Christ our Lord." (2 Timothy 1:7)


What lies do you need for Jesus, the very gardener of our souls, to pull out by the root? And what seeds of truth should you implant in their stead, so that you are never again enslaved by shame?

Let my heart be sound in your statutes; that I be not ashamed. (Psalm 119:80)  I have hidden your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you. (Psalm 119:11)


Jesus is alive and He came to set us free! Dive into His Word today as you fast and pray, renouncing lies, believing truth!


Pray with me: Dear Lord, we believe, eradicate the weed of our unbelief that we might live the abundant life you came to bring. Amen.


(Link over here for 40 Scriptures for a 40 Day Fast.  If you want to receive this post and others directly in your inbox, please sign up to receive email notifications.)


Sugar Fast - Because it's time to get a handle on our emotions, our days, and the negative self-talk

Wild-eyed and desperate, she walking toward me with a child on her hip.  The kids hopped out of the car and ran full-throttle for the karate studio as she leaned into the open window, looked me square on and said,  "I'm an absolute wreck.  I saw online that you're going to do a 40 Day Sugar Fast and I just ate Reese's Peanut Butter Cups to get me through the rest of the afternoon.  Just now, right before I walked up I popped a whole one into my mouth. I'm a wreck."  She licked her fingers something fierce, then told me about the poop in her toddler's bathtub and food on the floor and toys all around and the crying (theirs and hers).  "My son doesn't even take it personally when I yell anymore.  He knows I'm a wreck." I asked if she would join me for the fast. Forty days without sugar. Forty days without running to food to get her through. Forty days of running hard to Jesus for His strength. Forty day not diving into the pantry, but diving headlong and needy into God's Word.

"Yeah, I probably should," she said, looking away. "I'm all over the place. I'm a wreck."

Mothering can do that.  Marriage can do that.  Work and balancing it all can do that.  LIFE can do that.  No doubt a diet coke can get you through till dinner, or a spoonful of Nutella as the kids play or have another timeout, or that steaming mug of vanilla creamer with a splash of coffee... whatever it takes.  And it doesn't take much, just a Reese's peanut butter cup at 3 o'clock in the afternoon - every afternoon.

"I'm a Wreck."  She said it with conviction and owned it as her identity - the sign she'd hung around her neck, then hung her head in shame.

Has negative self-talk named and claimed you?  

Have you given up believing that you can be whole and hopeful, soft-hearted and soft-spoken again?

Maybe you've told yourself that you've screwed up too many times with the kids and with your husband and with God and with yourself.  You've believed the lie with your own voice, "I've failed as a woman, as a mom, as a wife..."  It's the inner-dialogue of your days, and so you slip away and grab another handful of chocolate chips to silence the conversation and make yourself feel better for a time.  But the sugar lifts you up only to cause you to crash hard, just like it does your children.  Reinforcing the message.

"I'm a wreck."

Do you have lies that you've bought into, lies that have become the lens through which you see yourself?

Well, today is Day 1 of our 40 Day Sugar Fast, and we aren't just fasting from sugar, we're choosing to replace what is not true with truth.  Taking out the sugar, cleansing with water; starving out the lies, inserting true thoughts and words; ripping out angry responses, and speaking life to one another in our homes.

As we do, our testimony talk will change.  Testimony talk is what we say out loud about what we believe - and each time we hear it the pathways in our brain go deeper in believing it.  But guess what, those thoughts you believe can change!  How you cope and how you eat can change. How you think and how you talk and how you love and how you parent and HOW YOU TESTIFY can change.

"I'm a wreck," becomes, "I'm a woman in need of Jesus."

"I can't do this," surrenders to, "with Christ all things are possible."

"I am hopeless" begins to hope again.




Here's some of the testimony talk I've received either face to face of in comments on the blog and Facebook these past days.  People believe things, you see?  Some true and some false.  What will you believe about yourself and about the next forty days?

We are fasting from sugar, to reclaim the sweet truth of who we were made to be.  Though life is full of challenges, we will not be bound by strong holds, not sugary crutches, bingeing to fill our hurting hearts, or alcohol to numb the pain.  We are taking our emotions, our days, our marriages, our addictions, and our negative self-talk to the cross of Christ, because He came to give us life and life abundant that we might shine pure and bright and unencumbered for Him.

That's our testimony talk, shining bright in what we think and say and how we live.




You were made to let your light shine... If the sugar-induced depression, mood swings, explosive words and tears have darkened the light-shining life you were saved to lead, then join me for these next forty days. We are fasting from sugar, so that our bodies might stabilize.  But this isn't just physical, this is holy.  Light shining, testifying, child loving, husband loving, holy lives that don't need sugar to get us through our days.  We need Jesus!

Therefore, as we take out the lies, let us insert scriptures that give us courage.

I am gathering a list of verses to remind us what is true when we are tempted to believe what is false in the days ahead.  Tell me, what lies are you throwing down, here on Day One?  And which scripture-truths are you choosing to replant and believe instead?  Name and claim 'em in the comments below, because this isn't just about sugar, this is about setting things right, right now.  Believing what is true.


We've got this!


We've got this, because He's got us!