watching, reading, and writing stories

The Discipline of Fasting

I’ve been a Christian for awhile now, and I’ve grown up learning how to read the Bible, memorize verses, pray, give offerings, serve, and use my gifts for God’s glory. But fasting has often seemed like an optional spiritual discipline. Occasionally I would fast because of some event or maybe for a big decision. And when I went to a Lutheran College, I learned more about long-term fasting for Lent and that it doesn’t always have to be food that we give up. It could be giving up certain forms of entertainment or things that distract you from God.

But more recently my church spent a whole year reviewing each of the spiritual disciplines, including fasting, and for some reason it just clicked that I should be practicing it more often. I mean it’s a discipline, so shouldn’t I be practicing it consistently? My older brother has been a great example of fasting to me. He’s chosen to fast from food one day a week for the past several years. And I thought I’d try it his way. It definitely seemed more intentional to plan to do it once a week and more like a real spiritual discipline. So I decided that every Wednesday or Thursday, depending on which day worked better for me that week, I would try to fast.

Some days were harder than others. Sometimes I was driving all over town, or doing more manual work, and other days I was mostly on my computer, working from home. Some days I almost forgot I was fasting, others I was very hungry. Some days I ended my fast early, because of an unexpected opportunity to eat with others. But I’ve managed to be consistent, even through the holidays, to fast each week. And I’ve noticed something pretty cool that I want to share.

Instead of dreading the day I can’t eat, I look forward to it. It’s something I enjoy now because I’ve found it’s easier to follow God and keep a good attitude when I’m fasting. All those little things that happen in a day, that inconvenience me or prevent me from doing what I want, don’t seem as important when I’m fasting and relying on God’s strength. It’s easier to switch my perspective when I’m fasting and see the problems I face as opportunities to bless others and glorify God, instead of merely hassles that I have to get through. And I’m more at peace on those days, more aware of God’s presence with me and His strength sustaining me.

I won’t say every fasting day was great, or that I don’t look forward to when the fast ends at suppertime and I can finally eat with my family. But I’m starting to see some of the spiritual fruit that comes from obeying God in the discipline of fasting. So I thought I’d share my experience in case anyone out there is thinking about fasting more regularly. God really has our best interest in mind when He gives us instructions, and just like the other spiritual disciplines, fasting has helped me grow closer to God.

So if you would like to join me in fasting today, or this coming week, I hope this post encourages you to give it a try and see what God does. But whether you do or don’t, I hope you have a great week.


The Editor

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Let’s face it, every writer needs to edit. But at some point, we need a little help.

I remember some of my first English classes in high school and starting to learn how to edit other people’s work. It’s kind of funny how we so easily spot errors and unclear ideas in another person’s work but when we stare at our own, we can’t figure out what’s wrong or what we need to change.

Recently I’ve been working on editing my first novel, and it’s hard. I’ve read over the whole thing so many times I’ve lost count, yet there’s still little details that need to be changed. Thankfully, I have friends and family to act as my editors. Even if they aren’t “professional” they still notice when I use “their” instead of “they’re” or accidentally type the same word twice. Even plot lines and illogical scenarios are easily spotted by another person’s perspective. I was quite surprised when one reader came back to me after reading about 8 chapters and handed me a large sheet of paper with several notes. For some reason I thought I was “done” that only one or two errors could possibly be left after all my own editing and hard work. But as I made my way through the long list of things this “editor” had noticed, I realized just how much work I still had to do.

I think the problem I have, and probably a lot of writers have is getting stuck in our own little world. Everything makes sense to us here, whether because of long thought and careful decisions, or because it has stayed the same so long, that it feels normal. But once someone new, who hasn’t seen all the drafts, revisions, changes, and subplot starts reading our work, things we never noticed become apparent.

And it’s kind of cool to be on the other end of the line; to be the editor. You get to read someone’s work and point out things, give suggestions, say what you liked and didn’t like and know in the end the author could listen to you or totally ignore you. And it’s cool to come back to the finished product later and see what the result of your suggestions were.

When I was in college, one of my professors told a story about how she suggested something about adding potatoes into a short story by a fellow writer. And the guy actually used her idea. I saw the same thing happen over and over in the creative workshops I attended. Someone’s different perspective gave a spark to an author. We all need that sometimes, whether it’s encouragement that what we’re writing does actually make sense to  other people, or a critique that helps us see what needs to change. Even writer’s block can be helped by a friend reading your work and telling you what they think.

I know author’s are often criticized as not allowing anyone to read their work till it is “finished.” But I don’t think that is the way it should be. You may not be the person they want critique from, but I bet they’re letting someone read their work and give them feedback. Because that’s how we become better writers, we keep learning, keep reading, and keep listening to what others are saying.

So thank you to anyone who’s been an editor, whether in grade school when you read your classmate’s essay, or professionally. Thank you for adding your perspective to an author’s world. I’m sure there are several writers out there, who wouldn’t be where they are now, if it wasn’t for a good, or several good editors.

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