**Happy Friday, friends! I am doing something a bit different today to kick off the weekend. Let’s call it a “Friend Feature Friday!” That has a nice ring, don’t you think? Today, I am featuring a beautiful story written by a childhood friend. Staci Kernan is a loving wife, mother of two littles, English teacher on hiatus, stay-at-home mommy, and a fellow follower of Jesus. We grew up together in the same church where our families became forever friends. “Staci Beth” (as I’ve always known her) has such a beautiful heart and her delightful personality always, always shines through her written words! I asked her if she might enjoy writing something that we could all read and enjoy together here and I am so glad that she graciously accepted my request for a “Staci-Beth style” story. You will love it! (I promise that this is good, good, soul-refreshing stuff!) You know those friends that miles cannot separate? Staci is certainly in that “friends are friends forever” (think 1990s Michael W. Smith with me on this one) category. Really. You’ll want to keep her around too, once you get a moment to savor this post. It is a privilege and a blessing to host the words of Staci Kernan on the blog today. Pull up a chair, and in true Staci fashion, enjoy a glass of sweet tea as you read along. You’re going to love this! Happiest of weekends to you, dear reader friends!!!**
In the past year, I’ve grown. A lot. There was room for growth–more so than I’d ever like to admit. I was at a point where I never thought possible for me, but it’s a slow fade, friends. That is truth. If you’re not diligent, you’re vulnerable. Spiritually speaking, and otherwise, vulnerable is less than desirable. It’s devastating. Once that hits you and reality sets in, when you realize the time and all else that’s been lost, it’s time for a sudden change—back into the direction you should’ve been heading all along.
A little over a year ago, I made the u-turn back to Jesus. All I want is to be in His will, following His lead, and face to face with Him. That’s my desire. The last year has been a battle and a struggle. After much striving, reading, seeking, and praying, I finally got to a place where I felt I was “safe and cozy.” We had a major move. Our lifestyle improved. We made friends. We found a church we adore & got actively involved. All of this is good, but I’m leaving so much out…and everything changed again. We had a 21 day journey.
Our church did a 21 day Daniel Fast in January. We just completed it. The purpose is to: fast from food & drink to prepare more room for Jesus, reach the next level in faith, listen for God’s will, and have a time intensely focused on Christ. There are a variety of ways for individuals to fast. Here’s what we ate/drank:
*grains: quinoa, brown rice, barley
*soup (without meat) in veggie broth
The first week was mostly physical. My hubby gave up his coffee and soda. I gave up my sweet tea and Mountain Dew. Tea was my comfort blanket. I NEEDED it. Y’all. For real. I’m not a bettin’ woman, but I’d put money on it that if you’ve seen me in the last seven years, I had a large Styrofoam cup full of sugary, liquid gold. Full disclosure: I drank 96plus ounces of sweet tea a day. I drank Mt. Dew on top of that. Water was not optional. There you have it. Now you know. That said, I weaned off of that in the first five days and switched to only water.
We both had a total overhaul in our eating habits. Our house was not a pretty place. We were hangry. All. The. Time. Hangry. Not to mention, we were both coming off of caffeine addictions. We took turns asking if it was worth it and trying to quit. “Isn’t it defeating the point if we’re both angry all the time? We’re so mean right now! I don’t think this is the point of this. We’re ruining the fast. For crying out loud, go eat something! Feed me while you’re at it!” I’m pretty sure that the only commercials aired on tv or radio for the first week were food commercials. The recording at McDonald’s would make me angry. “Would you like a large sweet tea with your value meal today?” Ummm, no, I’ll have a large water and a Cutie. Thanks so much for asking. Sheesh.
Throughout this time, it was repeated time and again in devotionals, Bible reading, and songs: God will provide. God will sustain. He did.
By week two, we had hit our stride with the food/drink aspect. We were nice to each other again and resuming normal interactions. In this time period, I realized that bedtime tv was a problem for me. I used it to put me to sleep. I felt that God was asking me to take time off from bedtime tv. The first night was tricky. I couldn’t sleep. It pushed me to focus more on prayer at night. This was also the point in which I started craving Bible readings. Reading my Bible has never been my strong suit. Give me a Beth Moore study, and I’ll go to town. Just reading straight from the Bible without supplement, not so much. During week two, I craved it and I read it. I did not, however, crave sweet tea.
During the last week, things really started moving. The tv I did still watch lost it’s flavor. I’ve always been a sucker for a good plot line. They lost their luster. Any of the shows with any amount of smut were out of my lineup. Things that I’ve worried and fretted about were put at peace. As I prayed about them in my morning shower, scriptures would come rolling through my head in response. Those worries washed away with my shower water. At church that Sunday, the preacher taught about EXACTLY what I needed to hear and had been praying about at nighttime. Everywhere I looked, God was responding to my issues. Responding. Providing. Whispering love. Wooing me closer to Him.
As the final week came to a close, I began to panic a bit. I had been wrapped so snugly and securely into a God cocoon. Coming out of that cocoon (aka fast) was scary. The fast that I so dreaded going into had become such a beautiful part of my life that I truly feared giving it up. Isn’t that always true in walking with God? Why do we fear drawing nearer to Him? Why do we fear giving to Him—whether it be time, resources, tea addictions, foods, or whatever else we’re called to give?
All of our “daily stuff” is so minimal in comparison to walking with Him. It’s typical to fear drawing near to God, but why? Never, ever have I regretted drawing nearer to Him. I don’t want to be “safe & cozy” in my faith anymore. I want so much more. I want to leave the cocoon and fly with the new, beautiful wings developed in that cocoon of grace, redemption, and love…knowing that He will guide my flight and walk with me all the way.