Every Woman a Theologian
— Fasting: Why Do It and How to Begin —
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Dear friend,
I didn't begin a spiritual discipline of fasting until I had been a Christian nigh onto 15 years.
Something about fasting just seemed super “serious” – like it was for big-deal believers, not normal people like me. I looked in Scripture at people like Daniel, Isaiah, and Jesus and thought… do I really need to bother with this?
When I read Celebration of Discipline for the first time, my entire outlook on fasting changed. I realized: This discipline is not for everyone else. It's for me too!
When I speak of fasting I speak of it in the biblically understood manner: Abstaining from food for a period of time for the purpose of spiritual connection and/or awareness of God. I use the word “awareness” because God is not being manipulated by a Christian's choice to fast. It's not as if fasting goads God into action, or that he delights to see us not eating (he created food and good food is celebrated in Scripture! Ecc. 9:7, Psalm 136:25). Abstaining from food for a set period of focused, prayerful time – in Christianity at least - grants us a greater awareness of God's presence and mission in the world.
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I will admit, I have never done a long fast (5, 10, or 30 days). The longest fast I have done is three days. This is partially because I was pregnant and/or nursing and trying to raise small children while fasting. The most common fast I've personally practiced is from breakfast to dinner (skipping lunch). As easy as that sounds, I didn't realize how often I reached for food until I started this practice!
John Piper says this about fasting: “Christian fasting, at its root, is the hunger of a homesickness for God. Christian fasting is not only the spontaneous effect of superior satisfaction in God, it is also a chosen weapon against every force in the world that would take that satisfaction away.”
Richard Foster says this: “More than any other single discipline, fasting reveals the things that control us. This is a wonderful benefit to the true disciple who longs to be transformed into the image of Jesus Christ. We cover up what is inside us with food and other good things, but in fasting, these things surface.”
John Wesley said: “First, let [fasting] be done unto the Lord with our eye singly fixed on him. Let our intention herein be this, and this alone, to glorify our Father which is in heaven.”
And Spurgeon said this: "Our seasons of fasting and prayer at the tabernacle have been high days indeed; never has heaven’s gate stood wider; never have our hearts been nearer the central glory.”
Fasting is modeled by Old and New Testament saints in Scripture (references here) and in particular, modeled by Jesus Himself. The One who did not need any aid to His communion with God fasted anyway. Why? One writer says it was to “declare mastery over his human nature” before entering ministry. In a sense, fasting does that for us regular humans too.
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God is not playing hide n' seek, only emerging for the “serious” believers who fast. But as someone who did NOT fast for a long time and then DID, I can tell you: there is a difference in your awareness of God when you fast versus when you don't. I am speaking particularly of “food-fasting”, which I personally believe is the primary form and should remain as such (e.g. social media “fasts” during Lent serve a purpose, but they are not fasting as seen in Scripture. Biblical saints could have given up similarly peripheral things but always chose food instead). When we abstain from food, whether for one meal or for several days, we become hyper aware of ourselves, our bodies, our needs and wants. When that hyper-awareness is turned over to God again and again with each hunger pang, we become hyper-aware of Him
Each season of fasting in which I have participated has had a profound effect on my prayer life. It is not that God was answering MORE but that I was more aware of what He was doing; I was not distracted! I started keeping my most urgent requests and heavy prayers for my Tuesday fast day - even as I prayed over them other days - because the power of it was so surreal.
Of course, fasting is not all about my experiences. I am not saying that the things I fasted and prayed for weekly were all answered the way I wished (they weren't). But I was much more connected to God through the process. 
For more on beginning fasting, check out this book in the shop (also an ebook). A note: fasting can be a trigger if you have a history of eating disorders. There are other ways to participate in spiritual disciplines without fasting food. 
What I'm Reading

  • Update on Circe: I've been really pleased with this book so far. I'm only about ¼ through, though. It hasn't had any graphic sexual content (and there is ample opportunity for that in Greek mythology!). It lines up with what we are reading aloud to the girls from D'Aulaires' Greek Myths. I wouldn't say the writing is fantastic; it's kind of “mid” (to quote the younglings). But because it's written in first person with that ancient twinge to it the quality is not as noticeable as it was in, say, The Firekeeper's Daughter.
  • Finishing Memorizing Scripture: I am almost done with this - it's a quick read! I think this would be great for new believers (and old ones, like me!) and as a discipleship resource. In fact I was considering teaching through it in a workshop down the road. There are hacks and tips for memorization throughout but most of it is about the need for Scripture memory and its direct impact on daily life.
  • Starting Heartfelt Discipline: Josh and I are reading this together (we each read a chapter, then discuss). I love the Clarkson's approach to parenting and discipleship: truly biblical and yet full of grace. We just started but it's already impactful.
Ask Anything Q/A

Does the Holy Spirit convict us of sin or righteousness?
Both. Jesus said he would convict the world of sin, of righteousness and judgment - all of which pertain to belief in/allegiance to Christ!  I talked about this last week and it's saved on my Instagram in the 'Spirit" highlight as I continued a discussion of why (I believe) the unsaved can hear the voice of the Spirit and respond.
How do you receive grace when it feels unpredictable?
Well first, grace is not unpredictable! Grace is the most predictable thing there is because God is the one who gives it. He has promised grace to all who shift their allegiance from self to Christ. When Christ covers you (which He willingly offers to do) you are under God's immovable favor. How you respond to that gift if your responsibility; if you spurn it, ignore it, and don't walk in it, you won't enjoy the freedom and security of it. He offers better!
Were women cursed with the pain of childbirth after the Fall?
I talk about that at length in this episode! (and a little in this book on praying through your pregnancy - also an ebook)
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My Five Faves

  • Start to Stir: This week we had the privilege of hosting Darin and Joy (and their daughter Ella!) from Start to Stir ministries in the United Kingdom! Ever since we were introduced to their work last year we've been sold on what they are doing among young people in the post-Christian UK. They call it “pre-evangelism”, and essentially they teach you how to have conversations with people who don't believe in the soul, that God is real, or that the universe has eternal purpose. They have a course and other resources on their website - I would recommend these to ministry and youth leaders! (If you're in the UK, they are based near Oxford, England).
  • Our patio umbrella: Three years ago we used some of our savings to buy our patio furniture. We got a sectional, outdoor rug, and four chairs for around the fire pit (Facebook Marketplace always!) but this umbrella is the OG. We use the patio day and night because of it. It's an investment; you need a strong umbrella to withstand the wind here. Worth the money for the use!
  • This eyebrow pencil has a three in one feature and works so well for my thin brows!
  • My go-to brownie mix for last minute hosting. I love having something easy I can throw together for an afternoon or late evening! This mix is my stand by. 
  • The vintage thermos and cups I found at this week's antique show: I am a sucker for antique shows and this time I nabbed some embroidered towels, a corncob pipe for Josh, and a vintage thermos. Perfect for fall picnics!
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At Home with Phylicia

After over a year of tabling homestead tasks, I'm slowly picking them back up.
  • 2022 was extremely hard on us and consequently, my health. During that year I just couldn't lead Every Woman a Theologian, teach at homeschool co-op, teach my own kids, write and launch a systematic theology AND make homemade yogurt (lol). I took a break from a lot of the from-scratch things I love: making bread, yogurt, kombucha and reducing waste in our home (I used to share all this on my farm account, @willowsbendfarm). I'm finally to a place where I can do this again, so here is what I'm focusing on!
    • Milk kefir: While I'll probably add yogurt back into my routine, I'm starting with milk kefir for a more intense probiotic boost (this actually healed my gut in my early twenties when I damaged it over-drinking coffee and taking ibuprofen). 
    • Kombucha: I got a new scoby to replace my old one. It just wasn't producing as well anymore. You can get these from Cultures for Health or from a friend who makes the 'booch.
    • Azure Standard: WE FINALLY HAVE A DROP! I am SO excited to order bulk from Azure now that they have drop this far north. We will be restocking our raw grains (we mill spelt and organic wheat for bread) as well as frozen food items and much more.
    • Dishwasher detergent: I have a few things I haven't converted to “crunchy” and this is one of them. I just will NOT use detergent that leaves scale on my dishes. I guess I'd rather eat poison, lol. I'm trying out a recipe for making my own. I also looked up the hardness of our water on this site to adjust our dishwasher to our levels. 
for the awakening,