I have really good intentions. Unfortunately, my reality doesn’t always live up to those good intentions. I intended to meet someone at 8:45 this morning… But it was 9:10 when I got there. I intended to get there without the help of my phone GPS… But I took 3 wrong turns. Two of those were after I did turn on the GPS. I intend to clean the kitchen before I go to bed at night. That hardly ever happens! I have a good intention to be more patient and less vocal about my displeasure. I’ve been working on that one for a loooong time. Not quite there yet. I buy cards that I forget to mail, I start projects and finish long after I intend to give them away. I have really good intentions, but I often don’t live up to them.

I was talking about fasting with a friend and she said she’s been kind of scared to ever do it, because-essentially- she doesn’t think she would be able to live up to her good intentions. And she doesn’t want to disappoint God. To which I say, good intentions and not-quite-perfect follow-through are far better than being glued in place by fear. God will never be disappointed in us or look down on us the way people sometimes do.

> Sometimes we don’t live up to good intentions because we expect too much of ourselves. Getting out of the house and across town by 8:45 with three little kids? C’mon. That’s not very realistic for me! But, if I hadn’t tried, I would have been even later. Trying the impossible is sometimes the best option. I am ok with that.
> Sometimes we fail to recognize weaknesses that hinder us, and don’t use all the resources available, or plan properly. Getting to said across-town location without GPS? Oy veh. I have ALWAYS been directionally challenged. Why do I think this will change, just because I have been there a dozen times before? I should just use the resource of GPS, or at least prepare myself better, by looking at the map before I set out!
> Sometimes we expect too little and don’t try. Like doing the dishes. I’ll be honest here, people. Sometimes I look at that pile and I just don’t have the energy. Sometimes going to bed is the best option. But sometimes I get lazy and decide watching Jimmy Fallon clips on YouTube is the best option. (It usually isn’t. At least not until SOME of the mess is gone!)
> Sometimes we realize along the way that something else is actually more important. Like playing a board game with my son.
> And sometimes good intentions go awry because we fail to realize we need help. As a friend of mine reminded me today, sometimes saying “Yes, I can’t” is the best option. “Yes, I can’t be patient/quiet/think before speaking.” I am really good at saying sorry. Not just saying it, but meaning it too. But I would love to say sorry less, because I’ve learned to love people better and stick to God more closely in every moment. Self-control only goes so far; what I really need is transformation in my soul, which is something only God can do. “God, I need you! Yes, I can’t. I need help.” That is something I will be praying about during this Month of Dedication.

As we get closer to March, I invite you to consider stepping it up a notch and doing a graduated 7-7-7-7 plan (see below), increasing your dependence on God by limiting something new each week. This is a variation on a plan I did with my church a couple of times during my college years. (Thanks Pastor Rick and Janet!) It may seem impossible, and it may seem beyond what your good intentions dare to try. But maybe a lofty goal will get you closer to the mark than a more conservative goal. I have some limitations on what I can fast because I am nursing my baby still, but I am crafting my own variation of this plan, trying to keep with the heart of it, which is teaching myself to turn more to God and expect less from what pleasures the world can offer us.

What you choose to fast is entirely up to you! Be careful not to give or receive judgment from someone else about what and how you choose to fast. This is between you, God, and your Fasting Buddy. Everyone has different health and lifestyle limitations, family situations, and spiritual locations with God. Ask God what he wants you to GIVE UP or LEAVE BEHIND this month, and what he wants you to GIVE TO or GO TOWARD. Maybe your fast has more to do with financial spending than with food. Maybe the media part is going to be a much bigger deal.

It is up to you what and how you fast, and you can create your own variations on any of these suggestions. The point is to ASK GOD where He wants you to be and how He wants you to fast. Don’t do this for someone else. Do it for God. Don’t decide for family members how they will fast. Just decide for yourself, but talk about it with your family so you can support each other.

I have really good intentions. I am not afraid to try. I may miss the mark, but I’d rather get close than not set out on a path God is calling me toward. He is really generous with meeting us at our falling point, and applauding our efforts. Check out the graduated fast plan, and think about it. Me? I’m going to attempt to clean my kitchen now.

A GRADUATED FAST following a 7-7-7-7 plan, increasing your dependence on God by limiting something new each week.
Week 1: No Sweets as listed in the community fast; this is a first step. If you follow the entire 7777 plan, you may also want to fast caffeine the entire time, or at least in the last two weeks, as it can inhibit the body’s ability to get rid of toxins in your system, and can cause negative physical effects when you are on a fast. You may want to start reducing caffeine intake the week prior to the fast, to help reduce headaches, etc. when the rest of the fast begins. You should also eliminate refined “whites” – white flour, white sugar, white rice, processed or refined foods.
Week 2: No Sweets – No Meats. In addition to the above, also stop eating meat this week. Focus on foods that are as close to a natural state as possible.
Week 3: No Sweets – No Meats – No Leeks. This is a “Daniel Fast” (Dan 1:8-17; 10:2-3) focusing on mainly fruits, vegetables, and broth, and possibly some whole grains, like brown rice and quinoa. Think of “Leeks” as flavoring (sauces, dairy, rich foods, salt, spices). Try to follow basically a boring, vegan diet. You don’t want to crave food, you want to crave God! Invest your life in God, and eat simply to sustain your life and health.
Before choosing to fast at the Week 3 or 4 level, consider health factors. If you are pregnant, nursing, diabetic, or have other health issues, this level may not be for you. Speak with your doctor first, and make sure you are getting adequate nutrients to sustain your body in a healthy way. Likewise, if you have a very active job or must be very physically active, make sure to eat enough to sustain what is required of your body. Limit your eating, but do not risk your health. Smoking can be very dangerous during the level 4 fast as well.
Week 4: No Sweets – No Meats – No Leeks – No Eats. This week is just liquids: vegetable broth, whole fruit juices, water. No milk (of any kind), coffee, tea, cola, etc. Avoid chewing anything (like gum) as this can start your digestive process and make the fast much harder for you and lead to gastrointestinal issues.
In addition to spiritual benefits, there is strong medically valid evidence that a raw juice fast can help people quit smoking, lose weight, reverse Type-2 Diabetes, and heal a myriad of other ailments, when using raw foods and following a guided plan to balance the body’s nutrients, remove toxicity, and reset the body’s internal balance. However, this has to be something you REALLY WANT to do, and requires an advanced level of preparation, discipline, and personal environmental changes for it to be successful. You can find more information online by doing a search on your particular area of interest.