Fasting or feasting? An approach to Lent


The going-away party is this weekend. Am I looking forward to it? Or am I dreading it?

I’m not sure.

It’s not for a person. It’s for a house. The family home.

It’s where I grew up with my mom and dad, my brother and two sisters. It’s later where I brought my kids to visit their grandparents. It’s where we often gathered for Sunday lunches and Christmas Eves and watermelon-eating on July afternoons.


And now it’s where we’ll gather as a family one last time to say goodbye before we put it on the market soon for another family to live in.

It’s time to give it up.

But when we give up one thing, we gain another.

Isn’t feasting one of the benefits of fasting?

Whether you’re about to give up chocolate or Facebook or alcohol for Lent, do you know what you’ll be gaining?

What did Jesus gain from the 40 days he spent fasting in the desert after his baptism (Matthew 4:1-11)? We know he was hungry and tempted during that time. But immediately afterwards he began spreading the good news of freedom, that the kingdom of heaven was at hand (Matthew 4:17).

Did he fast for 40 days from the outside world to strengthen his inside world?

That’s why I fast. This Lenten season, in my year of  “Now,” I’m choosing to fast the past and future, so I can feast on God in the present.

That doesn’t mean I’ll give up reflecting on past memories or stop planning for future events, but I want to center on the present. Because the present is where the Spirit is active. In this moment. This place. With these people.

So as I gather this weekend with my siblings and nieces and cousins at the house where we spent so much time together, I will reminisce, take photos, and maybe cry a little.


But I don’t want to be consumed by missing what was, or worrying about what might be.

I want mainly to enjoy what is—and that is the presence of the people I love with Jesus among us.

Fasting from past and future, I can feast on the joy that God is feeding me now.

God’s presence with us now is a scrumptious meal and I want to savor every bite.


* * *

Are you fasting from anything this season? What do you want to be more fully present to? Please share in the comments.



25 thoughts on “Fasting or feasting? An approach to Lent

  1. June

    It’s bittersweet isn’t it, Lisa? Such a lovely family you have – I’m glad you’re all making the effort to get together one last time in your childhood home. What a special memory that will be! I’m not giving up anything for Lent, but I did find a book/devotional finally. Trust without Borders by Arabah Joy. Have you read it?

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      Yes, it’s definitely been a bittersweet thing, June. I do enjoy the extra time it’s given me with my family though, as we gather at the house to clean out rooms. I know we have a few more weeks of intense cleaning to get it ready to sell so I’ll try to enjoy our time together.

      I haven’t read Trust Without Borders. I love that title though! I’m sure it’ll be good. I just signed up today to read through the gospels in 40 days.

      Here’s a link if anyone is interested:

  2. TC Avey

    Interesting…I like it! The idea of fasting from the past and future so you can focus on the NOW.
    So often we (I) miss out on the here and now because I’m two steps ahead or one step behind.

    God’s been speaking to me about being in the moment. Showing up where He’s working and not getting distracted.

    Thanks for sharing.

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      Sounds like we’re on a similar page, TC. Showing up where God is, and letting God show through where we are, requires us to stay in the moment. It’s not easy for me to do, but I want to.

  3. Trudy

    I’m so glad you have good memories from your family home, Lisa, but I’m sorry you have to let it go. I like how you’re focusing on the now memories of being with family. I love this line! “God’s presence with us now is a scrumptious meal and I want to savor every bite.” Praying right now for strength for you as you let go. Hugs!

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      Thanks for your prayers, Trudy. God has always been so faithful with my family, and I want us to stay faithful to him by trusting him with this process. He always knows what he’s doing.

  4. Andrew Budek-Schmeisser

    Great post, and a wonderful way to look at fasting – one I had never considered.

    I’ve honestly never liked the word ‘feasting’; it seems like overindulgence, when there are those who have so little. But I can see the positive in this context.

    What will I give up? Nothing, really. I’ve had to give up rather too much as is, and there aren’t luxuries any more. Even chocolate – sometimes it’s the only thing I can keep down!

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      Sometimes our fasting is voluntary; sometimes we have no choice. You’ve not had much of a choice in what you’ve had to give up. But you’ve retained your choice in keeping up a fighting spirit. I hope you can keep your chocolate too. 🙂

  5. Jean Wise

    Loved seeing the old photos. Good thought about feasting in order to feast later. I am helping with the Lenten messages next week and am using the words: fasting, feasting and focusing as guides for Lenten practices. I think you are right you may cry a bit this weekend. Crying is ok, there is a grieving, a letting go going on. Would be nice to leave some sort of blessing for the new family there so they may have as many rich memories as you have.

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      I’d love to hear your Lenten messages, Jean. Too bad I don’t live near enough to you to sit under your mentorship.

      What a great idea to leave a blessing for the next family to come. I’ll be thinking/praying on that and pass it along to my siblings as well….

  6. Linda@Creekside

    Isn’t it just the best gift when our legacies are so much greater than the houses we’ve lived in …

    When my husband said goodbye to his childhood home a year and a half ago, I walked around the property and took a lot of pictures … and then put together a little album on Shutterfly for him to tuck away. It seemed to be a fitting remembrance.

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      I love that idea, Linda! I may borrow it. 🙂 As I was looking through old photos this week, I found the house making its appearance in SO many of them. It’d be fun to combine the old and the current together.

  7. David

    Excellent photo #2 of the son towering over the parents! Our son (14) has just edged past me recently 😀

    I’m glad I read this today! I understand Lent a lot better. Reading, I realise that the last year or so, since I packed in my Bad Habit, has felt like Lent. By odd co-incidence I am for the first time facing renewed desire and temptation (even a fat cheque from a client that arrived this morning). One for a post on my own blog perhaps.

    I was always struck by the way (in Mark) as soon as Jesus is baptised, the Holy Spirit drags him out to the desert to be tempted by the devil (although the angels were helping him too) — almost as if all that was part of the baptism, or a necessary consequence.

    Well … I’ve never paid much attention to Lent before.


    1. LisaNotes Post author

      Funny that I hadn’t paid much attention to my brother towering over the parents. But I definitely recognized it with us girls, in more ways than one. ha.

      I used to never pay attention to Lent either. I’d heard of it (vaguely) through Catholicism, but never in the Protestant world. It’s definitely gained traction in the last several years though as a worthy practice, even though not a required one.

      Yes, sometimes a season much longer than Lent enters our life, a time of sacrificing one thing in particular. Praying for Jesus to fill all the spots we empty out for his presence….

  8. Pingback: Temptation, and Lent | Luke 7:39

  9. Joe Pote

    “I want mainly to enjoy what is—and that is the presence of the people I love with Jesus among us.

    Fasting from past and future, I can feast on the joy that God is feeding me now.

    God’s presence with us now is a scrumptious meal and I want to savor every bite.”

    Loved this! Thank you, Lisa!

  10. Mary Dolan Flaherty

    It’s great to cherish those memories, but holding on to them too tightly can cause us to live to much in the past; often in remorse. You seem to have wonderful memories; and yes, you did have bony elbows…we probably all did back in the day! Great family photos. I love seeing things like that. BTW, I love the idea of giving up the past and future. Since I grew up Catholic, and was “forced” to “give up” something, but am now a…I don’t know what I am…a Protestant? Evangelical Christian? I don’t know…just a person who has found freedom in Christ…I can no longer do that. Maybe it’s too many years of following the prescribed rulebook. But I don’t begrudge someone else, and do enjoy reading others’ accounts. I’m sure you will be blessed by living in the present.

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      Laughing with you about not knowing how to categorize yourself because I relate to that as well. Ha. At a recent retreat, we went around the circle telling what church we were from, and I wasn’t sure how to explain mine. I decided on “non-denominational Protestant” but even that seemed so boxy. I like your words the best: “just a person who has found freedom in Christ.”

      Having never grown up with Lent, it’s been a new phenomenon to me the past couple decades. I can see how you’d feel differently from your background. So thankful it’s not a rule we have to keep one way or the other, but a practice we’re free to use or not use to draw us closer to God.

      Enjoy your vacation!

  11. Ginger Harrington

    What an appropriate topic for this week. For the first time, God has been showing me a lot about fasting. It isn’t something He has brought up in the past, but the time is now. Another adventure in learning and experiencing. Blessings today from Thought Provoking Thursdays.

  12. Beverley

    What a lovely way to say goodbye.

    Not really thought about lent. As a church we do not celebrate it and Easter is coming upon us so soon this year, but i will give it some thought, but 40 days without sugar would probably be very helpful but difficult enough to make it mean something more.

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      Yes, I hope it will be a sweet goodbye and not a terribly sad one. I have such mixed emotions heading into it. It won’t be the last time I’ll be at the house by any means, but the last time we’ll all be there together.

      My church community doesn’t celebrate lent either so whatever I do, I do on my own. I am reading through a devotional book on the Holy Spirit that is good for any time.

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      Thanks. I’ve found that fasting from most anything can be a difficult journey, but almost always a beneficial one if we do it with good motives. (Are we still in week 1? ha)

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