Fast and Pray

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I revised this guide I made a few years ago, for a presentation about fasting. It’s my prayer you will be encouraged to find a time soon to fast and pray. Have you felt called to something deeper?

What is fasting: Refraining from food for spiritual reasons. It’s a powerful spiritual discipline for a season of time, to seek God’s will and purpose.

Why fast?: Personal revival, pray for others, revival of the nation, the world, fulfillment of the Great Commission, seek God’s will to glorify Him.

Examples of fasting in the Bible—Old and New Testaments.

David:  Ps. 35:13; Ezra 8:21

Daniel:  Dan. Chap. 1; 10:3

Joshua:  Josh. 7:6—fell face down till evening, dust on heads—walls of Jericho

Elijah: 1 Kings 19:8

Moses:  Ex. 34:28

Esther:  Es. 4:14-16

Paul and the Apostles:  Acts 13:2-3

Jesus:  Matt. 4:1-10, 14; Matt. 6:16—Jesus said, “when you fast,” not if you fast; Luke 4:1-13.

Modern day: John Wesley, Martin Luther, John Calvin, Jentezen Franklin, Francis Chan

 

Fast safely: Research different ways, talk to doctor, consider your situation, medications, occupation, etc. Some people should not fast from food.

How long and what type is right for you: Absolute fasts are no food or water. Partial fasts of various methods, such as skip a meal once a week, 3 days long, liquids only, etc.  A Daniel fast is “No meats, no sweets.” Nutritional balance option–a liquid diet based on fruits/juices in the mornings, vegetables in the afternoons, and broths in the evenings. Lots of water. Various ideas on the websites below.

Spiritual preparation: Examine your heart, detect any unconfessed sin. Ps. 66:16-20. Exhaling the impure and inhaling the Holy Spirit.

Managing your schedule: Consider your occupation–how long, what kind, adjustments, weekends, time off, etc. You work out a time. Start small. The important thing is that you spend time in prayer and Bible reading. Don’t distract yourself with errands and busy work. Build up your spiritual muscles.

Managing reactions of friends and family: Saying things like “I have different plans for lunch today,” or drinking water at a luncheon. Family– explain, educate, they can participate. Children could refrain from video games, TV, desserts, etc.. We shouldn’t keep it from people, or lie. Satan can use fear of reactions to keep us from fasting.

How to make your spiritual experience the best it can be: Devote yourself to seek God when you’re weak. Sing, read the Bible, pray, listen, prayer walk, music, get away alone, etc. Avoid social media or TV, limit texting and emails. Satan will try to discourage, make you hungry, grumpy, or trouble stirred up in your family, etc. He’ll do anything he can, because he knows God may reveal something special.

*Keep a journal of prayers and answers.

*It helps to have a fasting buddy–to check in occasionally for accountability, support, and sharing what the Lord has been impressing on your hearts.

Evaluation: After a fast, open your eyes to what God has shown or taught you. Adjust and plan for your next fast.

 

Fasting can transform your prayer life into a deeper personal experience.

Don’t fast to manipulate God. Seek His face and not His hand.

 

Additional verses:

Habakkuk 1:5— “…I am going to do something in your days that you would not believe, even if you were told.”

Eph. 3:20—“….He is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine.”

Matt. 6:16-18—“when you fast….wash your face….”

Matt. 6:33— “But seek first the kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given unto you as well.”

Romans 12:1—“Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship.”

Matt. 17:21—“This kind only comes out with prayer and fasting…”

Isaiah 58 — “Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen….”  (Full of wonderful reasons for fasting.)

 

Helpful links:

Francis Chan:   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GT0vXPde7Ss&t=218s

Jentezen Franklin:   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5QDJNWecmdk&t=497s

Campus Crusade for Christ site—Bill Bright

http://www.ccci.org/training-and-growth/devotional-life/personal-guide-to-fasting/02-why-you-should-fast.htm

 

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Gaze Upon His Beauty

The word beauty is the prompt. I’m writing a story along with my Five-Minute Friday friends today. You can check out stories by people all over the world here.

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I often complain about late winter/early spring being brown and drab. I’m kind of an all or nothing girl. I like the mounds of beautiful white snow, full-blown spring flowers, summer’s sparkling waters, or fall’s bright colors. I dislike the in-between, 40’s weather we get in Michigan. There’s dirty piles of snow in parking lots, mud wherever you look, and dormant gray trees still sleeping. Rotting leaves lay along the fence-row, grass is brownish-green, and the sun rarely shines.

A couple weeks ago on a walk, I tried the prayer game of colors. Yes, a prayer game! You know, the one where you ask God to remind you of something every time you see a certain color. I like to imagine at times, that God enjoys playing a little game with me. I don’t think he’s a boring Father who sits on his throne frowning all day. I believe He must have a sense of humor.

I asked the Lord to remind me to thank him for his presence and healing for a good friend every time I saw yellow. I thought there probably wouldn’t be much yellow in the middle of winter, but immediately He proved me wrong. It was on street signs, lines on the road, yellow houses, jungle gyms in yards, recycling bags, a garage wall, bushes, gas line poles, children’s bouncy balls left outside, surveying flags, a flasher on top of a car, fire hydrants. The color yellow popped out everywhere! Each time, I said, “Thank you Lord for your presence and healing.” Most of these were man-made objects but it was so interesting that God kept showing me the color yellow!

It was so encouraging, as if Jesus spoke straight to my heart saying, “Hey Myrna! Look! Here’s yellow!” He loves me and made His presence known. It’s harder to see beauty in His world during a Michigan winter, but it’s all about opening your heart and mind to the beauty instead of concentrating on the gray skies.

The psalmist David says in Psalm 27:4-” One thing I ask of the LORD, this is what I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD and to seek him in his temple.”

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You’re In The Whisper

Mighty miracles of God were happening in Elijah’s day.

The ravens fed Elijah bread and meat in the desert.

The widow’s flour and oil did not run dry during the drought.

The widow’s son was raised from the dead.

Fire of the Lord consumed the water-drenched sacrifice, wood and altar.

Elijah had 450 prophets of Baal slaughtered.

Heavy rain came after years of drought.

Elijah was empowered to run faster than Ahab’s chariot all the way back to the city.

So many awe-inspiring miracles were displayed.

But when Jezebel threatened to kill Elijah, he was afraid and escaped to the desert.

He sat down under a broom tree and told the Lord, “I have had enough.” He just wanted to give up and die.

There God again miraculously supplied for his needs with baked bread over hots coals and jars of water. He wandered 40 days and 40 nights.

The Lord asked him, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”

He complained that he was the only one left who believed in God, and people were trying to kill him. He had lost confidence and just couldn’t see the point in all the effort.

A mighty wind tore the mountain apart and shattered the rocks, then an earthquake, and then a fire. But the Lord was not in any of those.

Finally a gentle whisper occurred which caused Elijah to pull his cloak over his face.

God asked him again, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” he answered the same way, distraught that the Israelites had rejected God’s covenant, and he was the only one who still served the Lord.

Elijah was discouraged and felt that his work had been a wasted time, and that his life wasn’t worth living. God demonstrated that he could destroy people and nations, but he chose to speak in the gentle whisper to his depressed servant.

He provided for Elijah throughout his travels with food, water and rest. Later the Lord even showed Elijah that he had preserved a large remnant of people, and he wasn’t the only one who had remained faithful to God and not bent a knee to Baal.

Do you ever feel discouraged? Do you ever want some proof that your efforts and fervent prayers have not been in vain? God doesn’t always show himself with dramatic winds, earthquakes or fires. Listen for the Lord’s still small voice, the whisper of God.

We don’t know what God is doing just beyond our senses. He is moving in the unseen world.

Watch, listen, keep praying! The healing you desire might be a slow process, and not a big one-time miracle. We don’t always see answers when we want to, or it manifests differently than we expected. Things are happening in God’s timing, not ours. He’s not limited by our linear time constraints.

I long for an earth-shattering miracle to heal a friend’s disease.

I’d love to see a windstorm blow away the stress on another friend.

I pray for an outburst of fiery change in a loved one.

Surely, God performs miracles in our day too.

Most times, I need to listen for the gentle whisper of the Holy Spirit and trust His timing, His purposes, and His sovereignty. He’s working in and through all the situations I’m praying about.

When I can’t hear or see His hand moving, I pray that I’ll trust His heart. He works all things together for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose.

Thank you Lord, you’re in the whisper.

 

Refer to:

1 Kings 17-19 ww.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=1+Kings+17-19&version=NIV;

Romans 8:28https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Romans+8%3A28&version=NIV

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Sweet Hour of Prayer

Prayer is a discipline that is difficult to follow through with because we’re human. I have good intentions but it’s not easy to stay consistent. There are many ways to pray and no wrong way to pray. It’s a great privilege to be able to come into conversation with the God of the Universe. I suspect I’m not the only one who has a hard time sticking with it. Here are a few thoughts and ideas.

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Prayer is work:

If you expect it to be fun then you’ll quit the first day it isn’t fun. Jesus sweat drops of blood in the garden praying. Paul recognized that it’s work, as in Romans 15:30, “strive with me in prayer to God.” Don’t let it be boring or a drudgery, with creativity it can be enjoyable for you and the Lord will also be pleased.

Keep a prayerful mind:

Hundreds of thoughts pass through your mind daily. You may think negative or gossipy thoughts. Turn those thoughts into prayers. Ask God to help you think positively, or ask him to forgive you for thoughts that take your mind places it shouldn’t go. Turn daydreams and other passing thoughts into moments to recognize God’s transforming power. Keep prayer on your lips throughout the day. Ephesians 6:18, “pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying….”

Remember, it’s good to keep a special time reserved for concentrated prayer besides the constant prayer phrases during the day.

Prepare Yourself:

  1. Clear a time: Prioritize a certain time every day. Jesus prayed often in the morning, but that doesn’t work for everyone. If you are a night person, carve out a time and use it. You may have to give up something, such as sleep, a TV show, etc. The shower or car can be very useful spaces for concentrated prayer.
  2. Be alert: Out of bed, or you might fall asleep. Reward yourself with coffee or yogurt. Use your voice—sing, shout, yell, whisper, speak aloud, read scriptures aloud. Walk around the house or take a walk down the street.
  3. Isolation: Don’t let the phone control you, put it in another room or turn it off. If there’s children in the house, talk with them beforehand, busy them with something, spouses can take turns alone with God, or include the kids in some creative way.
  4. Clear distractions: It’s ok to have a pad of paper. When you think of something you have to do that’s distracting you, write it down for later, get it off your mind, then you’ll be able to forget it and return to prayer.
  5. Fasting: Occasionally refrain from things such as food, Social Media, or your phone. This draws you closer to the Lord into deeper concentration on prayer.
  6. Body posture: A special prayer chair. Standing up prayer. Kneeling. Laying prostrate. Raised hands in prayer. This could change throughout your prayer time.

Methods to try:

  1. A prayer wheel is a great tool, go around the circle and it takes about an hour….5 minutes on each section- you could shorten or lengthen the sections. Click here.
  2. A doodle drawing with people names in it. Click here.
  3. Art journaling: Many people draw in their bibles, as an expression, to memorize scripture or as praise, prayer and worship. You can buy bibles with space set aside especially for this. Markers, pens and pencils are made for this purpose. Click here.
  4. Photographs of people on your wall as a reminder to pray.
  5. A prayer walk: Hike in the woods praising God for the beautiful creation, pray for families in houses you pass, walk around your church or school, alone or with another person.
  6. Keep a written list: Who to pray for, situations, requests, missionaries, friends and family.
  7. Journaling: Write out struggles, requests, heartaches, praises, and healings. Write down words, pictures, verses, visions, or words of knowledge that the Holy Spirit gives. It’s easy to forget if not written down. You might write poems, or a letter to God. Keep track of answers to prayer, promises fulfilled, guidance given, healings received. You’ll see His faithfulness and love for you when you reflect after days or years. This can be done on paper or on your computer, color highlighting can be used for answers, miracles, or when God is speaking to you. Remember that healing is sometimes a one-time miracle, but more often a process, so don’t give up.
  8. Color reminder: Whenever you see purple, you pray for your friend Mary.
  9. A-Z praying: Things to pray about, names of people or situations, the attributes of God, or praises through the alphabet.
  10.  Prayer Partners: Prayer walk with a friend, texting with ongoing requests, email, phone, Face time, meet together at homes, pray with spouse, meet a friend at a coffee shop once a week. Prayer in partners is great accountability and brings friendships to a deeper level.

Parts Included in Prayer: (not exhaustive)

  1. Praise Him for who He is. Names for God – Almighty Father, Wonderful Counselor…
  2. Praise Him for what He does/Thanksgiving.
  3. Confession and Forgiveness.
  4. Petitions and Intercessions.
    • Travailing prayer: Some intercessors groan or weep uncontrollably. (Romans 8:23, 26) It’s as if God is bringing about his kingdom through labor pains and birth. Other times he allows us to experience firsthand the grief he feels over the sin and pain of the world. Times when you are deeply grieved about something.
    • Prayer for the community, world, and news reports: When you hear a siren, pray for the people and personnel involved in an accident or illness, your church leaders, your community and city leader’s decisions, national and world leaders and issues involved. Much of the news is disturbing so commit it to prayer.
    • Prayer over your calendar and schedule: Meetings you’re a part of, lunch dates, leadership responsibilities, time spent on hobbies, groups and clubs. There might not be anything wrong with your activities, but sometimes we say yes to too many things. Ask for guidance and balance in your family, work, school, ministry and church responsibilities.
  5. Read the Bible. Free reading, devotionals, research for Bible study questions.
  6. Pray the scriptures: Put your name in the verse, the name of your child, etc. It might go a little like this: Ephesians 6:10, “Help me to be strong in you Lord, in your mighty power, help me to put on the whole armor of God to take a stand against the devil’s schemes.” Use passages that express needs, fears, joys and praises. Personalize them. It’s ok!
  7. Singing: Hymns, songs, new melodies which may come to you. Put bible verses to music.
  8. Praying in the Spirit: The prayer language of tongues is a gift given at times in order to edify you, (1 Cor. 14:4), wells up to encourage you when you feel spiritually dead or discouraged. Enables you to pray according to the will of God. (Romans 8:27) Especially important in spiritual warfare. (Ephesians 6:18)
  9. Listening! Be still to hear and see what the Lord gives. Meditate. Expect him to tug at your heart, move your conscience, or give revelation about what you need to do or change. He might surprise you with words of knowledge, bible verses, guidance, pictures, visions, or songs. Our God is creative!

Keep pressing on!

Please share other ideas that you’ve found helpful or useful in prayer! I’d love to hear them.

*Some of these ideas were inspired by the teaching manual, “The Dunamis Project, The Power of Prayer,” by Bradford Long, Presbyterian-Reformed Ministries International.

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Capture Your Thoughts

As I spooned the browned hamburger into the strainer, steam billowed up in a white cloud. What was that? I remembered to capture the thought and held it for a moment before it evaporated.

I was jealous of someone.

***

Do you ever think these types of things?

Something really bad is going to happen.

I will never get and stay healthy.

My kids won’t be okay.

This anxiety will never completely go away.

I’m not good enough. (strong, skinny, pretty, etc.)

I’ll make a fool of myself.

I’m not adequate or educated enough to write a book. (insert your activity)

I won’t sleep well tonight.

I’m still angry with him and he doesn’t deserve my forgiveness.

I don’t want her to succeed.

My husband or kids might be in an accident.

My faith is weak and I don’t have enough.

Someone hurt me by what they said or did.

When you think these things, who is talking?….   Right.    Satan lies to us all the time, distracting us with negative thinking patterns. He wants to pollute our minds and influence us to carry out sinful actions. Your actions flow from the state of your attitude or heart.

***

My ears have been perking up lately when I hear a verse from the Bible about the mind.

Here are a few:

Eph. 4:22-24  “You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.”

Phil. 4:6-7 “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition and with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your heart and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

Psalm 19:14 “May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O LORD, my Rock, and my Redeemer.”

Phil. 4:8-9 Finally brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think on these things…and the God of peace will be with you.”

1 Cor. 2:16 “We have the mind of Christ.”

Isaiah 26:3 “You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in you.”

Romans 12:2 “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.”

Matt. 22:37 “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind…second is like it, love your neighbor as yourself.”

2 Cor. 10:5b “Take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.”

 

I need to constantly clear my mind so I can think more like Christ. It’s impossible on my own, but He gives His Holy Spirit to fill me.

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After pouring the hamburger back into the pan, I placed it on the stove. All the access water and grease had been discarded. As I shook the spice container over the meat I sucked in a slow deep breath through my mouth and nose. My mind felt completely renewed once more. Instead of jealousy, now I had the desire to send a card of congratulations.

Do you know a bible verse about having a healthy mind? Please share it.

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A Picture Speaks A Thousand Words

A sunbow blazed to the right of the lowering sun. Blue and white sections filled the sky, with orange and yellow horizontal ribbons. Waves rolled up foaming and reclining back. I continued to walk toward the lighthouse although darkness was drawing near. The sky was pretty but nothing too out of the ordinary. It was one of those evenings when the sky might just turn gray and pull up its covers for the night, but a certain anticipation drew me to walk a little farther.

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I had been asking God for guidance. Wondering why He wasn’t talking to me and praying He would reveal himself. Is the Bible the only way He speaks to me?

Please give me wisdom and show your power in my life. I need your presence.

The sun was almost at the horizon when vertical peach colored clouds approached from the south resembling angel’s flowing gowns. As this mysterious cloud mass moved toward the sun, the momentum had picked up. Indescribable shapes and colors were forming. Flocks of seagulls were rising and falling in excitement all around.

Following a bird, my eye caught what was happening in the eastern sky. The right side of a rainbow was rising up behind the sand dune. It became brighter and brighter and for a moment there was even a hint of a second rainbow. The reflection from the opposite sky was a blotch of peachy color. The bright clouds that intersected the rainbow transformed into the shape of a golden sword.

When my gaze returned to the west, the sky was exploding so gloriously, I actually experienced the term breathtaking. Making it a habit to see as many sunsets as possible, many have been amazing. But this one beat them all. I was totally overcome and fell to my knees in awe. Surprisingly, the Apostle’s Creed came to my lips. It begins, “I believe in God the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth, and in Jesus Christ his only Son, our Lord, who was conceived by the Holy Spirit…”

I shivered as tears streamed down both cheeks. If this kind of beauty is possible on earth, I can’t even imagine how incredible heaven will be. The canopy wrapping around me on all sides felt like warm, strong arms.

One way God speaks today is in nature. The sky smiled in gentle silence but was a thunderous sound to my heart. God’s beautiful sunset tapestry reminded me he certainly was present and loves me more than I can fathom. His picture spoke a thousand words…

 

These photographs were snapped in the middle of my gasping. These pictures don’t do it justice but I hope you can get a message from God too. What is He saying to you today?

 

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Plotting A Course

The hum of the motor was so loud that I couldn’t stay awake. The warmth of the sun and the calmness of the sparkling water was mesmerizing. My bookmark slipped onto the seat.

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It had been an early morning. We caught the Amtrak in Holland at 6:54 a.m. on a Saturday in mid-September. The mist and gray gave way to an orange glow out of the grimy window. Cliff and I chatted on the way to Union Station. After choosing a sandwich and a couple large water bottles we hailed a cab to the marina around 11 a.m. Michigan time. The cab driver aggressively delivered us to the marina where we had purchased the boat. Two Saturdays before, we had boarded the Silverton to check it out. Cliff had come a second time to do a survey on the boat. All things had met his approval so today we came to drive it home.

It was our “train to cab to boat” adventure. We had never taken a boat trip to or from Chicago before so this was all new territory for us. Boarding the boat, we dropped our two small bags we had taken along, found the keys, unhooked the electrical cord and the ropes, and simply began our trek. I felt as if we were stealing the boat. Asking a random man on the docks where the gas dock was, we proceeded along through the very large marina. Looming in front of us Willis tower and other skyscrapers stretched into the clear blue sky. The sun was bright and warm. No wind, no fog.

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The two tanks needed to be filled to the brim. The boat had been neglected for a long time, so we knew it would require repairs and much cleaning. I was on offense and defense with a large jug of spider killer and a brush I found. Right now we just wanted to get it home to the west side of Michigan. Cliff realized he would need to forego normal means of navigation, so he “plotted a course” on his phone. He set it toward St. Joseph to the northeast 65 miles.

The Chicago skyline slowly became smaller and smaller. We knew we were incredibly blessed with the weather. We’ve boated on Lake Michigan for 30 years and realize she can change in a big hurry. It can be a serene lake and then a beast searching for prey. The water was shining in small ripples like millions of diamonds. We could see the skyline for at least one and a half hours.

On the starboard side Cliff spotted what he thought was Gary, later New Buffalo, then Bridgman. We were still going in a northeast direction so we didn’t get very close to those cities. The temperature was around 85 degrees and we guessed the water to be between 60-65 even in the middle of the lake. Many of our gauges and equipment needed tuning so we didn’t have readings. We were thankful for the working refrigerator with sealed water bottles inside since we needed much more hydration.

We had thought we would have at least an hour when we couldn’t see any land, but there was really not much time we didn’t. You can’t see land from more than 20 miles because of the curvature of the earth over the horizon, even on a very clear day. So we were fortunate to have a crisp day and we stayed near enough to the edge of the bottom of the lake to keep land in sight.

After a couple hours we spotted St. Joseph. It seemed like we had it made now that we were on the west side of Lake Michigan. But it took a couple more hours before we were close enough to get a decent picture of it. We have boated on the west coast of Lake Michigan for so many years but we have never been that far south. After another hour we were near South Haven. We just kept coasting along. That’s when the roar of the motors just seemed to lull me to sleep. Cliff had set the “auto-pilot” of the boat, so all he had to do was watch for anything that might be in front of us. He didn’t even have to steer the boat. The radar wasn’t working either so he would stand up occasionally and kept a watchful eye.

Being able to read a book while riding in the front seat of a boat is very unusual. The book dropped down a few times and my eyelids were heavy. The sun was warm but not terribly hot. For much of the time the water was completely calm and flat. I didn’t move around much because the boat was dirty. The spiders were at bay for the time being and I was just hoping to get home without encountering any more of them. Soon we passed South Haven, then Saugatuck. Now we were really in familiar territory!

We had left Chicago at noon our time, and now at 6:30 p.m. we purred past the beloved Big Red Lighthouse of Holland, Michigan. She sure was a welcome sight! A half an hour later we were backing into our slip at the Yacht Basin Marina. Ah, to be home! The seven hour trip was long. It was an adventure but surely didn’t come without stress and concerns.

Cliff thought the boat sounded strange the last half hour. When we got into the slip and were tying up, he confirmed that we had run out of gas! You see, the gas gauge was another thing that didn’t happen to work.

We thank the Lord for his wonderful favor on the trip, the weather, and the blessing of the boat.

 

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