Category Archives: Discipline

focuses on the spiritual disciplines

Just give me the beat…<3

Today is very tricky here…outside our windows it is so sunny and with all the green on lawns and trees I would expect to step out into a warm spring day. But instead the temperature is dropping and with the wind chill it is a mere 45 degrees outside. We even have a freeze warning for the night, which makes me glad I have not put any flowers out in the pots. 

I find it unsettling…much like most things these days. 

Every single day, I have some choices to make about what I have control over and what I don’t. 

Last Sunday, after our own church service, we enjoyed listening in to the sermon offered by our son John’s pastor in Austin. 

He addressed the way some of the changes in life as we know it have brought some positives and one was that it forced new rhythms in to his home life that have slowed them down and given them time to connect in better ways. 

He expressed concern about the inevitable move back into busier schedules that are definitely necessary for businesses and schools and churches to see happen. It helped me to hear someone else say that this transition will not be easy as we figure out how to take some of what we have learned about our busy-ness being a little over the top and yet resume activities that are part of life here on planet earth. 

He talked about the role of both tempo and rhythm in music and in life.  

Employing the infamous metronome next to his drum set, he explained how a metronome keeps the same time whatever it is set to. 100 beats per minute…140 beats per minute. It just ticks away the tempo with no variation. He explained that some of the tempo of our life is set for us, and some is set by our choices. 

Work, school, care for homes and family and friends, volunteer opportunities, relationship building, entertainment choices and gatherings will come to us as America “opens up.” Some of these will have a tempo we have no control over, and some we can have a say in. 

As he sat in front of his drums, he played several different sets of rhythms. Some sounded faster and more complicated, some slower and simpler. 

He pointed out that the beats per minute never changed, but the rhythm at which he played produced music that sounded slower or faster depending on his activity. 

We set the rhythm was his point. 

There will still be 24 hours in each day in the coming months, each lasting sixty minutes. For some of those hours you will need to eat some meals…sleep…clean…work…play.  

He summed it up with the thought that we should control the rhythm of our lives instead of the rhythm of our lives controlling us. 

Before this whole Shelter in Place thing came about, I was moving at a helter-skelter pace. 

Last fall I was working on a Bible Study and one of the questions was about what has control over me, what has a hold over my life and as I sat and pondered the question I knew it was my calendar. The demands of the week had me on the go more than time at home, which is something a person like me needs for refueling. I was depleted and just running from one thing to the next. It made me anxious and resentful and just plain worn out. 

Well, I certainly have encountered an abrupt change in rhythm the past weeks as all events were canceled and the only time I ventured out was to get some provisions for our meals. 

I have learned some things in this time,

I have found there are material things I thought I needed that I don’t. I have found more efficient ways of doing some things around the house now that I have had time to think straight. I have discovered some stuff I have held on to that needs to be let go and I have realized that I overcomplicated relationships when really just sitting and talking to someone or taking a walk with a friend or throwing some cheese and crackers out on a table with a couple of chairs distanced 6 feet apart counts as fellowship. 

The pastor finished with this quote from Winston Churchill “Never let a good crisis go to waste.” and he added his own thought to be pondered…”We do not have to return to the same rhythm of our pre-Covid life.” 

I don’t know how I am going to manage adding back in and yet retain a healthy rhythm of time spent here at home, but I know that I have seen a better way to thrive instead of survive and I do not want to waste what I have learned. 

I pray for God to give me wisdom about marching to His beat in the days to come. 

May you be blessed as you find the pace for the race marked out for you <3

Love and peace and have a beautiful weekend <3

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Let us pray <3

Did you know today is the National Day of Prayer? 

You do now. 

Coincidentally, our church started an online Equip class last night on Prayer. 

Through the magic of Zoom and the incredible talent of one of our pastors, we managed to gather on our computers and phones and, with a whole bunch of little Brady Bunch squares dotting our screen, we were led through some dynamics of prayer. 

We even got divided into “small groups” and then were reconvened and as a child born into a world of big old console TV’s and wowzer….now they come in color??? I was just blown away by what it took to make this happen. 

As I looked at the faces on my laptop and heard the reasons why people had signed up for the class, I wished I wasn’t on video because I was fighting back some ugly tears. 

Just a few faces and then all the faces and I realized how many stories each one represented and for the most part people signed up for the class because of overwhelming need for prayer…prayers for themselves or to be better equipped to pray for others. 

So today, I am just going to pray for you all. 

Heavenly Father, I come to You this morning and I lift up in advance any reader who might happen across this space. 

Lord, I thank You that You see and You know the needs and desires of each one. 

For families: I pray for the ups and downs that this season has introduced into each home. I pray for the added stress of children home all day and yet all parks and excursions canceled. I pray for the energy of parents and for those who are juggling working from home, facilitating school assignments and providing meals and snacks and refereeing. I pray for those who have lost income and hope. I pray for the children in homes where dysfunction was already creating an unsafe environment. I pray Your love and presence to be known in all of our homes, Father. 

For businesses: Lord, I thank You for the creative and innovative ways that both small and large companies have implemented emergency plans so that they could continue on. I thank You for help from the government for many, but Lord I also pray for wisdom in our leaders regarding huge debts at all levels of funding. I pray for protection over those who have continued to work and I pray for an understanding of those who are in positions of leadership within companies that there is great value for all levels of workers. I pray You would instill in all of us a desire to work hard, pay fair wages and forgive us our sins of greed and entitlement.

For churches: Lord, I thank You for the ways big and small churches and ministries have adapted quickly and complied with the government leaders to protect and promote the health of their flock. I thank You for the internet and technology that has allowed the Church to continue to gather, but Father, I am mindful that there are many for whom all of this is overwhelming and so they have been isolated. I pray for those who do not have access to computers, smart phones or the knowledge to operate these tools and so they have been left on the fringes. I pray that You would meet them in their homes and places of seeking. I thank You that the Holy Spirit moves freely without wifi and can minister in the darkest of places. I pray for small churches that were struggling. I thank you for the many who have continued to press on and have not despised their lack of numbers but have ministered one by one to each member. 

For teachers, coaches, instructors of dance and music: Lord, we thank You for the hearts of those who have dedicated their lives to teaching and caring for children. How helpless they have felt as they would very much go to the front lines, but have been side-lined. Thank You for the ways they love these kids and work to create connections in their vans and cars, on Zoom and through any measure they can use to encourage the parents and children they serve. Lord, give the administrators, teachers, coaches, dance and music and art instructors wisdom as decisions are being made regarding the coming year. 

For graduates and those seeking employment: Father, lift up the heads of those who were prepared to move into the next season of life and are now unsure. Lord, You sustain us and You provide for us, let Your peace reign in these many who are now facing unexpected interruptions and uncertainty for their future. Raise up out of this a new generation of wise and talented leaders who have understood what it is to build character through adversity.

For the medical community and first responders: Father for those who have been fatigued in various areas, I pray that You would strengthen them and refresh them and remind them that they are only required to do what they can do. In their weariness, give them assurance of Your love for them. Ease the heaviness, hold them in their grief, wipe their tears. For those who have been unable to care for patients due to restrictions, give them a peace and wisdom in how to move forward into opening practices and returning to work. Place a hedge of protection around this community from exposure and exhaustion. Encourage them in their service to us. 

For our country: Lord, silence the voices of those who desire to bring conflict instead of resolution. Forgive us for always choosing sides and for always carrying offenses against others. Forgive us Lord for the hatred that still rules over so many and for the injustices towards one another. Forgive us for our pride and our agendas. Forgive our disregard for human life at all ages, in all races and ethnicities, and help us, who know You and are called by Your name, to be agents of peace and reconciliation.

For the world: Father, we often forget in this country that we have been blessed with so much. The minor inconveniences we have experienced are a way of life for most of the world. Instead of complaining about what we don’t have, help us to be ever grateful for all that we do have. 

Father, I have surely missed so many things. I pray for anyone who made it through with me and thought of something I forgot that You would prompt them to pray for those things as we share the burdens of Your heart for our fellow travelers in our prayers. 

Thank You that we are all called to pray for different assignments. May we enter into the yoke with our Lord Jesus Christ and partner with Him in faithful/faith-filled prayer and increasing acts of love and obedience. 

In Jesus’ Name

Amen <3

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Who do you really want to be like?

Russ and I have been watching the documentary on Michael Jordan, The Last Dance, on Sunday evenings. 

When he first mentioned the series, I had trouble imagining how they were going to fill that many hours with information from his career, but it seems the NBA was rather busy behind the scenes back in the day. 

I must have been oblivious. 

All I knew was our kids loved him and he literally could fly.

All these years later as we watch him soar through the air and remain suspended for several seconds, I struggle to think of any players who have ever made the sport look more fun or more graceful.

As the filming moves from interviews with current Michael and others from that era to clips of games and the team and news reports, it is a sharp contrast to see young Michael and the man he is today.

This past week, the program centered on the whole “I want to be like Mike” advertising campaign.

I can’t say I would have remembered, but it all came back to me as I watched flocks of young people gather around him. From commercials to public streets to pre and post game, he is surrounded by adoring fans. 

I remember our kiddos and their friends all sporting #23 and he certainly inspired a generation of hoopsters in our neck of the woods. To go to a Bull’s game was about on par with Disney.

It was a world wide love affair, yet at some point this stopped selling air time, I guess. Or someone was tired of him and so an author went after him to try and discern his real character. 

This led to others using a microscope to examine all of his activities and thoughts and words and actions.

Michael fell short of the image that had been created by a public that is always hungry for a hero, and rather than defend himself, it would seem he just wanted to be left alone. 

Flash forward to current Mike, sitting in an artistically created living room with a drink at his elbow and a bit of a hard edge and he wistfully expresses how he would have liked to have never been held up as a role model. 

It created a place where he had to perform to meet all expectations and since that is not humanly possible, he ended up having his character and personhood examined and exposed as not meeting expectations. 

We could perhaps sarcastically say, poor Mike…bet he cried all the way to the bank…but we would miss such an important lesson. 

Human nature is always looking for some kind of god we can understand and manage. 

We do it in our culture all the time, creating heroes and then when we tire of them, gleefully tearing them down and moving on. 

One of the things I have noticed as I am reading through the collection of accounts of the Kings of Israel and Judah found in 1 and 2 Samuel, 1 and 2 Kings and 1 and 2 Chronicles is that we are a mixed bag and God is not undone by us. 

There were evil kings and good kings and yet sometimes the evil ones repented and God extended mercy. Often the good kings didn’t fully do all that they should have done and yet God was with them. 

It would seem that we humans tend to pass sentence in black and white far more quickly than the God who created us. 

With our limited thinking and our limited understanding we deem someone as worthy or unworthy based on our assessment and values. 

I realize I cannot stop our culture from building elaborate pedestals for their hero of the day and then, in some bizarre shift, gathering to knock them down…but I can guard my own heart from trying to find my salvation and deliverance and joy in another person. 

It is too much to ask of a human to be perfect so that I can have someone to look up to. 

It is too much to ask of myself to allow anyone to convince me that I am going to fill that role for them. 

Often in the testimonies of the Kings of Judah and Israel who did what was right in the eyes of the Lord was that they still failed to remove the high places…the places of worship that had once been dedicated to idols. 

Maybe the people were now worshiping God there, but it was not where they were supposed to be.

As followers of Christ, it is imperative that we are very careful about where we offer praise and worship. 

It is a fine line between love and appreciation of others, and lifting them up to an exalted place from which they, like us, will surely one day fall off. 

It is a mistake to take something that is almost good and right and true and lift it to the position that only God can hold.

Only God deserves our adoration and praise. He is the only hero of our story. The rest of us are just works in progress. Imperfect and a mixed bag of holy and messy…but always loved perfectly by our God <3 

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