Category Archives: Discipline

focuses on the spiritual disciplines

Wrapping up Genesis <3

We are two weeks into the New Year and it is a very good time to check in with all of you who said you want to read your bible this year and see how you are doing. 

If you have put it off, you only need to kick it up a notch and you will be caught up in no time. I started setting my timer for 15 minutes of reading each morning and I am able to get two extra pages in each day.

As I mentioned at the start of this year, it doesn’t hurt to read ahead for the busier weeks or the more difficult passages will come and then you are already ahead of schedule. 

Several have asked what I am using as my plan and this year is a straight read-through of Genesis to Revelation. 

I have enjoyed the past few days revisiting the story of Joseph since I did the Kelly Minter study “Finding God Faithful” this past summer. 

Doing a study on a portion of Scripture is so helpful to put it in perspective and adding to your knowledge and understanding opens up new layers on every future reading of what had become a “familiar” passage. 

One thing I noticed this time as I read about the brothers returning to their home country with plenty of grain and one brother still held in prison back in Egypt, is Jacob’s response to the news. 

As the brothers share the news that Simeon is being held hostage until they return with Benjamin, they are emptying their sacks of grain and find all the money they had paid is in the bags. 

Their father sees all of this and is so upset because he knows it will appear a theft in the eyes of the Egyptians. But his response is so intriguing.

“And Jacob their father said to them, ‘You have bereaved me: Joseph is no more, Simeon is no more, and you want to take Benjamin. All these things are against me.”

Genesis 42:36 NKJV

As a third party viewer standing back several thousand years, I see the selfishness of this statement. 

Yes, there is much grief that has come on this man in the loss of a son and another son in prison, but have mercy.

No mention of Simeon’s fate for his own life. No thought for what this will mean for Benjamin to leave the safety of home and go with this band of brothers back down to Egypt to face who knows what kind of punishment for the silver it looks like they kept. 

Just a woe-is-me, why does this kind of stuff happen to me response from the dad. 

I can shake my head at yet another example of why Jacob is an odd pick for being one of the patriarchs of the faith until I look no farther than my own selfish self. 

I cringe when I realize how often a disruption to my day has caused me to spiral into a self-pity litany of all the ways things go wrong for poor, poor, pitiful me and I have totally missed the personal struggle of others who are facing the upheaval that has sent a ripple across my pond. 

How good of God to not edit His Word by covering over the human character traits of those who were chosen to be the main threads in the tapestry of the story of Redemption. 

In reading these accounts of real people with real flaws and real family drama, we can see more clearly the character of God and our great need for Him. Scripture opens my eyes to the parts of me that need to be exposed, confessed, repented of and then opened to the work of the Holy Spirit to transform me from what I was to what He can make me to be <3

Being in the right place <3

Do you ever run into themes in your days? 

If it was all based on current sermon series and articles going around, I could blame it on some kind of “trending” thing within the church culture, but currently I am reading a book written in 2016, listened to teaching from a seminar held in 2012, heard a couple of podcast sermons from this summer, the sermon at our own church last Sunday and have been hit numerous times with the same message from devotionals that were gleaned from the writings of people long gone and all of them are referring to “rhythms of grace.”

And all of these use the example of Jesus, who moved continuously between opportunities of intense hands on ministry and quiet places of solitude. 

The teaching pastor last Sunday was Brian Talty and he talked about how Jesus left places of successful preaching, teaching and healing because of obedience. He referenced it as the “I must…” and it resonates with other things I am reading and ways God has spoken to me in my own life. 

Though people begged Him to stay in places, He would move according to the direction of His Father saying, “I must….”

During a season when I was pulled between the care of elderly parents and children still at home, I would often feel torn as there seemed to be many places where I was needed. 

I developed a simple test to determine which place I was supposed to be that day or time. 

I would remind myself that I can only be in one place at one time, so what was the ONE place and ONE task only I could fill?

Sometimes I was the only parent available for some event where we had determined as a family a parent needed to be. This would mean someone else took another child to a practice and nurses attended to the needs of my parents so I could be the present parent for someone. 

Other times, I was the only child my father had for the Father’s Day breakfast at the nursing home or the Christmas party with the Elvis impersonator, sugar cookies and 7Up with a maraschino cherry in it. 

So I missed the concert that Russ could attend and I went and sat next to my dad, praying fervently the guy with wavy black hair and sequins galore would NOT come and kneel down in front of me and sing “I’ll have a blue Christmas without you” in my face. 

It meant I had to face some humbling…sometimes I need to be needed more than I need to fill the needs of someone else.

Sometimes I serve selfishly…choosing the ways I serve because of how they make me feel and look. 

Sometimes the best way to serve the people who need me is to rest and get some refreshing so I am not serving out of depletion. 

We live in a hectic world and we probably all want to do the best and the most we can for the people we love. 

What a great reminder that Jesus only served in obedience to His Father by taking time, frequently, to check in and pray and seek guidance and direction. 

Be blessed today as you seek wise counsel from the One who made you and all those people you are trying so hard to love and serve. 

I pray we all have obedient hearts to hear and offer our gifts, talents and resources in the way God intended and trust Him to cover the other needs of our loved ones through others who also desire to serve well <3

A post on a post-it note…kind of <3

I have been gifted a lot of really nice bookmarks over the years, but typically my pages are kept for my next reading with some scrap of paper or note I have written. 

I have one of my morning devotions bookmarked with a page torn off of a St. Jude’s notepad with these words written on it:

“Sat – Monday would work – she can make reservation if you would prefer – she doesn’t mind odd hours + will work to make arrangements or you can” 

I also have another note, also in my handwriting but different mood with an arrow pointing to the memo above and it says:

“I have no idea what this note means”

I hang on to it in case, some day, I am asked about what time frame would work for some unknown woman’s schedule so I can let her know if we found odd or regular hours for the reservation to whatever event and then we can determine who will be making the arrangements. 

Sometimes I wonder how Russ lives with me and doesn’t lose his sanity.

But on a more serious level, I have another page marker (also on a St. Jude’s notepad sheet….what would I do without all the free notepads and address labels?) in a different devotion and I read this one and pray it every morning. 

On this paper I have jotted a prayer. 

I don’t remember if I wrote this particular prayer, and since I haven’t given any credit to anyone as a quote, I am assuming I did…but then again…I can’t remember why I wrote the other note and if some female friend or relative is sitting by her phone waiting for me to text back with the plan for making reservations…so maybe I did read it somewhere.

If so – many thanks to whoever wrote it originally – it sounds better than what I could write so I must have gotten it somewhere.… and if you know who wrote it, let me know so I can give him/her credit…or make a reservation Saturday – Monday, even if it’s odd hours…

The words I wrote on down are:

“Prayer for us when we are hurt:

God, keep my anger from becoming meaness.

Keep my sorrow from collapsing into self-pity.

Keep my heart soft enough to keep breaking.

Keep my anger turned towards justice, not cruelty.

Remind me that all of this, every bit of it is for love.

Keep me fiercely kind. Amen”

I love that prayer even though it means a lot of surrender each and every day. 

Fiercely kind is something that takes guts in this day and age. 

I have always been hyper-sensitive; which is great when compassion is needed and well-received, but it means a lot of bumps and bruises when you are out there in the trenches and dealing with people who like to play rough. 

It means learning how to put up healthy boundaries without building walls. 

It involves a determined effort to let God heal and console when knocked down and then sucking it up and getting back in the game. 

It requires an understanding that God wired me to notice things others don’t, not so I can be in the know but so I can be on my knees. 

It asks me to be vulnerable enough let my heart get broken, but to never give up on making it available to help others.

It remembers the example of Christ who extended forgiveness to those who didn’t even know to ask for it.

It means feeling alone a lot, and odd, and misunderstood; so that God can work empathy into my interactions with others who seem so different from me, but are really just trying to make it through the stuff of life on planet earth

How about you? 

I hope you are doing well at getting up when you are knocked down.

I hope you are developing some healthy boundaries so you can operate well in the gifts and callings God has given you. 

I hope your heart is staying soft and your anger is turned to justice and that you are remembering that it is love that covers over a multitude of sin.

God’s love, on the Cross…where Christ forgave us and died for us, who didn’t deserve it one little bit…that kind of love…covers over a multitude of sins and it is available to those who have received His salvation…so that we can be….fiercely kind <3

One more “New Year” post and then we are moving on <3

Post holiday greetings to each of you! 

At work we are doing inventory and I have to say as much as I love the holidays and especially white lights everywhere, there is something therapeutic about fresh starts. 

I know some people charge into January all full of goals and purpose but I tend to enjoy a week or two of looking back and evaluating. 

By flipping through our calendar, I can see various events that marked our year.

There are the big events like vacations and visits with our family and friends, but there are all the little things that made up the moments of 2019. 

Ball games and watching the Fab Four dots many of the pages as do visits to John and Sarah’s homes. These all involve travel and even as I reflect on the time spent with the people, I can log the miles of driving and flying as time spent listening to podcasts, music or just turning off the noise and muddling through the excess information that is constantly accumulating in my head. 

We are blessed to live in a day and age where our computers and phones catalog various photos that captured the stuff of life for us. I love to look back at the photos I took and marvel at how we laughed and the beauty that God put for me to see along the way as I passed through ordinary days.

One thing I started doing a number of years ago was to record books I finished reading on the back pages of our calendar. It is always interesting to look back over that list and it definitely inspires me to challenge myself to more disciplined reading of quality material. I have stacks of books yet to read and when I see the list for 2019, I feel good about what I was able to absorb and yet want to enter 2020 with a plan for more intentional times of reading. 

I also left some baggage I had been toting around for a while back along the way of this past year. And I am traveling lighter.

It was hard to let go of some of it, but by taking it before God and telling Him how hard it was for me I found He was so gentle and kind. He seemed to sit with me and hold me until I could let go.

He helped me to see that the good parts will not be taken and the ugly is washed away by His grace and mercy.

He understands how hard it is for me and He doesn’t judge that part of my makeup and He is a safe place to work through those things that are common to all of us and yet we feel we are alone in. 

How do you process the passing of the year and the transition to the new? 

Can I invite you to at least scroll through your photos that were important enough to capture with a click of your phone or simply turn back through the pages of your calendar and remember the year that was? 

Take a breath and lift it all to the One who knows your yesterdays, today and tomorrows. 

He is a good, good Father and you, my friend, are precious to Him.

Happy New Year! 

And let’s keep this journey going … onward <3

Maintaining a habit of devotional reading and prayer <3

Partially for accountability and partially for information and partially because if you know me, you know this is an important part of my daily routine, I am sharing my devotional plan for 2020 today. 

I once had a person I admire and respect greatly express wonder that anyone reads more than one devotional in a morning quiet time. I think it would be pretty awesome to be able to hone my reading down to one thing but to each his or her own. 

Possibly because I have several conversations going on in my head most of the time, I seem to need to hear from God in a multitude of ways. I do notice that often the same message is consistent as I sit down and open my books each morning. 

I also confess that I don’t necessarily get something profound out of every single one of them, every single day. 

I do make general notes in my journal (which is a plain old spiral notebook like you would get in the school supply section of a discount store) from the various readings and often I will find later in the week or month that God is speaking a theme as I look back over the entries. 

Throughout the year I will do a couple of Bible Studies as well plus I like to listen to online sermons and take notes…and these are just added in to the mix. 

I also may adjust my stack as the year progresses depending on any additions that seem to be helping me to grow spiritually, but for the start of 2020 here is the lineup:

#1 My Utmost for His Highest – I have read through this book so many times. And this copy is not my original one. That one was given away as a love offering and is marked up with tears, coffee stains and ink marks galore. My new copy was a gift of love from a friend who knows my need for Oswald Chambers to kick me out of complacency throughout the year. 

#2. Faith that Matters – a collection of writings of various people like Dallas Willard, Henri Nouwen, Tozer, Eugene Peterson and Brennan Manning. This years devotion from my friend Lisa who has unfailingly selected my daily devotional for so many years I have lost track. She prays, buys and throughout the months that follow I wonder how God directed authors, publishers and my dear friend to get something in my hands that would speak directly to my heart the words of comfort, encouragement or conviction that are needed that day. 

#3. 15 Minutes with God for Grandma by Emilie Barnes. A new little short book from same dear friend. I won’t read from this every day and when I have finished it, I will cycle in another similar book that I have been wanting to read…it is a bonus read on days when I have more time. 

#4.Power of a Praying Grandparent by Stormie Omartian. I discovered many years ago that I need help keeping my prayers scriptural and on track and Stormie Omartian provided me with prayer prompts through her “Power of a Praying …” series for years. This new one for grandparents gives me God’s thoughts for our whole family  – I expand the prayers to cover any and all who come to mind as I cycle through the book monthly. 

#5. (in)courage Devotional Bible. My current Bible translation is CSB and by doing the math, I know I have to read around 5 pages a day to cover it this  year. On mornings when I have more time I read more than that because I have learned by experience there will be days I have little time and if I get too far behind, discouragement defeats me and I quit. 

#6. My journal. The only consistent thing about the entries are that I date them and I try and make some notes about anything that jumped out at me. There are days when I pour out my heart and days when I rant and vent and ask God questions. There are days when I try and sketch a picture of how He has spoken to me and I copy verses of Scripture or quotes that really speak to me. There are a lot of arrows and hearts and underlines…big bold capitals and if you analyzed the handwriting you would say fifty different people had written in it…but it’s all me. Just as I am. 

#7. My prayer time is actually spread throughout all of the above. Often as I am reading something I will stop and pray to God about it for my own life or for someone else. Often I find I write a lengthy prayer in my journal at some point but other times it is just a free-flowing conversation with God. Prayer is something that I believe in strongly but something I also struggle with grasping at times. I am better at talking at God then in quieting myself to listen to Him. So for me the most intentional times of prayer occur either by going to a place where I don’t normally sit and just opening my Bible and reading passages of the letters of Paul, Psalms or Proverbs and praying back what I read OR walking with no distractions outside and just asking Him to speak to me are both good methods for this woman to have prayer communion with God.

So that’s my stack and the way I do my quiet time. It’s not the only way or the right way – it’s just the way it works for me.

And yes, I also have about four books scattered in bags and on tables around the house that I am working on finishing. 


I am exhausting to live with. 

Say a prayer for Russ and then let me know what you are planning to do this year to grow closer to God <3