Category Archives: Discipline

focuses on the spiritual disciplines

Bruised toes and thankful for them <3

I was going to write a little post on five things I love about winter and I probably will still do that another day, but considering the bulk of Illinois is under a winter advisory that will include freezing rain, I just can’t take a chance of having some of you navigate awful driving conditions and then read about my favorite parts of the season when you finally get to your desk. 

I took the trek up north last evening to beat the storm and be here for the 7 AM bell so Rachel and Zach can get to work on time. 

We are unsure if there will be school or a delayed start…living on the edge of our seats, we are. 

On the way up here I listened to a sermon and it was a good one. 

Painful but good.

He talked about pride and how tricky it is to pin down in others and nearly impossible to notice in ourselves. 

That’s the nature of it. 

As he went through the character traits, I had to admit I could nod my head to so many.

Including indecisiveness. 

He pointed out that often our lack of commitment to making a decision is because by doing so, we risk being considered wrong by one or more people and this sense of being not liked at best or unloved at worst is actually just a sly form of pride. 

Well, ouch.

Another one that got me was how pride can be the showy kind – where we think we are better than others….or the subtle kind where we are constantly seeing how we don’t measure up…and yet both are pride because both are total focus on self. 

Some other things he pointed out are that pride can make us antagonistic toward others when they correct us…or we can crumble under criticism to the point that we dissolve. 

Both of these approaches leave no room for the correction God might be trying to make in paths that have veered off track. 

He talked about how tempting our culture is as we have easy access to ways we can promote ourselves…or compare ourselves unfavorably to others who seem to be setting the world ablaze with all their wonderfulness…but in reality…the problem is inside our hearts. 

Because all of the self-promotion and self-condemnation is fruit of self-centered living. 

And that is a beast that will never be satisfied even after it has consumed every ounce of your soul. 

This last one really got me…how sneaky our buried pride can be.

He was talking about how we can start out with righteous anger over something. But as we hold on to it and get more indignant the underlying source of our passion can actually be a pride that has led us to believe we would never ever do what that one has done.

It makes me think about some of my tirades that seemed fueled by my desire for justice and I can definitely relate to the pride all my posturing tried to cover up.

As the podcast ended and I turned off all noise and distractions in the car for the last few miles of the drive, I heard a God whisper…that verse that has consistently shown up throughout the first few weeks of 2019…so much that I am starting to get it memorized down deep…

And do not be conformed any longer to this world…but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.

We are set apart…called to be different…in the world but not of the world.

It is a daily battle. 

A daily laying down “me” and taking up the Cross that saved me from myself. 

From one work in progress to another, let’s keep our hearts open and invite Him to continue shaping us more and more into the image of His Son.

Safe travels if you are out and about and I will see you tomorrow <3

Packing away Christmas and taking notes for next year <3

Good morning! 

I am checking in quickly since I didn’t post yesterday and left you with kind of a heavy one on Monday. 

Yesterday was a red-letter day because all the trim from Christmas…

(except for some lingering fake pine branches here and there that will get us through til spring calls for another redo of the decor) …

is stored back in its place in the basement and I feel like I just finished a marathon. 

Such joy to have it all put away…even though all surfaces look quite bare except for the layer of dust and silhouettes of clean where Christmas 2018 once rested. 

I also did some evaluating and made notes in this year’s calendar that I hope I am proactive in following through on. 

One is to order Christmas cards earlier so I can get them addressed and to remember that it is much better to paint the annual ornaments in the summer than when I am trying to do a ton of extra stuff the week before Christmas. 

You would think I would learn on those two items right there…but every year I’m cramming it in to the final stretch.

I was sad I didn’t get more of our traditional stack of favorite Christmas stories read to some little ones, so I made a note to come up with a plan to make sure we get to share that part of their mommy’s heritage with them. 

They are only little for such a short time and I regret that I didn’t get to read such classics as “A Wish for Wings that Work”. Which I have read multiple times over the years and still can’t get through without crying. 

I also made a note to NOT purchase a gingerbread house kit. 

It would seem the debacle of this years would be embedded in my memory sufficiently to keep me from repeating the event, but I know me. 

I get all fuzzy brained and hopeful as the shiny things start appearing around the malls and grocery stores. 

I see other people’s pictures and it looks so fun and I forget that the kids just want to eat the candy and the icing is disgusting and my perfectionism and desire for order always struggles as we try to form a perfect little cottage out of irregular pieces that came off an assembly line. 

And then there is the dilemma of how to display and store this mess that will start collecting dust and eventually have to be pitched, which will make me feel guilty because…creative works are hard for me to discard. 

So, for me, no thank you Gingerbread Kit people.  

Some of us were not called to construct dwellings made of food and I accept this as my fate.

I will happily love all the photos of other’s adventures and I will remind myself that there is no need to envy what in reality is not a fun thing for me.  

I am here to tell you…it’s okay if something that others find fun is not your jam. Drop the guilt and find what works for YOU <3

With that, I bid you farewell and wish we could sit over a cup of coffee and a bag of unused gum drops and you could tell me what your do’s and don’ts for next year might include. 

Drop me a comment if you want to share…and as always let me know if it’s just for me or for others.

Have a blessed day <3

And then sometimes God gives you your word…

Good morning! 

I am super late getting a post up. I actually got ready first, which is unheard of…this new leaf thing is stretching me….hope it passes soon.

As I have been thinking about the “one word” thing…and I am quite certain that unless some random thought crops up that burns to be expressed we are done with it as of today…and it occurs to me that God is pressing a word on me.

Several words actually.

Do you ever find a verse or phrase or theme cropping up in a couple of locations and you start to perk up your ears?

Well, since we cracked open the 2019 calendar ten days ago, I have been smacked in the face by a passage A LOT.

It was featured in our Sunday School lesson, and then the sermon given by our pastor.

It has been in a couple of my devotional readings, from different sources and was thrown out by both a sermon podcast I listened to and a recorded teaching by Beth Moore from December 5th.

And if you feel like it’s hunting you down too, well then I find myself in good company this morning. 

I beseech you therefore brethren, by the mercies of God; that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.  

Romans 12: 1 & 2 NKJV

I love The Message wording as well…

So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life – your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life — place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. 

Eugene Peterson adds this in the commentary:

“God doesn’t want a tithe from you, minced out of the pocket change of your life. He wants all of you. All of your heart. All of your mind. All of your time, your energy, your resources. All of your hopes and dreams. Every bit of who you are and what you have, he wants you to put on the altar as an offering to him.”

The Message Study Bible, Eugene Peterson; navpress, 2007, pg. 1761

Seems like a lot doesn’t it. 

Kind of fanatical. 

Very risky.

Until we remember that the very breath in our lungs is by His will and power and grace.

As Beth said so well at the end of her message I listened to (December 5th on her broadcast) and I paraphrase for you…

We have been raised from a stinking grave for crying out loud and we walk around acting like God has been holding out on us. 

God is calling me to renew my mind this year…to lay down before Him this every-day, ordinary life as an offering and then taking my hands off of what I gave Him. 

I am not loaning Him my life. I am giving back the life He freely gave me.

To stop conforming and to surrender to His transforming. 

What’s God speaking to you this year? 

Share. Please do. 

Oh sure…with me in the comments would be fun…but no… I mean SHARE it out there with others. 

Let’s be people who are effective witnesses because we have taken the time to really absorb and recognize what Christ has done for us.

What’s in a word?

Good morning! I am running around like a crazy person trying to get some dusting done, laundry caught up and me ready to head out the door ON TIME for work…because…new year equals new leaf attempts. 

I am mulling over this whole “one word” thing and I know you all are just sitting on the edge of your seats waiting to hear more about my word last year…okay maybe not…but here we go with a quick observation and then I am outta here!

I mentioned last year and again yesterday about this word “simplify.”

It kind of sounds like simplicity, which is so out of reach for me I can’t even imagine that one. 

I will most likely overthink everything til Jesus takes me Home or I totally lose all mental faculties. 

I am wired to ponder and add layers to thoughts and activities, and I am somewhat drawn to shiny things.

Also, since I have the heart of a story teller by nature, I would be short on material if I lived without the unending complications I encounter just navigating a day. 

Case in point, I just googled the word “simplicity” to enhance our conversation and I was immediately taken to the website for the Simplicity pattern company. This transported me back to Junior High Home Ec class…and it is with great effort and discipline that I am logging out of that rabbit trail and looking for the definition!!!

So…simplicity: the quality of being easy to understand and do

Yes – this is not me. 

I don’t understand things easily. 

I am often an enigma to those who love me most.

I do not go about any task the easy way. 

I make a lot of work for those same people who love me most. 

So while “simplicity” may be a stretch, I CAN CHOOSE to simplify along the way. 

To simplify is a process, and I am all about processes. 

The very name of this blog is “Journey Onward” because it’s about the fact that we are all making our way along a path.

Step by step.

And while I am prone to want lots of rest breaks and detours to scenic spots…and while I grouse about other times when I must deviate from the quickest route due to construction and delays…it is all part of the way I am taking through this life and the people who are walking alongside me in different seasons. 

And sometimes I tend to focus on the wrong things at crucial times. 

That is where I grew a little through employing my One Word last year.

I can look back and see where I let go of some of my perfectionism issues…where I challenged myself to look at the big picture instead of micro-micro-managing the teeny tiny details of how I did things.

I got brave and left the house with a hat on some days when the errand needed to be run. 

I learned to think less about what every one else might be thinking. 

Oh, this is huge. 

I forced myself to make quick decisions on totally unimportant things like what to order off a menu and what was really essential to throw in an overnight bag. 

If you don’t struggle with over thinking, none of this sounds like much…but to me…it was kind of a big deal to realize I survived just fine and lived to order and pack again. 

So there you go…my synopsis of last year’s word. 

And just in time to post and head out to work.


Have a good day and I will see you tomorrow!

It’s always the re-entry that gets me <3

Well, it has been a while and I have so many thoughts bouncing around that I am restrained to develop a Five Randoms so that I can get a post up and move on with the laundry, backed up paperwork and final migration of Christmas to their respective green tubs in the basement. 

So let us begin with the first five thoughts that spill off this blonde brain…

#1  I love Christmas and family filling up the rooms of our house.

I love the presence and yes, as we know…I love the presents…the giving and the getting and watching what others gave to siblings and parents…the food and the games…but it drains me. 

I need copious amounts of rest and quiet and nothingness to balance all of the above. 

And God provided for this in the most unusual of ways. 

A thiry-six hour bout with an odd virus that really brought no discomfort beyond some minor tummy issues and a mild headache. 

I was couch bound in a silent house while Russ and John enjoyed great seats at an Illini game courtesy of John and then dinner with some dear friends. 

And I rested. 

It was a game changer. 

So respect your need for rest – whatever that looks life for you.

Rest and refreshing comes in different ways depending on how we are wired but to rest is a command from God. 

Obey it.

#2   What happened to all the nice jolly people that were bustling about getting ready for Christmas? 

Too much sugar and overspending, I would presume. 

If you are finding yourself kind of irritable and crabby, please scroll back to #1.

And then rest.


We need you at your best out there…it’s kind of rough in January.

#3    We saw a couple of movies over Christmas and based on the previews, we have run out of ideas. 

The entertainment industry is recycling old plots and live animating all the cartoon movies. 

I have pondered from time to time that since there is a limited number of notes, there must be some sort of finite number of combinations and if the earth lasts long enough, we will surely have used them all up and all the songs that can ever be made will have been made.

We will run out of new ones.

It would seem the same holds true for ideas regarding story lines. 

We are there. 

#4     What do you love about winter? 

For me it is that cocooning we do in the evening, reading or watching a game on TV.

Soups and stews in the crock pot. 

Ice blue winter sky spread wide over the frosted stubble of the corn and bean fields. 

Soft blankets and comfy clothing…and no humidity. 

The way crystals form in a featherlike pattern on the corners of our windows some mornings and snow days…because even when you no longer have children in school…snow days are magical.

#5   I was reading in Lamentations 3 this morning and it struck me how Jeremiah openly acknowledges that God sometimes/often parent’s us with “tough love.”

It made me think of our current study in Sunday School and our discussion yesterday about how we have a tendency to skip over passages that don’t make us feel good about ourselves. 

So contrary to our culture. 

It’s all about feeling good about ourselves, isn’t it?

But as I read through verse by verse, I recognize that me feeling good again is not the point. 

If I am feeling bad about something and I feel like God is not paying attention to me, instead of looking for Him in places where He will affirm me…I need to be quiet and still and just sit before Him. 

Maybe He is silent because I have only been listening to what I want to hear Him say. 

As I sit and allow Him to discipline me, He gently or forcibly brings me to a place of repentance and it is there that I discover who HE IS…and that, my friends, is what it’s all about. 

I do so love the promise that His mercies are new every morning (Lamentations 3:23-24), but am I also loving the reminder that I should, at times, sit and be quiet and offer myself to Him to learn where correction is needed in my thoughts and actions? 


I pray we walk in the fullness of His loving correction and redirection for each of us in 2019. 

Blessings dear ones.

It is good to be back <3