Category Archives: Discipline

focuses on the spiritual disciplines

Of Cowbirds and unfair things…and life <3
pc/Rachel Maxwell

So I have often thought of writing a book entitled “Keep your Penny” with the subtitle “Why no one ever offers me a penny for my thoughts”

Because somehow a lot of the zillion thoughts that run through my head on a given day, I end up telling someone (hello Russ) or several someones or write it in a post or email so that it is out there for whoever stumbles across it. 

And today’s little view into my brain centers on a recent discovery by our daughter Rachel. Every year they hang a fern on a shepherd’s hook by their porch and every spring a robin makes a nest.

 This year was no different and the little ones were enjoying gently checking the nest each day when they got a bit of a surprise shortly into the family growth progress of Mother Robin. One day the pretty blue eggs were joined by a larger whitish brown one…and then another. 

Perplexed, Rachel did some research and introduced us to the cowbird. 

This parasite bird, if you don’t know, lays its eggs in other birds’ nests and leaves them to be fostered unwittingly by the host bird. 

Sadly, Rachel learned that in the case of the robin, the larger eggs hatch first and so the mama robin begins to feed and identify with the interlopers.

By the time those tiny baby blue eggs crack open, she is so busy training the cowbirds to fly she neglects her own hatchlings and they die. 

Apparently robins are more plentiful than cowbirds and so sorry little blue eggs…the cowbird is protected and you are not. 

Our Rachel fell not far from the tree that bore her, and immediately her mental wheels were spinning with thoughts about this devious bird. She not only googled, but had some posts spinning in her head and I hope she wrote them down for the future when she has time to write like her mom <3

But I gave her fair warning, I was pretty sure I would be borrowing the picture and spinning my own thoughts someday.

 I looked this pesky bird up even further and discovered they do this to other endangered birds so not sure how litigation works in that courtroom, but I can tell you that the whole concept has captured my attention.

This morning as I sat out on our patio and read my devotions and finished the book of Proverbs, as I poured out my heart and let the Valley of Vision prayers guide my own heart cleaning before the Lord, something triggered this new information gleaned in the past few weeks and I had to tell God I don’t understand. 

I don’t understand how He could make a bird who would lay tons of eggs but never build a nest. 

I don’t understand why the cowbird just seems to be designed to drop eggs but not nurture them, flies on carefree while the robin who hangs around to tend hers ends up losing them. 

I don’t understand how the One who knows when a sparrow falls from its nest, watches baby robins go hungry while their mom is duped into raising another bird’s youngins. 

I don’t understand why animals and birds and sea creatures and humans seem to be capable of things that seem so harsh and yet are innate to their wiring. 

So I sat just feeling very sad at all the things I don’t understand that seem so unfair.

I didn’t shake my fist at heaven and I didn’t doubt His goodness. 

I pondered if the behavior of the cowbird came with the fall of man and the whole creation being cursed or if there was a reason beyond my understanding. I often say in my prayers, I am but a child…teach me and until I am able to understand, comfort the sorrow this world brings. 

There are so many mysteries and questions in our hearts and spirits these days.

Things far more serious than the goings on of our feathered friends and their nesting habits. 

Our collective hearts are bearing much heaviness for others these days. 

My desk calendar was a sweet reminder of His tender love for us from Isaiah 43:3,4 and it offered me much comfort and hope:

I am the Lord your God, your Savior…you are precious to me and honored and I love you. 

In your questions and the moments when the way things work overwhelms you, please take time to remember you are loved well by your Maker. Let His love quiet you and teach you how to navigate the harder places of planet earth. Let us be humble to realized that we simply do not and can not know the answer to all our why’s. 

May God bless and comfort you and may you have encouragement and hope poured into you in whatever thoughts are occupying your mind these days. 

With love and virtual hugs, 

Laura <3 

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Checking in with a heart check today <3

I am coming to you today with my real and transparent thoughts from the past week that has followed months of pandemic mayhem. 

On Monday, I watched the sun set on a day that was one of the most unproductive and pointless days I have had in a long while. I had scrolled through posts and video feeds of various news items and commentaries all day. 

I cried and prayed and cried and snacked and wandered aimlessly around our house, because I am overwhelmed feeling all the feelings around me right now.

I felt helpless and confused. 

Every so often I walked to the door of Russ’s home office and told him I was not accomplishing anything. He would nod his head and go back to work and I would repeat my spiral downward.

The arena of social media that exists outside of posts by friends of their family gatherings or favorite verses or blog posts shared to encourage is a new playing field that I was unaware of.

The freedom of people to blast negativity onto a live video from someone else was something I have never encountered. The downright rude and thoughtless and ignorant barrage of unchecked thoughts spewing from every angle took me into a world that cannot be ignored, but also cannot rule over me.

I have been sheltered from the raw ugly of hate that flies around out there and I have to admit I prefer polite conversations and quiet “agreeing to disagree” more than the confrontational arguments and outright vitriol of comments that people slam others with through what has become our “third place” …. the internet. 

My heart’s desire is to do what Scripture tells me which is to care for those who are oppressed and defend the fatherless and the widows, to use the blessings I have been given to bless others and to show justice and mercy to all. 

But the rapid-fire words of anger and hate and retaliation that bombard the atmosphere rendered me incapacitated as I tried to separate out truth in the midst of so many loud voices. 

So yesterday, I turned off social media and determined to live in the day and do what I could do right in front of me and ask God to remind me what only I can do and then give me strength and boldness to do THAT thing and not be anxious about how it is perceived or judged or received by anyone but Him. 

That is not to say I am ignoring the pain around me. That is not to say I am not going to do better to find answers to my questions about how I can make a difference. That is not to say that I will now go back to burying my head in the sand and ignore what I see and hear happening on so many levels.

It is to say that I have to choose God’s righteousness first and then let Him lead me to the places where I can minister out of that in ways that bring His Kingdom here.

  • His Kingdom is best for all of us.
  • He is all about the dignity and sanctity of every human life.
  • He is all about justice and He is all about mercy.
  • He is all about every human being treated as valuable and precious.
  • He is all about tearing down world systems that do not support His plan of redemption, wholeness and healing. 

This morning as I was doing my devotions, each one seemed tailor made for the current conditions of our world and my own struggle to stay focused on the tasks at hand. And so like God, they each supported one another and culminated in a time of prayer that was based on a prayer written by Stormie Omartian in one of her books that is so applicable for all of us.

I am sharing the prayer points and my thoughts here:

Show me how to express deep, unconditional love in a way that is clearly perceived and received.*

Lord, I confess that I tend to love conditionally. I don’t want to be that way, but I know that my love is more open and flowing towards others when they fulfill certain conditions. I tend to love people I like… people I prefer.

(I beg you…please readers, do not read race into this…we are walking on egg shells right now and I am compelled to say that I do not like and prefer based on anything except my gut response to human beings I encounter…they are all sizes, shapes, colors and backgrounds…it is an enigma to me what draws me to certain people and makes them easy to love when I struggle with loving others….)

Even worse, I often find I withdraw love from people I like and prefer when their behavior or attitudes or decisions hurt me or go against what I desire for them or for me. This is not right. This is not righteous. I need Your help to love unconditionally. I need Your love poured into my heart so that I can truly LOVE..even when I don’t agree…even when I don’t understand.

To love does not require me to approve or prefer or be okay with someone’s choices or behavior or attitudes. Help me to grow in my understanding of YOUR love so I can just love people.

I also pray that my love will be perceived and received. I understand that others may have preconceived notions about me. I need Your help to break down the barriers of misunderstanding on all sides so that Your love is poured out of me and onto my family and friends and acquaintances and even those who I do not know, but share the road with in this life. 

Laura Reimer

Remove any barriers that have been formed in me through disappointment and pain in my past* 

Lord, this struck me deep in my spirit and soul. As I sit and just hold my heart out to You, I am aware that I have carried and buried some disappointment and pain from the distant and recent past deep down.

Because I have not let You heal me of those things, I am weak and useless in helping others who are experiencing disappointment and pain. I need to understand that You heal in layers and I will continue to need to bring my heart before You to receive Your next level of healing until I stand perfected before You.

Their pain reminds me of my unresolved hurts and so I am handicapped to offer the kind of love and support that is needed. Rather than recount these things, I am just acknowledging to you that I am a broken person in need of Your love and Your peace and Your healing.

I receive the ministry of Your Spirit searching out those places in me and I open my own self up to be healed by You. You are the only one who can completely heal me and equip me to become a minister of Your healing and reconciliation. 

Laura Reimer

If there is a place in my heart where I feel rejected or unloved, I bring that to You for healing*

Lord, again I open up the deep places of my heart where I have experienced rejection and where I feel unloved. Search me and shine Your light into those hidden places that fuel my inability to hear the cry of others.

I cannot extend the fullness of Your bountiful love until I have allowed Your love to fill up the holes in my own heart.

I receive the ministry of the Holy Spirit again right now as You bind up my wounds so that I can extend that grace and mercy to others who expressing their pain and perceptions of being rejected and unloved. 

Laura Reimer

If there is any unforgiveness in me toward anyone, show me and I will confess it. I do not want to carry unforgiveness in my heart because it separates me from You and my prayers will not be heard*

Lord, as I offer up myself for examination, You bring names and faces to mind. Very few hurt me intentionally.

The offense was usually because of the human condition of the offenders heart…like me they were more concerned with self and I got wounded as a result. Often they have not even been aware of how they have hurt me and so an apology is never going to take place.

The work of forgiveness and reconciliation falls on me and then I think of how I have also offended and wounded with no idea…and I would want to be forgiven by the ones I hurt….so Lord, thank You that by the power and work of the Holy Spirit in me, I can forgive and let go and hold nothing against my offender.

If I have been intentionally and purposefully wounded by someone, You will be my example as You said of those who crucified You..forgive them. I will rest in Your healing in all cases.  

Laura Reimer

So there you have it…a little visit to my time with Jesus this morning.

I hope you are turning to Him first before you turn on the news, the social media feeds or your mouth.

I am doing better today at this then yesterday and the day before.

May He guide us through these times in ways that bring heaven to earth as we journey onward  <3

* Power of a Praying Grandparent; Stormie Omartian, Harvest House Publishers, pg. 26

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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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