Category Archives: Discipline

focuses on the spiritual disciplines

Because apparently cardboard is my kryptonite <3

I was raised by southern women who used paring knives like they were an extension of our hands. 

At the store, I use a box cutter to slip the price tags off of items so that I can spare my nails from any more splitting and sometimes people ask me if I ever cut myself.


Not on the box cutter…but constantly on paper and cardboard.

Just yesterday I gave myself a whopper of a paper cut opening a cardboard box that was delivered to our house. 

As I applied pressure and Neosporin, I grabbed a bandaid out of the drawer and laughed when I saw it was an Incredibles style.

Thus ensued some family text messages, complete with puns and I went on my way trying to keep it dry.

But this morning it comes to me as I ponder how in the world I am going to navigate the next several weeks of commitments that I am not really very incredible.

I am not a superhero and if I was, something as ordinary and mundane as cardboard would prove to be my kryptonite.

When I am tired and hungry, I have meltdowns and sometimes I have them when I am rested and well fed.

As I continue reading the material and answers I penned in 2016 to the “No Other Gods” study, I realize God has given me some growth and freedom to step away from some idols, but the sad cycle of my human frailty is the reality that I will always default to idolatry…and I love how Kelly Minter helps me understand this by using the term “functional idols” in place of “false gods.”

Because I don’t bow down to a false god, but I do find myself bowing to the tyranny of living up to some image I have created for myself.

I seek comfort in the shelves of our pantry or by scrolling through pretty pictures on Instagram and I tell God what I can’t do and what I won’t do…and the image I have set up for how my life should look if it was going my way cracks the whip over me and says…more bricks and now you must cut your own straw to make them. 

As I studied the passages from Exodus that described the slavery of the Israelites in Egypt, I made these notes of the characteristics of those who held control over them:

  • Dealt shrewdly with them so they would not multiply.
  • Afflicted them with burdens
  • They were made to serve with rigor
  • Their lives were made bitter with harsh bondage, under which they groaned because of the oppression.

Oh my. 

When I think of who has this kind of control over me, it is not the enemy of my soul but my own desire to do things the way I want to do them. 

It is my own hand that crafts the functional idols and then groans under the weight of them.

God offers me a mighty sword to yield and armor to fit me for the battle, and I choose to strap on an Incredible bandage and dodge cardboard boxes…hmmmm….a silly trade.

How about you?

What is lording it over you today? What is pressing down on you and making you work harder with less fruit to show for it?

That’s the calling card of a functional idol.

Ask God to reveal its name and nature to you and then kick it to the curb.

Summer Study Recap Day! Week 1

I signed in and watched the first video for “No Other Gods” this morning. It is a short one and I do want to mention if you are doing the study this summer a couple of points:

<3 You do have to register yourself with LIFEWAY to access the videos. I had an old account I have used to order books and that login worked for me to be able to get on the small group study site. 

They are doing it differently than they have in the past, but different is ok. Don’t be afraid.

<3 If you are a male doing the study, she does talk to us like it’s all women but that’s because the study is through LIFEWAY which is kind of geared toward us females…don’t panic…your masculinity is not being threatened. And you just might glean some valuable insight into your wives and daughters minds as you listen in. 

It will be different. Don’t be afraid.

<3 I am using my old study guide and adding new notes. The original did not have video teaching so I am just winging it with my note taking. Also, I can already tell the new workbook is set up and titled with updated wording – however the content is most likely unchanged and the first week that they are calling Session 2, HAS to be Session 1 in the old book – pages 8-27.

I  hope she included her recipes in the new book – so fun. Do try them…and if she didn’t, let me know and I will share on here! 

Our books may be different, but it’s ok. Don’t be afraid.

And now for my preliminary thoughts as we launch into this study. 

This past week I received a pair of pants in the mail that Russ had ordered for me. 

I would call them “exercise” pants although I mostly wear them for regular life and the occasional walk we try to squeeze in at the end of the day because…exercise? yeah…it’s been off my radar for far too long. 

They are wonderfully comfortable and have a pocket in the side leg for my phone and I love them. 

He decided we needed to order a pair for each of the girls, so commissioned me to do that yesterday.  

As I looked up the company and began to locate the pants, I noticed that most of the clothing in the line is named after various Yoga terms. 

I don’t want to open a can of worms here on our first visit about this study, but I am simply stating fact that things like “chakras” and “salutations” have a spiritual meaning beyond the health benefits of stretching that accompany Yoga. 

I am realistically stating that while many people use yoga as an exercise method, it is in fact and indeed a spiritual practice and true followers of it would agree with me. 

Thus, I am not being controversial, I am just saying that as a follower of Christ Jesus – I am wary of personally dabbling in other religions because it goes against what I believe He taught about Himself and what it means to be His disciple.

I am sharing that I struggle with the implications, even though several of the stretches are ones I need to do to relieve my chronic back pain and ward off the every day threat of a flare of plantar fasciitis.

I do not try and turn them into a Christian worship experience and I don’t avoid them. I do the stretches to help loosen muscles that cause me pain and I move on. I ordered the pants because they are pants, not because of the name.

Yet in the process, I can have huge arguments within my head about what is off limits and what is ok for me to do. 

As a P.S. – I have no interest in debating this with anyone nor engaging in argument or justification. This is a personal matter between me and God and I am not trying to convince anyone one way or the other. Each of us must examine our conscience before God on these kinds of issues.

And about right now, you may be wondering what in the world this has to do with No Other Gods…so here is my point…

I can get so caught up in things like the above swirling of thoughts and conflicts and imagined debates about ordering a pair of pants on the off chance that God might be offended by the name a clever marketing person labeled them with in order to get more people to buy them and completely miss the real idols I have set up in my heart.

When I did this study in 2016, I was stricken with the “good things” that I had allowed to become the “main things” in my life and heart.

One of my main takeaways on the first go-round and again this morning from the introduction of the study is:

Make room for WHO you love

Make room in my heart for the God who loves me and who I love with my whole heart. 

Do you feel like something is missing in this journey with God? 

Perhaps it is because we have replaced Him with things that make lousy gods.

I am looking forward to more layers of my old nature being peeled off in the weeks ahead. 

How about you?

Here is my prayer:

Heavenly Father, in this world of 2019, there are so many things that are obviously ungodly that I often get side-tracked with what is going on around me and fail to look deep within me. I know there are places I have set up idols and they have become so familiar to me that I may be fooling myself. As I revisit this study in the weeks ahead, I open myself fully to Your lens and I ask you to reveal to me anything that I have set up in my heart in the place that only You deserve. Thank you for your faithfulness and love for me to not allow anyone or anything to come before You in my heart.

Papipalooza recap <3

We celebrated someone’s birthday this weekend with great joy and lots of personality.

With the help of these three…

and the original three R’s…

we gathered in Kansas City and took Papi to the stadium he and his family would visit as children.

The youngest of us helped make his favorite cake before we left…

I decorated it in retro style from his 35th…

because apparently I have always had a flair for cake decorating…

plus the kids wanted to do a reenactment photo and …

which brought me so much joy and laughter…I can’t even capture my heart with a thousand words or pictures or happy tears, though believe me…I have tried.

We got the world’s best BBQ…

and had a fancy dinner in the hotel…

We mixed and mingled….

and napped when we could…

and all in all …. .


Best. (Birth)day. Ever.


Surrender <3

I am a picture person. I see stories in photographs and I use words to paint pictures to help me process thoughts and to teach others. 

Often when I do not understand an emotion, situation, concept, or frustration I will ask God to show me a picture of what is going on so that I can see things more clearly. 

Surrender is one of those enigma’s that I often mull over with Him asking Him to help me with the practical application of what is expected of me in confusing settings. 

Because I don’t think surrender means standing idly by when someone is intending harm to another or there is an injustice that I can speak influence over…and yet, I also know that there is a level of sacrifice of self involved in surrendering and where are the lines drawn for it?

I know from experience that I am selfish by nature and often my lack of surrender has been because of a keen sense of “self-ish” preservation….yet I also know that I am to keep my heart guarded against that which would overcome the peace of Christ in me…so as I seek to balance all of these issues, I often pray for God to show me practical ways to grasp what it means to “surrender” my selfishness to His Sovereignty. 

And yesterday, He gave me yet another picture. 

I was headed over to Springfield around 7:30 yesterday morning and apparently so were a large portion of semi’s, pickups and cars that must have had very important deadlines to meet because, have mercy…I felt I should paint a number and some sponsorships on the side of my car and don a helmet. 

I had to go close to 80 just so I wouldn’t get run over.

 There was one scary moment where I went to pass a semi, when out of nowhere I had a pickup truck almost in my back seat, a car with darkened windows attempting to pass me on the right with barely a window between me and the semi and my heart was racing twice as fast as all of the vehicles surrounding me. Thank God the semi driver sped up enough to let the lunatic on my right zip around us and I gunned it to get out of the way of the pickup truck. 

As I merged back into the right lane and my blood pressure began to return to normal, I rethought how I would finish this journey. 

For the rest of the trip, I only passed another car if the road behind me was clear for quite a long way. If a faster car was coming into view, I would adjust my speed down until it shot past and then I would accelerate to make my pass. 


It was inconvenient to go below the speed limit for a little while to avoid the crushing pressure of someone in a hurry. 


It was not fair that someone who was over-exceeding the speed limit and getting away with it, was forcing me to slow down. 


It was setting my “rights” and my “preferences” and my “agenda” aside because the peace that I felt NOT getting run over was of far more value than “winning.”


There is a reason we don’t like the word. 

It means I don’t get my way and that goes against all that is ingrained in me. 

And that’s the point of it. 

I pray today to recognize the same increase in my heart rate in settings outside my car where my blood pressure is starting to rise as indicators that I may just be entering an opportunity to stop pressing my way ahead of someone else and to just surrender my will and my way…not to the one who is pushing ahead or striving to win some non-existent competition…but surrender to the One who made me, loves me and provides all that is needed for me <3

Be blessed today as you sort out for yourself when it is time to stand up and when it is time to bow down. May the Lord give you wisdom and peace and strength in all of your circumstances today <3

Here is a prayer I wrote in September of 2004 and it still holds true for me today.

Lord, I want to be wise and discerning in choices and decisions I make. I need Your help and guidance. Show me when to pause, when to rest, when to move, when to speak and when to be silent. Show me how to pray or lead me to pray in the Spirit when I don’t know how to pray. Teach me YOUR ways, O LORD, that I would walk in your Truth. 

The real reason misery loves company <3

Well, we  had a wedding this weekend and also managed to cram in a whole bunch of life and love and family and such in around it.

It is way more than I could possibly put into words worth reading on this second “Monday” of the last week of May, so here is us, cleaned up and looking our bestest and then I am going to kick off this short week with a story of how last Thursday went down.

Because we had a rough start, to say the least. 

I was up north for the day and Joel seemed particularly sad that his mommy had headed off to work. 

He went and got a blanket and pillow and all the stuffed animals he could haul in one trip and set up camp on the family room floor. 

I just assumed he was tired and extra sad because his daddy was out of town and mom had worked a full day Tuesday as well, so I just gave him his space. 

A short time later, he produced evidence….literally…that he was not just missing his parents but was also harboring a virus. 

A virus that he released on the carpet just a few feet from the tile floor….so I cleaned up the first of several messes and set about tending our little guy whilst keeping his sister from bodily injury as she seems to climb on everything and is attracted to all things potentially dangerous. 

It was a long day, and the poor little guy was just miserable. 

After the boys got home from school, I sent them outside to play and hopefully avoid whatever Joel was sharing with Caroline who would.not.stay.out.of.his.face. 

I would run to the door to check on them between hugs for Joel, switching loads laundry and pulling Caroline off of tall furniture and away from her beloved JoJo. 

At one point, Graham called in from the garage to let me know a school friend had ridden his bike down to shoot baskets. 

I went out to confirm with his buddy that mom was aware of his visit, when Joel appeared at the door calling for us. 

I found him sitting on the step, asking if I could get Landon’s attention so he could tell him he was sick. 

Have I mentioned before that Joel is my Achilles’ Heel?

I don’t know what it is about the combination of his face and personality, but the little guy melts me to putty. 

I was not sure how much sympathy this second grader was going to be able to muster, but I asked him if he could come see Joel and God bless him, he did. 

With raw tears forcing him to strain to get the words out, Joel spouted out in two short sentences the account of his battle with the flu that day. 

I held my breath to see what kind of response he would get, and thanked God with my whole heart when Graham’s friend listened sweetly, nodded his head and agreed that is not fun and hoped he felt better. 

The two older boys went off to play as I scooped our little wounded soldier back up and carried him to the couch for more cartoons. 

And I learned two things about us humans from that. 

There is a need in us to tell our painful stories to someone. 

And there is a grace gift when that someone just listens. 

Not trying to fix or analyze or compare their own woundings…just a quiet presence to stand willingly in the face of someone else’s misery and receive it with kindness. 

There is a whole lot of pain out there around us and a whole lot of pain inside us at times. 

Finding the right balance of sharing our woes and receiving that of others is an effort we might prayerfully seek to maintain in the midst of a loud and antagonistic world. 

Blessed, truly, are the peacemakers <3