Category Archives: Discipline

focuses on the spiritual disciplines

Blessed assurance <3

Good morning!

This week I spent some time on the blog sharing various examples of my struggles with worry and anxiety that were prompted by a sermon series our church is currently doing called “Be Anxious for Nothing”.

One of the things our pastors have stressed is that we WILL have things that cause us to be concerned.

There is a lot of anxiety-prompting stuff that happens in the best of lives and Jesus even warned us that we would have troubles as a normal part of our daily lives. 

The point of the series is that God has told us not to be anxious but instead to turn our worries and angst over to Him through prayer and thanksgiving. 

And all of that probably sounds easier said than done, and I understand completely as you may have noticed through my stories. 

Which is why I want to end the week with a closing thought regarding why we can do this. 

At the end of the sermon last Sunday, we had communion and then the worship team led us in what is probably one of my many favorite hymns. 

Christ Alone, Cornerstone…weak made strong in the Savior’s love. 

And every time we sing that song and come to the part about how in every high and stormy gale, my anchor holds within the veil; my spirit eyes see one of those photographs of a lighthouse engulfed in a high cresting tidal wave of water. 

Have you seen them?

Do yourself a favor and google “lighthouse photos”…breathtaking visual.

I picture myself as that lighthouse firmly situated on a powerfully strong rock and I get what God is telling me.

He is my strong foundation no matter what comes against me. 

On Monday morning I was reading through my prayers and devotions for the day and came across a passage of Scripture that reminded me of another thing. 

The fullness of God, the riches of eternity…all I could ever need, hope or want is found in Jesus Christ. 

Sometimes I leave Him either as a baby in the manger or an itinerant preacher in simple clothes and no place to lay His head as He led fisherman and tax collectors around a small area of this world and then died a criminal’s death and was raised and made these same guys some breakfast on a beach…and I forget…

He ascended.

He reclaimed all that is rightfully His and He intercedes for us and He is for us and not against us…and all of that is why I can be anxious for nothing. 

My turning worries into prayers isn’t some kind of placebo that fools me into a state of peace.

My thanksgiving as I release my concerns and worries and fears and troubles to Him are not some mind game of positive thinking. 

My prayers avail much. 

My prayers are activating the Power of God through the Holy Spirit and things change. 

I change. 

This is the power of Christ in me <3

Don’t worry….there’s an antidote to anxiety….

Well if you came back today after my true confessions of worry and angst, congratulations and God bless you for hanging in there <3

I promised you some practical help and once again I will point you to the sermon series going on at our church

But if you don’t have time or inclination to google and listen, I will give you the Reader’s Digest version and my own application. 

The series is based on a passage in Philippians 4: 6-7

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding will guard your heart and your minds in Christ Jesus. 

Through the teachings by our pastors, we have been reminded that God didn’t just give us a blanket rule…Do not worry. 

Our pastors have acknowledged that in the fullness of the teachings of Christ, we have been promised we will have things that will provoke us to anxiety and worry…

Jesus said…

In this life you WILL have troubles (John 16:33)

but He also reassured us to take heart because He is bigger than those and He is with us. 

And that is how we can obey what is clearly a command and yet without tools, would surely set us up for failure. 

Simply not being anxious is about as helpful to me as the mandate –

Do not eat junk food…

or Do not be late for appointments and events. 

I am hard wired to love potato chips and all the forces of the universe seem to work against me ever being punctual. 

But if you give me tools…and I use them…I stand half a chance. 

Tell me to make sure I don’t purchase chips and snacks and remind me to cut up fresh veggies in quantity to have handy when I crave a snack and I just might pull off healthy eating. 

Show me how to set alarms on my phone that prompt me to wrap up whatever distraction has pulled me away from getting ready, and I increase my potential to leave with extra time to get where I am going. 

And God gives me this tool to turn from the mind-spinning futility of worry.

He says…

Laura, when you have an anxious thought crop up, take it and figure out what it is that is causing you to fret…notice when you are running an idea or scenario over and over and adding all the possible outcomes and repercussions. 

Identify it and why it is threatening your peace. 

And turn it into prayer. 

Tell Me about it and then think about what I have said and thank Me for who I am and how I work. 

Pastor Brian gave us a chart on the first Sunday of the series and here is my version of that:

Worry : name the worry

Request: Leave your request for that worry with God. He likened it to leaving your car with a trusted mechanic. You don’t hang around and wring your hands while he works on it.

Thankful: Press in with gratitude for what He has done. Use your mental energy to be thankful to Him for ways He has worked in the past and ways He is currently working even if you cannot see them.

True: Praise God for whatever is true, noble, lovely, pure, admirable — meditate on these things. Spin praise instead of anxious thoughts.

As the worry reappears later in the day, remind yourself that you have handed it over to God and praise and thank Him again for what He is able to do. 

Tomorrow I want to finish this off with my own affirmation that this is not some kind of spiritual numbing or positive thinking exercise. 

The world uses a similar method but the thing that replaces “worry” can take on the form of  exercise, meditation to empty the mind, self-medication through addiction, distracting the mind through training it to self-talk positivity … empowerment…avoidance….but all of these are modern day idols that replace the only thing that really transforms our worry into transformation that will make us more and more like the image of Christ. 

Avoiding worry is not the issue. 

We have legitimate reasons for why we worry. 

But when we turn those worries into prayer, God changes situations and He changes us. 

He turns the workings of our minds from futility to fruit-bearing. 

He takes us from worldly anxiety and transfers us into Kingdom advancing. 

How about  today you take a piece of paper and write those four headings?

Name your worry – all of it…in detail…what you are really and truly worrying about. 

Intentionally take that worry into God’s workshop and set it down on the counter in prayer and walk away. 

Start writing down ways you have seen God work in the past, things you know about Him that are true, lovely, pure, good, wholesome. 

As the worry starts to reappear around lunchtime or late afternoon, remind yourself that you left it as a request before God and then train your thoughts on good things you know about Him. 

It may take several times, but keep doing it. 

It’s like celery…it starts to grow on you after a while and you begin to crave that peace more than the control you thought you could hold onto. 

Blessings and I will see you tomorrow!

When worry becomes a magic charm….

Are you working today or is President’s Day a holiday in your world?

We are kind of both today.

It is a holiday but Russ had to go in for a while to do some things so I am semi-holiday mode and semi-regular day mode which means I am still in my pj’s but have started the Monday laundry chores.

We are in the second week of a short series called “Be Anxious for Nothing” at our church and I am taking it to heart so at least for a few days…and maybe the whole week…we are going to visit this a little bit.

I come from a long line of worriers who wish they weren’t.

My mom used to send a weekly letter…typed margin to margin…front and back…in quadruplicate…to my sister, my aunt and her husband, my uncle and his wife, and to my family.

It updated us on all the details of every day the past week including food eaten, appointments kept and places and friends seen. 

I am not kidding. 

Every. Week.

At the top she often penned a handwritten note with an encouraging verse or quote that basically said to let go and let God handle things…but the letter was filled with anxiety and worry. 

Typed line after typed line. 

Bless her heart.

And yet, so often I have done the same. 

As I have been working through the material for this week’s study, I faced the question and concept that was shared in the sermon this past Sunday.

Based on an article in Psychology Today, our pastor explored the theory that we somehow along the way in our lives begin to assign to worry the capacity to actually keep us from the thing we are worrying about. 

I am certain there are some easy-breezy folks out there that shake their head at the insanity of such an idea ..but I am one who nodded her head because it resonates deep within me. 

I can pinpoint in the development of my own perspective on navigating life that around the age of ten, I started to notice something. 

I was in fourth grade and living in a smallish town in Kentucky. 

Neighborhoods were linked together with fairly safe roads for a kid to ride her bike and as I began to be given more freedom to head off on my own for an afternoon of play, I found that some days my mom was not at all concerned where I was and other days she would need me for something and would begin calling for me to come home. 

Besides the capacity to worry, we Ploch/Lochner descendants are blessed with voices that carry a country mile so if I was out of ear shot….I was too far from home. 

If she had tried to rally me and I didn’t respond, the result was that she was full of angst when I returned.

I had “worried her sick” and the consequences produced a large amount of guilt in me as all maladies for the next several hours or days could be attributed to my being out and about and not letting her know where I was.

So I would begin to worry and check back in to see if she had called for me…and she never had. 

All was well.

She had been sewing or cleaning or doing whatever she did while I was traipsing around the neighborhood and I could go back out and be free for awhile. 

Except I wasn’t free. 

Because just like the report in that magazine, I began to connect that my worrying was somehow the magic charm that kept her from being upset with me. 

If I was carefree and having fun exploring the creek with a friend, that was the time I didn’t hear her calling…but if I fretted and kept a low-level guilt on the back burner while I played…that seemed to be the ticket. 

And it became a life-long pattern.

Worry – and everything will be fine.

Don’t worry – and face the consequences which are usually quite heavy.

I am not blaming my mom for this.

I probably would have been wiser to learn the discipline of time management and making sure I was working within her expectations for checking in, but instead I made a magic charm out of “worry.”

In an odd way, worry became my little g-god….and it’s been a hard habit to break. 

But praise my Big-G God…He is always in the business of helping me grow up. 

How about you? 

Is there any way that God may be trying to get you to see that you have allowed a little-g god like fear, dread or worry to replace Him on the throne of your heart? 

It is time to grow up and obey God when He says….

Don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns.

Philippians 4:6 The Message

What to put on when the cold winds blow <3

The sun is shining here and it is a most welcome sight after several days of cold and rain and sleet and gray skies for miles. 

But I am not fooled. 

It is uncomfortably cold out and I will be donning my long black thermal coat in a half hour to head out to work. 

I bought this calf length garment a few years ago and then we have had fairly mild winters so it didn’t get used a lot. I am often moving so fast and am so highly caffeinated that some winters I barely grabbed a coat at all in my rush out the door. 

However, the Polar Vortex as we have dubbed this winter trend, has had me pulling that baby out on the daily. 

A couple of Saturday’s ago we were going to watch Graham play basketball and since the bleachers are rather crowded, I just grabbed my short jacket for the day. 

Every time I got out of the car, the wind and cold enveloped me and I regretted not grabbing that calf length protection I had become accustomed to. I felt the cold and realized how insulated I have become during this unusually harsh winter. 

My heart can get like that.

Commercials on TV, the evening “news”, Facebook rants.

Driving amongst cars who all seem to be in an incredible hurry and also feel they must share with the world all manner of disgusting decals.

Every one is offended and offensive and the issues are blurred and confusing. 

While politicians argue about their agendas, our interstates are crumbling and laws that are supposedly making life better are forcing us into a world that opposes everything I know that God has said to be truth. 

And I want to wrap something very protective around me so that I can stop feeling misunderstood, judged, marginalized and silenced. 

But God tells me to take off the protective layers of cynicism and bitterness, remove the self-righteousness that would make me feel buffered…and to put on the flimsy things that will make my heart seem exposed and vulnerable…

things like…







As the signs point more towards the winding down of all things here on planet Earth, we know that people will go from bad to worse…and the hardest struggle the people of God will have is to remember that we do not conform to this world, but to the image of Christ who always was and always will be …







This is how we love Him…by loving others well <3

So, chosen by God for this new life of love, dress in the wardrobe God picked out for you: compassion, kindness, humility, quiet strength, discipline. Be even-tempered, content with second place, quick to forgive an offense. Forgive as quickly and completely as the Master forgave you. And regardless of what else you put on, wear love. It is your basic, all-purpose garment. Never be without it. Colossians 3:12 – 14 The Message

What kind of love is this?(best love ever)

I have had on my heart…

no pun intended…

for quite some time to use this week to talk a little about love because…Valentines…

but it is also tempting to not be one more place you hear about it.

So I have prayed and jotted notes and even did a “brain dump” where I wrote down all the ideas that were flying around.

As you might expect, if you have followed these posts for any length of time…it looks like it’s going to be a mixed bag of things. 

God loves us so big that I could never capture it in an entire library of words.

I could never run out of ways to tell you all the large and small things He has done in my life. 

But if you think that intimidates me, think again Cupid…I will just come up with something every day and on Friday we will pack it up and move onto something new.

Because this is how we roll here on the Journey <3

As I drove and ran errands and worked around the house on Monday, I kept thinking about how we often attach to our expectations about our efforts to “love well” the idea it is our job to make everything as easy and beautiful and perfect for the object of our feelings as we could possibly do. 

Until we have children.

And then we learn that to smooth out every bump and give in to every whim and fix every problem and navigate them to avoid every discouraging circumstance is not only impossible, it would be a living hell for the parent and would produce the most shallow, needy, selfish of human beings. 

Because it is in the very midst of the trials and the hard things, the being picked on and left out, the stubbed toes and scraped up knees…the tears and fears and falling downs…that is where we develop character, muscle, compassion and the grit to get up and move on. 

And as a loving parent, we come alongside them and guide, correct, console and encourage so the child hopefully emerges stronger, better, kinder and wiser.

God loves us with this kind of love. 

He wipes tears and takes a firm hand when we are going down in the muck. 

He binds our wounds and disciplines us when we stray. 

He takes on in a personal way the ways we are attacked. 

But He lets us do it all. 

He lets us try and fail, love and lose, feel abandoned when He is really right there, He lets us tough it out and feel the heat…He lets us because He loves us.

One of my favorite and most reassuring verses is one that speaks of this kind of love 

When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned; nor shall the flame scorch you.  Isaiah 43:2

Think about it. 

Have you ever waded in a river? 

I picture my dad fly fishing up to his waist in a river in Montana. In chest-high waders he battled the current around him as he firmly held onto the rod while balancing on the unsteady river rocks under his feet. 

He felt the waters as he passed through. 

It was a struggle.

Have you gotten too near to the campfire or opened the oven door and were leaning too close when the blast of 375 degrees hit your face and made your eyes burn?

You feel the power of that flame. 

God is telling us right up front.

Just like Jesus said. 

In this world, you will have trouble. 

In this world, you will feel the icy waters creeping up and the tug of the current threatening to pull you under.

You will feel the pressure cooker of trials.

But in the middle of them all, take heart.

I AM is with you. 

He will hold you and your soul and your spirit…they will make it through. 

This is the love He gives His children. 

Lean into it today <3