Tag: Tirzah

Favorite Podcasts

Favorite Podcasts

favorite podcasts

These days I’m finding audiobooks and podcasts way more interesting than what I can pull up on TV! Whether I’m in the car, on a walk or working there is something playing in the background. This summer I’ve discovered several new podcasts that have quickly become new favorites.

Here are My Favorite Podcasts:

Personal Growth

Lisa Whittle  Jesus Over Everything Join Lisa every Tuesday and Thursday for short devotional teachings and great interviews.

Your Enneagram Coach: The Podcast  The mission of the podcast is to help individuals and couples dive deeper into the Enneagram from a Biblical perspective. Leading the way in teaching the Gospel-centered Enneagram, Hosts Beth and Jeff McCord want to make personal awareness and growth accessible to everyone, everywhere so they can experience freedom in every area of their lives. 

Holy Post Podcast  Phil Vischer who is best known as the creator of Veggie Tales and the voice of Bob the Tomato and Skye Jethani who is an author, editor, speaker, consultant, and pastor have teamed up to produce one of the most culturally relevant podcasts of our time. Their conversations are blunt, nuanced, and honest but they will always keep Christ at the center and that’s the most important point.

 

Current Events

Armchair Expert with Dax Shephard: Dax Shephard is humble and kind. He swears a lot, so this one might not be for everyone, but besides that, I have appreciated how open Dax is about why he thinks the way he thinks. Dax says this is “a podcast that celebrates the messiness of being human.”

Pantsuit Politics: They say “We’re Beth and Sarah of Pantsuit Politics, a podcast for real conversations that help us understand politics, democracy, and the news – while still treating each other like thoughtful human beings. We’re here to create an informative and grace-filled space by respecting each other as people who are sharing insights into the issues and our hearts. Grace is something that everyone deserves, and it allows for greater depth in our conversations and connections.”

The Daily  by The New York Times They say:  This is what the news should sound like. The biggest stories of our time, told by the best journalists in the world. Hosted by Michael Barbaro. Twenty minutes a day, five days a week, ready by 6 a.m.

Content Marketing (My Day Job)

Akimbo: A Podcast from Seth Godin Seth speaks on a subject from his years of experience and then also answers listener questions. For me, this podcast is the chance to sit under an industry expert and just glean wise ideas.

Mixtus Media – They say: “Book Marketing Simplified is a podcast to help authors save time with their marketing so they can spend more valuable time writing.” Their methods aren’t just for book marketing though. Are you launching a podcast or small business? Totally transferable.

Bonus Listens

The Next Right Thing– This is another short podcast that is packed with a thoughtful perspective focusing on decision making. 

That Sounds Fun– Annie Downs is all about fun and her podcast reflects this every week. Her laugh is contagious, but I also appreciate how vulnerable Annie gets with her guests. She asks unique questions other hosts don’t think to ask because she’s willing to be vulnerable and transparent.

Unlocking Us with Brene Brown– Brene says her podcast is about “Conversations that unlock the deeply human part of who we are, so that we can live, love, parent, and lead with more courage and heart.”

Football season is just around the corner and you know what that means…road trips! Download some of my favorite podcasts to keep you company this fall.

 

This post was originally published on 6/17/18. It was updated for relevancy and freshness 6/24/2020.

Eight Weeks Sheltering in Place

Eight Weeks Sheltering in Place

eight weeks sheltering in place

On March 12 David Brooks published a column in the New York Times titled Pandemics Kill Compassion Too, You may not like who you’re about to become. I have a lot of respect for David Brooks. He’s spent a lot more time studying character than I have and his book The Road to Character is well worth your time. Brooks warned “Fear drives people in these moments, but so does shame, caused by the brutal things that have to be done to slow the spread of the disease. In all pandemics people are forced to make the decisions that doctors in Italy are now forced to make — withholding care from some of those who are suffering and leaving them to their fate.”

In the weeks since that column Americans have proven David Brooks’s prediction right and wrong. Immediately the distinction between selfLESS and selfish leadership has stood out at local, state, and federal levels. I’m deeply thankful for the way our church has stepped up to partner with a city wide initiative locally called CU Better Together. I cannot think of a better example of living out what Jesus defined as the greatest commandments.

“Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

Matthew 22:36-40 NIV

On the selfISH side, the repercussions of teaching a generation the rules don’t apply to them had a deadly impact on thousands. Spring breakers in Ft. Lauderdale spread the virus across the country while shelter in place orders where extended in cities with rapidly rising numbers. In the weeks since our death total in the US has passed 50,000 and millions of people are out of work. Certainly not all because of Spring Break, but most definitely because of the thinking behind the privilege surrounding similar choices.

This privilege, along with years of the divisive “fake news” narrative also combined to give people like the woman in this photo the courage to scream “Go back to China” at medical workers rather than complying with her state’s stay at home orders. It also prolonged the requirement for the country to quarantine by weeks. But don’t worry, Senators like Richard Burr are still very rich because when they were briefed about this deadly virus they sold their stocks, warned their richest donors, and then wrote op-eds telling the country it was perfectly safe to be out and about.

I’ve never assumed I know the full story after reading an op-ed however another thing 8 weeks sheltering in place has shined a spotlight on is that I need to listen to experts and work harder to educate myself rather than trusting a narrative. While the most recent example may be Lysol and Clorox having to release statements begging people not to swallow or inject themselves with dangerous chemicals after a Presidental news conference I think Judy Woodruff said it best.

The news media, while trying to tell people what they need to hear, must compete for ears, eyes, and clicks, and so are also forced to ask them what they’d like to hear.

And even if we manage to avoid the intellectual saboteurs of the Internet, we’re still all too likely to get our news and views from social media, where a silly meme from your aunt Rose in Schenectady competes for your attention with actual information.

We need to find our way back from this ego-driven wilderness. Historically, people return to valuing expert views in times of trouble or distress. We’re all willing to argue with our doctors until our fever is out of control.

Let’s hope it doesn’t come to that. But that’s where we’re headed. And unless we start accepting the limitations of our own knowledge, then each of us is failing in our obligation to participate in our democracy as involved, but informed citizens.

Judy Woodruff

Conspiracy Theories

For work required reading these days includes Seth Godin’s book This is Marketing. The timing has been helpful for work, but one section has been incredibly insightful regarding the pandemic. Seth writes about conspiracy theorists. I share this because it’s made me more compassionate and less frustrated with the hurtful posts I constantly see these days.

I’ve pulled out a section and linked the original work Seth writes:

Professor Roland Imhoff of the Johannes Gutenberg University in Mainz, Germany, wanted to understand what makes some people choose their beliefs. In particular, he’s been studying a particular kind of outlier: the conspiracy theorist. Since we know that conspiracy theories aren’t factual, why are they so appealing to some people? And which people? In one study he cited, it was found that many people who believe that Lady Diana is still alive, having faked her own death, also believe that she was murdered.

And in a similar study, people who believe that Osama bin Laden was dead before the Navy Seals arrived at his compound are also likely to report that he’s still alive. The facts aren’t at issue here; they can’t be. What’s happening is that these theorists are taking comfort in their standing as outliers and they’re searching for a feeling, not a logical truth. Imhoff writes, “Adherence to conspiracy theory might not always be the result of some perceived lack of control, but rather a deep-seated need for uniqueness.” In Imhoff’s study, he presented American conspiracy theorists with made-up “facts” about a conspiracy regarding smoke detectors in Germany.

When he told this group that 81 percent of the German population believed the theory of the conspiracy, they weren’t nearly as interested or enthusiastic as when they heard that only 19 percent of the population supported the theory. By rooting for the overlooked underdog, the conspiracy theorist engages with his desired emotion, that of feeling unique, a brave truth-teller, the outsider. This group doesn’t see themselves as kooks. Each member doesn’t have a unique theory, all alone in a field. Instead, they seek to be part of a small group, a minority group, an outspoken group that can take solace in each other while the outside world ignores them. They can find this feeling every time they hang out with the other reptile-spotters.

Things I Want to Continue

Sabbath

John Mark Comer says, “The goal of Sabbath is to become a restful person who lives day to day in awareness of and connection to God’s presence and year over year becoming a more joyful, loving, and peaceful person.”

Prioritizing Loving My Neighbors

I’m really thankful for the opportunities we’ve had to chat with our neighbors over the last several weeks. Our block is unique and we’ve hit the jackpot with kind and thoughtful people surrounding our home. One day when cleaning the gutters Ordell looked up to see 2 neighbors running over with tools to make his job easier. We’ve had surprise cookies delivered multiple times. And everyone is eager to chat and get to know us better. We’re happy to reciprocate as well. The young kids have kept us entertained on nice days and we’re thankful for kind conversation to break up the monotony.

Self-Care

I can’t wait to get out for a hair cut, a pedicure, and a nice long walk in nature without the concern of whether I need to wear a mask! At the same time, I’m going to continue to work to prioritize my schedule in a way that leaves space for self-care including intentional time with God, exercise, meal prep, and time to rest without anytime to do. I think we forget that we don’t need to fill our moments.

Some Good News

While there are certainly terrible leadership examples out there, some amazing things have come out of this horrible time. John Krasinski launched Some Good News on YouTube and has us all laughing and smiling weekly. I don’t know about you, but I can’t get through an episode without tears either.

Ryan Reynolds and Hugh Jackman are nuts with their public feud but it’s great that everything they do raises money for charities.

Jimmy Fallon is doing an awesome job of showing what real life a work-at-home dad looks like these days. His daughters are terribly uninterested in his job but at the same time want to be around him while he’s trying to film. It’s great to see his wife on camera occasionally too. His song about starting to crack summarized my feelings perfectly the same day I was starting to crack.

What I’m Excited to Have Back

Date Night – I’m ready for time with my favorite coach where neither of us has to cook or clean up!

Corporate Worship – I really miss worshiping with our church in person.

Coffee Shops – I’m ready to meet up with my girlfriends for coffee to chat about the latest things our kids did, how we’re getting through the weeks, and the books we’re reading. I’m thankful for phones and video conferencing, but nothing replaces in-person communication.

Reading Hours – I know I haven’t said much yet, but I just sent in my manuscript yesterday! This has been a consuming project for over two years and now it’s with my publisher. I’m so excited to have the hours that I’ve spent on this project writing and editing reallocated to other things!!

Life continues even when it seems like we’re frozen in time. That’s the biggest lesson about 8 weeks sheltering in place, isn’t it? But there are so many other things that are important to remember from this difficult season. What are you learning?

Go, but Go in Christ

Go, but Go in Christ

One of the hardest parts about learning to recognize God’s voice is discerning when I’m hearing him say yes or no, stay or go or whether it’ s my preferences that are guiding my decisions.  I’ve learned I can’t always depend on whether a choice makes sense or seems logical. If I’m going to try to obey God every step I take I need to figure out how to live by faith, and that includes developing the discipline of discernment.

In Romans 4:13-18  Paul writes from house arrest to the citizens of Rome: “It was not through the law that Abraham and his offspring received the promise that he would be heir of the world, but through the righteousness that comes by faith. For if those who depend on the law are heirs, faith means nothing and the promise is worthless, because the law brings wrath. And where there is no law there is no transgression.  Therefore, the promise comes by faith, so that it may be by grace and may be guaranteed to all Abraham’s offspring—not only to those who are of the law but also to those who have the faith of Abraham. He is the father of us all. As it is written: ‘I have made you a father of many nations.’ He is our father in the sight of God, in whom he believed—the God who gives life to the dead and calls into being things that were not. Against all hope, Abraham in hope believed and so became the father of many nations, just as it had been said to him, ‘So shall your offspring be.’”

God established a covenant with Abraham because of Abraham’s faith.  But Abraham wasn’t perfect and his faith waivered causing many detours along the path that God directed him to walk.  Regardless, God counted him as an heir and followed through with his promises. 

Abraham’s missteps weren’t insignificant. In  Genesis 12:1-2 God begins to breakdown Abraham’s calling.

  • Go forth from your country
  • And from your relatives
  • And from your father’s house
  • To the land which I will show you
  • And I will make you a great nation
  • And I will bless you
  • And make your name great

Abraham (then Abram) took his wife and cousin Lot and went to Egypt obeying God’s directions. But he doesn’t trust that God will protect him from the Pharoah in Egypt, so he lies and says his wife (Sarah) is his sister. This is a situation Abraham encounters twice and both times he responds out of fear rather than faith. This process of taking a step of faith only to backtrack is one we see Abraham repeat multiple times throughout his life. It’s common for us as well, isn’t it?

We also see Abraham backtrack in faith when he moves forward with producing an heir with Haggar rather than trusting God to open Sarah’s womb. Abraham looks at the situation logically and makes a decision without pausing to inquire whether or not God is guiding him down this path. 

God didn’t say go have babies with whomever you want. He said go have a child with your wife.  God didn’t say go to a king and lie about who your wife is, he said go, I’ll protect you.  God’s grace covered these missteps along with all of Abraham’s other missteps as well.  His grace covers our sin as well.

Similarly to all that surrounded the births of Ishmael and Isaac, our missteps have consequences. God promised Abraham he would be the father of many nations and that his descendants would be more numerous than the stars in the sky.  Sarah didn’t think she was meant to be part of the promise because it wasn’t logical. Ishmael was not the son God intended to establish the nation of Israel through, that was Isacc. 

Abraham’s choice to do his own thing caused a lot of conflict and disharmony for his family. Even though Sarah originally suggested Abraham have a child with Haggar, it was still his personal decision to take action without inviting God into the decision.

In Genesis 17:18-20 God and Abraham have a conversation. Haggar had already given birth to Ishmael, but Sarah wasn’t pregnant with Isaac.

“And Abraham said to God, ‘Oh that Ishmael might live before You!’ But God said, ‘No, but Sarah your wife will bear you a son, and you shall call his name Isaac; and I will establish My covenant with him for an everlasting covenant for his descendants after him.  As for Ishmael, I have heard you; behold, I will bless him, and will make him fruitful and will multiply him exceedingly.'” 

Abraham was imperfect, just as we are, yet God still called Abraham his heir. We all take missteps in our lives. We have moments of weak faith, but God’s grace is always waiting to cover us with forgiveness. 

Go in Christ

Go, but Go in Christ reminds us that when we partner with God we follow his direction even when we don’t understand the outcome. As we develop a sharper ear for God’s voice we’ll find ourselves confessing our fears rather than acting out of them. 

Sometimes “Go in Christ” will actually mean stay put!  God’s call to “Go” could mean going someplace far from your extended family, to a place they prefer you don’t move.  Go in Christ could mean speaking up on a subject you know others will push back against, or holding your tongue when all you want to do is defend yourself.

As we move forward in our relationship with God and choose to obey him, he will direct our path. It’s possible we’ll find earthly successes won’t satisfy us the same way they once did.  Our joy, confidence, and comfort should come from the knowledge that God delights in our obedience. The more our focus stays on God and we reflect him the more likely we will find contentment in reflecting Christ.  As we have “faith against hope” as Paul describes in Romans, God increases in our lives.  As we move toward God and with God, we take our place as an equal heir in his kingdom.

Moving Forward “in Christ”

So, how do we move forward “in Christ”?  I think it’s important to remember that the journey with Christ isn’t a burden for us or for him. God pursues relationships with us because he loves us and he wants to spend eternity with us.

Like Abraham, we’ll make mistakes throughout our lives and in our relationship with God. We’re human.  We can always trust that God will extend grace to us when we move toward him. But, we also have the benefit of reducing the frequency of our missteps the better we know God because, just like in any relationship, the more time we spend with someone the easier it becomes to know their preferences and intentions.

We will improve our discernment when we are disciplined about taking the time to read, study, and understand the Bible.  Scripture is one of the ways God presents his character to us and God never contradicts Himself.  God also never asks us to live our lives in a way that contradicts scripture.  When I remember this it helps me to focus on the consistency of God’s character and gives me additional courage to go with Christ even when I can’t see how the story ends. 

I’ve also discovered that I’m more likely to discern the ways God pursues me to follow him when I am consistent in my prayer time. Creating space for God to draw my attention to situations in recent days, revealing himself through nature, bringing people to mind to spend time praying for; these things all require life to pause so I can shift my attention from things around me to God. 

Obedience is never easy, but over time the biggest lesson I’ve learned is that God’s path is always more fulfilling because he knows me better than I know myself. As I walk through life WITH God life is filled with a calmness even in the hardest situations. Ultimately, to me, that’s the blessing of a life that encompasses “Go, but God in Christ.”

Living in the Both / And

Living in the Both / And

living in both / and

Depending on where you live in the country, you may be entering week four of balancing working from home along with adjusting to homeschooling. For others, your journey of endless Groundhogs Days is just beginning. Either way, it’s now apparent that life is different for every person in the United States.

With close to 10 million people filing for unemployment, concerns about when life will return to normal and what our new normal will look like consume news cycles, social media posts, and daily conversation. It’s hard to live in the unknown, even the most spontaneous adventurers are discovering we’re also natural planners.

This time is challenging, but there is a trick to getting through that may help. It’s one I’ve use each year as the football season starts to wrap up and the questions about “next year” begin. Will we stay? Will we go?

When you face the unknown and two equal options sit before you you’re living in the Both / And. This can be an uncomfortable space because it often requires two independent lines of thinking. The Both /And has space for two truths and for complex ideas to exist. For example, we can BOTH dislike that we are asked to social distance AND choose to do so because it’s the best way to protect and love our neighbors.

The Stress of the Both / And

As schools started to extend spring break for additional weeks and sports events were impacted coaches began to mourn. Coaches’ wives around the country reported their husbands were in shock and mourning. They seemed lost without a team to coach. It didn’t take me long to realize that for coaches who had previously walked the path of being fired, they were likely experiencing many of the same uncertainties from that situation.

All of a sudden coaches were sent home, no practice, no games, no idea when things will start again. Finances were in limbo and to top it off there wasn’t any way to get out of the house and just feel “normal”. In many cases, being fired wounds coaching families deeply, even when we know it’s part of the “deal” signing up for this crazy life. Coaches spend so many hours on with their teams and preparing for practices and games that they often don’t have many other hobbies.

Living in the Both / And is something I’ve learned to do for several months out of the year. Now that football programs dissolve coach’s contracts at any time of the year, even during the middle of the football season, it’s become a requirement to live in a limbo of sorts.

We live with the knowledge that there could be a “next season” and there very well may not be a next season. We talk about next year as if we’ll live in the same community and also understand that it’s possible we may live somewhere else. This balancing act is easier for some than others. For me, the key is accepting that whatever plans I make, I may need to release them if they aren’t possible for the future that does happen.

Living in the Both / And could mean:

  • We are BOTH okay with staying with our current team AND moving on as God calls us
  • We are BOTH okay with living within a certain budget AND willing to adjust our budget if a job loss occurs
  • We are BOTH okay with our current budget AND hopeful God will open a door for a new job for 2 incomes
  • We are BOTH okay with our current stage of life (no kids, 1 kid, etc) AND hopeful to shift to a new stage in the near future

Sometimes we experience temporary Both / AND situations:

This is our son Elijah when he is about 1 week old. Elijah contracted MERSA when he was born due to delivery complications. He was severly jaundiced and we ended up at Children’s Hospital in St. Louis, MO while they tried to figure out how to battle his infection.

During this time we were required to live in the Both / And without knowing when things would end.

Nothing about this time was normal. Most questions people asked me were met with the same answer which was simple, I don’t know. And above all, we had zero control. We didn’t have the typical story in that after delivering the baby we discharged from the hospital and moved forward with life. However, after a month we were dressing him in real clothes without juggling a PICC line, going for walks in the stroller, and enjoying the midnight feedings followed by challenges of getting this new person who consumed our schedule back to sleep.

Both / And Means Surrendering Control

The hardest part about living in Both / And seasons is that you realize you don’t have control over anything. Even the parts of your life with the illusion of control are lost. This could cause despair, but it can also be a space of peace and joy. When you replace the need to control things with surrender, you can release your imperfect plans which are limited by humanity’s minimal view of life and replace them with God’s guidance.

We all struggle with blindly following God. We want to know the end of the story. Surrendering our plan for God’s is hard. We have our idea of what’s best for us. But God knows so much more about what’s best for His children. In Matthew 7:11, Jesus said, “If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!”

We focus on what God doesn’t give us or what we think he’s taking away. Psalm 84:11 says, “For the Lord God is a sun and shield; the Lord bestows favor and honor; no good thing does he withhold from those whose walk is blameless.” Sometimes the best gift is the gift of protection. What we see as God withholding could actually be his gift. Living in the BOTH / AND asks us to trust that when we surrender to “Plan B,” we’re actually replacing our plan with God’s “Plan A,” and when we do so we set ourself up for heavenly success.

Successfully Living in the Both / And

  • Don’t be afraid to cry – you are mourning
  • Understand you’ll have good days and bad days – give yourself grace to go slow on the bad days
  • Read the Bible
  • Ask God to reveal himself when he is present as your comforter
  • As you read Bible stories that you connect with ask God to reveal his character to you in your present circumstances
  • Reach out to trusted friends who will point you to God even on your hardest days
  • Understand your personality and identify when you are leaning on unhealthy coping mechanisms. Choose to corrections as you can.
  • Hold plans loosely, but look to the future. Hope is a good thing.
  • Figure out what you can do today to grow whether that’s personally, with work, or in relationships
  • Practice great self-care: exercise, eat well, keep a good routine so you can sleep enough
  • Listen to worship music
  • Focus on holding onto positive thoughts and releasing negative thoughts

We aren’t meant to live in the Both / And spaces of life long term. This situation we’re in right now isn’t supposed to be our normal life. We live in a broken world. It’s why we long to rebel against the restrictiveness of the additional boundaries. When all else fails, we can look far down the road and know that when we’re in heaven none of these things will matter. For now, let’s do our part to love our neighbors take care of the earth so that everyone has the same opportunity to join us in heaven too.

Being Still

Being Still

Glass Half Full Glass Half Empty on Being Still

As our country, really as a world really, we’ve experienced an unusual opportunity to slow down considerably in the last few weeks. Not surprisingly, when the first announcements about different athletic events, colleges, and conferences closing trickled out Americans didn’t handle things well. The lack of communication as to when things would end was disconcerting. 

Even before events were canceled there was a mad rush on toilet paper and other essentials to the point where grocery shelves were completely emptied multiple times over. In our home, we held our breaths hoping we’d be able to go on our spring break getaway (we didn’t) and that school wouldn’t be canceled (it was) and now we’re wondering if we will send the summer rushing to catch up before fall begins.

What was most surprising to me was the balking and defiance around us came largely from those who claim to value and prioritize the sanctity of life. No matter how many scientists, experts, mathematicians, doctors, nurses, and family members of the deceased spoke out and said the same consistent thing it didn’t matter. “Hoax, lies, overreaction!” came the cries. Most responses were filled with indignation. How dare American lives be inconvenienced even if it means saving thousands of other lives! The prioritizing of self above our brother and sister in Christ or even the action to love our neighbor flew out the window.

We’re weeks past the initial shock of the virus and we’re sheltering in place, shopping for groceries differently and longing for the days when we can sit in a restaurant again.

As I spoke with people individually and listened to their concerns what I’ve learned is that the overbuying, overreacting, and denial were often fear responses to the inability to do anything. People were feeling like their lives were lacking control and they were attempting to take back the illusion of control by telling other people how to live their lives or overbuying unnecessary items. 

When life is interrupted it’s never easy but it’s something that will continue to happen in small and large situations throughout our lives. It’s also something humanity can’t avoid.

We Control our Response

Several summers ago I read Life Interrupted by Priscilla Shirer with a group of coaches wives. We were all in different stages of life, but we learned a lot about responding to life transitions and the importance of our response to God.

One of the key takeaways Priscilla Shirer makes in Life Interrupted is that how we handle interruptions tells us a lot about ourselves. Throughout the book, Shirer tells the story of Jonah and she also tells about different interruptions in her life and different responses. 

Shirer asks, “Is He sending you to Ninevah? Then His presence is going with you -meaning, you have no need for shortcuts, regardless of how daunting a task this is.” 

There is something I know about Jonah’s response, and about my own instincts at times, it’s that they are similar. When the road ahead looks hard, sometimes we turn and run the other way. But that doesn’t help anything, does it? God knows where we’re running and he knows where we’re supposed to go.

As we read different stories in the Bible one thing is clear, God can move mightly without our intervention. He invites us into a relationship with him because he loves us. As we engage with our creator he reveals his character to us through different situations. He teaches us how strong we are, and he shows us how well we work as a team when we rely on him as our guide. Sometimes God asks us to step out further than we’d prefer to stretch us. As we do so, we have the opportunity to deepen our relationship and trust in him. 

God never needs us to defend him but he does ask us to reflect his love to the world so that everyone has the same opportunity for a relationship with him that we have. Sometimes that requires us to step out of our comfort zone and love people selflessly.

 

Have You Felt Like You’re Living in Ninevah?

In our town, we had several days where we couldn’t access schools other than to pick up meals for the kids. The library, restaurants, church, park district, and of course many goods at the grocery stores are sparse or closed.

We are reliant on the internet to continue to run so we can work, complete school, engage with the outside world and have many forms of entertainment. We have expected store trucks to continue to deliver food, and other supplies and they have come through. This sets us apart from living in other decades and from the access other countries have. Yet in true American fashion, many pout and complain. The inconvenience of canceled vacations and limited access to shopping is too much to accept. The entitled feel they should be allowed to do whatever they want, whenever they want because they are the exception to the rule. Isn’t there someone they can pay to get their way? It worked for Operation Varsity Blues.

While generally, this perspective rears itself when discussing helicopter parenting and student-athletes, in truth this global pandemic has leveled the playing field on the depth of humanity’s willingness to serve themselves for the greatest good. To quote Bob Goff, “The way we deal with uncertainty lets us know whether Jesus is ahead of us leading, or behind us just carrying our stuff.”

When Jonah obeyed God and headed to Ninevah he fulfilled his job as a prophet and spoke truth to the Assyrians. The Assyrians understood their selfish ways. They turned their backs on their false gods, repented, and turned to worship the one true God. Their thoughts shifted from lies to truth once Jonah told them the ultimate truth. 

 

Why we Need to be Still 

In times of uncertainty, we can look at the situation with a glass half full or glass half empty view.  Because the impulse is occasionally to run or to look at things from a glass half empty point of view it’s important to make sure that we’re doing what we can to remind ourselves that God is bigger than any unknown concern in front of us. 

For some, including me, one way of being still before the Lord includes worship. The posture of worship turns by heart and thoughts away from me and points them where they belong. Toward the one who is able to actually handle whatever I’m facing. 

I also often read Scripture. One of my favorite sections is Exodus 14:13-16. God reminds Moses that he will take care of the Israelites as they are leaving captivity. They don’t need to do anything other than continue to follow him. 

Pursue Being Still

As you process the past month and consider your future responses I encourage you to purse taking time to be still before the Lord rather than impulsively running like Jonah or impulsively hoarding toilet paper as the situation may be, because neither response acknowledges God is in control. 

Rather, take some time to read Exodus 14, and listen to worship music. I love Still by Reuben Morgan. It’s an older song, but as you read the words I think you’ll see why it’s still a favorite. And finally, you can pursue being still by focusing on your thoughts. When your glass half empty thoughts start to fill your mind turn them to glass half full thoughts. 

Lyrics for Still by Ruben Morgan

Hide me now
Under your wings
Cover me
Within Your mighty hands

When the oceans rise and thunders roar
I will soar with You, above the storm
Father, You are king over the flood
I will be still and know You are God

Find rest my soul, in Christ alone
Know His power, in quietness and trust (source)

note: this content was originally published 2/14/15 and has been updated for freshness

Adoration Devotions

Adoration Devotions

Adoration Devotions

As I focus on my one word for 2020 pursue and pursuing God more intentionally this year I’m revisiting different Bible study and prayer disciplines I’ve incorporated through the years beginning with adoration.

Growing up in the church you will likely learn a lot of catchy phrases that come to form a language of their own, but don’t make a lot of sense to people outside of the church. Additionally, because the lingo seems familiar to everyone around you, many times it can feel intimidating to ask for clarification if you don’t understand something as clearly as you perceive others around you may grasp. 

One of those phrases is the ACTS prayer:

Adoration: Praise God for who he is/For his character

Confession: Tell God about your personal sin and corporate sin, ask for forgiveness

Thanksgiving: Thank God for how he is present in our lives, what he has done and what he will do 

Supplication: Dialogue with God, ask for clarification and guidance about situations, pray about needs, wants, fears, joys.

The ACTS prayer is a catchy way to make sure that we have an order to our conversations with God, but they aren’t a requirement for prayer. Growing up I found this structure helpful, but I didn’t fully understand the difference between Adoration and Thanksgiving. 

Thankfully Sara Hagerty has taken the time clarify Adoration in detail. She also has a monthly adoration plan you can follow to help put this important prayer discipline into practice.

The Discipline of Adoration

Life is hard and often feels deeply unfair. In recent years documentation of depression is on the rise as well as teen suicide.There is no doubt that people are outrageously more cruel to each other with the ability to hide behind fake identites. Bolstered by the example of poor leadership that is justfied by those who call themselves moral, for many there doesn’t seem to be a safe place to turn for help. 

But God is always available to comfort his children. He loves to reveal his character to us when we ask, and he is unchanging so we can always trust him. Adoration reminds us God is our comforter. Consider Psalms 23.

Psalms 23

The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing.
He makes me lie down in green pastures,
he leads me beside quiet waters,
 he refreshes my soul.
He guides me along the right paths
    for his name’s sake.
Even though I walk
    through the darkest valley,
I will fear no evil,
    for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
    they comfort me.

 You prepare a table before me
    in the presence of my enemies.
You anoint my head with oil;
    my cup overflows.
 Surely your goodness and love will follow me
    all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of the Lord
    forever.

Adoration Tools

I mentioned Sara Hagerty has a monthly guide. I’ve also found the book Adoration Prayer Book by Bob Hartley very helpful.  Hartley says “Adoration is the pattern we see in heaven! The Lord is surrounded by worship and adoration continually throughout all of eternity.”

If you haven’t included adoration in your journaling or prayer times maybe this is the month to give it a try!

Thanksgiving Reflections

Thanksgiving Reflections

Happy Thanksgiving - Thanksgiving Reflections 2019

There are so many things to be thankful for in 2019:

  • Our health
  • A new space to live in that we love
  • Great jobs we both enjoy (and new clients for Beth this year with smooth transitions yay!)
  • Our boys are doing well in school
  • Upcoming opportunities in 2020
  • A fun trip to see family in Colorado this past summer
  • A church we love where are all being challenged to seek the Lord

Mostly, this year when I reflect on 2019 as much as remember the bumps and frustrations when pressed to do so, what highlights this year is a calmness we haven’t experienced before.

A steadiness in our calendars allows for spontaneity, flexibility, and weekends that include rest almost every weekend. We’ve figured out a rhythm that includes caring for our physical, spiritual, emotional and mental health in a way that I never expected we would find.

The coaching life is a hustle and you learn to operate and function within that space, however that doesn’t mean it is best. Leaping off the hamster wheel of college football was a shock to the system and it took a little bit to find a new normal.

Throw in an unexpected move, transitioning a kid to high school, and I’m thankful to say that for now, we’re moving a pace that gives everyone breathing room, and I’m grateful.

What are you grateful for in 2019?

The Choice to Listen

The Choice to Listen

The Choice to Listen

As I’ve already said, human being can reason nearly anything they want to be true. Yet people who oppose my Christian views are rarely willing to discuss their own problematic thinking, including their desires, and how their desires potentially affect their arguments.

Mary Jo Sharp – Why I Still Believe

When I finished typing the quotes I’d compiled from Why I Still Believe into one document it was three pages long, and I left out many of the quotes that I’d highlighted because of a personal story I could apply. I chose to include the quotes I thought would resonate with a broader audience.

The quote posted above is one that has hung in the air for weeks. It’s found its way into Voxer conversations with friends who have confessed deep hurts with co-workers and with friends. Its come up when the word Christian was replaced with ethical or omitted altogether.

Humanity is Breaking into Two Camps:

Every day the world feels a little more polarized. The first group demands that everyone in their vicinity hear and agree with their viewpoint. Disagreement is met with disdain, obnoxious memes, or my favorite – Bible verses plucked randomly without any context around them.

The second group of people responds in frustration to the first. They are bewildered as to why those who so confidently point out the flaws they see in “the other side’s” arguments are unwilling to consider that their own view has some gaps in it as well.

The most frustrating part is that when the second group tries to distance themselves realizing there is no point in continuing to circle around deaf ears they are accused of being unwilling to listen!

This Divisiness is Tearing Apart the Church

Francis Chan faced backlash for sharing a stage with Benny Hinn. His explanation was clear: “Chan stated that he believes he can be most effective in places where he is ‘not in alignment theologically,’ so long as he is permitted to preach freely from Scripture.” The announcement is a recent one, but just last month Benny Hinn stated he is “correcting his theology” on the prosperity gospel. Could it be Chan’s influence?

The pressure to pick a camp and stay there is overt:

  • Sharon Hodde Miller and Annie Downs addressed this pressure in a recent podcast. They have both received requests to speak out publically on situations they don’t feel called to take sides on. Sharon’s latest book addresses this directly and points out that when we are more concerned with growing a platform than being a voice for the voiceless God is calling us to speak for this is a problem. However, we don’t need to have a public voice on every issue.
  • Priscilla Shirer spoke about the pressure to speak out on every subject and the lessons she has had to learn about what her large platform calling is about and what she is drawing a boundary around only speaking about to people in her inner circles.
  • You can read about Jackie Hill Perry losing income and a future speaking engagement due to an Instagram photo.

When Rachel Held Evans passed Ed Stetzer wrote a beautiful reflection of their relationship which he ended with this quote: “I’m thankful for many of the interactions we had, and I am a better person for having engaged with her.”

Why can’t we learn from each other with the understanding that we all love Jesus and we’re all learning different things at different points in our life journey?

I’ve learned different things about God from hundreds of different speakers and authors. It’s still my responsibility to check everything they say against what God says for myself. That doesn’t mean I have to stop listening. And it doesn’t mean that when I do listen I stop loving Jesus.

Listening is a Skill Taught in Preschool

It seems our human instinct is not to listen to each other. Discover Explore Learn says: “Listening skills are important at any life stage, but even more so in the early years.” There are plenty of skills I learned in elementary school and middle school I’ve long forgotten. However, that doesn’t mean they aren’t relevant or important.

A quick review of this list of 7 Listening Activities to Get Your Students Attentive and Ready to Learn identifies skills that will translate from the classroom to the boardroom with little adjustment.

I bring up this point to show that we’re all capable of learning HOW to listen to each other better, but it is not our natural instinct. It is a CHOICE to listen.

Jesus Listened

In Mark 5 when the bleeding woman is healed by touching Jesus’s robe he pauses to hear her story. She was already healed, but he listened anyway.

In John 5 Jesus approaches a blind man at the healing pool and has a conversation with him. He learns his story and ensures that the man isn’t left wondering WHY his healing happens.

In Luke 19 Jesus is attentive to body language. He sees Zaccheaus in a tree and knows this man is eager to be in his presence. Jesus doesn’t care that Zaccheaus is a tax collector, he invites himself over to his home for a meal and when he leaves Zaccheaus is a changed man.

Luke 10 and John 11 Jesus has conversations with Mary and Martha. These two sisters who love Jesus are trying their best to serve him and learn from him in their own ways. He pauses to teach them where others might rebuke their questions.

What Does This Have to Do with Athletics?

Coachable athletes are those who put their listening skills to use daily.

Coaches who model how to listen reinforce the important skills athletes will need in the classroom, workforce, and relationships.

Since it seems the areas where healthy listening practices are dwindling rapidly, it’s more important than ever that coaches and athletes practice excellent listening skills, especially when they don’t agree.

Rather than wasting time looking around for someone to agree with everything you agree with (since that is extremely unlikely to exist) both parties are likely to have more success by having healthy conversations. When we learn to listen and accept that it’s okay to have different opinions than other people we will all be better off. Who knows, you may even learn something new that end up agreeing with!

One of My Favorite Coaches’ Wives Groups

One of My Favorite Coaches’ Wives Groups

I’m writing about some of my favorite coaches’ wives over at The Glorious Table today! Here’s a preview:

One Tuesday evening a month, I spend a few hours with a handful of coaches’ wives over video chat. Our time is mostly spent discussing various Bible studies. We have also celebrated pregnancies, mourned deaths, prayed for job transitions, and confessed our fears to each other. Most importantly, we pray for each other.

Our group leader often says our group exists because we had a need. We were all looking for support from other coaches’ wives who love Jesus. Our individual experiences had shown us we needed the support of other people in similar circumstances in order to grow in our faith.

There is a deep trust within our group, which is interesting because some of us have never met in person. I believe our trust exists because we have a key thing in common: our husbands have challenging public jobs, and there aren’t many safe spaces where we can share about our lives. Since our husbands all work in the same field, we have a common experience that other women who are not coaches’ wives do not easily understand. We speak into one another’s lives in a unique way because of this.