2017 Goals Weeks 20-22

2017 Goals Weeks 20-22

9) Practice 12 spiritual disciplines.

June’s discipline is service. This is a perfect discipline for me coming off of May. I tend to hibernate in May since Awana is complete for the year, its between seminary classes and the kids are still in school. I do a lot of reading and gardening, but not much else. I start to feel the isolation in June, and am ready to get back into service.

“Serving typically looks as unspectacular as the practical needs it seeks to meet. That’s why serving must become a Spiritual Discipline.” (Don Whitney, Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life, p. 143.)

8)   Complete 12 credits toward MDiv.

Starting my summer class this week: Theology of Cultural Engagement.

7)   Connect with one person a week.

Complete!

5)    Learn how to needle felt and create 25 sculptures. 

4)    Complete 12 house/yard projects. 

3)    Move at least 15 minutes a day.

I missed two days in the last 3 weeks, but I have been very active…which is the point.

2)   Fix my teeth. 

1)  Hike to 12 new places.

Stephen and I biked the Snoqualmie Tunnel this weekend. We also went 2 miles down the hill and biked back up. The tunnel is an abandoned railroad tunnel that goes under Snoqualmie Pass. Its 2 miles long and completely dark. I thought it would be creepy, but it wasn’t because there were a lot of hikers and bikers inside to keep us company.

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January: Hike to Twin Falls.

May: Climb Little Si.

June: Snoqualmie Tunnel

2017 Goals Week 19

2017 Goals Week 19

9) Practice 12 spiritual disciplines.

For the rest of May, I will be translating and meditating on the book of Matthew.

8)   Complete 12 credits toward MDiv.

Half-way done.

7)   Connect with one person a week.

I’m hibernating.

5)    Learn how to needle felt and create 25 sculptures. 

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From the waist upwards he was like a man, but his legs were shaped like a goat’s (the hair on them was glossy black) and instead of feet he had a goat’s hoofs. He also had a tail, but Lucy did not notice this at first because it was neatly caught up over the arm that held the umbrella so as to keep it from trailing in the snow. He had a red woollen muffler round his neck…he was a faun. – The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe

Mr. Tumnus is almost complete. I ordered white-white wool to make snow for his base, and I have to figure out how to make an umbrella for him. I also started on the armature for a Mary, Joseph and Jesus trio. I have 10 sculptures complete so far.

4)    Complete 12 house/yard projects. 

3)    Move at least 15 minutes a day.

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Chinook Bend Natural Area was a short 20 minute walk in Carnation. I needed on excuse to visit Carnation’s Tolt Yarn and Wool, and I had spotted this the week prior on an jaunt to a local farm. I consider this a walk, not a hike.

Twice last week I walked up a gravel road to the top of the hill behind our house. The view is so pretty of our valley from there. I was surprised the first time by a flock of sheep with half-a-dozen lambs “mbaa-ing” at me. They followed me a ways down the road from behind their fence. I’ve been back to visit them 2 times since!

2)   Fix my teeth. 

1)  Hike to 12 new places.

January: Hike to Twin Falls.

May: Climb Little Si.

2017 Goals Week 18

2017 Goals Week 18

April was a draw.

DSC_0569April was crammed with fun stuff and responsibilities. I accomplished many things, but most of those things were not goal related, so the updated list looks sparse for April. I organized the carnival for the Egg Hunt at church.

DSC_0523Train season also started this month which means I was training new docents most Saturdays or giving tours at the Northwest Railway Museum.

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Spring break took us to the coast for camping and exploring!
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Easter brings a lot of activities to prep, plan and enjoy as well!

9) Practice 12 spiritual disciplines.

8)   Complete 12 credits toward MDiv.

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The majority of my spare time has gone toward this goal. I wrapped Greek Syntax with a massive translation exam on Galatians, and read 5 books on women’s history in the church which will culminate in a paper this week. I’m registered for a 2 credit course in June with my favorite Prof. 6 credits completed!

7)   Connect with one person a week.

This happened, but not intentionally.

5)    Learn how to needle felt and create 25 sculptures. 

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No, I didn’t needle felt this guy, but she did donate wool toward my stash!

3)    Move at least 15 minutes a day.

Every. single. day.

2)   Fix my teeth. 

1)  Hike to 12 new places.

PANO_20170504_102734We finally had a few sunny days last week, so I renewed my Discovery Pass and climbed Little Si early Thursday morning. There are a lot of single women with tiny dogs on the trail early in the morning! There was also a lot of loud talkers. I spent a lot of leisure time on the trial letting them pass by or get farther ahead of me when I heard them.

January: Hike to Twin Falls.

May: Climb Little Si.

2017 Goals Week 12-13

2017 Goals Week 12-13

Week 12-13 of 52

9)   Practice 12 spiritual disciplines.

 

The last two weeks of March saw less and less of prayer. I have some big requests that I keep banging on the door with, but I struggled to make prayer a disciplined effort. Lack of faith is the problem.

April is the month for worship. This is going to be tough one. Worship as defined by Don Whitney in Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life is focusing on and responding to God. If focusing on God is a discipline, it is an easy one for me. I am preoccupied with God. Response is the problem. How can you respond to something you don’t experience? Whitney recognizes that the discipline of worship is both an end and a means. Since, responding is not something I can discipline, this month’s focus will be on the means: listening to Christian worship songs, reading Scripture and continuing in prayer.

8)   Complete 12 credits toward MDiv.

April has a lot planned, so my schoolwork has to be planned and organized. This is where the majority of my time is going. I have a lot of reading and translation work.

7)   Connect with one person a week.

Nothing. Guilt. Shame. 🙂

5)    Learn how to needle felt and create 25 sculptures. 

Nothing. I’m not feeling inspired on this faun. I don’t have the wool in the right colors, so I need to dye a batch, and that’s not my favorite part of the process. I will start on more sheep this week.

3)    Move at least 15 minutes a day.

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Every day except a Thursday a week back! Even in the rain. The skunk cabbage is out and stinky!

2)   Fix my teeth. 

1)  Hike to 12 new places.

Nothing new.

January: Hike to Twin Falls.

2017 Goals Week 11

2017 Goals Week 11

Week 11 of 52

9)   Practice 12 spiritual disciplines.

March is the month for prayer. In Mark 13:18, Jesus commands those who are listening to his signs that the end of the age is near to “Pray that it might not be in winter.” I find inspiration in his words.  Jesus taught that God knew the exact time of “the end” already (Matthew 24:36), yet he compels his listeners to pray for a specific time anyway. The verb Mark chooses to use when he writes Jesus’ words into Greek is a verb of uncertainty, of probability. “It might not happen” means that there is potential for the time to change. Our prayer influences the time that God has set.

Jesus was certain that our little old requests might persuade the mind of God. Isn’t that rather stimulating?

 

8)   Complete 12 credits toward MDiv.

Working…

7)   Connect with one person a week.

My course load is taking a lot of my spare time, so that’s my excuse for not working on the study this week.

5)    Learn how to needle felt and create 25 sculptures. 

3)    Move at least 15 minutes a day.

Accomplished! This is getting easier and easier. My favorite walk is to climb the hill behind our house. It gets my heart pumping and I can do it while reading, so double-tasking wins!

2)   Fix my teeth. 

1)  Hike to 12 new places.

Nothing new.

January: Hike to Twin Falls.

2017 Goals Week 10

2017 Goals Week 10

Week 10 of 52

9)   Practice 12 spiritual disciplines.

“If it is coincidence, I sure have a lot more coincidences when I pray than when I don’t.” Unknown man quoted by Don Whitney in Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life, p.96.

Bible reading, meditation and prayer are the “holy trinity” of a Christian’s life. They mark a person who believes there is more to life than 80 years on earth. I disciplined myself to pray this week as I disciplined myself to daily walk. I don’t get “feels” off prayer, usually. Prayer is simply a way I prove I believe to myself. I found it a relief to chat with God about daily annoyances and worries. And, there were little answers/”coincidences” as well.

8)   Complete 12 credits toward MDiv.

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My second class this semester starts this week. It is Church History to the Modern Age – squeal!

7)   Connect with one person a week.

6)   Complete writing a 12-week Bible study.

I worked on Week 4.

5)    Learn how to needle felt and create 25 sculptures. 

The donkey is in progress, and I started on a Faun.

4)    Complete 12 house/yard projects. 

3)    Move at least 15 minutes a day.

Accomplished!

2)   Fix my teeth. 

1)  Hike to 12 new places.

Nothing new.

January: Hike to Twin Falls.

I Go to Church

I Go to Church

I have always gone to church, but I almost quit. In fact, I almost quit every week. I spend many Sundays wondering what the point is? Many times I don’t really enjoy it. I doubt if I’d be missed. Intellectually, I know God is not found in a building. In fact, I often wonder if God is to be found at all? I don’t feel especially close to anyone there. I don’t experience elation or a spiritual high.

I was seriously contemplating becoming a “None.” I know a lot of Nones. I know why they became Nones. I feel like I’m always on the verge of becoming a None, too. Because, really. What would happen to me if I quit?

My answer to that question changes. Today, I think I go to church because if I didn’t, I might loose what little faith I cling to. Going to church, for me, is worship. I depend on the concept of worship to weekly define and bolster my faith in the Big Idea that there is a Divine Soul who loves me.

All people worship.

Worship has been a part of human existence for a very long time. Depending on the century and culture, a worship experience looks different. But, the basic gist or functions remain the same no matter where or when it occurs. There is an idea that sparks deep emotion, breeding loyalty to a ritual that reminds us of that ideaThese components are found in all religions and even in non-religious activities that are formed around an idea that inspires and practices routine.

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For instance, millions of people travel to Disney to experience worship. Even me.

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The idea: Wishes have the power to make dreams come true. (Listen to this sermon, and tell me you don’t feel like glorying! Disney Wishes Firework Show, Disney Magic Kingdom) Ask anyone over the age of 12 if they really believe that idea, and you’ll get a negative. But, the idea inspires nevertheless. The idea that births worship doesn’t necessary have to be true or even be believed to be true. The idea just needs to breed intense emotion. Disney has many ideas, but hallmark Disney is: dreams come true. We can all achieve a happy ending.

The emotional value of Disney’s core idea is undisputed. It is the happiest place on earth! Blessedness is an important emotion to worship, but other emotions can promote worship as well, as long as the emotion is profound. Fear is often the emotion felt as a result of religious ideas, and it is often a more powerful motivator than enjoyment. Disney delivers great emotional value.

Loyalty is bred in many different ways. Profound attachment, zeal, faith, and even duty play a part in being committed. Sometimes we are loyal because we want to be, and sometimes we are loyal even when we don’t want to be. The idea of loyalty in worship introduces self-determination to the component of worship. Ask any Disney fan why they keep returning to Disney Parks, and you’ll get many different answers. People commit for many different reasons. But, loyal fans keep plunking down their money to partake in the rituals surrounding the experience of Disney.

Rituals surrounding Disney are too many to name. Taking a  yearly trip to Disney Theme Parks has been compared to medieval religious pilgrimages. The discipline involved to save money for the excursion, the repetition of themes, the physical participation, the spending, and the  imaginative exercises remind us of religious habits that have been formed to remind us of the Big Idea. In ritual, we experience something physically, with repetition, so that the idea that started the whole experience is recalled and refreshed.

Disney has all the components of a worship experience. Hence, it is filled with meaning for millions and it inspires deep commitment.

Church without worship is pointless.

As I reflect on my Disney worship experience, I also reflect on why I still go to church. Why haven’t I become a None, when I empathize so much with them?  And perhaps if you are a None, you will find the reason in your answers to one of these questions.

Do I believe in the Idea? I struggle with unbelief every minute, but I hope with my whole being the Idea is true. That is my experience of faith. I believe, so I sort it out accordingly. I doubt, so I sort it out accordingly.

Do I experience emotion from the Idea? Oh yes, but the emotions that come to mind first are annoyance, frustration, even dread. The church has been a disheartening place. But, it has also been a place of encouragement, hope, and love. It would be unfair to focus on the bad without recalling the good. Church is also a consistent place that I can focus on the Idea and give it space to elicit emotion within me.

Am I loyal to the Idea?  I am. And this is the strongest reason I still go to church. If I believe the Idea, then I must act like it. I proclaim my faith every Sunday when I go to church. Even when that faith is faltering.

Does the ritual still remind me of the Idea?  Sometimes all the things I don’t like about church get in the way of the Idea. Christian ritual, for me, is a disciplined practice of faith. I attend church, take Jesus’ body and blood, witness baptisms, and serve others to bolster the hope of the Idea. Religious practices without thought are pointless. Going to church without using that time to remember the Idea is useless.

Because of the Big Idea of a Divine Soul who loves me, I go to church. I worship at church because I make a point to. If I became a None, I know I would loose the little faith I have without the ritual to remind me that I am loyal to the Idea that sparks great emotion within.

This year, I am tracking my journey of worship by going to church. See my pictures each week with #Igotochurch on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter. Join me?