Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Sacred Rhythms Review

Last year, Crystal and I worked through a couple of books together, along with some other readings.  We have always enjoyed reading out loud to each other, and highly recommend this practice to any couple!

As part of a project, we tried something new.  We selected a book and invited another couple to join us.  We set up a private group for the four of us on Facebook.  We all committed to reading 1-2 chapters a week.  We all made comments on each chapter, utilizing questions from the "Journeying Together" study guide at the end of the book.

The book was Sacred Rhythms: Arranging Our Lives for Spiritual Transformation, by Ruth Haley Barton.  Instead of telling you how great the book and the group reading was, I have decided to let the participants do so.

The following quotes are excerpts from the group discussion on each chapter.  I have only included my personal comments from the introduction.  The couple's names are not included.  They are referred to as "Husband" and "Wife."


Jared: I like Barton's language.  I have studied spiritual disciplines over the years.  I think the language of "disciplines" puts too much emphasis on work, when really these are ways to participate in the grace of God.

Barton calls these spiritual practices "rhythms."  "This language draws on the imagery of the natural rhythms of the created order: The ebb and flow of the ocean waves and tides, which come and go steadily but are full of infinite variety and creativity" (p. 15).

She is saying something I haven't heard often.  That is, as you practice these rhythms, don't be rigid.  Allow yourself time to respond.  Don't get frustrated if you respond to one idea more than another.  That's natural.  Pay attention to the ways God might move your soul.

1) Longing for More: An Invitation to Spiritual Transformation

Crystal: One quote that stood out to me from Chapter 1 is, "the experience of longing and desire . . . reminds me that I am alive in ways that I want to be alive" (p. 19).  I love the Scripture about Christ having come to give us life and THAT more abundantly.  I want more abundant life.  I want to be alive in ways I have never experienced.  I want to express joy in the midst of trial, peace in the midst of chaos, grace in the midst of turmoil.  I want the LIFE of Christ to flow in me so readily I respond and do greater things than He (like He said we would).

2) Solitude: Creating Space for God

Wife: Oh, solitude.  I would love to intentionally become more quiet and create a "sacred space."  My quiet moments are few and far between.  It was nice to just sit and think about the rhythm of my life and how nice the rhythm of quietness is.  I do not spend as much time as I should (or want to) doing this or even meditating of His word in general.  This chapter opened up my eyes to the importance of just being . . . and finding the right rhythm . . . but I need to spend time alone reflecting on things and just be in His presence.  I need to learn to rest in God.  I bet that feels worlds better than simply a good night's sleep.

3) Scripture: Encountering God Through Lectio Divina

Crystal: The words that stood out to me in Mark were, "So Jesus stood still . . ." (Mark 10.49).  We know the song, "Reach out and touch the Lord as He passes by," but here He stood still.  He stopped.  Bartimaeus didn't have to chase him down.  He called out and Jesus stopped, stopped what He was doing, stopped where He was going and "stood still."  With as small as we are in this universe, it is comforting to know the Creator will stand still to listen to us, to hear our cry, and ultimately to answer.  Lord Jesus, stand still for me.

4) Prayer: Deepening Our Intimacy with God

Wife: I loved the concrete information on how to find your "breath prayer" (p. 76).  I plan on doing this, to create my few-syllables-long prayer that will be my go-to breath prayer when I am waiting or need to feel close with Him.

5) Honoring the Body: Flesh-and-Blood Spirituality

Husband: I never thought about exercise and eating right as being pleasing to God.  I will be more conscious now.  Instead of eating two double cheese burgers, large fry, and a dollar sweet tea; I will just eat one double cheese burger, large fry, and a dollar sweet tea.  All jokes aside, I will start looking for new ways to take care my body like getting more sleep and exercising on a regular basis.

6) Self-Examination: Bringing My Whole Self Before God

Crystal: The quote, "confession does not ultimately lead us to shame or obsession, but rather to a sense of cleansing and release," is a freeing statement (p. 105).  When I examine my self/actions and find I need to extend forgiveness or ask for forgiveness, I tend to go the route of shame.  This statement reminds me that God's love is unconditional.  He is always forgiving, and He desires to cleanse and release me, not condemn me.  He frees me.  He does not scrutinize me.  I do that to myself.

7) Discernment: Recognizing and Responding to the Presence of God

Crystal: I don't want to come through any period in my life, especially the one I am in right now, and be the same.  I want to be changed into His likeness.  So many times I am not sure that I am gaining ground with God (getting closer to Him).  I fear that I may go through something and not learn the intended lesson or have discerned what He intended for me.

8) Sabbath: Establishing Rhythms of Work and Rest

Wife: The chapter really got me thinking about setting a time for family-time.  My husband and I live on the go.  He is always so busy, and I have numerous things on my plate too.  I would really like to set aside a time when nothing else can get in the way of just being together.  It sounds so wonderful for our relationship with each other and our son.  This is a chapter that I would like to re-read.

9) A Rule of Life: Cultivating Rhythms for Spiritual Transformation

Husband: I want to become more of a spiritual leader in my house.  This also comes into play with the community thing.  I want to be a part of a community where I can be a leader and we can share experiences and be supportive.

Barton, Ruth Haley.  Sacred Rhythms: Arranging Our Lives for Spiritual Transformation.  Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2006.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Ingle Family Top 10 of 2012

As January draws to a close, many are still looking forward to the new year.  The resolutions of others have already been tried by fire.  Some are participating in Church-wide fasts.  I want to take a moment, step out of the usual format, and reflect on 2012.  After some conversations with the family, we came up with a top 10 list for 2012. These are the great events, local hot spots, and traditions we enjoyed.  Perhaps these snippets will spark a little creativity for your family in 2013.

10) Libraries. What would we do without libraries?  Libraries offer books, inter-library loans for books they don't have, semi-scratched DVD's and CD's, office amenities, Freegal Music, a random homeschool mom for Crystal to chat with, and sometimes coffee.  Then there are the kids programs: summer reading programs, storytelling, family movies in the park, holiday parties, special events, etc.  Best of all, it's all free with a library card!  My favorites: 1) the new library at Kyova with nice tables, seating, and a fresh morning pot of coffee, and 2) the surprisingly resourceful Theology and religion section at Ironton.

9) Local Hotspots.  There are certain places that are too good to be mass produced, ma and pa shops, regional chains, etc.  We love to frequent local hot spots, feeding back into our economy (Bella Fonte, Casa Grande, Dick's Pizza, Pullman Square, Empire Books, etc.).  One of our favorites, The Pottery Place, served as the location for Cruz's 7th birthday party, complete with Crystal's homemade Ninjago cake!  

8) Outdoors.  Crystal and I both come from outdoors families and we've continued the tradition.  We can't always get away to the Rockies or Yosemite.  However, we can take the family hiking, biking, walking, and fishing often at nearby city and state parks (i.e. B.F. Crager Community Park, Central Park, Ritter Park, Greenbo, Vesuvius, Beech Fork, etc.).

7) Day Trips.  We are the masters of the family day trip.  Flatwoods is about two hours from everywhere . . . literally . . . Charleston, Columbus, Cincinnati, and Lexington.  We frequently quote the movie line, "Well, ain't this place a geographical oddity.  Two weeks from everywhere!"  In Lexington, we hit Joseph Beth, Trader Joes, Chipotle, Cokesbury, and the Apple store.  In Columbus we like Easton Town Center with the Lego Store and Panda Express.  However, by far the discovery of the year is COSI in Columbus.  This is the best family hotspot since the Monterey Bay Aquarium!

6) Friday Nights.  We typically rent movies from Redbox for a dollar (74 cents with a coupon), or we check out oldies from the library.  Crystal has been perfecting some homemade pizza recipes.  Typically, our little Chef Cruz assists in the prep.  We start with dinner in the living room and a family movie.  Sometimes we have a "Family Wii Night" instead.  Then, after the kids are in bed, Crystal and I watch a good movie.  I must be the luckiest man alive, because I married a girl who would usually rather see an action movie than a chick flick! 

5) Palmer Park.  We are so thankful to be living a little over four hours away from all of Crystal's family in Palmer Park, Roanoke, VA.  We have been able to drop in for dinner and spend a couple days here and there.  It is such a blessing to have family close by, especially during the holidays.  Of note this year: the boys learned to ride dirt bikes and to work with Papa in the garden.  Crystal and I enjoyed watching the Giants win the World Series.  The whole family loved a couple of meals at El Rodeo and the corn maze and pumpkin patch at Layman Family Farm.

4) Church Productions.  Both Mateo and Cruz were part of the smash hit "Cookin' Up Christmas"at Christ Temple Church.  Cruz was a choir member, a wise man, and he handed out homemade cookies to the audience.  The Children's Ministries Director told him, "You are the best and cutest wise man I have ever seen!"  Mateo joined some other Food Network all stars with a main role as Guy Fieri from Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives.  A couple weeks later, Mateo sang a solo in "Adore Him," as the Children's Praise Team performed for both Sunday morning services!

3) The Paramount.  Once again, Crystal and our two young actors hit the stage at the community theater.  They joined a full production of "Miracle on 34th Street" at the The Paramount Arts Center in Ashland, KY.  Crystal had a main supporting role as the high-strung Shellhammer.  Mateo had a speaking part and Cruz was part of the chorus.  The cast also put together a float for the Ashland Christmas Parade!
2) The Hobbit.  I have read this book before, and loved it.  Crystal and I also read to the boys.  Last year, I completed the Chronicles of Narnia with them.  This year, in anticipation of "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey," I read the book to them during the summer.  When the movie came out, we planned a Christmas day trip to Lexington and watched it together as a family.  This certainly ranked as one of our best day trips ever, and is something the boys are still talking about.

1) Christ Temple Church.  We found a Church to attend this year, and it quickly became a Church that ministered to our entire family.  The boys were instantly drawn into the children's ministries, known as "ArKidz."  This year, both of them have been filled with the Holy Spirit in their services, in answer to many prayers.  Crystal and I are continually refreshed by the main services, with fantastic worship and preaching.  God has truly ministered to us during this season, and has kept us excited about His house!