The Next Ten Minutes

What are you doing for the next ten minutes?

ten minutes

I mean, the ten minutes after you read this short blog post.

The next ten minutes.
I’ve heard that phrase several times in the past few days.
Enough to know I’m supposed to be paying attention.

“Our spiritual formation simply happens within the next ten minutes. What would it look like to trust Jesus, or be patient, or be content, or choose connection with God for the next ten minutes?” Jan Johnson

“At what point in your day is there some sacred space? You’ve got to push back ten minutes. I’m not talking about 40 days of fasting and prayer. Just some space to allow your soul to experience God.” John Eldredge

Ten minutes praying is better than a year’s murmuring.” Charles Spurgeon, on Twitter

“Will you share your life with me for the next ten minutes?” from The Last Five Years

“When I’m training, I tell myself to just go for the next ten minutes and then I’m free to stop if I want to. I never want to.” Kikkan Randall, gold medalist

See what I mean?

So, what are you doing for the next ten minutes?

“My times are in your hands.”
Psalm 31:15

What We Didn’t See

medal

When athletes step up on the podium and a gold medal is draped around their necks, I can’t help but wonder — what is behind that one moment of glory?

When I watch a competitor twist and turn in midair and land right side up, I pause and ask, “What didn’t I see that led up to this?”

All of the Olympians were inspirational, but the women’s pairs cross country skiing really grabbed me. This event is called “the most grueling sport in the winter games.” I watched Jessica Diggins and Kikkan Randall gut it out on the course and I thought, “That looks horrific. That looks painful. Why would anyone want to do that?” And then, “What did they have to do to get here?”

diggins2

Three thoughts:

#1
Kikkan Randall skied in her first Olympics in 2006 and came in 44th.
In 2010, she finished in the top 10.
Four years later she missed a medal by five one hundredths of a second.
She had a baby in 2016, but kept training.
As the only mom on the USA Olympic team this year, she won gold.

Back in 2006, she told her coaches and trainers she wanted a medal. They told her it would take 10 years of intense training. Ten years. Kikkan said, “I’m all in.”
It took twelve.

Would I stick to something that demanding for that long?

#2
Six days a week, twice a day, for twelve years, these are the things we didn’t see:

  • Core training — exercises from the pull-up bar. Oh, and with a 45 lb. weight chained to her waist. Ten reps of bringing her knees to her chest, 10 reps of bringing her toes to her hands, 10 reps of swinging her legs back and forth like a windshield wiper. Over and over. Add various squats with a weighted bar.
  • Endurance training — Roller skiing uphill for an hour.
  • Interval training — Ten minutes of roller skating at racing pace followed by three minutes at a slower pace. Repeat for two hours straight.
  • Speed training — Pushing the limits every day. “On a scale of 1-10, where 10 is dying or passing out, I rate a 9 fairly often.”
  • Strength training — Lifting weights for 1.5 hours.

She follows a very controlled diet and sleeps for 10 hours every night. Olympic athletes endure all that for one event, on one day, every four years.

Would I find that much dedication within me?

#3
Champions are made in the things we don’t see.
The daily workouts, the daily reps, the daily pull ups.

Life is built on the dailies.

Even for us average, unathletic, non-YouTube worthy people (speaking for myself here) who will never stand on an Olympic podium, life is made up of unseen, unheralded and seemingly unimportant dailies.

As a child of God, the questions remain:
Can I stick to something as demanding as consistently living for Christ?
Do I have enough dedication to take my faith seriously every day?
Are my daily reps helping or hurting my spiritual life?

Of course, it’s more than a gold medal or a place in a record book that motivates us. As Paul said, “For it is Christ’s love that fuels our passion and motivates us, because we are absolutely convinced that he has given his life for all of us.” 2 Cor. 5:14.

Someday
there will be gold crowns (Rev. 4:4)
for those whose names are written
in the record Book of Life (Rev. 20:12).
Instead of raising our arms in victory
on a podium
while the national anthem is played,
we will be on our faces in worship
at the throne of God
while angels sing, “Holy, holy, holy.”

10 Things I Learned This Winter

Winter is my 4th favorite season, so I’m not going to be too sad to see this one in the books. I’m ready to come out of hibernation and see a springtime world again. I’m sure the daffodils and tulips are starting to rumble underground. It won’t be long!

bye winter

I know.
It might be a bit early to bid winter adieu.
There will be the inevitable March snowstorms.
I know.

Here are some things I learned this winter:

1. When there’s not enough snow on the ground, too much frigid air, and not enough toilet flushing, sewer pipes can freeze. It was evident we had a big problem 10 minutes before 14 people arrived for dinner. This is the first time I’ve welcomed guests to my home with the greeting, “We have no working toilets.”

2. Water pipes can also freeze under said conditions.

3. Excellence is uncommon, except when top athletes from around the world come together for two weeks. We tuned in to the Olympics almost every night to watch the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat. I can’t imagine four years of training for a four minute race. That’s some kind of dedication, even if it does culminate in a gold medal and a picture on a Wheaties box.

4. It’s no fun being a statistic. I was one of the 34 million Americans who got Influenza A this winter. And no, I did not get the flu shot. In fact, the day before I came down with it, I bragged about never getting the flu. On the bright side, I wrote a devotional booklet while I was languishing on the couch. Don’t even know how that happened.

5. Influenza couldn’t keep me away from “Hamilton”. I was on the mend by the time we drove to Chicago to see this amazing show, but I did sneak in a bottle of Robitussin cough suppressant and took a swig between acts.  Our generous kids gave us the tickets for Christmas. When they were little, the kids gave us trinkets from the Dollar Store. I like having adult children.

6. When Ash Wednesday collides with Valentine’s Day it seems significant. While it is true that “from dust we are and to dust we will return” (Genesis 3:19), it is also true that we are most beloved dust.

7. I’m not giving up anything for Lent this year. Instead, I’m eating one prune every day for 40 days to remind myself that He is the vine and I am a branch and branches need pruning. I pop one in my mouth and pray, “Lord, come and thin out the dead underbrush and the fruitless growth that saps energy but produces nothing. Remove even the good things to make room for better things. I trust Your pruning hand.”

8. Quote of the season: “I must write, not because I feel I have anything to give. Not because being an artist comes first — it doesn’t. Not because it matters to anyone else what I say — that has no bearing on it at all. But simply because the thread will not be strong without that strand.” Anne Morrow Lindbergh

9. PB’s side of the family has some interesting characters. I’ve done lots of research on my family tree, so I decided to turn my attention to his side. It seems PB’s great-great uncle was a good friend of Wild Bill Hickok and was in the saloon with Wild Bill when he was shot (the only time Hickok sat in a saloon playing cards with his back to the door). In 1879, Great-Great Uncle John helped bury Wild Bill in the Deadwood, South Dakota cemetery. So the story goes.

10. “Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe.” (Heb. 12:28) I need to be reminded of this when the world starts shaking. If I’m going to stay steady amid tremors of tragedy and waves of worry, I need to hang on to what is unshakable.

unshake

Grand Lineup

This is my lineup.
They’ve committed no crime, other than being cuter than allowed by law.
They are arranged alphabetically, which is tricky when we get to the “E”s.

Here we go!

#1 – Abel
The youngest and probably the happiest grand in the bunch.
Smiles all day, every day.
Doesn’t mind big sister mauling him with kisses.

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#2 – Charlie
Refuses to smile for the camera.
Kind-hearted and thoughtful of others.
Doesn’t like being left alone in the basement.

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#3 – Eli
A charmer who knows how to wink and uses it effectively.
Has excellent eye-hand coordination, thanks to Mario Brothers.
Still loves Lightning McQueen.

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#4 – Ella
When excited, she talks fast and her voice gets really high.
Capable of putting on one-woman shows that are truly entertaining.
Writes and colors with precision.

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#5 – Emma
A little shy but warms up quickly.
Doesn’t like it when her mommy leaves the room.
Giggles are rare, but so worth the wait.

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#6 – Evie
A spirited girl who likes to be where the action is.
Most used phrase: “You be the baby and I’ll be the mommy.”
Has been known to go out in the snow in high heels.

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#7 – Hudson
The oldest grand; just turned 6 years old.
Can carry a fascinating conversation and uses words I don’t know.
Is a good leader who never loses a Nerf gun war.

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#8 – Ruby
Expert hide-and-seek player.
Keeps up with big brothers and talks sweetly to little sister.
Has adorable chipped tooth that makes her smile irresistible.

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question

#9 coming in July!
Team Boy or Team Girl?

Juicy Fruit

My first Sunday school teacher was named Blondie and she always had Juicy Fruit gum handy to give out to her students. I don’t remember one lesson, but the smell of Juicy Fruit always takes me back to the Methodist church basement and little red chairs and a flannel board.

juicy

Blondie gave me a good start in a life of faith and fruitfulness.

From beginning to end, fruit shows up in scripture, starting with “Be fruitful and multiply” in Genesis and going all the way to the heavenly Tree of Life in Revelation that “yields its fruit every month”. Unfortunately, there was that fruit-eating incident in Eden that kicked off the whole sin-nature thing. But later, the apostle Paul crafted a beautiful picture of what holy fruit looks like: “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.” (Gal. 5:22-23)

On His last night with His disciples, Jesus laid out the plan:
“Abide in Me and I will abide in you.” (John 15:4)
The result: Fruit.

My job isn’t to produce the fruit.
My job is to stay connected to the vine.
Juicy Fruit will grow naturally.

“A branch cannot produce any fruit by itself.
It has to stay attached to the vine.”
John 15:4

apart

Prunes

I’m not opposed to prunes. Those mega-raisins taste pretty good. In fact, I think we have some in the top shelf of the upper cabinet, back in the corner, behind the seasoned bread crumbs and cocoa powder.

Have you seen the TV commercial where the lady is looking all snappy and happy and her friends say, “Wow, you look goooood”? And she says it’s all because she’s been eating prunes? Then she pulls them out of her purse?

prunes2

I don’t carry prunes in my purse.

I don’t know anyone who carries single pack servings of prunes in their tote bag.

Where was I going with this? Oh, yes.

The prune commercial reminded me of pruning, as in, “to cut or lop off undesired twigs or branches; to remove anything that is considered superfluous or undesirable.” (Superfluous: “excessive, unnecessary, needless”)

In a few days we will enter into the season of Lent.

“Lent is about
thinning our lives
in order to
thicken our communion
with God.”
Alicia Britt Chole

Our God is a Master Gardener who would like to do some work in our hearts in the coming weeks. Maybe some thinning here, some pruning there. It could be painful, but the reward is a higher, wider, longer, deeper, thicker sense of His presence in our lives.

cut

I just might carry a package of prunes in my purse during Lent. It will remind me to let the tender hand of the Gardener remove anything superfluous in order to make more room for Him.

He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit,
while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes
so that it will be even more fruitful.
John 15:2

Do-Over

Do-over: a new attempt or opportunity to do something after a previous attempt has been unsuccessful or unsatisfactory.

Can we just start 2018 over again, please?

I wasn’t ready.

I stumbled and bumbled into the new year.

Then, half of January disappeared into the oblivion of Influenza A.

It was my most miserable 10 days in recent history,

but I did lose 7 pounds,

which happens when you don’t eat anything but

watermelon sherbet

for a week and a half.

So, I’m calling a do-over.

Let’s try this again.

Happy New Year, everybody!

doover