Dealing With Disappointment

Life isn’t fair.

Things don’t always go the way you want.

You can’t control everything.

In the grand scheme of life, this is just a momentary setback.

We’ve all heard statements like these. But try helping a disappointed 16 year old to understand and embrace these truths.

Life can be a cruel teacher at times.

In the last 3 months, we’ve experienced a number of unexpected life events.

In July, while our family was in Colorado, I received a call to tell me that my grandmother had passed away. She was 96 so it was not completely surprising. Still, you’re never quite prepared for the news that your last living grandparent has passed away.

In August, I received the news that my aunt, the last living sibling of my grandfather, had passed away.

And just two weeks ago, I received the news that my uncle, who was in his early 70’s had died unexpectedly.

Jacob (left) and Joshua (middle) running with their team in Mammoth. Joshua’s injury occurred some time during this training run to Rainbow Falls. Check out the video of this trail below, or at: https://youtu.be/T1czVLdEyKA

The hardest issue though that we’ve been dealing with these last two months centers around our son Joshua, who has been dealing with a foot injury.

As a parent, it’s so hard to see your kids struggle and deal with setbacks and disappointment. Our tendency is to want to fix things and make things better and to shield them from hurt. But that’s not always possible and it’s not always advisable either.

In early August, Jacob and Joshua headed up to Mammoth with the rest of the varsity Cross Country team for a week of training at altitude. I (Dave) tagged along as a parent volunteer.

It was a great week of bonding and conditioning. Their team is really strong this year and is highly ranked, both in the county and even in the state. Expectations are high and the anticipation for this season has been palpable.

Towards the end of the week, Joshua started experiencing pain on the top his right foot. He was immediately shut down from running until we could get it checked out.

An MRI revealed a stress reaction in the 2nd long bone of his right foot.

A stress reaction is basically a pre-cursor to a stress fracture, and though it sounds less severe, the recovery time is the same.

For the last 7 weeks Joshua has been doing nothing but pool workouts, by himself, isolated from the rest of the team.

Twice, he’s tried to start running again, only to experience a setback with new pain in his foot.

There have been lots of tears and the frustration has come out in a variety of ways. Every night we pray. Joshua’s constant request has been, “Pray that my foot heals quickly.”

After spending many conversations trying to dispense my sage advice (see statements above), with varying degrees of receptivity, I decided that maybe I needed another approach.

After much reflection, I’ve learned that I need to be slower to react and give advice and I need to listen more.

Joshua’s (far right) season so far has been relegated to trying to be a good team-mate and cheer his team-mates when they race.

I realize that I need to be more patient and not get so easily worked up when the response and heart attitude isn’t what I want.

I need to let Joshua process his own disappointment and loss while communicating that I’m for him and that we grieve with him.

Lastly, I want to help Joshua process his circumstances and learn what he can from this situation.

I’ve found that some of the coaching training we’ve been going through has been helpful to just ask questions. Questions such as:

What is the Lord teaching you? What are you learning about your identity and yourself through this? How can this situation help shape you as a person and leader? What can you learn about being a good team-mate through this?

Sixteen year olds are not always ready to learn these life lessons. But then again, us old guys aren’t always ready either!

Thanks for your ministry in our lives as we navigate the ups and downs of life and seek to learn our own life lessons.

Please pray for wisdom for us as we parent our twins and seek to guide them toward Jesus!

If you think about it, please pray for Joshua and his injury. Pray that his foot would heal and that he wouldn’t have any recurrence of the foot issue. Lastly, pray that he would consider the lessons the Lord is wanting to teach him through the situation he’s been in.

Life Lessons from Our Dog

About a year and half ago, we decided to get a dog. His name is Scout and he’s a rescue dog that somehow made it out to California from Arkansas. We think he’s a coon hound.

Growing up, I can never remember a time where we didn’t have at least one dog in our family. And yet, in all the years since I moved out of my parent’s home, we never had a dog in our family, until Scout came along.

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Jen refers to Scout as the Notorious D.O.G. because he destroys things, like these potted plants in our courtyard.

A dog may be defined as a living, breathing tool of destruction. The list of things our dog has destroyed seems endless. He chewed up a wicker lounge chair as well as part of our back yard flowerbed drip system. He chewed up one of the lights in our backyard fountain and he’s dug enough holes in the yard that you might think we have gopher problems.

We now have a hole in our screen door that our dog assumes is his own personal doggie door, giving him freedom to come in and out as he pleases.

And of course, now that we have a dog, whenever we start to make plans to do things, we have to ask, “What are we going to do with the dog?”

In the spring, we left the dog outside for the day while we left to attend one of the boys track meets. We returned to find the destruction of most of the potted plants in our courtyard.

And yet, through it all, it’s hard not to love the guy. He’s excited to see us whenever we come home and he doesn’t hold a grudge when we get mad at him.

Recently, Jen enrolled Scout in an obedience class in the hopes of correcting some of his bad habits, like jumping on people when he gets excited and pulling on the leash when we take him out for a walk.

The trainer often talks about the need to correct the dog when training. It made me realize that life is often like dog training, with plenty of correction that leads to obedience and hopefully, transformation.

The first thing the trainer taught us is that the dog should not get ahead of you when walking, but should stay on your left. This is the “heel” command.

I think this is what the Bible means when it talks about keeping in step with the Spirit. It’s really a marching term. Yet, like my dog, instead of heeling, I often get ahead of the Holy Spirit and seek to venture out on my own, often in a direction that’s different than where the Holy Spirit wants to lead me.

The second command the trainer taught us is the SIT command. When we’re walking the dog, he should automatically sit whenever we stop. But when other people and other dogs are around, Scout gets easily distracted and sidetracked.

I realize that I often lose focus just like Scout. I often get sidetracked from the things that are most important and the things I’m called to do, and it often gets me into trouble.

scoutsmileThe third command we learned is the STAY command. When we tell Scout to stay, he’s supposed to stay in that posture (whether sitting, standing or down) until we tell him to come. When we first introduced this command, Scout couldn’t stay for more than about 5 seconds. But eventually, we were able to work our way up to 5 minutes.

I realize that I’m often just like my dog. I can’t stay where I’m at for very long at all. I’m impatient and I have a hard time just resting, thinking and waiting to hear the Master’s voice. More often, I move to action before I’ve clearly heard the Lord tell me to move.

The last week of training, the instructor held a contest, awarding points to each dog based on how well they obeyed all of the commands that had been taught through the course.

Amazingly, at the end of the contest, when all the points were tallied, Scout was declared the winner! He was even awarded a trophy to recognize his accomplishment.

It was a reminder to me that when we learn to Heel, Sit and Stay and we follow the Lord’s lead and command, we bear fruit in the form of character transformation and also ministry blessings.

Thanks for being a part of our journey, where the Lord is still training us to Heel, Sit and Stay.

Please continue to pray with us that the Lord would transform our hearts and bless our ministry as we seek to minister to Young Professionals in Orange County!

Two Views of Freedom – The Amplified Life: Part 2

The Washington Monument in the foreground with the U.S. Capitol building in the background
The Washington Monument in the foreground with the U.S. Capitol building in the background

Freedom.

It’s something I’ve been thinking about a lot lately. Probably because our family just spent 5 days in Washington, D.C. on our first real vacation in 3 years.

As we walked around the city, touring the museums and visiting the many monuments, it was a reminder to me that we live in a pretty incredible country, where we’re free to pursue our vocational and financial dreams as well as express our religious convictions.

Seeing the World War II, Korean and Vietnam War memorials was a reminder to me that many have given their lives fighting not only to maintain our freedom but to secure the freedom of others.

Seeing the Lincoln Memorial was a reminder that not everyone in our country has always experienced the same level of freedom. And seeing the spot where Martin Luther King gave his famous “I Have a Dream” speech, coupled with the tragic events we’ve witnessed in our country over the past few weeks and months is another reminder to me that the struggle for freedom and justice is ongoing and not always equitable.

The Lincoln Memorial, a tribute to Abraham Lincoln, the 16th President of the United States who helped abolish slavery and preserve the Union, is one of the most popular sites in Washington, D.C.
The Lincoln Memorial, a tribute to Abraham Lincoln, the 16th President of the United States who helped abolish slavery and preserve the Union, is one of the most popular sites in Washington, D.C.

We had the chance to visit the site of the Museum of the Bible, which is currently under construction and set to open in the Fall of 2017. While we live in a “free” country, it is the Word of God that truly sets us free.

As I think about freedom, God’s Word reminds us that we’re spiritual creatures on a spiritual journey. Paul said in Ephesians that “our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.”

What does it mean to really be free?

The popular view in our culture is that freedom means that I’ve been released to do whatever I want without fear of punishment or remuneration from others, especially the government.

Jesus’ picture of freedom is much different. According to God’s Word, we become free when we’re released from the bondage of sin. We don’t become free to do whatever we want, but instead we become free to become the people God intended.

The Amplified Life is a life of true freedom, where we’re free to experience Christ fully and live for Him.

Left: An artist's rendering of the Museum of the Bible. Right: under construction, the Museum of the Bible will open in Fall 2017.
Left: An artist’s rendering of the Museum of the Bible. Right: under construction, the Museum of the Bible will open in Fall 2017.

Where the American view of freedom is that the shackles of oppression have been discarded, allowing me to live for myself and do the things that would provide pleasure and satisfaction for myself, the Biblical view of freedom is one in which we’ve been liberated from the bondage of sin, which frees us to experience God fully and serve Him and others.

The American view of freedom involves external physical forces (such as people and governments) keeping us from the pursuit of our own personal happiness.

The Biblical view of freedom is that there’s an internal spiritual problem that keeps us from loving God and others.

Our hope is to become the people God desires us to become and to help Young Professionals experience the Amplified life – one in which real freedom is experienced through an authentic, personal relationship with Jesus.

Thank you for prayers and partnership which give us the freedom to pursue the calling which God has given us. We are truly blessed!

Note: Click here to download the pdf version of the Lowedown.

Barbara pictured in the center, was our usher at the Washington Nationals game.

Life is Like a Track Meet

About a month ago, I attended my very first track meet ever. I honestly never paid attention to track except for watching some of the Olympic events on TV. Even in high school, I gave no thought to our school’s track team. I couldn’t tell you whether we had a good team or a bad team or even if we had a team. I was a wrestler and running and jumping and stuff like that wasn’t my thing.

Jacob passes the baton to another runner in a relay race.
Jacob passes the baton to another runner in a relay race.

But now that our twins, Jacob and Joshua, are running as freshman on the track team, Jen and I have been introduced to a whole new world.

If I had to describe a track meet in one phrase, I’d say it’s “organized chaos.” Unlike team sports like soccer, basketball, football or baseball, a track meet features multiple events that are all happening at the same time. Runners are racing while jumpers are jumping and pole vaulters are vaulting while discus throwers are throwing.

Though it seems like each event is disconnected from the rest, in actuality, each event can earn team points toward the overall team score. So even though the distance runners aren’t aware of what’s happening with the sprinters, and the sprinters aren’t aware of what’s happening in the field events, each group within the team is working toward scoring points for the overall team score in an effort to win the meet.

I thought about how life is like a track meet. We all have many different areas in our lives that often feel disconnected. We have work, family, friends, neighbors, church, youth activities and school activities, not to mention our personal hobbies and online communities.

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The 100 meter sprint ends in a photo finish

Like a track meet, it’s easy to see each of these areas as distinct and separate from the others. John Ortberg, in his book The Life You’ve Always Wanted, says that the great quest for people today is to achieve “balance” with all of the disparate segments of our busy lives. But the problem is that this desire for balance often leads us to compartmentalize our faith. We think of a pie chart with 7 or 8 slices that each represent different areas of our lives. This paradigm encourages us to think of matters such as “finances” or “work” as non-spiritual activities. It keeps us from realizing that God is interested in every aspect of our lives, not just our “spiritual” activities.

The idea of “balance” implies that we’re trying to make our lives more manageable and convenient and lacks the notion that my life is to be given to something bigger than myself, just as the track meet is more than the individual events but the larger team goal.

The goal as Christians is not “balance” but integration – what Ortberg calls a “Well-Ordered” heart. As we work with Millennials, our desire is to help them see that Jesus wants to be completely integrated into every aspect of their lives. We want to help them live for Jesus and express their faith in every area, whether it’s at work, or with their friends, or with their family, hobbies or finances.

Instead of seeking “balance” which sees our main problem as external – a disorder in our schedule or season of life, living a well-ordered life sees that our main problem is internal, and we need Jesus to be actively involved so that we might experience true transformation from the inside.

Thank you for your part in our chaotic lives and for enabling us to pursue a well-ordered heart while encouraging Millennials to live in such a way that Jesus is fully integrated into every area.

Women's Long Jump
Women’s Long Jump

The Trabuco Hills boy’s Track & Field team is currently ranked #1 in Orange County.

Check out this link from the Orange County Register: http://bit.ly/1UTwxX5

2015 – The Year in Review

Well, 2015 is officially in the books! It’s been a challenging year in many ways as we started out with Jen being in the hospital for a week. But God is good and we’ve been blessed in many ways. Jen has been slowly improving since her condition was stabilized in February and there are many fun memories to revisit – from the boys starting high school and excelling at Cross Country, to getting our first family pet, the boys flying on a plane by themselves for the first time, to seeing friends & family members we hadn’t seen in a while.

Here’s a 2 minute video glimpse of 2015 for the Lowe Family. Have a Happy New Year and here’s to hoping for a blessed 2016!

Overcoming June Gloom

Jen shares about her year-long struggle with health issues at our church's Sunday service.
Jen shares about her year-long struggle with health issues at our church’s Sunday service.

The weather in Southern California is great almost year round. While much of the country was under several feet of snow this past winter, we had almost spring like weather conditions here. It’s one of the things that makes Southern California such an attractive vacation destination and it’s also why so many people want to live here, which in turn explains why it’s so expensive to live here.

In June, however, most of the the Los Angeles and Orange County basin experiences a phenomenon that has come to be known as June gloom. I’m not a meteorologist, so I can’t explain all of the meteorological conditions that contribute to June gloom. I just know that for much of June, for some reason, a thick marine layer often creeps in off the coast and envelopes the southland, creating overcast skies in the morning that often burn off by late morning or mid day.

Because our house is located up against the Saddleback mountain foothills at about 800 feet elevation, we often will walk out of our house in the morning to clear, sunny skies. But as I drive down the hill to take the boys to school, it’s not uncommon for us to drive right down into that marine layer where it’s overcast and the sun is not directly visible.

This last year for us has felt a lot like June gloom. It’s as if one day everything was going great and it was sunny outside, but then we experienced some health issues that felt a lot like driving down into that thick marine layer.

For the last year, life has not had the clear, sunny outlook that we would want. Instead, it’s been overcast and even foggy at times. Life has been challenging and at times we’ve wondered if we would ever see the sun through the dark clouds.

These last few months have given us hope that perhaps the June gloom clouds are beginning to burn off and dissipate. We are beginning to see signs of the sun peeking through.

Several months ago, when we started seeing experts at UCLA, Jen was put on a new immunosuppressant that seems to be working. As a result, she has been able to slowly taper down on the amount of Prednisone she’s taking and that alone has helped her to begin to feel more like herself each day.

A few weeks ago, Jen was able to be on a conference call with a work group with which she’s been involved. That was a big step forward since she’s had to disengage with much of her work load for many months now.

Jen-Crossline4
Jen is interviewed by JP Jones, Senior Pastor of Crossline Church.

Last Sunday, Jen was asked to share in front of our church congregation a bit of her journey this past year with her health and how God has met her in the midst of the challenges of life. It was another key moment in her recovery, not just physically, but emotionally and spiritually as well. (You can watch the video interview online at: vimeo.com/130399778)

Things aren’t back to normal by any stretch but there is more hope now than anytime in the last 8 months that perhaps this disease can be managed and we can fully resume the mission to which we’ve been called.

We’re so grateful for your prayers and the way you’ve cared for our family this past year. Would you please continue to pray for our family and for Jen’s continued recovery?

Pray specifically for Jen’s blurred vision to clear and for her lung capacity to increase. Pray too that the side effects of long-term Prednisone use would continue to dissipate.

We continue to trust the Lord for this road we’re on and we pray that the Lord might find us faithful and fruitful as we follow Him and serve Him.

When It Rains, It Pours

Kind words are like honey – sweeter to the soul and healthy for the body.”  – Proverbs 16.24 (New Living Translation)

There’s an old adage that says “when it rains, it pours.” That’s not a commentary on our recent weather as we’re still in drought like conditions with what looks to be the 4th year in a row of record low rainfall in Southern California. Instead, it seems like unwelcome circumstances often come in waves, one after the other.

Our hope that 2015 would have a much brighter outlook than 2014 was rather short-lived. Just a few weeks into the New Year, Jen began experiencing shortness of breath and other symptoms related to her Vasculitis, putting Jen back into the hospital for seven days of Prednisone blasts designed to counteract the Vasculitis flare.

One night as I was preparing to take the boys to visit Jen in the hospital, I got into our Highlander and it was completely dead. It turned out to be a battery failure, which was strange since I just replaced the battery less than a year ago.

WaterDamage
Water stains on the baseboard behind the toilet are a sign of a greater problem.

For the past few weeks, I’ve noticed discoloration in some of the grout in our downstairs bathroom that I just renovated last April. I didn’t think much about it but on Saturday, I noticed those lines seemed to be growing. A closer inspection of the baseboard behind the toilet showed evidence of water stains. My worst fear was realized when I removed the toilet and opened up the wall to find an excessive amount of water that was created by a pinhole leak in a pipe that was fine just a few months ago. It was very interesting spending Super Bowl Sunday with no running water and trying to figure out how to manage our bathroom needs.

When the circumstances of life challenge us, it’s easy to get deflated. I’d be lying if I said that these trials haven’t been a drain to us emotionally. Yet in the midst of everything that’s happening, your words of encouragement and support have literally been words of life and hope to us.

A few weeks ago when Jen was in the hospital, I sent out an update soliciting prayer for Jen. The number of people who responded, telling us they are praying and sharing kind words of encouragement was a blessing to us. One of my friends, Leo Mullarky, who is the director of Cru for the Inland Empire sent this note, which was particularly encouraging to me.

A student helps to start Impact at Cal State San Bernardino.
A student helps to start Impact at Cal State San Bernardino.

“I thought you could use some good news. So listen to this….God is raising up multiple movements in the Inland Empire. He is using your vision and investment. 

We launched Epic at Cal State San Bernardino last quarter and sent 3 students to the Epic Conference last weekend. We are launching Impact at Cal State San Bernardino this week. In addition, Thom & Jessica MacMillan (former UC Davis students who are joining Cru staff) have been assigned to the Inland Empire Cru team, mostly from responding to your vision that you gave them. It was their 1st choice of placement.

I just wanted to say thanks for your investment in Ethnic Field Ministry (EFM). I know it was hard but God is still using your vision to help others make a difference here.”

In this season of life where our ministry efforts are more limited than we would like, it’s encouraging to know the Lord continues to use our past efforts to inspire others and advance His kingdom purposes.

Thank you for standing with us and encouraging us as we navigate the trials of life. Your words really have been sweet to the soul and healthy for the body!

To read the pdf version of our newsletter, click here.

P.S. if you want to take a look at the video of my pinhole leak, goto: http://goo.gl/sJez2y

The Fall Forecast

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Dave, with Joshua and Jacob on the USC campus early in August on Dave’s birthday!

Each day, sometime after I (Dave) wake up, I grab my phone and the first thing I do is __________ ? Many of you probably would think that I check my e-mail but that is not correct. One of the first things I do when I grab my smartphone is check my weather app. I want to see what the forecast is for the day. How hot is it going to be? Will I need to run the air conditioner? And will it be so hot that I need to think about extra water for the grass and plants? And most importantly, is there any chance of rain in the forecast?

For much of California, we have been in extreme drought conditions for the past 2 years. Our snowfall in the Sierras in 2013 was about 25% less than average and 2014 was much worse at only about 30% of our average snowfall. (see this link for satellite images on the California drought: http://goo.gl/U56uFH)

Earlier in the year, forecasters had been predicting El Nino conditions for this winter which would bring the promise of above average rain and snow in the west. However, those forecasts may have been premature and the possibility of another dry winter still looms. (This article from the IndyStar explains: http://goo.gl/HNSyf6)

Water is essential for life and the lack of water can complicate normal daily activities and routines. The forecast for this fall calls for more dry weather but we’re praying for rain and snow to help bring relief and normalcy back to this region.

In our personal lives and ministry, we’re also forecasting what life and ministry will look like for the fall.

Typically, the fall is a busy season. The kids head back to school and with it comes lots of homework and other activities.

Jen is usually busy with travel for her Leadership development role and of course, we have our local ministry with Millennials that we are developing.

However, the forecast for our fall looks different than normal. Recently, Jen has been getting infusions of a chemotherapy grade drug that is designed to put her vasculitis disease into remission. As I write this, she has received 3 of the 4 infusions, with her last infusion next week. Over the next couple of months, her immune system will be broken down and rebuilt. This is normal and expected but the result will be a compromised immune system for several months.

Jen’s third Rituxan infusion bag. Though it looks like simple water, we’re trusting that the Lord will use this to reset Jen’s immune system and restore her health.
Jen’s third Rituxan infusion bag. Though it looks like simple water, we’re trusting that the Lord will use this to reset Jen’s immune system and restore her health.

After consulting Jen’s rheumatologist and learning how the process works, we realized that traveling this fall would not be wise with a compromised immune system.

As a drought impairs normal activity for those who are affected, our lives and ministry have been affected by Jen’s condition. Ironically, the drug that Jen is taking looks as clear as water and we’re praying that the infusions have the desired effect on Jen’s immune system.

So while the short term forecast means we’ll be grounded and working more locally and virtually, we’re hoping and trusting the Lord to bring some healing and restoration to Jen so that the long term forecast might bring a return of normal activity to our lives.

Whatever the circumstances we’re in, our prayer is that we would glorify Him with our lives and that He would bear fruit through us as we serve Him in whatever capacity we’re able to serve.

Thank you for your continued prayers and encouragement. Please pray with us, that the Lord would “bring the rain” in our personal lives as well as this region in which we live.

We are so grateful for you and we thank the Lord for you and we pray for the Lord’s blessings in your life as well. And we invite you to share your needs and requests with us so that we can pray for you as well!

Click here to read the pdf version of “The Lowedown”

Bracing for the Future

Not long ago, we heard the words that no parent wants to hear from their dentist.

“Your kids need braces.”

When we broke the news to our kids, understandably, they were not very happy.

I can sympathize with them. I remember having braces when I was in junior high and high school and it was horrible. It was bad enough that I had all of this exposed metal in my mouth, but the orthodontist told me I had to wear these little rubber bands that went from my top teeth to my bottom teeth. I couldn’t figure out what they were supposed to accomplish other than getting me to keep my mouth shut! Maybe it was a directive from my parents!

Dave - freshmen year
Dave – freshmen year

The orthodontist also gave me this contraption that he called “head gear.” It was basically a big metal bar that connected to the braces in the back of my upper teeth and attached to a strap that wrapped around the back top of my head. It looked kind of like an old school football helmet, with that bar sticking out in front to protect the kicker’s face. (Some have referred to it as a Halo)!

The purpose of the “head gear” was to put tension on the upper jaw, pulling it back to correct an overbite. The orthodontist instructed me to wear this thing “at all times”, including when I was at school.

“No Way!” That’s where I drew the line. I remember one person from school who wore a “head gear” and it permanently ostracized her from the rest of society. It was like having leprosy or some nasty skin rash. If you’ve seen the movie “Diary of a Wimpy Kid”, wearing a “head gear” at school was equivalent to having the “Cheese Touch”. I wore it to bed and that was it.

During my freshman year of high school the inside of my mouth got so cut up from wearing braces during wrestling season that we referred to the inside of my lips as “meatloaf.”

Jacob with braces
Jacob in the 4th grade with braces

One day, my dad asked the orthodontist if he could finish what he needed to do without the braces. The dentist agreed to take the braces off if I would wear a retainer every night. It seemed like a good trade, so I enthusiastically agreed.

When the dentist took the braces off, I had nice straight teeth. Man I looked good! At that point, I was glad that I had invested over 2 years in braces. At some point though, I stopped wearing the retainer every night. It just didn’t seem completely necessary. I didn’t see the point.

One day, years later, I came across that retainer. When I put it in my mouth, I realized that it didn’t quite fit anymore. It turns out that my teeth had shifted. Slowly, they were drifting back to the state they were in before I had braces.

The concept of braces is simple: you put a wire around the teeth and slowly tighten the wire to straighten and align them. Once they’re aligned, you wear a retainer in order to keep the teeth from drifting back to their crooked state.

It seems to me that spiritual disciplines are a lot like braces. In my heart, I’m prone to sin and wander from what’s right and what’s true. I read God’s word, pray and practice other disciplines in order to stay on the right path.

God’s Word transforms me and helps align me to Him and His purposes. So spiritual disciplines are like braces in some ways.

Joshua - 4th grade with braces
Joshua in the 4th grade with braces

And it turns out, that once I stop applying these disciplines to my life, I’m prone to wander back to my sinful, selfish state, just as my teeth, without that retainer, will slowly drift back to being crooked and unaligned.

So when I question the purpose of reading my Bible, praying and meditating, I think about braces. The benefit may not be immediately apparent, but it’s the end goal that motivates me—to become more like Jesus.

Now if I could just think of a way to help my 9 year old boys to see the “benefit” of braces now. Because at this point, the motivation that “you’ll look good for the ladies” isn’t quite working. I’m guessing though that by the time they get their braces removed, they’ll have a much greater appreciation for “the ladies”!

Please pray for our kids and us to be constantly “aligned” to God’s purposes!

Click here to read the pdf version of The Lowedown!