Practice Makes Progress

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Practice Makes Progress

A Blog from Lindsey Goodyear

My son hates reading.  Well, I take that back… My son hates reading anything that school requires him to read.  The words are too big, the content is too boring, and he can’t ever remember what he’s just read.  We try to stay calm, reassure him, and explain that not only will practicing reading everyday make him a stronger reader, but being a mindful reader (making efforts to focus on what you’re reading while you’re reading) will make homework smoother and more enjoyable.  Twenty minutes a day for at home reading is the requirement.  In and 8-year old’s eyes, 20 minutes a day is an eternity.  Some days we spent double that trying to coax him into it.  I knew if he could just start practicing, every day, like he was supposed to, the routine would be set and our battles would get easier. They say it takes 66 days to form a habit and although I couldn’t imagine having this fight 66 more times, I dug my heels in and committed to routine. 

 To my surprise, it only took a few weeks.  He stopped sounding words out and became more confident with calling them out on the first try.  His choppy accounts of literature became beautiful sentences gliding out of his self-assured mouth.  The coaxing time got less and less and soon he was reading 6 chapters in one sitting.  He wasn’t perfect but the improvement was astounding!  It confirmed, to me, that practice makes progress.  I grew up hearing the phrase “practice makes perfect” but after a discussion with my friend, Roberta, I will now forever say “progress” instead of “perfect.”  Because, in all reality, there is only one who we can call “perfect” so striving for perfectionism is, in actuality, setting ourselves up for disappointment.  So, when a few days ago I watched him begin the third book in a series, I sat thinking how practice really does make progress, when it dawned on me.  I could stand to take a dose of my own advice.  Not all of my daily habits were where they were supposed to be either.  I could use a little practice myself.

Our latest Messy Church was all about praying.  Praying is something I’ve always done, since childhood, but have been slacking on the last couple years.  I always used the evening time to talk with God.  During the day, I would, and still do, say little prayers here and there, but right before I went to sleep was the time I devoted to big concerns, big “thank you’s” and asking for peace.  However, since we’ve had kids, my husband and I take turns each night laying with a son and saying prayers.  I love to listen to their little thoughts and what they decide to chat with Him about.  The only problem is I’ve been passing off their prayer time as my own.  I’ve mentally started checking that prayer box off for the day because I participated with them, right?  Wrong.  While it’s important for us to encourage and teach our children to pray, it’s also equally important for us to establish, feed, and nurture our own personal relationships with God.  He deserves more than what I was giving Him.

Here’s where my own advice comes in.  I need practice.  I need routine.  I need 20 uninterrupted minutes a day with my savior.  I’ve realized it doesn’t have to be at night before I go to sleep.  I remember my father in law telling me he uses his 4-mile daily walk to chat with the Lord.  It got me thinking, although I’m busy running errands, driving kids, cooking, cleaning and whatever else us mom’s do, I also have little pockets of time throughout the day where I can scroll quickly through Facebook, Instagram, or ask Google burning questions.  If I traded out just one of those social media check-ins a day, I could legitimately reignite my passion for prayer.  I’m not perfect so I know it won’t happen overnight, but it will become habit, again, if I put the effort in.  So, that’s it.  Practice makes progress.  I’m determined to direct that progress straight towards my relationship with God and to make those glorious conversations part of my routine once again.                      

Lindsey Goodyear
Contact her at lindseygoodyear@gmail.com
Equipping local Messy Churches to start, sustain and connect in the USA.

Taking Time to Reflect While We Jump into 2020

iStock

Is the person in the picture above going to make it into 2020 or fall short? How are you doing with the start of a new year?  Are you already feeling behind?   (Yes, I realize that the picture is probably altered but it still causes some anxiety!)

At the start of every turn of the calendar, my husband and I go out for breakfast to reflect on the previous year and look ahead to what is coming in the new. In our busy lives, for many of us, days and months and even an entire year can flow by so quickly that we don’t take notice.  Taking moments to pause, slow down and reflect not only at the end of the year but throughout the year provides opportunity to give thanks for what is going well, and consciously changing perspectives when needed.

My new project planner has a section at the end of each week and month to draw or write a reflection on how my time was spent in meeting the goals I have set. I have been using it since September and have found that engaging in this simple practice has helped me to give thanks for what has been accomplished and then re-prioritize for the coming week or month. This practice has reminded me of our check in time for our monthly Messy Church planning team I was involved with several years ago. Prior to talking about what was coming up we would spend a few moments reflecting on our previous Messy Church and take turns answering three simple questions: 1) what went well? 2) What could have gone better? and 3) How can we hold one another in prayer?

The year ahead can feel like a gift waiting to be unwrapped, month by month, like layer after layer of bright wrapping paper being torn off a pass-the-parcel prize.

Lucy Moore

Lucy Moore, founder of the Messy Church global movement, in her reflection on the turn of the calendar year and the months ahead, challenged us to view our monthly Messy Church as an unwrapped gift. “There’s a rhythm to meeting monthly as a church. The year ahead can feel like a gift waiting to be unwrapped, month by month, like layer after layer of bright wrapping paper being torn off a pass-the-parcel prize. Or like a soup bubbling away with ingredients added one by one, subtly altering the flavour and texture until you look back after twelve months…” Read More Here

So, my friends, as you start this new year, I would love to engage in a conversation with you regarding your local Messy Church.  What is going well?  What could be have gone better?  How can I hold you and your team in prayer?  Drop me a note or contact your Regional Coordinator.

For today, I pray this prayer that has been central in my morning routine of awakening to God’s presence.

New every morning is your love, great God of light, and all day long you are working for good in the world. Stir up in us desire to serve you, to live peacefully with our neighbors and all your creation, and to devote each day to your Son, our Savior Jesus Christ, Amen

(The Worshipbook: Services and Hymns, (The Westminster Press 1970m 1972)

May you experience God’s light and love holding you and leading you into 2020. Happy 2020 my friends.

Grace and peace,
Roberta
roberta@messychurchusa.org

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