Sunday, August 28, 2016

The Book of Common Prayer

Another excellent resource that I have adopted in my daily prayer and meditations is The Book of Common Prayer App which is now available on iTunes. 

The app, adapted from Shane Claiborne's book, leads readers through a series of concise liturgies to aid in daily prayer and contemplation. 

Here is the product description on iTunes...

Common Prayer helps today’s diverse church pray together across traditions and denominations. With an ear to the particulars of how various liturgical traditions pray, and using an advisory team of liturgy experts, the authors have created a tapestry of prayer that celebrates the best of each tradition. The book also includes a unique songbook composed of music and classic lyrics to over fifty songs from various traditions, including African spirituals, traditional hymns, Mennonite gathering songs, and Taize chants. Tools for prayer are scattered throughout to aid those who are unfamiliar with liturgy and to deepen the prayer life of those who are familiar with liturgical prayer. Ultimately, Common Prayer makes liturgy dance, taking the best of the old and bringing new life to it with a fresh fingerprint for the contemporary renewal of the church. Churches and individuals who desire a deeper prayer life and those familiar with Shane Claiborne and New Monasticism will enjoy the tools offered in this book as a fresh take on liturgy.

I have found the app a peaceful respite throughout the day. I recommend it highly. 

Saturday, August 27, 2016

First Week

First week done! Only 35 more to go! I better get busy, not much time left!

They do go by fast. This first week highlights the fact that we must embrace the chaos this year. Heavy rains during the week soaked our kids as they made their way from the main building to the cafeteria and gym. That's a pool outside my room. Construction has made everything a mess. But we are embracing the chaos!

My kids are great. I have 34 of them in my 5th Period on-level World History class. But we are embracing the chaos. 

It will be an exciting year. In a couple of years, when normalcy has returned and we're all in the humdrum of the routine in a new building, we'll look back fondly at these days of insanity. 

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Blessing of the Backpacks

Today our church, Heath First United Methodist, celebrated The Blessings of the Backpacks. Tomorrow school begins. I'm excited. 

Saturday, August 20, 2016


I'm ready. Classes start Monday. My eighteenth year, sixteen in this classroom. But this is the last semester in the old Temple of Doom. Construction timetables have us moving to new shinier digs in January. If I look to my right, out the window, here's the view...

Kind of a mess right now with all the surprising August rains. That used to be my parking space. I will be sad to say goodbye to the old place. Sixteen years I've been in that room, more than most of the houses I've lived in my life. I'll probably be in an upstairs room. I won't have carpet, I will lose 80 square feet and I'll be a bit out of the main traffic patterns. However, a new place will provide a nice fresh start.

I'm also completely revising all three of my courses this year. I needed to innovate. Maybe I'm being a bit too ambitious. But I needed to get out of my rut. Last year was rough, losing my Dad in the first week of school. I lost motivation. I just wanted to get through the day. This year, I'm fired up. I'm ready to go. It's going to be crazy. It's going to be chaotic. It's going to be great. 

Friday, August 12, 2016


As you can see, I haven't blogged in over three months. Those months just happen to coincide with summer vacation. We were pretty busy, as usual, this summer. Traveled to Florida, Indiana, and Oklahoma. Kept pretty busy in Texas. Now I'm back in preparations for school to start. I'm getting ready to get back into the routine. Things are about to get hectic. School, writing a thesis, little league...the usual.

One of the most important parts of my daily routine is time for contemplation and meditation. I've discovered if I can dedicate just ten to fifteen minutes a day to mediation and prayer my life improves remarkably. My blood pressure goes down. The ways I handle stress are much healthier. Problems do not loom so large. My outlook becomes much more positive. And I grow closer to God.

My practice is pretty quick and simple. I have an app on my phone called the Centering Prayer App. It's a highly customizable app that helps guide you through a series of steps to still your mind. Currently I have mine set to the following steps...

A recitation of Psalms 46:10 - Be still and know that I am God. I take a deep breath and recite this prayer three times. The last time I begin dropping off parts of the prayer...

Be still and know that I am God.
Be still and know that I am.
Be still and know
Be still

Then the app chimes and leads me into four minutes of quiet reflection. The timer can be set to whatever duration you wish. I've increased it from three to four minutes and hope to expand to five minutes soon. During those quiet minutes I recite the Jesus Prayer slowly and quietly to myself over and over again.

Dear Jesus, have mercy on me...a sinner.

I repeat that prayer quieting my mind and focusing my busy thoughts on to Christ.

The chime rings and gives me the verse Romans 12:12 which I read out loud...

Rejoice in hope,
endure in affliction,
persevere in prayer.

I take a deep breath and open up a second app called Sacred Space. Sacred Space leads you through a series of six short prayers and meditations curated by Jesuit Monks in Ireland. These prayers mirror the Ignatian prayer exercises created by St. Ignatius Loyola centuries ago. They follow the pattern of...

The Presence of God
Freedom in God
The Word

You can also find Sacred Space online at

I wrap up my time of contemplation with a daily text from the director of Seedbed. Seedbed is a publishing company associated with Asbury Theological Seminary. Seedbed is a Methodist movement seeking to bring people closer to Christ. Their doctrine is Wesleyian. You can subscribe to a short daily devotional from Seedbed's director J.D. Walt that is emailed to your inbox. The devotional is short, meditative and closes with introspective questions. I find these short devos challenging and thoughtful.

That's my process. It usually takes about ten to fifteen minutes. But those ten minutes make a huge difference in my day. I function better. My mind is clearer. My purpose in life reinforced. And most importantly I feel a deeper connection with my Savior.