Last summer, my son was introduced to the sport of fencing. He had a great time and learned a bunch. It was one of the first things that he tried that made him realize he still had a lot to learn. This summer he was able to get into a once a week class which helped to round out his beginner skills. He enjoyed it so much we decided to enroll him in a week long camp at the same facility which started while his weekly class was wrapping up. All this fencing has only fueled his desire to learn and do more. By this point in time, he had even decided which weapon he enjoyed most and wanted to concentrate more on. As he has progressed through the camp, his coach has taken an interest in Tim and he thinks Tim could go far in the sport. It's one of those opportunities that Carla and I can't let slip by. We talked it over as a family and Tim recognized the need for discipline to continue in a sport that will require quite a bit of finagling by the family as a whole to maintain (schedule-wise and financially). He understands that some weeks will simply require more effort than others because his emotions won't always be consistent. That certain weeks, he will simply need to power through when things aren't going so well. With summer ending and school about to start up, things will only get more congested in terms of time, but in the end, we all think it will be worth it for him to pursue what God is doing in this tightly knit circle of the fencing community.
Disciplines are great things for us to work on as Christians, frankly because (like fencing) there are so many. One of the books I like to recommend to people is Donald S. Whitney's Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life. This short book is a wonderful treasure trove of ways we can stretch our faith for the purpose of developing Godliness in our lives. Obviously, things like Bible intake and prayer are in there- and these chapters aren't some simple overview of age old traditions, but rather they help to make us really see and understand why we are doing these things and why we should be doing these things. There are also other disciplines that Whitney explores such as journaling, fasting, and one especially poignant for this day and age- silence and solitude (written back in 1991: two or three years before the internet became popular and roughly 10 years before cell phones started landing in everyone's pocket). The book itself isn't very long and reading it would definitely come under the heading of one of the disciplines he lists- Learning for the Purposes of Godliness. No matter where you are in your walk with the Lord, I suggest you take a look at this fantastic book.
And as you look at your own schedule for the upcoming fall season no matter what stage of life you are in, may you too endeavor to not just add some new thing or hobby or sport into your routine, but also a commitment to a more spiritually disciplined life.
**PS. On a lighthearted note, raising a son always comes with the reminders to "not hit others", at least in the early years. Carla and I do find it odd that we have gotten to the place now with Tim entering fencing where we are OK with sticking a sabre in our son's hand and telling him to go out and hit another kid in the head/torso with it. Not only that, but we find ourselves sitting next to the parents of the aforementioned kid and we can both talk, laugh, smile, and cheer as their child does the same to Tim.
***PSS. Tim came home from camp today and told me how fencing is the safest sport there is. I neglected to tell him that yesterday his coach related a story to me of how he and one of his students once both drew blood at the same time while they were warming up for a competition. SHHHhhhh! Don't tell him.
Serving through love and laughter is a great way to live.