I was recently asked to be part of a skit. Even though I am in front of people speaking or singing, I’m rarely asked to be in a skit. I was told all I would need to do was sing “This Little Light of Mine” over and over – that was it. I agreed. The coordinator sent me the outline for the skit, just basic points, not a script or anything. I read over it, and I actually got all teary-eyed just from reading it. SO, of course, I got a little nervous thinking I might get emotional during the skit which was to be performed at a women’s leadership conference, which meant the attendees would be leaders in ministry. I was to play the part of a Women’s Ministry Director. I would be standing next to 3 other women who each represented another type of woman – a college student, a home-schooling mother and a career woman. We would all be holding candles, and we would all be singing “This Little Light of Mine” together. There would be a 5th woman who would play the role of Satan. One by one, she (Satan) would accuse us and attack us while we kept trying to sing, but one by one, each woman was to stop singing and blow out her candle. When “Satan” got to me, because I represented the Ministry Director, I was to just keep singing and not stop and not blow out my candle. Remember, I would be in front of leaders, and the message was to leaders, which meant I was slightly intimidated right from the start.
How many times had I sung this song as a kid? How many times had I sung this song as an adult? But the morning of the skit, I started to psyche myself out, worried I might sing the wrong words or mash it up with another song or something crazy like that, messing up the entire point of the skit. We started to walk on stage singing, and I didn’t fall going up the steps, so that was a good start. Then “Satan” came onto the stage. I couldn’t hear what she was saying to the first woman, so it wasn’t too difficult or distracting, and I just kept on singing. The second woman was a little closer to me, so I started hearing some of what she was being accused of. It was a bit distracting, but not too bad so I just kept on singing. The third woman was only standing about 3 feet from me, and I could hear what “Satan" was saying to her. I was getting distracted, wanting to hear what was being said and wanting to look over to see her reactions. BUT, I knew what I needed to do, so I tried harder to focus on the simple lyrics to this little song and just kept on singing. Now it was my turn.
Me: “This little light of mine…”
Satan: “Look at this one, all holy and righteous. You read the Bible every day and pray everyday. You think just because you are the Ministry Director that you are safe from me?”
Me: “I’m gonna let it shine…”
Satan: “I know the thoughts that go on in your pretty little head – I know what you’ve done in the past.”
Me: This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine…”
Satan: “YOU are no different than the rest of these ladies over here.”
Me: “This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine…”
Satan: “You've got the same problems and same issues! You just cover them up!”
By this point, I have tears welling up in my eyes. My heart starts beating faster, my voice starts to tremble, and since I’m the only one singing, it’s getting noticeable. I had prepared myself for this; I know this is an actress, but now she’s saying stuff I really do think about.
Me: “Let is shine, let it shine, let it shine…”
Then something happened.
Satan: “You just cover them up with His Word and Prayer. Prayer – what in the world?! What do you think that’s gonna get you? You really think He’s listening to you?”
THIS was the part I didn’t prepare for. When I heard her say “cover them up in prayer” and then ask me, “You really think He’s listening to you?” I actually felt something change inside of me, and my voice got stronger. It was completely unexpected!
Me: “THIS LITTLE LIGHT OF MINE, I’M GONNA LET IT SHINE.”
“Satan” kept talking. She kept walking around me, leaning in, pointing at me – at least I think she did. I know she was still there, but … I honestly couldn’t hear anything she was saying. I just kept singing. I was focused on my song. I was singing louder and stronger. It was one of the coolest experiences I’ve had in a really long time. I was so focused on singing my song, hand now raised in the air, that despite being aware that she was still there, I couldn’t hear anything “Satan” was saying.
After a few minutes, I finally heard “Satan” say, “Blow that candle out." BLOW THAT CANDLE OUT!” And I just kept singing. “THEY’RE NOT WORTH IT – BLOW THAT CANDLE OUT!” And I just kept singing. Loud and right in my ear she said, “BLOW THAT CANDLE OUT!” and I just kept singing. Finally, she backed up. I heard her say she would be back, and I could tell she walked down the steps of the stage.
I just stood there singing.
This was a skit, but I was so affected by it, all I could do was just keep singing … “This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine, let it shine, let it shine, let it shine.”
I slowly came back to reality and finished the skit by walking over to each of the other ladies and relighting their candle; they began singing again with me, and we walked off the stage singing together. Whew! I wiped the tears from my face and returned to my seat. As I sat there, I reflected on those few moments on stage. I tried to remember what “Satan” had said to me. I tried to remember anything that was said the last half of the skit, but I couldn’t. I sat there in awe of what I had just experienced. This little song had taken on a HUGE new meaning for me. In that moment, I lived that song. The song simply says I have a light and I need to let it shine, no matter what, let it shine. I know it’s talking specifically about a “light,” but for me, that day, my light shining meant to just keep singing. So I did. I had a song (my light) and I kept singing (let it shine). No matter what, I kept singing. And when I began to focus on my song, the song in my heart, I could no longer hear the lies, I could no longer hear the accusations, I could no longer feel the heaviness of the attack. Don’t get me wrong - the attack was still there, but its power was gone. My eyes were fixed on Jesus, and I just kept singing.
After that morning session, I was able to share my experience with the friends who were with me – who by the way, wanted to go punch “Satan” for what she said to me (I have great friends!). As I was telling them, it was so clear to me that this is how we need to be in life. We have an enemy! Satan will accuse us and attack us – in many different ways, at many different times in our lives, about many different things. He will try to distract us, he will try to discourage us, and he will try to deceive us so we will blow out our candles. But we must let them shine! We must just keep singing! If we can discover our own God-given song – our unique purpose, and if we will just keep singing that song, then the voice of Satan can and will grow faint, and so will his power.
It was just a skit, but in that moment, it was my reality; and since then, it has served as a reminder to just keep singing. Just keep being, keep doing what I’m doing, keep pursuing God, keep looking to Him for direction, keep trying to make a difference. Despite the set-backs, despite the doubts, despite the fears, despite those who don’t understand or don’t agree, when you don’t think anyone is listening and you think nobody cares - just keep singing. When you don’t feel adequate, when you question your ability and you question your voice, when you feel you have no reason to sing – just keep singing. Whatever it is for you – just keep singing! Sing it loud, and sing it strong - sing the song God has intentionally given you to sing!
I pray you find your song … and I pray that no matter what, you will just keep singing!
Challenging you to chase your best life,
When my son was a tiny newborn, I started singing Amazing Grace to him each night. I did it mainly because it was a song I knew multiple verses to (six to be exact!), and I had grown tired of the children’s classics. In those dark nights, and some dark days, I would rock and rock him while he struggled with falling sleep, and I struggled with fatigue. I would make it through the six verses I knew, and then I’d start over. It was a way to pass the time during those hours that I would be rocking and not sleeping.
I didn’t think about it much at the time, but it served as a reminder to me (daily) of God’s love for us. It was a way to keep my mind on the bigger purpose. My purpose wasn’t just getting my son down for a nap or for the evening, but my bigger purpose is to help my son learn of the God who loves him!
Amazing Grace speaks to me. More specifically, this verse: “‘Twas grace that taught my heart to fear, and grace my fears relieved. How precious did that grace appear. The hour I first believed.” What a great gift God gives us, from the moment we accept Him as our Savior, to eternity. Every day. Every hour of every day.
Motherhood has not always been easy for me. (Shocker! Right, moms?) I struggled as a new mom. The idea in my head was very different from the early reality. We made it through those early months, and it truly has gotten better. Motherhood has, in fact, made me a better person but has also seen the worst of me. Lack of sleep, hormones and enormous responsibility can do that to you. I’ve learned of strengths I never knew existed, and it's brought to light the weaknesses that require me to rely on God … and God alone. I’ve often thought of 2 Corinthians 12:9, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” How relieving to realize that you don’t have to be strong in all moments! It’s in those moments of weakness that God’s grace is extended, and His power gives you strength. And I’ve never needed His grace and strength as much as I do now.
We just had our little guy dedicated at church. The verse we used during the dedication was Luke 2:40, "And the child grew and became strong; he was filled with wisdom, and the grace of God was on him.” Amazing Grace has not only been a song for my life, but it’s becoming a song for his. Now, as my baby has turned into a toddler, he has started requesting I sing Amazing Grace on those nights he’s scared or struggling to sleep. How precious. How comforting.
Thank You, Lord, for your grace. Thank You for your love for all of us.
If you missed my last post (Part 1), please take a moment to catch up before you continue.
All caught up? Then let's continue! Once you have planned it, picked a time, picked a place, scheduled it and determined not to have an "ALL or NOTHING" attitude, it's time to discover how to meaningfully connect with God.
First: Know how you connect with Him and what makes time with Him life-giving and not life-draining. If you haven't taken Sacred Pathways at one of our events, email us! We will gladly email you the questions and results explanations. This was life-changing for me! I took it in August, and thought ... "Hmm, I should try spending time with Jesus again and change things up." But of course, my inconsistency and all or nothingness didn't let me. When my dad died in November, I continued to try to fix myself in my own strength and failed. I finally gave in, said I'd spend time with Jesus every day for a week and see if He could bring any relief to my grief, and like I mentioned previously, I honestly didn't believe He could. When I started, I started with my "Pathways" in mind. I'm an Enthusiast/Contemplative, Caregiver, and Naturalist.
A. My enthusiast side needed worship music to connect with God. Worship music is a mandatory component of my Jesus time. I buy a new worship album every 2-3 months.
B. My contemplative side needed to reflect. This is why I started a calendar journal (You can read more about that here). My all or nothing nature found a big journal intimidating at first, so I started small with calendar journaling and fell in love! Now I do a calendar journal and a prayer journal.
C. Caring for others makes me feel closer to God (my caregiver side), so a major part of my Jesus time is listening to the Holy Spirit and who He is putting on my heart, praying for them, and then often taking my phone out right then and there to send them a quick text telling them I'm praying for them and encouraging them in some way.
D. I need to feel connected to nature in some way (naturalist side). Friends, I hate sweating, so sitting outside isn't always an option for me. When it is, I do! But if it's too cold or too hot, I need to be sitting by a window and be able to see the outdoors.
I also believe other things play a part in how you connect with God. I'm an extreme extrovert, tend to be shy, BUT I 100% get energy from being around other people. Therefore, when I try to sit at a table or desk in my empty apartment and spend time with Jesus, it's the opposite of life-giving! It drains me. So I create my own world in public places, usually a coffee shop. I put in my earphones, turn on my music, journal and read –– surrounded by people, by energy, but in my own bubble with my Savior. Which brings me to my next point/step.
Next: Let the floodgates open. Bring tissues. Public or not, if you need to cry, cry! It's therapeutic, and it brings healing. I can't tell you how many times I've been crying in Starbucks. No one judges.
Finally(ish): Here is where I share my suggested routine. Once you take Sacred Pathways, figure out your plan, your routine. My routine might not be perfect for you, but it radically changed my life and now I crave spending time with Jesus instead of avoiding it.
1. Go to your "Gethsemane" place; try out a few if you need to. Mine is Starbucks. Yours might be a breakfast table on your porch. But go dressed and ready! Getting ready helps awaken any "I'm not a morning person" tendencies.
2. Eat before and/or bring food/snacks with you. We're real here, remember?! Hunger can be a distraction and an "excuse" to give up after a few minutes. I am not good at doing anything in the mornings but getting ready, including eating. I bring my fruit and yogurt with me. Also, acquire caffeine if you partake of the wonderful substance. It fights the sleepies.
4. Pick a table/chair/bench/wherever, and set the table, like a date with Jesus. Get out your Bible and books and nice pens, plug in your earphones, and start the worship music.
5. Reflect. Reflect on where you are, what you feel, why your day was crappy yesterday, your sinful tendencies, forgiveness, and then love and redemption. I journal at this point and first. Through doing that I think about the day before, the morning, ask forgiveness for my sin, ask for clarity and focus, thank Him for loving me, etc. And pray. I do this via prayer journal by praying specifically for different people and their needs and different things I'm struggling with.
6. Read. If this is your first day after long term avoidance habits, I'd highly recommend starting with Psalm 51 and then Psalm 139. Any time I stray away and forget that I need Jesus or that He loves me, I always read these two Psalms in that order. It's just a good reminder of our failings and His love for us. After that, find a reading plan that works for you. I'm currently obsessed with She Reads Truth. They have so many great plans! They always have a current one going on, but you can also do any of the older ones. If I'm not caught up in my reading, which of course happens, I usually read a couple of days worth of readings, but one will do as well. I also have been slowly reading through Psalms since my dad died when I had time left after reading whatever plan I was reading. And, if you want to start a book, or finish a book you already started, I sometimes read a chapter of a Jesus book. My favorite amount of time is an hour and 15 - 30 minutes. But most often I get about 50 minutes to an hour. All of the things I mentioned can happen in an hour!
Whew. If you made it through all of that, it's time for action! What's your plan? What are you waiting for? Just give Him two weeks, and watch Him transform your relationship with Him. Let's stop letting Satan win this battle. I recently watched a video from The Gospel Coalition that SheReadsTruth posted, about the importance of God's word in our lives. Something they said stuck with me.
"The enemy wants to keep us out of the Bible. He's a liar. We listen.
He tells us things like:
'You'll be studying the Bible later today working on something so you don't really need to study it for yourself today.'
'You had a hard day yesterday; you need a little more sleep.'
'It will probably be boring or won't feel like it's really for you.'
The devil wants to keep us out of God's word. We think they are our own thoughts, and perhaps they are, but Satan uses them. God's word is living! It's for us. We need it."
Stop believing lies. Let your Savior woo you back to Him. Don't be motivated by a "supposed to" or check off list. Be motivated by your Savior's complete, beautiful love for you. When someone loves us that much, and we actually believe it, giving Him a little bit of time can become natural and not a hassle. God knows you. He made you. He knows what you need, how your brain works, and wants you to love and enjoy spending time with Him. Start today.
Let's make our own rules,
I've been walking with Jesus in some way or another, which admittedly sometimes involved running away from Him or dragging my feet as I walked, or kicking and screaming along the way, for 17-ish years. When I began the journey at 13, that was probably the only year of my life until I was 29-ish (by the way, I operate on the "ish" system often) that I semi-regularly spent time with Him. Some youth leader at some youth rally probably said something that inspired me to make a mental list of things I was "supposed" to do as a Christian. None of those things were bad, but they didn't stick. I was motivated to read my Bible every day so I could check it off of a list, because doing the things on that list seemed to be the opposite of spending eternity in a fiery pit. I was motivated by a "supposed to", not by love (love for my Savior, and believing and understanding His love for me.)
Through high school, college, and post college, my time with Jesus was hit and miss at best. When the woes of the world brought me to a realization that things don't always work or happen like they are supposed to, I didn't see the value in getting up early or making extra time in my day to spend time with Jesus. I still walked with Jesus; He still somewhat influenced my decisions, but I wasn't captivated by Him because I didn't spend time with Him. I was really good at believing I was capable of doing life in my own strength, with my own knowledge. When my dad died on November 18th, 2012, there was no strength or knowledge that I had to prepare me for that grief. In desperation, I told Jesus I'd actually try spending time with Him for two weeks, fully believing that even He couldn't bring peace or healing to my grief. I gave a feeble attempt at an inch, and He pursued me back miles and miles.
I actually started to enjoy giving Him a part of my day. I loved it so much I wanted to know how to make it even better, even more life-giving to me. For about a year and three months now, I've given Jesus part of my day, more days than not, which in all honesty was something I actually never did in my prior years of being a Christian. It has incredibly transformed my life. The intimacy I have with my Savior now, is not something I ever want to be without –– the intimacy and transformation is something that not only I felt, but that other people could see. A best friend recently asked for accountability in the area of Jesus time and for a plan to jump back in it. I sent her a REALLY long email, and she responded with, "You should make this a blog post." I decided that was indeed a great idea. DONE! And so, you've been warned: The following plan/explanation to transforming your time with Jesus is a little lengthy, but so so worth it. And I've divided it into two posts so that you can have time to think about it and really let it soak in.
First: Plan it. Pick a time. Pick a place. Schedule it. And about timing, for many years, most of my life, I used not being a morning person as an excuse for not giving Jesus the first part of my day. I wholeheartedly believe there is value in giving Him the first. The later in the day it is the more chance Satan has to talk you out of it, the more chance he has to fill your day with things and make you think you don't have time, the more chance you'll get tired and find more value in a nap than in spending time with Him. Also, the whole world isn't awake yet. On the days I miss mornings and try for afternoons, it can and has been good, but it's so much more distracting. People are awake and texting me, liking my instagrams, posting on Facebook, etc. If you really want to make this a lifelong regular practice that can easily fit into your life regardless of what's on your plate, I recommend mornings. The example of giving God our mornings is all through scripture, Old and New Testament. And also, Jesus did it. Can't argue with that point. :) If you don't have a specific schedule, "morning" can be a flexible term. You can sleep in until 9:00, take a shower, eat something (or pack a lunch) and still be giving him the first part of your day. I really believe we're called to give Him our first fruits, tithe and time. Neither are easy, but He blesses it times a million. So far no one who has given mornings a chance can argue with me on this point. :)
Then: If your plan falls through, don't beat yourself up or throw in the towel. I am the QUEEN of all or nothing. My entire spiritual journey until last year was all or nothing, and therefore mostly nothing. If I couldn't spend two hours reading my Bible and being hyper spiritual, if I skipped a day, if there was any inconsistency at all, NOTHING. It can't be like that. We don't have to push ourselves into pits of self-condemnation. If we miss a day, two, a month, or 5 years, He's just as ready to take us back. So if you accidentally skip a morning, try for the afternoon; if it doesn't pan out ... tomorrow is a new day with new mercies!
In my next post, we'll talk more about specific ways to connect with God and develop an action plan!
Let's make our own rules,
Values … you have values whether you can put a name to them or not. Your values are the principles that you deem important, those things that motivate you. They are the driving force behind what you do and who you are. Your values shape your behavior, your relationships and your choices. Having values is like having a firm foundation to build on. The more you know about your values, the easier it will be to understand and prioritize the things you do.
I recently heard a message from Andy Stanley called "Ask It." He used Ephesians 5:15-16 which says, “Be careful, then, how you live -- not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity." He started off the message with this intro:
What if there was a question that would clarify your best option for ninety percent of the decisions you make in life—a question that answers just about everything? It would have the potential to foolproof your relationships, marriage, finances, calendar, pace and health. It would reduce the complexity of your life. It would save you time, money and tears. You would carry around less regret. And best of all, you wouldn't have to apologize nearly as much.
It is a simple question. “What is the wise thing to do?” Andy called it a litmus test for every decision we make. I believe that our values also play a huge part in this test. When we know our values and we ask, “What is the wise thing to do?”, we are putting our best interest first. God has our best interest in mind; shouldn't we? When we consider our values and “what’s the wise thing to do” in regards to our past, we can keep history from repeating itself. For example, I value loyalty. When I consider loyalty and what the wise thing to do would be based on my past, I know that I am putting my marriage first. I am breaking the cycle of divorce that runs in my family. When it comes to my current circumstances, my values of faith and trust coupled with “what’s the wise thing to do” empowers me to release the situations I cannot control over to God. Legacy is important to me, and in light of my future hopes and dreams, I can focus on leaving a spiritual legacy for my daughters and future generations. Do you get the idea? Our values can and should make decision-making easier. They must be a gauge by which we measure everything in our lives.
Hopefully by now you are thinking about your values. I want you to write down at least 10 values. I know this is going to be hard, so let me give you a few examples.
Now that you have your ten values, I want you to narrow them down to five. You might be thinking ”FIVE?!” Yes!!! I want you to narrow them down to five. You need to laser beam focus on five values that mean the most to you. You may need to walk away from them for a bit.
Our goal with this exercise is simple. The things that we say are important to us must line up with how we live our lives. If integrity is on our list, our words and deeds must match up. If we value service, we must use our talents to serve others. You've heard the TWU Faculty and teachers say that we are all created on purpose for a purpose. Our values shed light on our purpose. All of us are on a spiritual and creative journey to become all God created us to be. By knowing our values and standing strong in them, we are on our way to becoming the women we were meant to be. I firmly believe that when we learn more about ourselves and who we are in Christ, we gain wisdom and insight.
My prayer for you today is that you understand yourself a little more. Pray and seek God’s Word to help you design your core values. When our values line up with God’s, we will look at things from His perspective.
Embrace life to the fullest,
As an educator, I get to work with kids from all walks of life. Some kids come to school ready to soak it all in and learn. It is obvious that they have been invested in. You can tell from their conversations that the adults in their lives have taken the time to love them, play with them, teach them, read to them, and ensure their environment is safe and appropriate. You can also tell which kids don’t spend quality time with the adults in their life, haven’t been read to as much, don’t feel as loved, and who have not had someone safeguarding their environment and what they are exposed to. Both types of kids are FULL OF POTENTIAL, but those whose homes have not been so great often face much greater challenges in realizing their potential. The greatest challenge I face in my job relates to loving that kid that is “unlovable” and encouraging him (or her) to rise and succeed despite the odds. The greatest moments of joy come when that kid truly reaches that potential!
But really, is the same true of us as adults? Can the outsider observing us see that we are loved? That we spend time with our families? That we spend time with our Heavenly Father? That we are being taught by Him? That we expose ourselves to things that will build up our character, not tear it down?
Here’s the catch: as an adult, we have much more power to choose the influences in our lives than a child does. Plus, we have a Heavenly Father who is ready and willing to invest in us, to spend time with us, to teach us. We just have to let Him into our lives.
So today, I want to encourage you to reach your full potential. Intentionally make time to spend with the Lord and with those He has placed you closest to. Be wrapped up in His Love, letting it overflow to others. Surround yourself with influences that will help lift you up, not distract you from living a godly life. Choose joy, not anger and bitterness. Rise above all you have been and grasp all you can be in Christ. Allow His influence on your life to shine through and be easily seen. As you do this, you will succeed. Despite the odds, despite your past, you will become all He has created you to be. The world around you will notice and be encouraged. Your influence will be great and will spark the greatness in others.
Stay connected to Him, and enjoy the journey of becoming!
God… is my cheerleader! Yes, I said cheerleader. No, I don’t mean that kind. Of course, He doesn’t wear a skirt and carry pompoms everywhere He goes, but He does cheer us on. He’s rooting for us every day to run down the court, shoot for the goal, and receive the prize of the high five. Now, I know you must be thinking … why am I running? What goal? The prize is a “high five”? What does that mean? Well, I am glad you are asking these questions because my hope is that you’ll understand why God is my cheerleader and why He can be yours too.
When I was in high school, I played basketball. I usually played two positions which were the small forward or the power forward. Both required a great deal of running as I was closest to the goal. So in order to be able to run without losing my breath, I had to build up my endurance. The best way my coach knew how to do that was to get the team to run drills. Whoever came up with the name of the drills we were doing wasn’t kidding. They were called “suicides.” That’s right, suicides! Those drills nearly killed me most days, but when I tell you they worked, I mean they REALLY worked! With every practice, I was building up my endurance. Every breath became a little easier, and in time, I became a runner -- at least on the basketball court. You see, the one thing I know about running is that it takes effort. It takes effort to decide that you're going to subject your feeble body to pain. Yes, running is painful when you begin, but over time, as you practice the sport, your body gets stronger. Where I was once weak, I now was made strong as I began to practice more and more.
You see, God is my cheerleader because when I choose to make an effort, no matter how hard or painful the task, He is there giving me strength and whispering to me, ”You can do this! Press on and fight hard! Don’t surrender and fall beneath the white flag. You’ve got this! I believe in you.” His words of encouragement cheer me on.
Did you notice I said He whispers? Just as God doesn’t wear skirts and carry pompoms around, He also doesn’t shout at you. He prefers to cheer for you with a still small voice. He’s hoping that you will be still enough to listen and believe what He is telling you. God wants and desires to see you grow, to be all that He created you to be. So as you're running, take time to focus and listen to God’s voice.
Now that you know the answer as to why you need to run, what about the goal? What is the goal and when will you know you’ve reached it? I’ll never forget what my coach used to teach us about the goal. He said, “Aim for the square. If you hit the square, then you’ll make the goal.” The square is an outline of a square in the middle of the backboard right above the hoop. It is the target. In order to aim for the target you have to have the right position. You have to make sure you bend your knees and when you jump, throw the ball up and over with a slight hook of the wrist. Of course, I must admit, that was not the easiest thing for me to accomplish. I would always try too hard, forcing the ball just a little too much, which in turn caused the ball to bounce off the backboard instead of falling right through the hoop. It took great skill and focus to hook the ball with just the right amount of strength.
You see, God is my cheerleader not only when I run but also when I shoot for the goal. The goal is simply to overcome. To reach it you have to get in the right position to overcome with just the right amount of strength. The right position includes choosing righteousness, keeping a sense of self-determination, and focusing on the prize ahead. Waking up each day to decide that you CAN and WILL overcome the adversities that come your way no matter how tempting, how painful, or how hard it may be. God gives you just the right amount of strength to do so. All you have to do is use it. Are you willing to put forth the effort? Practice the right position? Shoot for the goal? God knows you can do it and so do I!
So you know why you must run and shoot for the goal, but what about the prize? Why is the prize a “high five?” While playing high school basketball, I felt such a great sense of accomplishment with every goal I made. It felt so good to know that all my hard work paid off. One of the things I enjoyed the most was the high five I got from all my team mates every time I made a goal. It was a great reward. The high five meant that my teammates had confidence in me. It showed me that they were proud of me and that I could be proud of myself.
You see, God is my cheerleader not only when I run and shoot for the goal, but also when I receive the prize of the high five. When I choose to make the effort to overcome in righteousness with his strength, God is proud of me. His confidence in me shows me that He is proud of me and that I can be proud of myself. This sense of accomplishment helps me to keep running, to keep shooting for the goal, and to keep receiving high fives from Him!
So what about you? What will you choose? Will you choose to allow God to be your cheerleader? If you do, you’ll never regret it. Because in the end … You WIN! Not on the court but in LIFE!
Keep calm and journey on,
“Have you not known? Have you not heard? The everlasting God, the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth neither faints nor is weary. His understanding is unsearchable. He gives power to the weak; and to those who have no might, He increases strength. Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall. But those who wait on the Lord, shall renew their strength. They shall mount up with wings like eagles. They shall run and not be weary. They shall walk and not faint.”
-Isaiah 40: 28-31
Ok, I admit it, I am an Olympics fanatic! But not in the way you may think. Every time I watch the Olympics, I am inspired and encouraged by the stories of the Olympians. This time I was struck by the stories of Emily Scott, a short-track skater; Noelle Pikus-Pace, a skeleton slider; and Jeremy Abbott, an America figure skater. Listening to their stories, watching their successes, and witnessing their setbacks touched my heart.
During an interview, Emily said, “Everyone has a story,” as a way to draw attention away from her story. She came to the Olympics through the monetary donations of others. She grew up in a single parent home with her father as her soul caretaker. She started her athletic career as an inline skater, but switched to short track in 2008 so that she could hopefully participate in the Olympics one day. As I watched her skate and finish first in her preliminary heat, she was cool and calm and showed experience beyond her years. Yet later, when she was in her semi-final race, she was taken down by a Korean skater forcing her to finish in 5th place after getting back up. As I stand back and look at her story, two points stick out to me. She grew up with the cards stacked against her, but she did not let her mother being in jail or the fact that she had to receive food stamps at one time, label her and define who she is. Also, when she fell down, she got back up and completed the race. WOW!!! Can you see the spiritual parallels? How often do we let our past define who we are and color our entire lives? We do not let who He says we are permeate our souls. Instead, we allow the past to creep back in and rob the joy of being one of God’s kids. Yes, we all make mistakes; we all seek to find our significance and purpose in other things and other people besides God, but it is recognizing that and getting back up and focused that makes the difference. The Bible says we will face difficulties and trials. My prayer is that we will see the freedom and peace He longs to give us on the other side, and even in the midst of the trials.
Jeremy Abbott has always struggled with nerves, and it showed right away at the Olympics. During the team competition, he did not skate as well causing his other teammates to work even harder. Then came his time in the men’s individual skating event, and all eyes were on him. Shortly after beginning, he hesitated to start his quad jump in time causing him to fall hard on his hip. Dazed and confused, he lay on the ice with a look of resignation in his eyes. Then to the surprise and amazement of all, he arose and completed his program. I was cheering him on every step of the way just as the crowd in the ice rink applauded and cheered throughout his program. When he received his score, it was even higher than what he had scored the first time he skated for the team competition. Yes, his story is similar to that of Emily’s but with a different twist to it. In his initial performance, he was competing with his team. Never did I see them berate him or say, “Thanks for nothing, bud.” When they went on to win the bronze, no one said, “You don’t get one because you did not perform well enough.” Regardless of his performance, he was still part of that team, and he deserved to share in the benefits. Ok, I am so excited as I look again at the spiritual applications! We are God’s kids, so it is like we are on His team. Even when we mess up and live in a way that is contrary to who we are, we still have all the benefits of being God’s kids. We can deny it and say, “Oh, I am not worthy.” That would be like Jeremy refusing to receive his medal because he had one bad skating day. My friends, that is where grace and forgiveness come in.
As I watched a feature story on Noelle and her return to the sport of Skeleton, I was mesmerized. In the 2010 Olympics, Noelle finished in 4th place, just short of the podium. Up to this point she spent much of her life on the road, away from her family, traveling on the Skeleton World Cup Team. After the Vancouver Olympics, she retired from Skeleton, believing she was done. She had her second child and enjoyed her life as a mom. Then tragedy struck. She found herself filled with such joy at being pregnant again, but then she had a miscarriage. This propelled her forward to re-enter the world of Skeleton, but with a totally different focus and motivation. Her husband told her that she should try Skeleton one more time. They both decided that if she were to continue that the sport would not steal her family time from her. Her husband and two kids travel everywhere with her, and she takes her kids with her when she works out at the track or into their weight room at home when she works out. She came in as a favorite to do well at this Olympics, and she ended up earning a silver medal in Skeleton. I believe that even if she had not, she would have been filled with the same amount of joy because at the end of the day, she still had her amazing family. After winning she scaled a wall to get to her husband and embrace him. It was a beautiful moment. Noelle had a moment that woke her up at the 2010 Olympics; she had an aha! moment about who and what was the most important thing in her life. Her heart no longer pursued the prize as much as enjoying the journey of life with those she loved. That is how I want to live. I want to stop when the world begins to get to busy around me and takes me away from those I love and away from His real purpose for me.
My prayer for all of you is that you will know you are deeply loved and cherished by Father. Also, that even in the mess-ups and the hard parts, He does not leave or turn His back. He wants to shower you with His love. I also hope and pray the "busyness" of this world does not take you captive and away from your first love, Christ.
Becoming Who My Father Sees in Me,
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