Tag Archive | truth

Vision Correction

There are so many places in the Bible where we can find some variation of this phrase…He who has eyes, let him see. And along with that usually comes…he who has ears, let him hear.

If you have kids, then you know that having ears does not always mean that those ears hear what is being said. Kids get a bad rep in that area. Frankly, I think we all are guilty of that. Likewise, if you have eyes- it doesn’t mean that they always see things clearly.

I wanted to share with you a conversation I had with a stranger yesterday. It is time for me to update my glasses, so I took the opportunity in the quiet of the morning to call the eye doctor’s office. The sweetest lady with the most melodious Jamaican accent was the associate I was asking for. A few months ago, she kindly wrote down the number for a pair of frames I had my eye on so I would have it when the insurance plan renewed. When I called yesterday morning, she and I began to discuss the task at hand. While she was calculating some things- our conversation turned to the horrible flooding in Houston. I shared with her that I just had our heating oil tank filled before the prices went up as a result of that storm. She, apologetically, gave me the hefty price for the lenses and frames I desired. I have such a horrible prescription that they have to be special ordered. Uggh….Ouch! She said, “Wow, I am so sorry. I know you just paid to have your oil tank filled and now this.” My response stopped her in her tracks, “Ma’am. I may be a bit hard-headed and a slow study at times…but, one thing God has been really driving into me is the fact that I am in control of NOTHING. Not one thing. So I just have to roll with it.”

She became very silent for a moment and began to almost whisper into the phone. She said, “Miss Joanne, I need to see the good in things. I know that the Lord had you call me today and I am so thankful that you did….”.  She went on to share how a friend had died of pancreatic cancer just months after she adopted a child. She shared how she prayed and her church prayed for both that woman and another person at church who had the same kind of cancer. Her friend died and the other lived. She expressed how down she gets and shared that she gets angry sometimes at God and just asks Him “WHY?”. She said the folks in her church seem to scold her when she asks such questions. So we began to chat. We walked thru Job where I reminded her that he asked questions of God. It’s ok to ask God “why”. (Just know that you may not see or even understand the answer.) We went into Hebrews and all of the folks who God used as a part of His plan…some who died horrible deaths… who never got to see the end result. Heavy hearted she said,  “I know that the Bible says His ways are higher than mine and I still get discouraged. I have to find a way to change my focus.” I suggested somethings to her…what if. Yes, these things hurt us emotionally and even physically. Our hearts break for our circumstances and the circumstances of others. But, what if the death of her friend planted seeds somewhere that would affect that adopted child in the future? What if that child learned how to pray when she prayed and saw her response and love for the Lord even in the face of such a terrile battle? What if that child has been set aside for a certain purpose that only God knows? I asked her to think about the flooding and the tornadoes and any other natural disasters that occur. When those things happen there is an abundance of good that comes in the aftermath. That is certainly hard to see when so many are suffering. We have to open our eyes to others’ suffering so we can minister to them and we also need to be watchful for God’s hand even in those things. We have seen a story of a gentleman opening his furniture store to displaced families and National Guardsmen and feeding them. There are people who were displaced by Katrina years ago who are now helping those in Houston. And it’s always during these times that the name of Jesus and various testimonies of God’s goodness are splashed all over the news. The NATIONAL NEWS. We may not understand these things, but God is in control. So we talked and talked. At the end of our conversation she said, ” I didn’t go to Bible Study at church Wednesday night because I was discouraged. Thank you so much for calling me today. This is the encouragement from the Lord that I desperately needed.”

Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. 2 Corinthians 4:16-18

What? All over a call about glasses?

Vision correction.

We don’t see clearly. We only see what is right in front of our faces and that is such a miniscule view. We read the Word, but struggle to apply it in our lives. We know the truth, but struggle to hold to it at times. This was another reminder that while we focus on what we can see, taste, touch, smell and hear…there is SO much more to this life and our purpose in Christ during our little time on this earth.

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33

God really wants us to see things through spiritual glasses. To see things through HIS lens and to really, really see.  The Pharisees didn’t “get it” and they didn’t have the eyes of their heart open. They were blind. There were many times when Jesus had to spell things out for the disciples even when they were walking with him daily.

He who has eyes…let him SEE.

I LOVE days like this! Days when God places someone in my path. Stay tuned! I am fully aware that -nine times out of ten – I will need those very words for myself a few days later. When that moment comes I pray that if I can’t see clearly with my human eyes, I will trust and know that HIS eyes see so much more.

 

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Known

I apologize in advance if this post seems a little poorly put together. Rest assured- it’s real. Me…in real-time. Sometimes getting these thoughts out helps me bring things back into perspective. Not mine…but, GOD’s. If you look at many of the Psalms they kinda flow the same way. Nope. I am not David- but, I MAN do I relate to him. Anyways…

I woke up this morning trying to get a grip on my “feelings”. I put that word in quotes because, while God gave us feelings….they often lie. They can be a little abstract, overwhelming, stubborn, and unruly and they certainly don’t think.

Stupid feelings.

How is it that I can be surrounded and feel alone? I suspect that I am not the only one, but it seems to be a perpetual thing here. (Especially when I dwell on it. Hmm. Maybe there’s something to that.) I think God has been using those same lonely feelings to move me toward lonely people and minister to them and I am thankful for that opportunity. THAT is a positive thing. However, I am keenly aware that Satan would love to keep me in a lonely place and make me ineffective for Christ. It’s a constant battle between truth and feeling.

Last night I was at a school function. This will be our family’s third year at this school and my second year working part-time there. It’s a super small school – so how is it that even some of the teachers don’t know that I work there? Why don’t the parents know who I am? I spend many hours in that building each week and feel invisible. It’s the same thing at church. As a matter of fact, on one particular evening someone needed help in the nursery. The woman I was speaking with introduced herself and proceeded to give me a tour of the nursery and give me a rundown of the procedures. She thought I was a new member. She was completely oblivious to the fact that I had not only taught her son for a few years in a children’s class at that church – but, worked in the nursery for three years and have been attending for eight years. Invisible. I could go on, but I would not allow my kids to wallow in mud like that so I will refrain and move on.

The truth is – I want to be known. Not like KNOWN with lights and a stage, because that is SO not my comfort zone. Not even a “look at me” known with recognition or props. (Hmm…a certain Francesca Battistelli song is coming to mind.)  Just…known. My name. The real one. Not “hey, girl!” or Joanna or Joan, but Joanne. That’s Jo..anne. Yep, just like that. I want someone to know that I have 2 kids and have lived here for 15 years. (My neighbor around the corner saw me out for a walk and asked when I moved in. Seriously.) I want people to see me and look in my eyes and acknowledge that I breathe in the same spaces they do sometimes. A little more than a smile and a nod would be nice.  Uggh…guilty and convicted… I have to be better at doing that as well.

The truth is – people don’t look up often enough. Myself included. And I am not just talking about “looking up” as in making eye contact with others but, “looking UP”…like, UP…UP. We get so wrapped up in the temporal things; the things we see, taste, touch, hear and smell.  This loneliness thing STINKS- I can smell that! It’s so easy to get wrapped up in Me, myself and I.

The truth is –  if I let those “feelings” govern me instead of God’s truth, my sinful self will end up in pretty bad shape. This morning when I Googled “What does the Bible say about feelings?”, the word FOOL was prevalent among the scriptural results. There was even one scripture in Proverbs that made me wonder if I should delete this post…”A fool uttereth all his mind: but a wise man keepeth it in til afterward.” (Proverbs 29:11). Yikes. I guess it technically IS “afterward” because I waited til morning, right?

The truth is- I am known…

Known by God (Galatians 4:9, 1 Corinthians 3:8)

And HE knows me well…

Psalm 139
For the director of music. Of David. A psalm.
You have searched me, Lord,
and you know me.
You know when I sit and when I rise;
you perceive my thoughts from afar.
You discern my going out and my lying down;
you are familiar with all my ways.
Before a word is on my tongue
you, Lord, know it completely.
You hem me in behind and before,
and you lay your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,
too lofty for me to attain.
Where can I go from your Spirit?
Where can I flee from your presence?
If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
if I settle on the far side of the sea,
even there your hand will guide me,
your right hand will hold me fast.
If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me
and the light become night around me,”
even the darkness will not be dark to you;
the night will shine like the day,
for darkness is as light to you.
For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.
My frame was not hidden from you
when I was made in the secret place,
when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.
Your eyes saw my unformed body;
all the days ordained for me were written in your book
before one of them came to be.
How precious to me are your thoughts,[a] God!
How vast is the sum of them!
Were I to count them,
they would outnumber the grains of sand—
when I awake, I am still with you.
If only you, God, would slay the wicked!
Away from me, you who are bloodthirsty!
They speak of you with evil intent;
your adversaries misuse your name.
Do I not hate those who hate you, Lord,
and abhor those who are in rebellion against you?
I have nothing but hatred for them;
I count them my enemies.
Search me, God, and know my heart;
test me and know my anxious thoughts.
See if there is any offensive way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting.

Oh, Lord….Help me to remember whose I am. And to focus on all You are and not how short I fall. When I FEEL lonely help me to lift my eyes and see others and look higher to see You. Lord, I take comfort in knowing that YOU know me and loved me so much that You sent Your son to die for me. I am known by name and You see my heart and not my outward appearance. I am known by You, LORD, and need to let YOUR light so shine before men so that they may know You, too.  

So there…take that, Stupid Feelings.

 

Tattoos- Love Ran Red

There has been a story circulating on the local and national news stations this week about a man named Bayzle Morgan. You may have seen it, too. He’s a young man who is going on trial for robbery and will be facing a separate murder trial at some point as well. This man is a “Neo-Nazi” and wears that identification (as well as other identifying marks) loud and proud…on his face, head, neck, hands and body.

It seems that the obvious has become a major obstacle when it comes to justice and a fair trial.  To quote from the Las Vegas Review Journal’s July24th story directly:

A month ago, a different group of possible jurors was summoned to decide on the robbery case against Morgan. But one by one, they saw his tattoos and his bald head and said they could not be fair and impartial.

You can read the story here (http://www.reviewjournal.com/crime/homicides/neo-nazi-gets-makeover-hide-tattoos-jury)

The interesting part of this story to me is the judge’s response. The judge in this case has ordered that this man’s tattoos be covered up by a professional make-up artist so there will be no bias based on his appearance. When you read the story, you will see the before and after pictures. What a difference!

A few years back I had a conversation with someone who felt intimidated when she entered a certain store because it was in an area where heavy tattooing is pervasive. The appearance of these folks left her feeling unsafe and vulnerable.(Which is funny because she has tattoos of her own.) While those tattoos are superficial marks, they often do reflect something about the person’s personality and the issues, people or things that may be important to them; both beautiful and sinister. Is it unreasonable to feel uncomfortable based on appearance? Yes. But, let’s entertain another thought. What if- after those marks were made- there was a change. What if those marks no longer reflected who that person is on the inside? My question to her was…

What if we had to wear our sins, past and present, as tattoos on our bodies?

How scary would I be? How intimidating would you be? Would those scary, shameful, intimidating and humiliating marks reflect who I am today? Would they cause people to just make wide circles around me?  Would I get a fair trial?

The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”

1Samuel 16:7

I am SO THANKFUL that the Lord doesn’t look at my sin marks. I have placed my faith in Jesus Christ and now I am clean. He doesn’t see those sins anymore and I am not to defile myself with new marks either. Yes, if you are saved you still sin…I still sin. When Christ takes the stand for me He will present me as the judge did this young man…only it won’t be a temporary covering painted on by a make-up artist. It will be genuine. Washed clean in the blood of the spotless Lamb and presented in white robes.

 And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.

1 Corinthians 6:11

When you are washed clean, walk victoriously in Christ. When you encounter others who are unsaved or saved and in bondage, remember that you were there. Not to say “look at where I am now”, but to proclaim that you have been transformed by the blood of Christ. “Look what HE has done!”  Show compassion and share His love.

Man. I am overwhelmed.

I have a little tidbit to share with you. As I was looking into this story, I began to research the process of covering a tattoo with makeup because of something curious I saw. In one of the pictures in the article, the make-up artist was using something red to cover his tats. I looked up some videos online and sure enough…the best way to cover a tattoo is with a red base (lipstick or powder shadow) followed by concealer, foundation and powder and hairspray. Interesting and cool.

Your love ran red, and my sin washed white…

 

You’re INVITED

I have always felt like I live outside the circle, lonely, overlooked, used and discounted. Well…maybe more like Emmet from the Lego Movie. He’s the guy who wakes up happy and goes about life doing for others, saying “hello”, surrounded by people…but known by no one. When he disappears, the people around him are interviewed and Emmet is discouraged and saddened by the responses.

(The following clip was found on YouTube…I didn’t create this and have no rights to it.)

It’s not that I want to be known, because trust me– that is not my thing either. I just want to love and be loved. I want to feel connected. I don’t want to be like that person in Ecclesiastes 4 who is alone, overpowered, and cold. I think Emmet wanted that, too. I know I have shared this before and I promise that I am not in a place where I am rolling in this like a pig in mud.

In fact, I know who God says I am…

That I am precious and chosen (1Peter2:9)

Fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:14)

His workmanship created in Christ for good works (Ephesians2:10)

Valuable and bought with a price (1Corinthians 6:20)

I am seated with Him in heavenly places (Ephesians 2:6)

And I cling to these truths and so much more. I cling to Christ.

proverbs31

No, I don’t find my value in other people- nor do I want to. But, I will admit that when these feelings bubble up, they do still hinder me in a tremendous way…if I focus me and not God. When I look around, I see so many other women who are disconnected and probably feeling the same way I do. So imagine my surprise when Lysa Terkheurst announced her book called Uninvited! WOW! This is not just something that I feel…c’mon, Lysa Terkheurst!?

I pre-ordered the book last week and look forward to reading it.

I don’t get onto Proverbs31.org daily, but there are some days when I can feel the Lord pointing there instead of the places He has me studying. Today was one of those days. I wanted to share her blog post/devotion with you today and offer some encouragement to those who are not “in”, but feel rather “un”.

YOU ARE NOT ALONE AND YOU ARE LOVED.

God has a purpose for YOU! (And me, too!)

Please read Lysa’s post: When Rejection Steals the Best of Who I Am

Cut and paste this URL…I was unable to attach as a link today …  http://proverbs31.org/devotions/devo/when-rejection-steals-the-best-of-who-i-am/

 

And here’s the INVITATION…On August 9th there is a webcast kicking off this new book and study. I signed up for it. If you see me around, but don’t know me and want to watch it with me- let me know. If you want to read this book with me, study God’s Word or just walk and talk. Find me.

It’s easy to misread people. In this day of technology and social media, it’s way too easy to feel connected and yet never make eye contact with a living soul. It’s time to put down the phone, step out from behind the tablet…lift up those eyes and see people. REAL LIVE PEOPLE who need a friend…who need encouragement… and who need Jesus.

Let’s knock down some walls…because Jesus invited us. Now, we need to reach out and invite others!

 

Consider the Birds of the Air: A Testimony

“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life ?

Matthew 6:25-27

I shared last week about our new friend, Fabrizio. He is the brilliant, blue tree swallow who has selected our birdhouse as his new home. Earlier this week our area was plagued by a string of storms. We were able to prepare in advance by pulling in the deck furniture, lowering the umbrellas on the deck, and securing any loose items in the yard.  The winds were incredible and resulted in downed trees and power lines throughout our area. After one of the storms had passed, our daughter walked out onto the deck and shouted, “Hey! Where is the red house?”. We went outside to confirm her observation…the little birdhouse was gone.

Some things you cannot prepare for.

My husband went to the garden to get a closer look and found the little red birdhouse lying on the ground. He gently picked it up and noticed that the egg inside had been crushed. We noticed our two little bird friends (also surveying the damage) flying in a bit of a frenzy. I suspect that they were a bit concerned by our presence and possibly shaken from the fall. Fabrizio perched himself on the top of the patio umbrella so he could keep a close eye on us. We went to the garage search for a stronger bungee to fasten the birdhouse back onto the post until we can purchase a different bracket. After the house was secured in place, we began to wonder …will our friends stick around? Do we need to clean the nest out of the house? Will this tragedy force them to move on to a new nest? To search for a new home?

My heart was broken.

What we learned next was a lesson straight from the Lord Himself; another example that He has placed in nature that illustrates and amplifies scripture and truth.

I came inside and did what any concerned bird-hostess would do…I Googled! I did a search on what these tree swallows do when a broken egg is in their nest. I was surprised to learn that tree swallows do NOT abandon their nest. As a matter of fact, they work diligently to remove the broken pieces of egg and tattered remains of the nest and they rebuild. I was encouraged and excited and also hopeful when I read this. The next day, I walked out to the garden and found a bunch of feathers on the ground. They were too large to be tree swallow feathers, therefore I determined that they were the feathers that they had used in the construction of that prior nest. The cleaning had begun. Now- a few days later- they have rebuilt and moved back in. They have moved beyond the initial frenzy of a fallen home and crushed egg; they have cleaned up and are back to the business of being a bird.

God has really been working on me in the areas of worry and “control”  (as if I had any control, right?) over the past several years. There has been significant financial stress, school changes, and yes…our house even fell as a result of the crumbling foundation that we haphazardly constructed. With each challenge, I have learned (and am still learning) to lean into the Lord. Our needs have always been met, He led us to a wonderful school and He not only rebuilt our foundation, but He rebuilt our marriage on THE SOLID ROCK. Hallelujah and Praise the LORD!

This week, as I watched Fabrizio rebuild his house- I was waiting for medical test results. Through this whole ordeal I have been wondering if I was under-reacting. I have not been afraid at all and have been very confident of two things.

I am NOT in control….and God IS 100% IN CONTROL.

As I was waiting for the results of the biopsy, I called upon my family and close friends for prayer. God even placed a beautiful woman who had recently gone through breast cancer treatments in my immediate circle. Every morning, before school begins,  the teachers at school gather for prayer and this dear woman and the teachers prayed for the Lord’s hand in my situation. The Lord even put me in the waiting room with a very anxious Christian woman who was waiting for the results of her mammogram. As I shared Isaiah 26:3 with her, she exhaled and shared her heart with me. What a blessing.

He will keep in perfect peace
him whose mind is steadfast,
because he trusts in you.

Isaiah 26:3

It wasn’t until yesterday that the “what if” crept into my consciousness. But, it wasn’t fear that I was facing- It was God Himself. As I prayed, He asked me if I would be this calm and peaceful if the results came back positive. Would my response change? My answer to that question was honest…I hope that my response doesn’t change. I want to remain in perfect peace as I trust in Him. Believe me…in all of my years of worry and attempting control things THIS was not a peace that I could ever manufacture. And I didn’t want that to leave. I am not capable of this- It’s ALL GOD.

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

2 Corinthians 12:9-10

I was thinking about that bird as he cleaned up the pieces of shattered shell and removed a tattered nest. He didn’t retreat. He didn’t give up. He just did what birds do. He rebuilt and relied on God’s provision.

I went today and received the good news in the form of a diagnosis. NOT cancer. The next appointment will be with dermatology.

In the meantime, I am thankful.

I am thankful for a family and friends who pray.

I am thankful for a praying school.

I am thankful for time in the waiting room and the ability to extend God’s peace to someone in need.

I am thankful for a negative result and a positive outlook.

I am thankful for the “what’s next?” that is on the tip of my tongue. I know that there is more to this testimony and am excited to see what that is.

Tonight, I am considering the birds…what a fine example of trust, sustenance, and perseverance. Thank you, Lord for your mighty hand. 

 

City of Refuge- Numbers 35

There is nothing I love more in my study time than that moment when God shows up and jumps off the page of His Word…rich, deep and four dimensional. I love walking around it and viewing it from all sides as God rotates and turns that picture…I love reaching out and touching those moments.

I have been in a rut lately. I have been rushed to get the kids out of the house in the morning and have been making time with God in my prayer journal and maybe a small devotional written by someone else. Long, deep walks in the Word have not happened a month. It’s been a rough, sick, cold season. I am ready for the revival and awakening of life that comes with Spring!

This morning, a bloom sprung forth. My heart is racing.

I have said it before…I am a Old Testament girl. Some would say that’s crazy because Jesus doesn’t show up until the New Testament. But, I beg to differ. He is written on each page and in every historical account all throughout the Bible. For me, when the Holy Spirit shows up during study time- it is like “Where’s Waldo”. Instead of having to hunt and search…He reveals Himself in living color. Vibrant and alive. I LOVE mornings like this.

This morning, I picked up where I left off in the book of Numbers. Numbers 35 to be exact. The Israelites are camped on the east side of the Jordan and God is talking with Moses…leading him to prepare them for what’s ahead. They are learning how the land will be divided, who will divide it and where they will each settle. God just said that a portion of the land from each tribe would be given to the Levites: 48 cities in all. Of those cities, six would be “Cities of Refuge”. Three would be on the east of the Jordan and three on the west. If a person kills another person, the offending party could run to a City of Refuge until the trial. It is here, that they would be kept safe from retaliation until the trial was complete and judgment was handed down. In Numbers 35, the definition of murder was also spelled out. Intent was the determining factor. Accidents happen but, hatred and malice would not be tolerated.

I am going to challenge you to read this for yourself, therefore, I am not going to copy the whole text into this blog. Please open your Bible to Numbers 35 and read through the whole thing. Don’t miss a word- you’ll not regret it.

Let’s skip forward to the consequences:

If a person is found guilty of murder, that person is put to death. There is no other consequence. And it is spelled specifically that NO RANSOM can be paid to avoid death. Period.

If a person is found innocent, then they cannot go home. They must stay in the City of Refuge until the High Priest dies. Then they may go home. No ransom can be paid for them to go home early. The ONLY RANSOM for this person is the death of the High Priest.

Do you see it?? Do you see HIM!!!?

For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Romans 6:23

I am still swooning.

The only ransom for someone found innocent by the High Priest is the priest himself. Jesus. His blood, death, resurrection…He is my ransom. He is my City of Refuge. The only way I can go to my Heavenly home is through Jesus. Believing on and placing my full faith in Jesus as my redeemer. Because of Jesus, I will be found not guilty. Praise the Lord.

“No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws them, and I will raise them up at the last day. ” John 6:44

Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you really know me, you will know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him.” John 14:6

 

Jesus, Jesus, Jesus…just hang there for a moment.

Oh, mercy! A treasure hiding in plain sight.

Thank you LORD for such a rich morning with You. Too much to keep to myself. I pray that you will help me plant seeds in others that you may water and grow as I am learning to bloom where I am planted.

 

Lessons from the Littles: Shooting hoops

As I said in the last post…God has been using interactions with our kids to teach ME lately. This one comes from the bleachers. We are in the middle of Upward Basketball season. We have participated- and hubby has coached- in this program for the past four years and it is a tremendous blessing to our community. Our son is…well…not very athletically inclined. Like many kids these days he’d rather be curled up with a book (or more likely a video game) than running anywhere. Thankfully for him- he does not get that choice. While we really try not to push them into things they absolutely hate, we do require some kind of sport with physical activity in the Winter months to keep them from…well, getting like me. (There…that’s my brutal self deprecating honesty for the day.) He didn’t want to do basketball again this season, but he couldn’t come up with another option so here we are. PRAISE THE LORD!

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This year, my hubby decided to coach our daughter instead of our son. Let’s just say there is some value in stepping back for a moment to invite another person in to give direction. While hubby has voiced that it hurts a little to see our son excel under the direction of another…we are both super excited at the change in our boy this year. And that’s not just a skill thing either! He is really getting it! In the years past he walked, skipped, sauntered…and stood…and dribbled…and stood…and dribbled…and let the clock run out while he did it. It was frustrating to watch, but we encouraged him every step of the way.  I don’t know if he was storing all of that knowledge up or if he is a little more coordinated this year…maybe a combination of both AND the unfamiliar voice telling him what to do. WOW. Each week he is learning and using a new skill. He is running. They are keeping him in longer. And his confidence is soaring! During his last game, he made 3 baskets and ran the whole time. WITH A SMILE.

One of the things I noticed in weeks past; someone on the opposing team would shoot the ball and my son’s team would rebound and run it up the court. Our son would run to that basket and just stand under it…waiting for the rebound. Never mind his team players scrambling for position and looking for someone…anyone…to be open. So the following week in practice, the coach focused on offensive and defensive positioning. He talked to them about running around to PLACE themselves in the best spot to receive the ball. That means positioning and re-positioning …going around obstacles and the people who are trying to keep you from that ball. Defensively, it means positioning yourself in a spot that will hinder the “enemy” and guard your teammate. Do you already see where I am going with this?

As I prayed on Tuesday, I was throwing a bit of a pity party. Stinking thinking. The comparison game is not a good one. I should be focused on the ONE…not the other ones. When I look down at my feet and the feet of those around me, I am not focused on God or the ministry that HE has laid out before me – and am certainly not walking (or sprinting) forward in victory.

Positioning.

There are times when I wait for the ball. Standing still. Not rushing to get it and not really knowing where to be. I want to shoot. I want to score- not to be known, but to make Jesus’ name known to others around me. I want to reach others and share God’s love. I want to serve and share. I want to link up and be part of God’s team. I want to hear “Well done, good and faithful servant.” -just to be affirmed that I am being obedient. I need to move…eye always on the ball…placing myself in a position to act- always. Hands up. Ready to catch, pass, block. Where do I stand? Am I blocking Satan’s attacks for my friends and family? Praying for them? Interceding when they seek godly counsel? Stepping in and saying “No…look at HIM!”?  Do I hear the coach? Do I listen? Do I respond? Am I doing anything at all or just sitting on the bench?

(sigh)

Good news is- I am not on the bench, but there have been times when I was tempted to sit down. Especially as I watch other players shoot one after another…nothing but net…and wonder if I am needed; if I have a purpose at all. I am so thankful for the little team in this home I have been given to train up in the way they should go. The body of Christ…we are the body and a hand cannot be a foot. We all can’t be guards at the same time…offense AND defense are required. TEAM work all under the direction and in obedience to THE ONE coach. We all need good teammates, too. On Tuesday, one of my valued teammates blocked a shot, passed me the ball and pointed me in the right direction. Words of wisdom from a woman who is growing in Christ…

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Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.  Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.

Hebrews 12:1-3

Thank you Lord for your faithful and wise instruction. Always when I need it. Thank you for teammates who love and care and communicate truth. I pray that I will be one.

***6:48 am Friday (48 minutes after I posted this )…a reminder on the radio. “Grace”…it’s not about anything that I do, it’s about what Christ DID. A word from the Lord…focus on THAT ball. I am overwhelmed!