Tuesday, January 28, 2014

WHEN YOU WANT TO DO SOMETHING WORTHWHILE IN LIFE AND MAYBE WHEN YOU WANT TO QUIT BECAUSE YOU'RE MISUNDERSTOOD

 These are the ideas  for a speech given to 7-12 grade students at Judah Christian School on Jan. 30, 2014



In the beginning was the word and the word was with God and the word was God. The Word Gave life to everything. And His life brought light to everyone. (John 1: 1-4)




You know how I am about words, and this a looming scripture for me this year. So we will talk about words…your words…my words…

One day while subbing, Max Berry related his trauma of being caught inside days on end with knowing what to do while he recovered from a concussion.  He then asked me, “Mrs. Roberson what do you do all day now that you aren’t teaching?”

See these are the kind of words and questions we should be asking each other to really understand one another. What do we do all day, with all our days, within our lives? This kind of dialogue allows people into our lives to speak into our days and offer advice and wisdom. And so, here I am to speak into yours. And I will be asking you questions.

People will ask you to tell about yourself. (This always happens in a job interview.) As they try to get to know you, they are really wondering what you are all about: what do you STAND for.  Just by listening and watching they will soon form ideas.

At the end of a FB chat with Josh Beck a week ago he wrote, “ I hope you find what you are looking for.” And the declarative statement begs the implication that I am seeking, finding, looking, or hoping for something.  And I am…always. 

Aren’t we all in pursuit of something? That’s why today’s talk is entitled:

 WHEN YOU WANT TO DO SOMETHING WORTHWHILE IN LIFE AND MAYBE WHEN YOU WANT TO QUIT BECAUSE YOU’RE MISUNDERSTOOD

Are you seeking today too? Are you seeking answers to questions, disappointment, puzzling circumstances, a crisis…? Do you feel misunderstand by parents and teachers and friends? Are you hoping and wondering for the future? 

What have you been finding?  Are your eyes open?  Some philosophers imply that if you are not pursuing or seeking then you are not growing or learning. Are your waters stagnant?

And what happens when we decide to do something big; something that will make a difference in this life; pursue a dream; pursue a relationship; pursue a talent or something we love; pursue even something big like changing who we are. 

You better believe that a life lived for Christ is a life that makes a difference. It is a big pursuit. And today I am speaking really to you, the one carrying Christ’s banner into the world, into this school, into your home, into your social arena.

Sometimes with such lofty pursuit comes the inevitable conflict. Any time we try to do something worthwhile in this life, at some point, we will be misunderstood.

Question: When you are on this journey of pursuing significance or change:  “What’s one of your greatest fears?”  What’s one of your worst fears in what you do with your days, with your moments, with right now, with your actions, with your words?”  So what’s your answer?

Here is my answer: that someone will misunderstand my heart.  And that has happened to me many times in life as it has you, and it will continue to happen.  That is the question that we will entertain, ponder, seek answers to, and try to sort because it is the source of much disappointment and lack of progress and true living for Christ.  

Any time we try to do something significant in this life, at some point, we will be misunderstood.

So how about you?  Do you get frustrated that people misunderstand you?  Perhaps you have that cavalier response that we all think comes with maturity: “I don’t really care anymore what other people think about me. I am going to say and do what I want.”  Sometimes, we carry that attitude using Christ as our defensive weapon.

But how should we respond when someone misunderstands us?  Let’s pose a multiple choice quiz:

A. Ax relationship by closing the doors of our hearts to these people and tell ourselves we don’t really need to care what they think or need their type in our life

B. Be mad at God and stop pursuing His principles and His plans anymore because they don’t seem to be working very well

C. Seek trustworthy sources to talk over circumstances

D. Jesus…His dominates all other responses. That is true.

A.   Our culture tells us this is the most expedient, easiest, safest, and least painful.  For real, who needs these unthinking people, right?  Mark them off your list, defame them, fire them, suspend them, and trap them in their words.  They probably aren't even  Christians anyway. 

But given the example of a God who endured painful beatings and stretched out His arms wide on a cross in the ultimate heart opening, this doesn’t seem to be a viable choice.

B.  We now can play passive/aggressive with God, as if we are on some even equality keel of understanding and can even claim to know what His plans are. We assume that because of our worthwhile stance for Him that the deal should be that He rids our lives of these difficult people and situations. 

The world makes deals.  God makes promises.  They begin and end with Him.

When we try to make a deal with God, this is the very moment we become blind and deaf: when we close our eyes and ears to God, claim the reins of self-control, and shut our spiritual eyes to God’s working.

D.  Jesus…He is always the answer, but what does Jesus as the answer really look like in your life?  Perhaps, it  looks something like C.

C.  This is the best answer to the question so how should I respond when someone misunderstands me.  Then here is the next logical, important question. Who are your trustworthy sources? Who’s your mentor today?  
Where do you seek advice and wisdom? From whom do you seek answers? What makes these people qualified? Do you seek the places and people that give you the easy answers or call you to walk the seemingly upside wisdom of Christ?

Let’s look at C.  Your first trustworthy source should be God and His words. When you talk with God…do you deny your feelings and say “Oh, it’s ok” or do you admit “Wow, this is shockingly painful. I am not sure I can endure this.  Give me your words on this.”  Then…do you listen for correction for YOU, or are you too busy listing the crimes the other person committed and how they should change? Be a listener to what God is saying to you, not a lister of how others have harmed you.

Do you then also look for a safe person in your life to talk this over with, someone who will ask you to look honestly at yourself and make the needed adjustments and hold you accountable?  Perhaps, because you want to be heard and understood, you just look for someone who will carry the same pain and grudge with you.  


For instance, let’s take the example of two friends discussing something when one of the friends expresses her opinion with blunt words and hurts the other. As the person who speaks the blunt words would you think, “Well, at least I am honest, which is more than they were.  If honesty hurts then they just need to deal with it.” That is a common exchange arising in conversations of today’s school hallways.

Yet, you really are the instigator of discord and misunderstanding in that dialogue.  You might be thinking you say these type of things in just meaningless conversations; you were just being funny; you say these type of things all the time and that they know how you are; what you said is nothing significant.  And you might defend yourself with the idea that you were not trying to make a difference in someone’s life or were in pursuit of anything worthwhile.

ALL YOUR WORDS ….  ALL YOUR WORDS…ARE IN PURSUIT OF HIS WORTHWHILE CAUSE…PEOPLE HEAR THEM AND SEE THEM, AND THEY TOUCH OTHERS FOR GOOD OR FOR BAD  (YOUR STICKS AND YOUR STONES, YOUR PEBBLES AND NIGHT STICKS DO HURT). 

Words are the one thing we have had from the beginning.  They are as old as time, sacred, don’t cheapen them or use them as boxing gloves.

Your words are always hugely significant in creating or defending worthy or simple causes.  Our words make a difference in ALL circumstances.  

The greatest command calls us to love and friendship; we are to love God and love man (Matthew 22: 36-40).    Your opinion may be honest in your heart, but it was not solicited or even a response in the manner Christ would ask you to respond. 

If someone told you that your words were cruel and harsh and wrong and not really honest to the Word of God, would you be indignant or would you see the ramifications of your words? Would seek amends or would you defend your words.

We need to find these safe people in our lives to talk the misunderstandings over with…not gossip…not sugar coating…admitting our words and actions and tone and thoughts.  Are you willing to let them lead you to make the adjustments or do you just keep digging in your heels of bitterness? 

Remember Christ’s defensive position all the way to the cross was always this: “Love is the most powerful weapon and the only weapon that heals instead of wounds.”

Anytime we try to do something worthwhile in this life at some point we will be misunderstood.   We will have to go through this quiz question.  What answer choice will you choose?

Then depending on your relationship with the person, it is time to have a heart to heart conversation. This can be hard and fear of being misunderstood again can keep you from acting.

But as we live, we continue to learn and understand that when we let the fear of being misunderstood overcome us then we begin to sit down in life so no one will see us, so we won’t be noticed, so we won’t appear wrong, so we won’t be hurt, so we won’t have real and deep relationships; and then our living becomes small, insignificant, and numb. Where is the abundant life we are called to?

Any time we try to do something worthwhile in this life at some point we will be misunderstood.  If you understand how God really wants you to live ABUNDANTLY, then you take the MIS out of the word and then you have understand. But if you worry about being MIS understood then all you are left with are all the MIS’s in life….and

…you will miss or stall your plans God has designed for you in this life
…you will miss opportunities to love and grow and learn
---you will miss some pain, but also many adventures to learn and grow with Jesus and others in your life

So understand that when you are doing something worthwhile for God you do need to STAND for HIS WORD, His truth, but HOW you do that makes all the difference. 

When you want to sit and quit or quietly hide, keep standing, keep pursuing when you are stuck in status quo, keep seeking trustworthy sources even when you don’t understand.

And why is it that anytime we try to do something worthwhile in this life that at some point we will be misunderstood?  It is because we will make mistakes. Courage is action in word or deed. And we will make mistakes.

But we cannot sit still.  We are CALLED.   We are drawn to doing worthwhile things for God because we were made to glorify Him and to remain in relationship with Him…to worship him…that is all of our purposes.  It is wrapped in our spiritual DNA.   No matter what we do, even if it is the simple acts of eating and drinking, we are called to glorify God (I Cor. 10:31)

Josh Beck caught me on FB chat the other day. His words spoke about his thoughts on his life:  “And my life is kind of lame I think. I ended up in the medical field instead of special operations and I feel like the last 6 months have been a bit of a waste. But then again, I felt that way about my whole life before then anyway. Right now I just want to be deployed as soon as possible, I have to make a difference somewhere and I'm not gonna be able to do that from behind a desk.”

Josh feels like his life is lame right now. But like you, this pursuit of His dream is a journey…a transformation…God moving with Him and through Him, a figuring out, a dialogue, an exchange, a plan worked out together.  He tells us we are becoming a new creation (that is present progressive so it is continual).  

When we are saying YES and doing what He calls us to, others are going to see this new you and wonder and question and doubt and misunderstand. Even we misunderstand our own plans.

People this pursuing of the life He is creating in us is not “lame.” It is WORTHWHILE  and SIGNIFICANT.

Part of our makeup is to classify and categorize.  We do that with the people we meet in our lives.  We put them in all shapes of boxes.  We label the boxes in a variety of ways.  When the contents of your box changes or enlarges or you make mistakes, people don’t like to re-sort.  They may begin to try to tell you that you are “broken” or “not enough” or remind you of what you used to be.  They misunderstand you, your missions, your words, your actions, your hopes.

But when you lean hard and pursue what God has for you and have learned who He wants you to be, then you don’t listen to those other voices that create fear and doubt because God wants you to listen to His words. He is trying to do something new in you. 
 
Perfect love casts out fear (not the awe fear that comes because we understand God’s sovereignty and His nature).  The reality of life is that He takes us from new creation to new creation. We are always changing and learning unless we are dead: physically or spiritually.  Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come. 2Cor. 5: 17

So here are my words in response to Josh about his current pursuit:
“Youth, maybe humans in general, are wired to want to work and make a difference. But sometimes the dessert places are trying to slow us down to life and watch and look and listen for His words that teach us the patience, true drive, perseverance, and words we are going to need in the next moments God puts before us. We are also driven to look for meaning, often overlooking the little things we do where we can have an impact with individuals and within ourselves. I think all of our life prepares us in some way, if we allow it, for the next moments God places us in our life.”

Along the way of life, in this pursuit of a worthwhile God, we often find that at some point people misunderstand us…misunderstand our mission…misunderstand our calling…misunderstand our intentions…misunderstand our plans…misunderstand our actions…misunderstand our waiting…misunderstand our Yes and even our No…misunderstand our quiet…misunderstand our words.

Along the way someone may try to fire you…change you…trap you…

Let’s look, for instance at the Duck Dynasty controversy. For Phil Robertson, standing on the conviction of God’s Word was a worthwhile stance …HEAR ME NOW…BUT if we speak without compassion, the content of our words will not be heard and neither will His.  Clearly, we should stand behind God’s Word, but if we say them in a mean way, then people will misunderstand our meaning.

Mean what you say and say what you mean, but if compassion isn’t meant to be heard, then they will not want to hear you. Follow Judas's exchange with Christ. Words can be decisive weapons of exchange or the delicious delights of a gift. 

And YES…he was misunderstood. And yes…he has the constitutional right to express his faith. And yes, there was more to His words…And yes what was printed was slanted and lacked compassion…And yes his intention of never inciting or encouraging hate exploded and left unintended shrapnel and collateral damage.

But here is the lesson you were to hear and see from this media frenzy: along the way in life God will allow you to see that YOU too will get the words wrong. That is a 100% guarantee because that is the only way we learn to live grace. The only infallible words are those Words of God which is probably why Jesus quoted them so often in his ministry as He lived them in His life.

Likewise, in your pursuit of righteousness and significant living, worthwhile living, you may be gonged off the stage, crashing into someone like clashing cymbals, and conflicted by your efforts. So remember, your responses can be like knives and cut clear through the meat of a person; or they can drip syrupy like cinnamon bun frosting; or they can be the butter on the bread of life for a person’s soul.

And just like me and just like Duck Dynasty’s Phil Robertson and just like Governor Cuomo, you will get your words wrong, too, and anyone trying to do something worthwhile.  But GRACE can find you and you can find grace. When disaster strikes and words of mass destruction implode, don’t fire people, don’t run away from people, and don’t shun people to Exile Island. 

Listen to their words. Then find your words in His Words. Then create conversation with His words.  Listening causes people to lean in and hear Him and not YOU because He will give us His words, and  His words are never meant to harm, but bring life.

So let me ask…what worthwhile things are you pursuing?  At some point in this pursuit, you will be misunderstood, and you may even want to quit.

But here’s the reason the pursuit is necessary: If we try to live in a way that everyone understands us all the time, we will end up not STANDING for anything, and our lives and words will never be seen or heard.

1 Cor. 16:13  Stand firm in the faith; be courageous; be strong …he knew we would get things wrong, make mistakes, and others would pursue us with disfavor.

We have rights to speak under Christ, but we also have responsibilities to represent Him well.

Words of courage and compassion are what we should give to one another in our worthwhile pursuits.  Josh encouraged me, “I can write now and not be limited in expressing my ideas. That's the best gift to a student.” Perhaps, I fostered this worthwhile pursuit in him.

So here are my summarizing questions of you today:

  • ·       Will you choose to stand with courage and pursue a life worthy of His calling on yours?
  • ·       Will you choose to grow your faith during the difficult days of fear and doubt and misunderstanding?
  • ·       Will you seek trustworthy sources for answers in order to learn and grow through misunderstandings?
  • ·       Will you try to use your words so that you are not misunderstood?
  • ·       Will you listen to the words you find in His Word to avoid misunderstandings?
  • ·       And when they don’t seem to make sense or even an impact on your day to day life, will you still pursue Him during these misunderstandings?


So stay accountable to trustworthy WORDS.  Don't quit when things get rough; keep pursuing God’s words that uphold the conviction of compassion you are being called to, but also be ever changing, ever moving, ever pursuing, ever seeking, ever learning, ever listening, ever speaking.


And while you stand to live an abundantly worthy life that makes a difference, you can STAND through the trials of being misunderstood when you STAND in the truth of His Word.

Monday, January 27, 2014

WHEN YOU CALL "DUH" ON YOURSELF



"Did you just call DUH on yourself?"

My husband's head turned abruptly as he drove and stared in hesitant shock.  He followed it up with the repetition of that same remark mixed with a tablespoon of laughter. 

It was the laughter of surprise and intermittent stare and then laughter and intermittent stare which then caused me to laugh with an intermittent stare of certainty at him. 

The words just smoothly slipped from my brain to my mouth, right off my tongue, " OH, DUH!"

Before you place your hand to your mouth with an "Oh my! That's not even appropriate," I really deserved those words.  You have experienced those moments when something comes out of your mouth that you are sure neurologically you want to claim you didn't say, but there it is exposed to the world in vocal rhythms.

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I think I may have taught junior high too long. Their behaviors are wearing off on me.  Or, could it be that I am learning the wisdom of their age?  

Once upon a time, there lived a teacher who abhorred that term.  When I first heard it, I crusaded to keep it from the hallways and mouths of youngsters, believing it to be a pompous blow to the heart of others.

...AND I STILL DO, BUT IT WAS THE MOST ACCURATE EXPRESSION IN THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE FOR THAT MOMENT.



You know the term that means you are stating what should be obvious.  It's the response you get when you ask a stupid question others think you should know the answer to, and if you had but looked around, used logic, or thought reasonably you would be able to answer said question in your own mind before opening your mouth and revealing to the world your idiocy and thus risking the jail sentence of looking stupid for every generation to come.   It's a heavy sentence, solidified by the pounding gavel and a "DUH."

There's this trick I've tried of explaining in an intelligent sounding dialogue why the question was warranted.  However, any two bit junior high lawyer sees right through those depositions. Don't try that at home.  Your muddy foot really just digs deeper into the quick sand.

Some people have very kindly allowed me to claim being blond as an excuse for these DUH moments. Some seasons of the year I am more blond than others. I will highlight at this point that several times a year I augment my blondness.  NO, I don't mean by pursuing even more DUH moments.

Sadly, I have already exposed my intelligence to the world so these moments and my use of DUH can jolt some systems. Note to self when I am in your presence:  always know how to use the defibrillator in your building.

Some have replaced the harsh word with kinder, gentler terminology such as REALLY?   YOU THINK?     HELLO!?!  These terms are actually ineffective if you are not familiar with  the intonation with which they should be spoken; you better consult the intelligence of a junior higher then.

When I called DUH on myself, it was warranted.  Because it happens so often, I really can't remember what I even had to slam the gavel for, but I do remember the shocked expression and laughter.  Since then (which wasn't very long ago) I can think of a few more times that I have had to call DUH on myself.  

Here’s a Pollyanna DUH moment. I walked into a friend’s house who had 12 cookie tubs lining her sunroom and asked “Are we going to play a game, here?”

What about when you are multi-tasking while talking to a friend on the phone and admittedly panic to her that you can’t find your phone.

What about when you’re attending to the sermon in church with your YouVersion Bible app on your phone and your journal in your lap, but you turn to ask your husband where he put your coffee cup that rests under your journal and clasped between your thighs.

What about when you are driving and fidgeting and searching and wondering where your Coke is you thought you handed to your friend to hold while dark syrupy stuff is sliding down the driver's side door window.  (I can't claim this masterful DUH moment, but I was the friend in the car that witnessed it.)

People, these are not moments I cherish.  These moments won't impress others with my intelligence and logic.  Remember, I am a mom and a teacher and a coach.I get paid the big bucks to motivate by professing that there are no dumb questions, but believe me, some questions spoken aloud from my mouth, even I would admit,  really shouldn't be asked because, in these cases one girl's confusion could be another person's land mine of "DUH!"

Obviously, I might claim I don't put my thinking cap on at all times. I may even corner the market on wearing the dunce cap occasionally, but I'm okay with DUH aimed at myself. Really!  Without having to eavesdrop on junior highers, I've learned what that junior high acronym stands for: DONE UNDER HEAVEN! 
  
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Haven't we all done and said so many crazy things under Heaven's gaze and begged grace with a  sigh and a DUH. Sometimes the answer does seem so obvious, but not in the present moment of action.  

Look Jonah landed in a whale's belly.  That's God's way of laughing with him during his DUH questioning.

Maybe Moses's doubt of God's promises caused most of his DUH moments.

Even today, we have gotten in the habit of proclaiming really volatile statements questioning others, only to quickly resend them with a flaunted "I'm sorry."  I will assume these DUH moments brought sudden clarity, but then I would have to ask Cuomo and Rob Ford to really know.  

But for my DUH moments,AND I ONLY CALL THEM ON MYSELF, I will proclaim God's promise to Moses from Exodus 34: 6-7: He is a God of mercy and grace, endlessly patient-so much love, so deeply true-loyal in love for a thousand generations, forgiving iniquity, rebellion, and sin.

Admittedly, my speeches demeaning the use of the word DUH probably sounded pompous. Perhaps they sounded a bit like Snoopy's teacher: "wah, wah, wah." 

I do believe my rendition might have sounded something like this: "Your short, concise, quick, and ineffective use of the English vocabulary leaves you sounding highly uneducated and sadly ignorant. It shows a low regard for your fellow human beings and a disappointing, base intellect."   These two renditions seem quite similar because we know the kids stopped listening after the first six words. 

So people...never fear... you can see that I have not gone the way of calling myself a worm.  I am courageous enough to laugh at my foibles and stand on His promises and seek people to hold my hands up, like Aaron and Hur did for Moses, when I forget the strength of His promises.

By the time you have lived half your life, you realize these moments aren't your first mistakes, and they certainly won't be your last. Your wisdom allows you to call these moments on yourself alone. (I've also tried to proclaim that lesson to junior highers.)  So, let's just let this spade call her moments what they are when she digs in with a "DUH," and then move forward. 

The other options when presented with these DUH  (Done Under Heaven) times would be crucifying, and neither you nor I are called to stand that kind of courage. Thank God.

This self-professed queen of sarcasm can certainly kick a few sarcastic commentaries her own way. If the shoe fits, I must wear it.  (After all, I do so love shoes.)

Friday, January 24, 2014

WHY DO YOU RUN THE RACE?

Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.  Hebrews 12: 1-2                                                                                                                                                 

Running offers endless races: track, cross country, 5 Ks, 10ks, triathlons, marathons….

Runners are a particularly solo sort. They safety pin a number to their chests, vie for a spot at the crowded starting line, and anticipate a gun’s signal to start their legs racing?  They dole out thousands of dollars over their lifetimes to purchase proper shoes and technical apparel, enter races, and travel to venues?  They consume time and energy conditioning, goal setting, and strategizing. 

Runners describe their sport using words like exhilarating and lifestyle despite slogging through rain and snow half of the year, while others would prefer to label that drudgery and insane.

Those not inclined to run cannot imagine the reasoning for making a conscious decision to run aside from getting away from danger. Why do runners enjoy the race?

  • Is it the accolades: the fastest time or a picture taken with a medal hanging around their neck for the world to congratulate? 
  • Maybe it is a discovered niche, a place of community where honor and respect are found. 
  • While some might add they pound the pavement to solely maintain a healthy heart and lifestyle.   
  • Runners often condition to improve performance in other sports and areas of their lives like concentration. 
  • Maybe running displays a talent and offers a sense of confidence and significance. 
  • Runners love the euphoria of the mastery of a goal and the energy a good run provides.

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Maybe for all these reasons runners are best prepared for the run of their lives.

Because  life also offers countless similar long and short distance runs: relationships, high school, college, jobs, raising children, caring for parents. 

An entire life long can be a race that runs us breathless.  While some races keep our hearts running fast, before we know it, our short runs in life are raced right through.  Through some of life’s races, the numbers on our chests flat pin us to the mat with only the gun start still ringing through our head.

Why do we choose to run our race? How can we successfully navigate these training days to prepare for this life’s hard run days?  What is all the effort for?  How do we pace ourselves through life? When we trip across the finish line, why do we choose to line up again at another start?

We really don’t need to run to the head of the pack for a good race but rather follow the Head of the Track.

Runners of life, His race, find the joy in the trails God runs them through.  And they know the trials of  long run days are never run solo, but they are step by step guided solely by the Author of our soul. 

LIFE runners don’t run for the accolades, but His promised apparel: the confidence, significance, honor, respect, and community found in Him.  A putting on of Him, a clothing ourselves and allowing Him to wick away the sopping wet desires that rain down on our hearts and stifle our breaths.

And maybe our runs, at times on this trail of life, can be described as insane, but the only way to stay sanely on track through life is running the race with Him. So on days when we can’t gear up for laps on the track, on days we are called to the performance line, knowing why we run the race makes all the difference.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

THESE WERE THE DAYS: WHEN THE FUTURE DEPENDS UPON THE PAST

yourmomhatesthis.com

A scholarship application question required my son to calculate the number of hours per week and weeks per year he played his sport.  After tabulating football, basketball, and track, I realized there were literally a couple weeks per year that he was not in a sport, either playing games or practicing or conditioning in the weight room. The application committee was trying to observe how he chose to spend his time beyond the classroom.

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I thought of the endless times he gathered his stench stained gym bag and equipment to hit the hot football field or run the basketball court only to return for a second daily shower with sopping wet clothes that landed in the laundry basket, the foulness demanded they be laundered.

I thought of the number of Saturdays, most people’s prized days to sleep in, that my heavy-footed son trudged down the stairs to get to a practice before 8 a.m.

I thought of my smiles when he arrived before curfew after Friday night games to get to bed early because he knew he had to repair his body and mind so the early Saturday practices didn't seem so brutal.

I thought of the conditioning days which were completed before or after their practices. His maturing body witnessed to hitting the weight room at least three times a week every week throughout his high school career.

I thought of my teenager who dedicated so much of his time, energy, and life practicing and playing these sports; and then I wondered.

I wondered how many times facing a before 6 a.m. practice he questioned why he chose to be involved.

How many times did this high honor roll every semester student want to chuck his academic responsibilities when he got home near 11 p.m. with a test facing him the next day?

How many times when he never entered the basketball game did he question why he tried so hard at practice or even chose to play that season?

How many days when he had no money to spend on clothes and concerts and movies and dates and going out to eat did he wish he had spent his efforts on a job instead?

How many days did he quietly endure lectures from his parents about his attitude when he wearily mumbled responses to our questions?


And then all I knew was that these were special days, the days his future depended upon.

These were days of standing willingly and sacrificially for principles whose rewards would continue into manhood.

These were taking a stand for integrity days.

These were days of building a commitment to brotherhood. 

These were finding resilience days. 

These were days of  forming a strong mind, heart, and body.

These were offering of grace days.

These were days of persevering in the midst of trials.
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These were declaring unity days.

These were the days for seeking and finding hope. 

These were celebrating victory and relinquishing defeat days.

THESE WERE DAYS GOD CONSECRATED FOR HIS FUTURE DAYS.  




Monday, January 13, 2014

RALLYING THE TROOPS: AN ODE TO THE COACH


"The challenge of leadership is 
to be strong, but not rude; 
be kind, but not weak; 
be bold, but not bully; 
be thoughtful, but not lazy; 
be humble, but not timid; 
be proud, but not arrogant; 
have humor, but without folly."
- Jim Rohn, speaker and author

MAHOMET-SEYMOUR VARSITY BASKETBALL 2013-2014
il.8to18.com


news-gazette.com

This Friday night battle came fast and furious and fierce; it seemed birthed in necessity. 


It wasn't a battle for a national title. 

But the locals know the heart-stop rivalry that the Mahomet-Seymour vs. Rantoul Basketball contests boast. 


The national anthem, played in an imperfect rendition, reminded that these basketball soldiers would need a strong leader, that this chaotic battle would necessitate controlling the troops. 

The anthem reminded that this contest never unfolds like an ordinary drill; this would not be an easy march to the finish line; the troops would need to be rallied and their energy unfurled.

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As if strengthened by the anthem itself, the general marched to rally all his troops, both those listed on the roster and those standing in the bleachers. 


And did you see the simple summoning as he strode past the bleachers before he commanded his team?


(His actions mirrored the national anthem.)


Oh, hey, did you see, by the bleachers first three rows,

Where so proudly he stopped at the girls and boys gleaming?

Whose broad shoulders and bright smiles, before the perilous   fight,

Over the bleachers he shared, where so gallantly streaming

Were the coach's fist bumps, arms shooting in air,

Gave proof through this fight, of what our general was aware

Oh hey, did you see, he was rallying the troops 

Over the land of orange and home of the dogs?


And with the simple extension of his hand and his smiles to his school subjects, he rallied his troops.

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This was the persuasive strategy of an clever commander:


That he realized success by joining with the revelers off the court. 


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That he reassured and safeguarded loyal hearts to remain resolute in the midst of this worthy battle.




That he commended those on the sidelines to encourage the soldiers to continue to remain diligent to their discipline.



That he encouraged those on and off the court to honorably fight for their school's valor.


And while the battle waged on the court, we stood in the stands and whistled and stopped breathing and raised banners of cheers.


The battle cry was ear piercingly loud; 
the battle was precariously long; but the win was assuredly noble (55-52).