The Killer B's

The Killer B's
The Killer B's

Monday, January 16, 2017

Good Question, Coach!

A coach/parent/friend of mine posed a question on Facebook a couple of days ago. He asked WHY a parent is so quick to approach a coach about the amount of playing time their child is or is not getting, but that same parent will not approach a teacher or the school to question why their child is failing their academic classes. Immediate responses call into question parents and the parents’ pride or need for their child to have perceivable value. Some parents are looking for their child to be the next “great” thing to come out of their town. While I agree wholeheartedly with these thoughts, I believe the reasoning may run deeper. Why do parents have those prideful needs? I believe it is a cultural problem. Our priorities in this country have become exceptionally skewed because we place too much emphasis on superstardom. We celebrate the stars not the TEAM!!

For instance just last night when the Green Bay Packers beat the Cowboys, the commentators said, “Aaron Rodgers moves on.”  Last time I checked Aaron Rodgers is not the Green Bay Packers. He is only one player out of 11 on the field. Nothing against Aaron Rodgers, but it is the idea that our society places too much grandeur on individual players and bypasses the greatness of TEAM. My husband and I are constantly telling our boys that no one person wins or loses a game. That every player has a purpose even if that player doesn’t see the field or court during a game.

I LOVE sports, but I believe it is the team part of sports that teaches our children the greatest lessons. I LOVE winning, but I believe it is just as important to learn to lose with class and dignity by leaving it all on the court/field. I LOVE to be a starter, but I believe having to bust your ass in order make the starting five or 11 or nine teaches how hard work and diligence elevates you as a person. I LOVE to talk shit, but I believe the best talk is shown through your impeccable skills. I LOVE teamwork, and I believe it is imperative to teach our children that one of their greatest roles on a team is to build up the players around and under them. As a team member we should NEVER tear down a teammate if they make a mistake. Players need to understand that individual stats don’t matter!! If your TEAM loses, you lose.

Unfortunately, the problem of stardom and winning is not one that sits solely with players and parents. I have seen coaches, throughout my years, who rewarded kids based on speed and size rather than on attitude and commitment. I am not stupid and completely understand the importance of speed and size in sports, but when we reward kids based solely on their athletic ability and not on their work ethic, we, as coaches, are part of the problem. I can bet you that if a kid lacks work ethic on the court/field, he or she lacks work ethic in the classroom as well. If a kid has a bad attitude or lacks respect toward a coaching staff, that same kid will be a discipline problem on the field/court and give teachers problems in the classroom and more than likely will not be a productive member of society in the long run. 

I try my hardest to instill within my own children (not always successful mind you) that those athletes, who work hard at school work, learn how to critically think, and make good grades, are the best athletes. I tell my kids that at some point your size and speed will be a moot point if you don’t understand how to run a play or how to read the defense in order to know which play to run. Great players are SMART players!!

Michael Jordan once said, “Talent wins games, but teamwork and intelligence wins championships.” I urge you all to challenge the young people under your influence to seek out knowledge. Help them see the importance of words and people. Words make up sentences which create paragraphs that give us books of wisdom. Wisdom which grows our minds into organs of understanding giving us the ability to think, create, and love. Help these young people understand that the people who surround us provide us with the foundation to mold ourselves into a generous community. A community capable of unlimited success. We need each other to be great. No one achieves greatness alone.

My goal as a mother, teacher, and coach is to always help children see they have what it takes to be successful, but they first need to understand success is not defined by wins or loses. Success is determined by how you conducted yourself during the game. How will you play the game of life?

Here's how I want to play: Love God. Love Others. Live Enthusiastically. Work Hard. Have Fun.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

I can't judge only God can

Have you ever noticed people using the words “I can’t judge only God can”? And then proceed with the words, “And I bet He wouldn’t approve of…”fill in the blank here (I’ve heard it all). Seems to me when people use this tactic, they are putting words and thoughts into Jesus’ mouth. I recently came across such a statement, and it actually angered me. Could it be my toes were stepped on? I suppose it could have. However, my faith and relationship with God is strong enough that what this person was not judging me about didn’t affect me.

The part of the diatribe which bothered me was putting words into Jesus’ mouth. Claiming to know how Jesus would respond to a sinner or to a particular sin is absurd. You don’t know because you do not possess the magnitude of grace and love that Jesus does. You don’t know because you can’t comprehend the intricacies of another person’s PERSONAL relationship with God. I believe we are told not to judge because we don’t even have the capabilities to do so. In order to fairly judge someone, you must know ALL of the story, hear ALL of the evidence, understand multiple points of view, and most importantly know the depths of someone’s heart. When we judge using the “only God can judge” defense, we are saying we know that person’s relationship with God better than he knows himself.

The same people who “don’t judge” are the people who will quickly console someone with “God can use…”fill in the blank with a horrible tragedy. Now that is a statement I totally agree with. God can use ALL things. God can be found in ALL things if you look at it with the lens of Christ!

Don’t hold another person accountable for your struggles. Don’t pretend to love someone with an attempt to not judge their behaviors. Instead, love them past their behaviors. Guess what? Many times you don’t have the capacity to love certain people like that, at least not by yourself. That’s why God lives WITHIN us because HE can LOVE others genuinely. We need to ask for His help in honestly LOVING others.

Romans 12:9 says “Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them. Hate what is wrong. Hold tightly to what is good.” You know what is good? GOD. God is GOOD! Hold on tightly to God and seek his guidance in YOUR walk. Let Him LOVE others through YOU!

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Redeemed Failure

Why is the hardest part actually starting? What actually holds us back? I’ve blogged before about my being lead to write. I still feel that I’ve been called to write…still not completely sure what or why, but I do believe it is something God has worked out for me. However, even my knowing this doesn’t make actually committing to doing it any easier. At first I allowed fear trap me, but it is no longer fear limiting me. I am limiting me. I put it off. I always seem to be busy with my job or my sewing (which has turned into a second job) or my children’s activities or my responsibilities at church. So, my excuse begins with…I’m toooo busy to write. Then there are those moments where I am at my computer, but I find myself not writing. Many times I don’t begin because I don’t know WHAT to say. Yet when I go to God with such a bogus excuse…He is kinda like, “Lana, HELLO! I can’t give you words to write if you don’t write. Just write. Sit down. Make time. Write.” And here’s the thing, I know that. I believe that wholeheartedly, but I still turn away. WHY? This living out your faith thing is HARD! I know God. I trust God. I do believe He can use even ME and my feeble attempt at putting words onto paper, but I still avoid. Maybe it is the “fallen” part of man. We all struggle with being obedient. Maybe I am quick to say we when I should really be saying ME.  I lack obedience. That is why I am SOOOOO glad Jesus came to this earth to provide redemption for my disobedient butt.

Through the years there have been times I bought into the lie of living a life free of sin (like it is even possible). I felt guilt when my walk fell short of perfection. I felt like God was mad at me or disappointed in me for my lack of submission to His will.

Craziness!! God mad at me because I failed Him. That, my friend, just isn’t in His nature. I know this because God made me a parent, and I’ve learned that no matter what my little B’s do to anger me or even when they disappointment me, I can’t look at them without my heart swelling with LOVE (even if I am screaming at them). I LOVE them always. I love them past the tantrums. I love them past the holes in the wall or the busted windows. I love them past the pre-teen sneers of “You hate me.” No my child I don’t hate you, I want the absolute best for you.  ALWAYS! I will LOVE you FOREVER!! 

God sent His SON to earth to secure an opportunity for each of us to live a life in constant connection with Him through the Holy Spirit. In that Spirit God proves to us that His LOVE for us is never-ending. So, to answer to his nudging spirit, I am making a commitment (I have someone in place to hold me accountable to said commitment) to publish a blog post at least once a week.  

Though I know I will continue to fail God daily with my life, I am praying even those failures will strengthen my relationship with Him and my ability to feel and listen to His spirit. I plead with those who are reading my words to pray for me. Please pray for my words to be a reflection of His spirit-living within me. Please pray I will listen closely to His direction. Please pray for me to hold true to my commitment. Please just pray...God has plans for me! Of this I am certain!!

Sunday, April 19, 2015

You make me BRAVE

The moment when a teenager’s faithfulness causes you to truly examine your own faith is a great moment. This morning during Sunday school we were discussing what we (and by we, I mean my church’s youth group) would do for our youth-led service coming up. We were looking at the lyrics to several worship songs from Bethel and Hillsong. Ultimately, we discussed fear, and how fear doesn’t exist of God. Fear exists because of man. We create the fear that lives within us, and our fear limits God. Most of the time fear is fueled by our own comfort. Initially, I think of comfort as physical things. Maybe we are afraid to give up the physical things that make our life comfortable. However, the more I contemplated how I was limiting God the more I saw my insecurities.

I lack confidence in my most all of my abilities. I honestly feel God has called me to write, but I am uncertain of what platform to use in accomplishing this task. When I question God on this, His response always is, “Just WRITE. I can’t work through you unless you write.” So, I started this blog as an attempt to explore writing for an audience. As you can see, I haven’t published a total of NINE posts. Nine post in almost an ENTIRE year. Why? Well, that one is easy…insecurity…WHAT PEOPLE THINK! That’s why I rarely promote my writing on Facebook. Oh, how I wish I didn’t care what others thought of me. I often try to convince myself I don’t, but I do. I REALLY do! My BFF can tell you I over-think, over-analyze, and exaggerate EVERYTHING, even the tiniest of things. It may be what people say or do or even what they don’t do. I worry, stress, lose sleep, and generally, make myself sick over such. I really am surprised I don't have an ulcer. 

The fact that I am about to share with the world wide web my writing scares the living hell out of me. I might have develop an ulcer after this. Lol! One night during youth, I had the kids reflect and write something. I don’t even remember what, but I decided to do the reflection too. During that reflection, God told me to write even if I didn’t know what to write and by not writing I was saying I didn't trust God's power. On the way home, the word sterile popped into my mind. Don’t ask me why I have NO idea!! Through that one word, I formed a pretty amazing sentence (or at least I thought it was pretty awesome) in the five blocks it took me to get home.  I walked in and immediately sat at my computer and typed the sentence. That sentence led to my writing a paragraph….I shall share that first paragraph now…
 The overwhelming sterility of the room paralyzed my body, my breathing, my speech. However, my mind was flooded with memories or at least what felt like memories. As I looked into the mirror over the sink, my face appeared foreign. My sun-kissed glow was erased by a pale translucent mint. On closer observation, I noticed beads of sweat beginning to form on my forehead.  I found my hands gripping tightly to the sink counter to maintain an upright position.
“Amanda, Is everything alright?,” the nurse whispered as her hand grazed my shoulder. Her touch jerked me out of my trancelike state.
            “Um, yeah, I’m fine.” I found my voice, but I still hadn’t gained control of my mind. Vivid visions of this room attacked my senses. Glimpses of the bright light blinded me. The smell of latex and disinfecting cleaner with a hint of lavender caused a knot to form within my gut that inched toward my throat. I felt as I was moments away from losing any and all contents of my stomach.  I swallow to gain my composure but realize I am no longer standing. I sense movement around me, and I feel two, cold fingers lay atop my wrist with a slight pressure followed by a cold sensation on my chest. All I see is black. I don’t understand what is going on. Where am I? I think as I hear a comforting voice. A voice I know accompanied by a face I do not. Coming out of my swoon, anxiety creeps upon me again. I am unable to acquire control over my breathing pattern as I see this unfamiliar face. I am simply unable to breathe.  As I gasp for breathe, his hand reaches for my arm. His soft fingers grip my arm while his thumb provides me with a gentle comfort in an ever so soft caress.
            “Miss Shepherd, I need you to breathe. Please, just breathe.”
I find myself focused on his melodic voice. It is his voice that allows my lungs to find rhythm again. His voice has brought order back to my world.
…and the paragraph turned into a page. Each time I sit down I write a few more words and those words form paragraphs which transform into pages. I now have written a total of 92 pages.

I am still scared to death about sharing my writing. My heart is racing, my throat feels tight, and my fingers are shaking as I am typing because this post exposes MY writing, a part of me I don't share very often. I have NEVER considered myself a writer. Actually, I always thought I was horrible at writing. I know that I still SUCK at grammar particularly tenses and commas, but my mama told me that is why editors exist. I have a couple of grammar gurus I trust who have promised to take an editorial look at it, but I have only recently been brave enough to let outside people read it.

Tonight is me stepping WAY outside of my comfort zone to live out what I preach to my youth group. I suppose to be considered a writer one must first have an audience. As I see my audience, I pray for courage and peace from a God who abolishes fear. From the words of Bethel, “You make me brave, You make me brave, You call me out beyond the shore into the waves, You make me brave, You make me brave, No fear can hinder now the love that made a way!”

If you took the time to read this post, I LOVE YOU!! Thank you for supporting me past my insecurities…

Monday, March 30, 2015

I still LOVE Laettner!!

I recently watched ESPN’s 30 for 30 and was saddened so many people held such a strong HATE for one of my all-time favorite basketball players. So, let me tell you why I still (and always will) LOVE Laettner.

Sports are a funny thing. They have the power to bring complete strangers together creating an undying bond where no connection was before. People become friends or enemies based simply on the team colors they wear, in my case that would be a darker shade of blue. There are moments in sports that captivate history. People are quick to indicate where they were or what they were doing when such a moment occurred.

I have several Duke moments that are priceless to me. The first moment was when I first decided to become a Duke fan. As a Georgia peach, the only ties I had to North Carolina was my Aunt and Uncle lived in Greensboro (ironically their son is a huge Tar Heel fan). However, during my sixth grade year, my daddy and I started watching a little college basketball together. Basketball was kinda our thing. When you are a girl measuring over 5’ 8” in sixth grade, you are expected to play basketball, and that was an expectation I celebrated.

Coach K, Bobby Hurley, Christian Laettner and the other Blue Devils attracted the attention of Daddy and me during the 1990 NCAA tournaments. Yeah, the ole Runnin’ Rebels kicked Duke’s ass that year, but at the end of the game, I made a declaration. Resting on the top edge of the couch, I looked down at my daddy situated beneath me on the sofa cushions and proclaimed that Duke WOULD win the next National Championship; and so began my (well, our) devoted loyalty to Duke University Basketball.

The following year Daddy and I began watching Duke as faithful, hard-core fans. So faithful in fact that, I began collecting any newspaper or magazine articles I could find (having an Aunt and Uncle in North Carolina, who clipped and sent articles, was handy) and began pasting these cherished articles and pictures in a scrapbook. Because that’s what middle school girls do. They make scrapbooks. Yeah, so most girls put pictures of pop singers or movie actors, but not this girl. The pictures adorning the pages of my scrapbook were of basketball players, DUKE basketball players. I will be completely honest. There may have been more pictures of Christian Laettner, but who is counting. I loved…LOVE…them all. It was a great year. A year that brought the Blue Devils back around to another final four. The rematch occurred and my prophetic statement was fulfilled. WooHoo! A championship!!!

Then the real fun began, and the immense love I had for Duke grew exponentially. During my eighth grade year, I PLAYED basketball, and I WATCHED basketball. The only reason I missed a Duke game was because it wasn’t aired. There were a few times I had a basketball game of my own, with no DVR and not a master the VCR timer, I had to read about the game instead of watch it firsthand.

I LOVED Christian Laettner. He was definitely pretty to look at, but he was SO much more. That boy could play some basketball. I didn’t just LOVE Laettner I was totally obessed, school-girl crush, in LOVE with him. I am certain had Christian Laettner asked me to marry him then I would have been a bride at the ripe age of 12. Lol! I scribed, on more than one piece of notebook paper, the words…Lana Laettner. It really does have a nice ring to it. Alliteration and all ;o)

I loved Laettner, but I loved the entire team. I loved Coach K. I loved watching a team execute the fundamentals of basketball and play TEAM ball (which is rarity). Those boys were exciting to watch. I loved the excitement their playing brought to my daddy. I loved how my daddy and I could discuss basketball.
You see my daddy was my life, and the majority of my life my daddy had been sick. I actually can’t remember a time that he wasn’t sick. He had lupus which resulted in the failure of his kidneys. So, for me, Duke Basketball was more than a fanatic love. It was a love between a daddy and his daughter, a love which has allowed a family bond to transcend the grave. I suppose there is something fitting that my daddy actually died during the month of March. Now in the month of March, I get to reminisce not specifically about my father’s death, but I get to remember all of our Duke and Laettner “moments”. Two of my most favorite moments came during the quest of defending and repeating a national championship.

The game. The pass. The shot. It was one of those historical sports moments everyone remembers. The night Christian Laettner was perfection. Perfection, I say!! He did NOT miss a shot, the ENTIRE game. Not a 3-pointer. Not a lay-up. Not a free-throw. He had the PERFECT game. I watched the entire game pretty much on the edge of my seat, AND because I am a die-hard and faithful fan, I hadn’t lost hope even when there were only 2.1 seconds and an entire court length between the goal and the ball. However, my daddy was slightly less hopeful than I. He got up and walking away said,

“Well, baby. It looks like it just isn’t gonna happen tonight. They played a helluva game though.”

He continued up the hall only to hear my scream echo through the house (and possibly through town.) Of all the people who watched the game that night, my daddy was probably the only one who didn’t SEE the shot LIVE. Thankfully, I had recorded the game. So, after I ran through the house, out the front door to catch my breath and then back through the house out the back door over to my grandparents’ house to tell them the good news and back home, I was able to rewind the tape and show daddy the shot. Our phone began to ring, and for the remainder of the evening, I graciously accepted words of congratulations. Ha! That’s right…people were calling to congratulate ME on Duke’s win! Can you say fangirl?

As the journey through March continued, my daddy’s health was failing, and he was admitted into the hospital which wasn’t unusual occurrence. Well, Duke was playing Indiana in the first round of the finals. It was the Saturday night, and I was not going to allow a hospital to come between daddy-daughter basketball time. So, a Dodge County Hospital room was transformed into a sports bar (minus the cocktails) for a few hours. And what a few hours they were! Have you ever experienced a moment in life that felt like you were in a movie? As I watched Indiana cut Duke’s lead, I felt like I was watching “Hooisers,” the movie. Just as Gene Hackman’s “Hoosiers” inched back to win a championship, Bobby Knight’s were making their move from the 3-point line as well. Thankfully, Duke, like always, fired back to secure their place among the top two college teams in the nation.

Unfortunately, the national championship game is always on a Monday and my daddy was still in the hospital. So, we watched the game in separate spaces, but our hearts were filled with the same love for the Duke Blue Devils. I didn’t even have to wait for the game to be over to call him because Duke crushed the FAB 5 of Michigan.

So, yeah I still LOVE Laettner. Christian Laettner was significant in securing my loyalty as a Duke fan. And when I am loyal, I am 100 % loyal, a trait I learned from my daddy. So, Christian Laettner, thank you! Thank you for being the amazing basketball player you are and giving me the opportunity to watch the beauty of basketball with the first man I ever loved and the one who will always hold a chunk of my heart.

Being able to watch ESPN’s 30 for 30 allowed memories to flood over my mind and body bringing me back to a happy time in my life. As I watched, I looked down to find my body covered in chill bumps. I could genuinely feel the presence of my past visiting my present.

So to all reading, I challenge you to create meaning with the time you have on this earth. Be present in the lives of those you cherish. Allow small things like watching a ballgame become a connection between you and your loves, a connection that even death can’t take away. Time…there is a finite amount. Each of us has limited time on this earth. So, let’s not leave here searching for more, let’s be the more while we are here. When we are the more now, those we love will always have us with them.

Though Christian Laettner was a major player in my love affair, all things DUKE and all things associated with Duke were and will always be cherished in my heart because they link me to my daddy. To Coach K, Dicky V, Jimmy V, Bobby Hurley, Grant and Thomas Hill, Brian Davis… the list could really go on FOREVER, thank you. Your faithfulness to the game of basketball gave my daddy and me a togetherness I continue to treasure. Please know your influence lingers in the lives of your fans, particularly this one. I am now teaching my children to LOVE Duke. Tyus Jones, there is a little boy in McRae, GA who thinks you are AWESOME, ba-by!

Let’s Go, DUKE!!

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Christianity Gray

I honestly haven’t wanted to color the world of 50 Shades with my words, but as the movie premiere approaches and I see statuses, tweets, and blogs dedicated to “why Christian women should not see or read such filth,” I have decided to paint my thoughts onto paper. As a person strong in her faith, I am saddened that so many Christians are dictating what my convictions should be on the reading and watching of “Fifty Shades of Grey.” I read it. I plan on watching the movie, and how bout I don’t feel bad about it.  I refuse to let other strong-willed Christians judge and condemn me for allowing my personal relationship with God to be my compass of conviction. At some point in Christianity, we have decided that there is a certain formula to which ALL Christians must be bound in order to be “good” Christians. I am calling BULLSHIT on that.

There you go. I just broke all kinds of formulaic rules by cursing in a Christ-based blog. To that I say…WHATEVER! Just this morning in church, our preacher discussed the parable of the Pharisee and tax collector. I will admit that years ago I was the Pharisee. I believed myself better than others because I followed the rules of the church…I didn’t have sex or drink or do drugs. I was a good little girl and somehow equated that to being a perfect and worthy Christian. Boy, did I have that wrong!! I am NOT worthy, nor will I ever be worthy. I AM the tax collector. I humbly acknowledge my lack of worth and cry out for mercy, daily.

I understand the posts and statuses I see regarding 50, but I just don’t agree. I don’t agree that a walk with Christ is quantitative. That the statistics you get in your study will be the same numbers I crunch in mine because relationships aren’t numbers. A walk with Christ is a highly qualitative experience in that it is an objective experience for all followers, and it was always intended to be that way. Call me naive or even ignorant if you want, but I believe the personal aspect of a Christian walk is just that personal. The Bible tells us that we are all different. It discusses us as different body parts and each of us having different functions within the church. When we make the decision to be filled with the Holy Spirit, our spiritual gifts are awakened. Gifts that are individually different I might add.

Maybe a gift God has given me is an uncanny ability to find Him or His message in ALL things because, honestly, the STORY of Christian Grey that I read was more than sex and control or even abuse as some say. It was a story of redemption.  It was about a man who was infected with a broken spirit. A man incapable of loving himself.  A man who refused to give love an opportunity to find a way into his life because he believed he was unworthy. A man discovered that he could be LOVED because another individual did just that. She loved him through and passed all of his hurts, insecurities, and sins. Sound familiar?? After re-reading and watching the movie, I will have a refresher to the storyline and will provide you all with a blog, “The Fifty Shades of Redemption,” but until then let me finish my thoughts on the cookie-cutter Christianity that is being offered.

At some a point, a list of rules/requirements of what a Christian should and should not do or be has replaced the idea that God provides each believer with his or her own convictions. Scripture tells us, “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined what God has prepared for those who love him.” Here is the cool thing about that revelation; God gives us the power to know. He gives it to us through His Spirit once we are transformed by the Holy Spirit. 1 Corinthians 2:10-16 says:

But it was to us that God revealed these things by his Spirit. For his Spirit searches out everything and shows us God’s deep secrets. No one can know a person’s thoughts except that person’s own spirit, and no one can know God’s thoughts except God’s own Spirit. And we have received God’s Spirit (not the world’s spirit), so we can know the wonderful things God has freely given us. When we tell you these things, we do not use words that come from human wisdom. Instead, we speak words given to us by the Spirit, using the Spirit’s words to explain spiritual truths. But people who aren’t spiritual can’t receive these truths from God’s Spirit. It all sounds foolish to them and they can’t understand it, for only those who are spiritual can understand what the Spirit means. Those who are spiritual can evaluate all things, but they themselves cannot be evaluated by others. For ‘Who can know the Lord’s thoughts? Who knows enough to teach him?’  But we understand these things, for we have the mind of Christ.

The Holy Spirit is the great communicator, and I would venture to say translator. I understand the controversy and concern produced by 50 Shades of Grey, but allow YOUR convictions to be YOURS. In Romans, Paul tells us that our convictions are God given, and we are not to condemn ourselves based on another person’s beliefs. If God convicts you of drinking, you shouldn’t drink. If He convicts you not to curse, then don’t curse. If He convicts you of reading 50 Shades, then by all means don’t read it, but please don’t condemn me for reading it or make me believe that I should be convicted also. Allow your convictions to guide your life. Allow your connection to the Spirit of God to be your guide. Allow the interpretation you receive from the Spirit to move you to believe and live in a certain way.  

“For everything God created is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is RECEIVED with thanksgiving, because it is consecrated by the words of God and prayer (1 Timothy 4:4). You may be saying, “Lana, hold up. Are you saying that 50 Shades is of God?” Yes. Yes, I am. God created E.L. James. E.L. James created 50 Shades. And with the right mindset someone reading this story might just understand more completely the redemptive and accepting quality of God’s love through the characters James created.
Yes, I can see how you may think this is a stretch, but honestly that is what I saw in this story. The sex was there (and if you really want me to be honest, that part gave me a more liberating look at sex and helped out in the bedroom, but that really is a different blog post – no worries I won’t write that one. I wasn’t liberated THAT much…lol), but when I finished the series the story was what had hold of me not the sex.  

Now, my feelings are just mine on this issue. I would never introduce someone to the book who struggled with sex addiction just like I wouldn’t offer a drink to an alcoholic. I understand Paul very clearly about stumbling blocks, but I simply want others to understand that all of humanity doesn’t have the same stumbling blocks or convictions. Therefore, we shouldn’t measure people based on a measuring stick that really shouldn’t exist.

In the past, I have been guilty of what I am writing about. I measured people’s relationship with God or their level of Christianity (like that's even a thing) based on my own convictions (and even worse on the convictions others had me believe were mine). We must stop looking at others to find our path. We must rely on God’s guidance to lead us. We must let His Spirit move us, convict us, and transform us. We must share His transforming power through providing others with His LOVE through our actions. We need to help the lost find and understand HIS voice in their lives.

I truly believe if we would share our faith based on the aspect of our personal relationship with God instead of rules and rituals influenced by man and the world, more people would enter into a relationship with God. He is merciful, forgiving, loving, accepting, and transforming. We are the ones who make Him something He is not.

“And we know that in ALL things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” Once you are called and are truly transformed, the world around you has a much more significant meaning. It’s a rather high-concept idea to see God in EVERYTHING, but open your heart a little wider and allow yourself to see the created world and everything in it from the original CREATOR’S eyes.  You will then be able to truly SEE the world…because Christianity is not black and white!!

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

New Year! New List! New Way!

The year has begun again. There seems to be something natural about starting new at the beginning of a year. So, when I began to think about starting new or making a resolution list for 2015, I simply chuckled because I know me, and I know that one year from now I will look at that list and NOTHING will be accomplished. This chuckling led to thinking why can’t I complete a New Years resolution list. With a little contemplation, the answer became exceptionally transparent to me:  I get overwhelmed!! I particularly become overwhelmed when the big picture can’t be completed in a day. I’m a instant gratification kinda girl. I absolutely hate planting bulb flowers because you must wait soooooo long before seeing any results, but with bedding plants, by the end of the day, you can see the fruits of your labor. I live in an ultra small town. Therefore, when I have some type of project that I may want to complete, I have to travel 20 minutes to an hour and a half just to obtain the supplies. AND THEN...When I walk into an arts and crafty type store like Hobby Lobby with projects in my head and see the immense possibilities the store holds, my brain goes blank. I buy nothing. Therefore, no project gets completed.

Last year I steered away from making a list but went with a one word approach. A word that could be a guiding mantra for the year. FAITHFUL! I wanted to be faithful in the dedication I gave to my roles such as wife, mother, teacher, Christian, youth leader...I wanted to be faithful to the promises I made to myself for things like losing weight or getting fit. I will say at the end of this year I still know what that word is which is more than I can say about ANY list I ever created as a New Years Resolution. This word did help me along the way made me more aware of who and how I wanted to be, but I want more out of this year. I want more from myself. So, I have devised a little plan...which will result in 52 to-do lists!

Here’s my plan...each Sunday, I will sit down and develop a to-do list for that week. I have ALWAYS loved a to-do list. To-do lists probably got me through college with most of my sanity still intact. Why do I love a to-do list? Well, I love it because you get to check things off, of course. Remember, I love instant gratification and what is more gratifying than checking a box done, complete, finished?!?

These weekly to-do list will help me make it to the big stuff I really want completed. I want to get fit and lose weight like most people, but when I write down lose 50 pounds, it seems a bit depressing. I can’t do that in a day. Run a 10k...ha! Yeah, that’ll happen tomorrow. Organize my house...let’s just say with three little boys, I may not even be able to do this in a year. Build a bed. I actually could probably do this in a day if I had the supplies, but getting the supplies all at once...overwhelming. Make my house cutesy ;) I have picture frames, but no pictures. I have walls, but nothing on them. I have so many rooms, but the paint is in desperate need of a new coat. So…...   

My first week’s to-do list:
  1. Write and publish one blog (Look, I already got that one done...CHECK).
  2. Write five pages on my novel idea. (five pages each week will put me at 260 in one year...that my friends is book length). Writing is where I believe I am being led. So, there will be many pages written in 2015.
  3. Run a total of 6 miles (don’t let this fool you...there will be some walking involved and it most definitely won’t happen in a day)
  4. Lose one pound (see now that is so much easier and doable than 50)
  5. Remove all the clothes my boys don’t wear out of their closets.
  6. Create a daily chore checklist for the boys
  7. Clean/organize/remove unnecessary things out of the right upper quadrant of my bedroom.
  8. Give 5th grade their artwork back.
  9. Order pics for upcoming project
  10. Lesson plans for next rotation.

There you have it. Those things ten things must be accomplished this week. Another set of 10 things will be listed for me to accomplish next week. Week after week lists will guide me into living a life that has a sense of purpose and accomplishment. I will continue to allow the word FAITHFUL to be my focus. I will aim to be faithful in creating and completing my to-do list each week.