Wednesday, June 30, 2010

What kind of football do you play?

In honor of World Cup Fever...I posted this a few days ago on Faithful Feet, but thought I should also go ahead and share it here...

What kind of football do you play?

Thanks to World Cup fever, I have really been thinking a lot about football lately. I am American, born and raised…have still yet to have the blessed opportunity to visit anywhere outside of this country, though I do have many dreams to do so someday. Being a tried and true American, I did not discover until high school (my teenage years) that the rest of the world is not referring to the game that involved that strangely oval-shaped pigskin when they speak of football. I discovered this in high school Spanish class during my junior year of high school. (Rather late in life for such a fundamental discovery, I know.) As our Spanish teacher was teaching us about words for sports, she said that the Spanish term for our “football” is “futbol de Americana”. And she went on to explain that the reason they refer to our “football” as literally “football of America” or more accurately “American football” is because the Spanish word for soccer is “futbol”…needing no identifier of what country’s version of football it is. She explained that we Americans are the only country in the world who does not think of what we know of as soccer when the term football is used.

As I think about this drastic difference in the same word depending on where geographically it is being used, I realize something pretty major. You see, in “futbol de Americana”, our players really don’t use their feet much at all…other than to run around alot and jump a bit. I’m not saying they are not athletic and talented, but just saying that the name “football” doesn’t really accurately describe that sport. Maybe “body ball” or even some form of “hand ball”, but the amount of time the ball actually spends in contact with the players’ feet is very minimal. Even the amount of players that contact the ball with their feet is quite minimal…two players on each very large team…maybe one or two more if a backup needs to step in for one or both of those at some time. And often those players are ones who have been recruited at some point in their lives from the sport of…football…soccer!

Contrast American football to…well…football (soccer for us Americans). In that sport, there is almost constant contact between the players’ feet and the ball. And…almost every player gets their feet on the ball quite a bit, relatively at least. (By the way, I definitely cannot in any way claim to be an expert on either type of football…or any sport, for that matter. Ask my husband, he’ll tell you.)

So, with the football comparisons in my mind, I am drawn to consider which type of football I play in life.

Like in futbol de Americana, do I barely get my feet in the game (of sharing my faith and the Reason for it) and in contact with the Central Focus (God’s Word) of the game?

Like in futbol de Americana, do I depend on a small number of people who appear to be experts in areas I am not to do all of the Foot Contact and punt the Ball of God’s Word FOR ME to those who are waiting with open arms to receive it?

Like in futbol de Americana, is my message for Him limited to only a very small area near me rather than reaching out beyond my comfort zone and beyond the bounds of borders (even very close borders like those of my local church, my part of town, my home)?


Like in football, do I get in there and use my feet to propel the Ball of His Word into whatever direction is necessary at the moment to head a bit closer toward making a goal (of reaching someone for Christ)?

Like in football, do I join in with almost everyone else on the team and give my feet some time in contact with the Ball right along with the rest of them, and even take on the role of being the one driving that Ball right into the goal when necessary while at other times taking the role of passing it along to the next player who is in better position to make that victorious kick/shot?

Like in football, does my message for Him know limitless bounds? Is my message for Him recognized and heard beyond the borders of any established place of comfort and safety for me?

I hope you followed me with all of that and didn’t get lost. I really thought it was a very worthy comparison. Please don’t mistake me for saying that our American football is not a sport I respect or enjoy…I LOVE IT! (especially since my New Orleans Saints won the Superbowl this year!!! Who DAT!?!) But, I do think the rest of the world has a valid point about the name of “our” game versus the name of “theirs”. And even more valid when compared in this way.

A couple of closing thoughts for you as you, too, consider the question “What kind of football do you play?”…

“And he (Abraham) is also the father of…(those) who also walk in the footsteps of the faith that our father Abraham had…” (Romans 4:12)

“How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news, who proclaim peace, who bring good tidings, who proclaim salvation, who say to Zion, ‘Your God reigns!’ “ (Isaiah 52:7)

What beautiful, faithful feet!

Monday, June 28, 2010

Tears for Fears

I just wrote and posted this for Faithful Feet, but I also wanted to share it here.

Tears for Fears

You know, I never really “got” (or even thought about) this band’s name back in the **cough, cough** 80’s **cough, cough**.  Okay, come on…Tears for Fears…”Shout, shout, let it all out…these are the things I can do without, come on…I’m talkin’ to you.” Oh, and “Sowing the seeds of love, the seeds of love…” and one more…”Ev-ry-bo-dy wants to rule the world…”  Okay, if you don’t recognize this **umhm** 80’s English pop rock band by now, then you just must have missed them.  Now, I will say this…after going back and reading the lyrics to these songs and others of theirs, I must say they were a troubled duo whose writing was very deep, and even political and sometimes even dark.  Of course, when I was originally singing along to these songs (picture the BIG 80’s hair, neon clothes, jelly shoes and all), I really was clueless as to the depth of what I was singing along to (and sometimes banging my head to…no, not to Tears for Fears…Hair Bands…YES, I admit it! I was a child of the 80’s!  There, I said it.)

All of that aside, the reason I was reminded of them recently is because I found myself sitting in my living room with my precious four-year-old son in my lap reading the Caring Bridge website updates of a dear cousin’s five-year-old daughter who just in the past couple of weeks was found to have a brain tumor.  As I read the update of her surgery, which basically said that they could not remove it and will have to treat with only chemo and radiation at this point, I had sudden, uncontrollable tears flowing.  I held my son tightly and kissed him as he asked me, “Mommy, are you crying?  Why are you sad?”  Whether you are a parent or not, you understand the tears that were flowing.  Tears for fears.

Though the band actually extracted its name from a line in a book that said “tears as a replacement for fears”, I would have to say that my tears were not so much a replacement for my fears but rather an outward, uncontrollable expression of my fears.

Fears…we all have them.  When the reality of them hits you in the face as it has me recently, you must admit that there are so many fears related to so many what if’s that we don’t even realize the fears we have until we are forced to do so.

A dear friend or relative’s child, very near the age of your own child, has a sudden, unexpected diagnosis.  A loved one is involved in some sort of trauma – car accident, bike accident, fall from a horse, 4-wheeler accident, you name it.  A person near and dear to you “falls from grace”…very publicly (as if any of us could truly “fall from grace”…really, grace is grace…there is no falling from it…anyway, that’s another subject).  Someone you know just discovered she is no longer going to give birth to the tiny baby that was growing inside of her.  Three dear friends, in a row, discover they have breast cancer.  The person you know who was once in remission and “cured” has suddenly relapsed.

The list could go on and on, but honestly, this list is pretty much exactly scripted from my recent life, much of it within the past week or two.  No, none of it has happened to me directly, but to many who are near and dear to me.  Don’t think I’m looking for sympathy.  I bet most of you reading this could script a very similar list for yourselves.  As a matter of fact, maybe some of those things HAVE happened directly to you…not just to someone you know.

Regardless…it’s times like these that really do make you face reality and the fears of all of the possible “What if this happens to me or my_____(you fill in the blank)!?!”

What do you do?

1.  Hug that “What If?” loved one that you are thinking about.  Kiss them, squeeze them, tell them you love them.
2.  Don’t try to figure it out and think it all through.  “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”  Matthew 6:34
3.  RUN to the cross!!!  Crawl up in His arms and cry out to Him.  Sob to Him.  Yell at Him if you must.  Whine to Him.  Explain to Him, if you just have to.  GIVE THOSE AND ALL OF YOUR FEARS TO HIM…AGAIN…AND AGAIN!!!!

“Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.”  1 Peter 5:7  and then don’t forget to follow what’s in the next verses…”Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.  Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings.  And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. To him be the power for ever and ever. Amen.”  1 Peter 5:8-11

Give Him your Tears…and your Fears…over and over and over again.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Headache, Pain, Misery

So, I woke up today with a headache.  Not too abnormal for me.  Some are worse than others, but I have gotten so used to them (thanks to the blessing of TMJdisorder, which my doctor diagnosed me with in high school and said it was because I talked too much!  Ha!  Yeah, right! Puh-leeze!).  A dose of regular old extra-strength Excedrin usually does the trick pretty quickly, if needed.  A good neck/shoulder massage from my husband is usually just what the doctor ordered for those stronger headaches.  Often, though, I am able to go about my day and not even realize I have a I said...I have grown quite accustomed to them.

As I was reading about Jesus' crucifixion this morning, while I was enduring this headache and waiting for the Excedrin to kick in, I was struck very deeply.  Our Savior was enduring excruciating, flesh-ripping, joint-dislocating, muscle-tearing, lung-compressing, heart-stopping pain as He was hanging by nails on a tree dying...for us. 

During all of the lingering time He was dying yet still living on that cross, He never once attempted to numb or even stop the pain. 

He was tempted to during the mocking of the onlookers. 

He could have done it. 

He could have come down. 
(He did rise from the dead and ascend to heaven just a few days later, after all.) 

The soldiers even attempted to help Him numb the pain by offering Him a sedative drink near the end, which He refused. 

He knew His work and purpose. 

He knew He had to endure and conquer death in all its fullness, a death that most humans will never have to endure on this earth because it is (and was even then) considered so cruel and inhumane.  He had to face and endure that death, unsedated, as He became our sin...all sin - past, present, and order to pay the ultimate and final penalty for it so that we would not have to. 


What can you say to that!?! 

I believe...I accept...I repent...Thank you!

Sorry to be so graphic, but sometimes we just need to stop and remember the depth and realism of what our Savior did for us and the magnitude of what He offers us.

And to think...we complain about a little headache!

Friday, June 11, 2010

The Blues really Jazz me up!

(Photos courtesy of New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival 2010 - a.k.a. "Jazz Fest")

I really love the Blues
And, Jazz, too, for that matter. 
There's something about the beats, the bass, and the often raspy voice of the soul singer. 
Oh, and how I love the way a Blues Guitar sings.
And the horns & woodwinds...can't forget them!
Often my favorite parts of the bluesy, jazzy riffs.

Though the name "Blues" and even the theme of many of the songs
may sometimes sound a little like a downer,
I usually find myself ranging from
chilled out & peaceful to energized & unavoidably toe-tapping
while tuning in to my favorite local New Orleans Jazz & Blues radio station, WWOZ 90.7FM.  ( - Check them out online - They're almost always playing something good, if this is your fare, too.)

All of this kind of makes me think about something I was just reading in 2 Chronicles 20.  See, the people of Judah, under the leadership of Jazzy Jehoshaphat (I had to do something to Jazz up that name!) were being faced with some pretty tough circumstances.  A vast army of people - the same people whom God previously would not let Israel/Judah invade nor destroy - these powerful and numerous people were coming to make war with Jehoshaphat and the people.

I would say the people of Judah in some ways were really feeling the Blues at this point! 

"We had to let them go when we had the chance to catch them off guard and do them in...and now look how we might be repayed!  We can't beat them now, and if we don't we may lose this precious inheritance we have." 

But the neat thing about this story is that through the great leadership and example of their King Jazzy J (Jehoshaphat...bear with me here!), they ALL came together (ALL of the people of Judah) to seek help from the Lord.

As he, their king, prayed to the Lord in front of them all, he reminds the Lord, himself, and the people of Judah that:
1.  God is sovereign.
2.  Power and might are in God's hand (no one can withstand Him).
3.  God drove the previous inhabitants out of the land for them...AND
4.  God gave the land to Israel (Judah) forever as their inheritance.

Then, after praying a little more, he ends the this:
"We have no power to face this vast army that is attacking us.  We do not know what to do, but our eyes are upon You."  (2 Chronicles 20:12)

Then, as all the men of Judah stood there before the Lord with their wives, children, and little ones, the word of the Lord came to them through one who was there saying:
"Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast army.  For the battle is not yours, but God's...You will not have to fight this battle.  Take up your positions;  stand firm and see the deliverance the Lord will give you, O Judah and Jerusalem.  Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.  Go out to face them tomorrow, and the Lord will be with you."  (2 Chronicles 20:15-17)

Then, led first by their king, the ALL fell down with their faces to the ground and worshipped before the Lord.

Tomorrow came...

And as they set out, not wasting any time, King Jehoshaphat stood up and led them saying:
"Listen to me, Judah and people of Jerusalem!  Have faith (actively believe) in the Lord your God and you WILL be upheld;  have faith in His prophets and you WILL be successful."  (2 Chronicles 20:20 - emphasis mine)

Then, here's a really cool part to me...he appointed some men to go out ahead of the army singing to the Lord and praising Him for the splendor of His holiness and saying, "Give thanks to the Lord, for His love endures forever."


As they began to sing and praise, the Lord set ambushes against the men who were invading Judah and the enemy was defeated!

The enemies even ended up destroying each other!  No one escaped!!!

There was so much plunder that it took THREE DAYS to collect it...and on the fourth day they assembled and praised the Lord!

Then, again led by their king, they all returned joyfully to Jerusalem, for the Lord had given them cause to rejoice over the enemies.  Once back in Jerusalem, they went straight into the temple...with their instruments!

The fear of God came upon all the kingdoms of the countries...when they heard how the Lord fought against the enemies of Israel.

The kingdom of Jehoshaphat was at peace, for God had given him peace on every side.

Now, that's some toe-tappin, foot-stompin, knee-slappin, soul-soothin Blues!!!

The people of Judah gave their Blues to God, and He turned their Blues into a Jazzy Jam-session of Victory and Peace

If you don't believe 2 Chronicles 20.

I ain't makin this up, Honey!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Core Performance - Endurance

What goes through your mind when you hear those words? 

Strength & Conditioning Training / Sports Performance? 
Painful, exhausting thoughts of straining and struggling through a strenuous workout? 
Holding a difficult position as stably as possible for far longer than any human being should have to much less be able to?

And just why would anyone put themselves through any or all of the above?  Do tell!

Hmmm...maybe to "improve performance and prevent injuries"...hmmmm...okay, yeah, maybe that's it.  At least according to the subtitle of one of my husband's Strength & Conditioning books. 

I must admit, as much as those thoughts are all quite excruciating to does make sense.  You know the physical side of it, I'm sure.  You work to target strengthening your "core" muscles so that you can have more stability.  You work to build up your endurance so that you can, well, endure (without passing out rather embarrassingly on the floor).  Ultimately both make you more healthy and more safe in your everyday life because you end up taking strain off of the wrong muscles and joints as well as taking strain off of a weak cardiovascular system...because you have strengthened the right muscles, including your heart. 

Why do we need to work to strengthen our core and increase our endurance?

So we can stand strong and endure, with grace, days like my today. 

Thankfully it wasn't one of those out-right BAD days.  It was just one of "those" days.  You've had 'em.  Nothing is going horribly wrong, but you just don't feel "right". 

Work wasn't difficult, but it was a bit taxing on the energy.  Then, I found out I didn't know about a wedding shower of a dear relative-to-be and would have to miss it because of other necessary life plans.  Those life plans being that I had to take two very heavy loads of laundry over to my dear sister's house to wash and dry, since I (truly led by the Lord, though I may sound like I am complaining at the moment) actually decided to give away our great condition washer and dryer a year and a half ago when we did not need them at the time.  (I NEVER get rid of stuff...EVER...but I DID do this, and I DO NOT regret's just a little taxing at the moment, now that we need one again.)  Then, as I was walking out of the house with the two heavy loads...the bottom was falling out of the sky...yes, it was raining cats and dogs!  Oh, well.  Thank the Lord for ballcaps!  So, on my brief jaunt to dear sister's house, I turned on the radio, needing and wanting to hear some soothing and encouraging Christian music...and, of course...NEITHER of the two stations I like the most were coming in AT ALL!!!  (Thanks to the lovely downpour, I suppose.)  Thankfully my husband nor my sister and her family witnessed the moment of emotion that briefly overtook me and had me shedding a few releasing tears.  Sometimes you just need a few moments alone.

All of that to say that, if I had not been targeting my "core" and seeking to increase my endurance...all spiritually speaking now...without His Strength and Calming Reassurance...I would have quite possibly completely fallen apart and gone to utter pieces.  I would have continued to wallow in self-pity, rather than tightening those core muscles and pressing through with Endurance I could never have on my own.  I may have even gotten injured either by my own self and/or by someone who really didn't mean to cause me any pain, much less injury.   

No, thankfully He reminded me that:
 - I HAVE a job (that is quite a nice set-up at the moment) and though that job can be a little taxing sometimes, it's much better than what many have or even don't have
 - and that we are now close enough geographically to a large portion of our family that even when we have to miss some of the special gatherings, we will have plenty more opportunites for getting together with them in the days to come...something I longed for when we lived thousands of miles away for two years
 - and that My family and I HAVE clothes that get dirty (and still have clothes to wear when those are dirty...remember...I don't get rid of hardly ANYTHING! )
 - and that we HAVE a house (that does not have a washer and dryer, but so what!?!  That family that needed it far more than we did is surely still using it and may not have had other alternatives like we do in our time without the duo.) 
 - and that He does send the rain...not always at what we feel are the most opportune times, but when He knows we need it most
 - and that sometimes I need to just sit in silence and listen to the rain...He speaks through the rain
 - and that I was able to spend some dear, sweet, unassuming time with my sister and her family...while washing my family's stinky dirty laundry
 - and quite possibly the best reminder of all that He gave me was that "This too shall pass!" 

When times are tough...or just so-so...or even good...tighten that CORE and press on with endurance...for "This too shall pass!"

And then, don't forget to "Relax...God's in charge!"