Thursday, February 28, 2013

Be Great, Crusaders!



Crusaders are GISA AA Region Champs


We’ve all wondered at one time or another how one team with standout talent can lose to another team with lesser talent. And though there may be a number of reasons for a loss here or there like injuries, off-nights or poor officiating, more than likely if you look closely, you’ll see that it’s a matter of teamwork.

Teamwork means that each person puts aside egos and agendas, puts aside the thought of game stats, puts aside the desire for personal glory, puts aside the turnover or missed shot on the last play.

Teamwork means going to practice with the mentality that “what I do in practice is what I’ll do in the game, so I’m going to practice doing it right.” Teamwork means learning the plays, flowing together, and getting the ball into the hands of the open player for an easy basket. Teamwork means digging deep when you feel like you can’t run the length of the court one more time. Teamwork means giving the ball up or even sitting out because someone else is playing a better game that night. Teamwork means practicing some more even after the official practice has ended.

I believe in the power of teamwork. And although teamwork is about working together as a team, it’s also very much about each individual playing to the best of his ability and demonstrating character both on and off the court.

Each person has to be at his best so that the team can be at its best.

So here we are, Crusaders. We made it to the state Final Four again, and we’re about to face the biggest games of our 2012-2013 season. We’re down a player, but we’ve already proven we have the heart and talent to fight through it for the win.  That’s why we’re still standing.

It takes good coaching and good playing to be a championship team. But in order to earn the title and the right to cut down the net, you each have to be great.

You see, a good player makes himself look good, but a great player makes the team look good.

So as you step out onto the court this week whether in practice or in game, in every shot, in every play, in every pass, in every run down the court, in every thought you think, in every word you speak, be great. And not just in basketball. In a few days, win or lose, the games will end and the season will be over. But don’t forget to apply the lessons learned on the court to your life and to your future. No matter what you do or where you go, wherever God and this life take you, always remember to be great.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Whatcha Carrying?

Pic borrowed from ivyleagueinsecurities.com
I've come to realize that in every circumstance there is both good and bad. The good I always try to take with me. The bad? Well, I do my best to leave the bad behind while taking with me the lessons learned, the things that make me a better person.

We carry stuff everywhere we go. This stuff can be a help or a hindrance.

Take for instance when we go on a trip. We bring along our luggage. We carry the things we need, things to make that trip easy, enjoyable and relaxing. This is good stuff to carry.

In life, we carry luggage like this, too. It aids us in making the most of life. It is good. It is a help and not a hindrance.

But so much of the time I tend to focus on baggage, the negative stuff that weighs me down and keeps me from living life.

It's like this. When we leave a situation, especially in a hurry, we tend to pack up everything. As we get settled into our new surroundings, we start going through the packages and determine what can stay and what needs to go.

Sometimes it takes a while to leave behind the things that need to stay in the past. It does for me.

I've decided that while addressing the stuff that needs to go is good and necessary, I also need to pay more attention to the stuff that needs to go with me into my new situations. I have a lot of good, a lot of lessons, a lot of experiences I can share with others.

Both the good and the bad have made me into the person that I am, but I feel like I need to start focusing more on the good luggage. I've ignored it for too long, and focusing on ridding myself of the bad baggage quite honestly hasn't made it go away any faster.

These are my thoughts based on the book Pause by Chris Maxwell. I hope you check it out!

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Authenticity is a Gift

picture from thegospelcoalition.org

In the chapter about balancing in Chris Maxwell's book Pause, Chris talks about being challenged by a favorite author of his to live in a spiritual family, a community where reconciliation, forgiveness, encouragement and companionship are common. 'A gathering of the forgiven choosing to forgive. Of those who've been hurt refusing to remain angry. Of the abused becoming healed. Of the bitter becoming nice.'

I'm not going to lie. I had a tough time with this chapter. Here's why. Most of my hurt and bitterness have come at the hands of 'church.' For a time, I left 'church.' My family gathered in our home for our time with God. It was a safe place, and I took more responsibility for my spiritual health which was a good thing. And our spiritual fellowship changed.

But we grew up in the Bible belt, and you're supposed to go to a church for church. Eventually, we found a church home again. I am very cautious and slow to get involved and open up. It's not that I expect church to be perfect, but I do expect it to be authentic.

We all screw up. Nobody's perfect. Perfection is a myth.

But being authentic whether for good or for bad makes me feel at ease. I know where I stand. And I think authenticity is a sign of love, honor and trust bestowed to others.  It's a gift.

I'm the first to admit that I'm not perfect. I have a little crazy in me. I have shortcomings and quirks. And sometimes a not-so-nice word flies passed my lips. I know...GASP!!!  It's true. Just giving the gift of authenticity because I love you!

I'm trying to be the person God wants me to be. And I just try to be real about it. And I want people to feel like they can be real around me. I'd rather be around someone who lets a nasty little four-letter word fly than be around someone spouting religious platitudes because nine times out of ten, I've found the platitude thing to be disingenuous.

I would love to go to a church like the one described above, but I think the only way to accomplish that is for people to just be authentic. No pretenses. No masks. Just people being people. Wonderful yet flawed. And okay with it, yet desiring and working towards being whole. Being better. Oh, and you need a lot, a lot of grace. A lot.

The question I have to ask myself is if I am willing to do that.

And to be honest, I'm still working on it. It's a leap of faith these days, so it's a little scary. I need to get in touch with my adventurous side and learn to jump again. The good thing is that I have just enough crazy to take a running start and go for it.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

What Hinders My Relationships

My response to a question posted by Chris Maxwell in the section "Adding" in his new book Pause. I hope you will take the time to check out his book and testimony.

Question: What hinders or prevents you from making new friends and adding new activities to your life?

The good thing about not having any money is that you know people aren't friends with you because of it. We used to have money when my husband was a nuclear engineer, but we felt God was calling us in a different direction, so we walked away from the comfort and lifestyle we enjoyed for a simpler and more modest one.

At least I thought it would be simpler. My husband went into ministry. And suddenly we had a lot more friends. That is until the honeymoon phase was over. I found out quickly that when someone is upset with your minister husband or another minister on staff or a church board decision, sometimes they take it up with the wife and sometimes they take it out on the wife. Long story short, my friends list got a little shorter.

When we left ministry, the same thing happened again. Come to find out, a good number of those people I thought were my friends were not attracted to me, but rather they were attracted to our position. Thankfully, they weren't all like that. Some didn't abandon us at all. And sometimes it was understandably more a case of 'out of sight, out of mind.'

I thought things would be different when my husband went into education and athletics, but little has changed.

It's difficult to know who your real friends are.

Experience is teaching me to keep people at a distance. This is hard for me because I'm pretty open and trusting, yet I find it a necessity in order to keep my sanity and to keep from getting depressed or discouraged.

I don't have much of a problem adding new activities in my life, but I struggle adding new friends. What hinders me are things like a lack of trust, past hurts, the possibility of future disappointments, fear of being used and rejected.

It's not that I don't want to add friends. I do. But I'm tired. Tired of going home and licking my wounds because someone liked me last week and snubbed me this week. Tired because someone laughed with me last week and snarked at me this week. Tired because someone understood last week and judged me this week.

This sometimes causes me to seem moody, and sometimes I sit alone. I like for people to like me, so it's difficult for me when people don't. It's even more difficult when there's nothing I can do about it. So sometimes I act a little weird and standoffish even to those I can trust. I'm sorry if I push people away sometimes. I don't like that, but sometimes my heart doesn't know what else to do.

I can't change what others do, but I can change how I react to it.

I am going to hold onto the hope and the promise that there are people out there who like me for me. The others are just missing out. I just hope I don't push away the good ones because of my fear of the other ones.

So that's what hinders me.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Acceptance

In Chris Maxwell's book, Pause, he asks us to look in the mirror and accept the person looking back and to look through our neighborhoods and accept the people nearby.


Acceptance...this is both easy and difficult for me.

When I decided to go back to school and get my degree, I wondered if I'd be accepted. I chose Georgia State University in downtown Atlanta not just because it offered a degree in public relations but because of the diversity the school offered.

Not everyone looked, thought or acted like I did. Nor did they look, think or act like everyone else I'd ever known. I was fascinated, though at times a little scared and insecure. But I soon learned that it was easy to accept them. They made it easy. They openly accepted me.

I made friends easily and accepted into my social circle people of different faiths, ideologies, orientations and cultures. They made me a better person. I hope they can say the same about me.

Accepting others nearby is the easier one. Accepting the person in the mirror...now that's a bit of a challenge.

I read a while back that part of integrity is acceptance. Acceptance of both the good and the not-so good about ourselves. When we accept all of who we are, we are integrated. We have integrity. Integrity is not a lofty ideal. It is...realness.

In general, I like who I am. But I have difficulty accepting some things about myself. I don't particularly care for the way I look. I get easily discouraged when it comes to my weight. I learned at a young age to associate happiness and success with thinness. That thinking has messed me up on many occasions. There are some things I need to change and other things I need to accept.

I don't like my relationship with God right now. My faith is on a roller coaster complete with ups, downs and loops. It's hard to trust when all is silent, when the doors are closed, when the darkness surrounds. I'm fighting to trust and fighting to believe. I'm fighting to accept. To help, I have a picture on my Facebook page that reminds me not to confuse God's patience with his absence.

Chris reminds me in his chapter about acceptance that I need to accept and experience life and all its abundances. And that reminds me of the Serenity Prayer: God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference. 

Chris Maxwell's book Pause

Friday, January 25, 2013

Learning to Pause

" In our efforts to reach  our desires we often miss what we desire the most. Let's change that.
Let's pause.
Let's read the words.
Let's experience a better life in the normal, in the usual, in the hurt, in the questions.
Let's see the wonder. One word at a time."

These are not my words, but they are what I desire.
These words come from my friend Chris Maxwell in his most recent book, Pause.

I want to be a better person, and Chris always inspires and challenges me to be that better person. I feel so blessed to have him as a friend. I can't tell you how many times I've needed prayer and encouragement, and the next thing I know I'm getting a text or message from him. He has a way of guiding and leading and nudging that leaves me feeling encouraged, like I can accomplish big things. I never once have felt judged or like I don't measure up when I'm around him.

I want to experience a better life. I want to take the good and learn from the bad. I want peace. I want to help others be happy, be better, be whole.

I want to see the wonder. Chris always reminds people to enjoy the journey. I've heard it enough times that it has now become part of who I am. I consciously take time to notice things as I go through life. It's not always about the destination. I know that now.

I love to brag on my friends. And that's one reason I'm writing this now. I really want people to check out his new book. But I'm also writing this because as I've been reading his book, I have a million thoughts running through my head that I need to write down. So I'm using this as an introduction to future posts.

Chris takes one word at a time, shares his stories, thoughts and feelings, and then leaves the reader with three takeaways: reflect, receive, and respond. I've been reflecting and receiving. Now I want to respond and share a little of my personal journey.

So stay tuned. There is more to come. Perhaps my journey will inspire you on yours.

In the meantime, check out Chris Maxwell's book Pause. Clink on the link below the picture to learn more about his book and about him personally. He has a wonderful story.