Saturday, May 30, 2015

"The Ball Is In Your Court"

Or, Why There Is No Court and There Shouldn't Be A Ball



Has anyone ever ended a conversation or an argument with you on that note?

I am no sports expert, but the phrase needs to die a slow death.

Basically, what it’s saying is here’s all this emotional garbage and now YOU are responsible for fixing that and making me “feel better.”

Somehow, the premise is, if you leave the ball in “your court” now that person’s feelings are “your responsibility.” Fix it!

Garbage. Balderdash. 

The ball is never OUT OF YOUR COURT.

In reality, it’s never out of HIS court.

The ball, if there is a ball, flows directly between you and the Lord.

YOU are in charge of how you feel, how you experience life, and all of this is solely tied into your relationship with your creator.

Not in your husband.
Not in your children.
Not in your boyfriend.
Not in your mentors.
Not in your girlfriends.
Please God, not in the Kardashians.

You and Jesus.

But look, here’s the KEY: this isn’t for the OTHER person’s benefit!

It’s for YOURS.

The minute that you let that ball out of your court you are unduly placing your heart and feelings and emotions and … whatever into the hands of someone else!

Is that really where you want them?

It is no one else’s responsibility how you feel.

When you do this, you allow yourself to be a whirlwind of emotions and highs and lows and ups and downs because you are placing your stability in other (unstable) people. This is NOT the Lord’s plan for you.

Psalm 16:8 puts your circle of influence right where it should be: “I have set the Lord before me continually; because He is at my right hand, I shall not be moved!”

Eleanor Roosevelt would say, “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.”

So, if someone is putting “a ball in your court” tell them (strongly, but nicely) to knock it off.  
Again, for their OWN sanity!

Does this mean you go out of your way to offend them? Clearly not.

But, boundaries are okay!

If you are going around throwing balls in other people’s courts…why?

Seek stability and permanence and validity and resolution from Jesus.

He is the ONLY one who can give it.

I just want to tell everybody this:

I may getting an “F” in our relationship right now.

100%. Totally.  Again, if there is a ball, I’m SURELY dropping it.

It’s not because I don’t care: It’s because I have a different job description now.

My job description looks like this:

1.     Jesus
2.     Chase
3.     BraylonZacharyOscarNewBayBay

That’s it. Period.

Is it my job to speak love? Yes.
Do I always do this perfectly? No.
Does anyone? No.
Is that why you (and me too) need a relationship with Jesus? Yes!

I have no choice (and, no higher calling) but to filter my life against those three responsibilities.


Does this relationship GIVE me strength, or does it drain me and PROHIBIT my ability to do my job well? 

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Underwater: Why Feeling like You’re Drowning Can Be a Good Thing

Or, How Getting Kicked in the Ribs by Grown Men in High School Helped Me in Life  

Growing up, my dad never let me win at chess.

Like, EV-ER.

The casualties of my little white or black soldiers always outnumbered my father’s tremendously.

Sometimes, he could win in less than 10 moves. 

And each time, often when I was around the ages of 6-10, I would pout and just say things like, “Why didn’t you go EASY on me!?”

He would say each time, “That’s not how you get better.”

We don’t improve playing people our same ability.

I can’t really remember a time that I ever beat my father at chess, or any game of any kind (well, except for our junior high obsession with Mario Party on Nintendo 64 which he personally dubbed “Bowser Takes My Coins”).

In high school, I was fortunate to play (read: not star, or overly competitively participate, but basically be there in the water) with a waterpolo team that was nationally recognized. We held the 2nd longest winning streak in high school girl’s waterpolo history.

 We won. A lot. Over 95 games (over three seasons) in a row; including league championships.

Again, I was no “starting player,” but I was lucky enough to experience it right along with All-American athletes (one of which would represent our country as a part of the U.S. Waterpolo Team internationally in college).

Our coach, one of the greatest men I’ve ever known, once or twice a year, would arrange for us to die a slow death out there in Hades’ personal chlorinated Pool of Pain.

Exaggeration? 

Hyperbolic? 

Hardly.

He would arrange for us (ages 15-18) to play nationally ranked male collegiate teams or national club leagues that included retired Olympic athletes (one woman’s team from Oakland specifically still leaves me with the heebie jeebies!).

He would literally tell them to destroy us, to not hold back. It was…terrible.

We were just absolutely trampled. 

You might think, you can’t be “trampled” in the pool! Wrong word!

Not true. It happened.  

7 minutes each quarter of pure hell.

Feet to the ribs, elbows to the face, was I even above water?

If we even scored one goal, we considered ourselves champions.

But mostly, it was a lot of drowning in pain.

We would lie on the pavement after those games just staring at the sky wondering if we would ever breathe regularly again.

But the lesson was the same as it was in my father’s library.

You don’t benefit from being handed things.

You don’t get better playing people worse or the same as you.

Good things don’t come easy.

The only way to improve is to be a little pummeled.

The only way for your lungs to expand (to continue the swimming metaphor) is to feel the burning of “hypoxics.” Not sure if I spelled that right, but the coach would hold his hand in front of your mouth making sure each ounce of breath was released from your lungs before you plunged in the water not daring to rise above surface until you reached the other side.

One thing I do know, is that if you are ever invited (or forced) to jump into a pool with people far more accomplished, far more seasoned, far more experienced, far “more better,” take that invitation with open hands.

I also highly recommend looking for pools where the water is deep and the opponents are scary.

Maybe those opponents are your doubts and your fears.

Maybe that opponent is a situation you’ve been avoiding, but feel that God is calling you to face.

Maybe those opponents are your toddlers. I definitely have days where I feel like they are definitely trying to drown their mother. On land. Collectively. As a carefully coordinated attack team.

Like my dad told me, I’ll tell you: It’s the only way you’re going to get better.  

You will come out the other end stronger than you were when you jumped in.


Even if you feel like you’re dying. 



Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Being an Encourager Today



I just wanted to touch, real quickly, on a complicated subject.

We should be reminded, daily, (if not HOURLY on occasion) that success and blessing from God to one, does not diminish nor discredit nor disqualify ourselves from maximum blessing.

It is no secret that humans often conceptualize God’s abilities and loyalties in comparison with their parents, often their father.

Even if we had the best father on Earth, they would still fall short of the magnitude of our Lord.

However, being human, we understand things in the world around us (create schemas) based on experience.

We’ve never experienced the full power and might and favor of our Lord, so we take what we know, parental love and project.

This in and of itself is a daily battle for many.

So, in a parent’s love, if your sister got to go eat ice cream with dad and have a daddy daughter date and have SO MUCH FUN and SO MUCH SPRINKLES, you were, left at home: fun-less and sprinkle-less.

Take this, make it bigger, and I believe is what creates much of the competition that you find in Christian circles.

If Daddy is having fun with Suzie, he isn’t having fun with me.

If Daddy is teaching Suzie, he isn’t teaching me.

If Daddy is giving $5 to Suzie, he has $5 less to give to me.

That’s just math. That’s just human effort.

But, we serve a God, where the economy is LIMITLESS and the love is INDIVIDUAL and PERFECT.

If God is having fun with Suzie, he can still have fun with you.

If God is teaching Suzie, he can still be teaching you.

If God gives $5 to Suzie, he has NO LESS money / blessing / love / understanding / favor to give to you.

That’s just God math. That’s just divine effort. 

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Blasphemy

I have a confession to make: I’ve been following the Duggar social media frenzy entirely too closely this week.

If you have no clue what I’m talking about a quick Google search will suffice and I’m not interested in addressing this issue at large. Some bloggers much more talented than I have addressed the issue incessantly and I don’t care to add to the noise.

Although I considered myself a Duggar fan (whether I still do is another topic for another time) before the whole “situation” this last week, my interest had little to do with their family.

The Duggar facebook pages, which were once mild and tame (at best) are now a popcorn-worthy (again, if I’m being honest) absolute blood bath. I put that lightly.

Every minute THOUSANDS of people on either side of the spectrum are hurling words and accusations and Bible verses and parts of Bible verses and “MY GOD” this and “YOUR GOD” that. It’s enough to make a girl who usually (if she’s being honest) puts Judgment day on her calendar, you know, when she’s like 90+ years old, to desperately desire it to be Tuesday.

What makes this issue so intense is that there are, only, a million different facets of it. There are such polar views and people who have been deeply wounded, again, on both sides that the carnage is just incredible.

All I hear is a world desperately crying out in anger and confusion and self-declared righteousness (again, on both sides) and the weight of the lost burdens me (again, probably another post for another time).

I hurt deeply for people on both sides.

What also is incredible to me is the absolute depth of these posts. People are discussing (vehemently) everything from molestation, incest, forgiveness, heaven and hell (BIG theme), homosexuality, “holier than thou”ity, Christianity, Jesus, predestination, abortion, the list goes on and on. People hurt by situations similar are pouring their souls out, countless stories of forgiveness and, the unspeakable.

The brokenness of our world, in its entirety, is crystal clear.

Oh, and the memes. Oh, the memes. What our society has reduced to.

I just want to touch on one meme that really stood out to me and just touch on a few points. It stuck out to me because I TOTALLY get it. I really, really do. It’s TOTALLY something I would have said in high school; proudly, educated, “self-aware,” and justified.

Here it is:


Okay, so, again TOTALLY understand where this is coming from.

It does sound a little weird.

But only if you look at it from a “works” standpoint, which if you really dig into Christianity (i.e. the Bible), is not the point, at all.

A lot of people, look at the Bible as a checklist. I.e. “do these things = God  / blessing” ; “don’t do these things = no God / no blessing.

So, with that view, what we do or don’t do somehow makes God happy, or unhappy.

I absolutely agree that is quite a weak God.

But what if, Jesus came to save us? What if, we have a Savior? 

What if we are all truly forgiven for everything past, present and future through His blood?

THIS is the Gospel.

I won’t even elaborate.

That it.

Done. As He said, “it is finished!”

THEN, does it mean we just do whatever we want? Hardly.

What if, God is who He says He is?

Like, ALL the time?

And what if, “these rules” were not for HIM (because He can fat-do-whatever-he-wants and He has) but for US?

Ways that we could, as my pastor says it, not break God’s laws, but break us AGAINST God’s laws.

End of the day: God doesn’t care what we do or don’t do. His plan is better and above all that. 

He's got it "on lock," okay people?

He isn’t getting his feelings hurt when we use His name in vain.  Sorry, Ricky.

Using His name in vain disallows us to remember how incredibly sovereign and perfect He is, and do it enough, and you’ll convince yourself to stop praying, stop trusting, stop … whatever.

Tangentially, no one is "MORE going to Hell" or "LESS going to Heaven" than anyone else.

You can certainly make your life of Earth feel like Hell. By distancing yourself from God in horrendous ways against His nature and again His true plan for you even the Saved can feel condemned through the lies of Satan's whispers.

But reality?

You either are or you aren't. 

This is just a tiny (teeny) response to a BIG issue; one that ultimately comes to the Cross.

If you are having questions that are like the ones being hurled online today, won’t you please take them to the Cross?

THAT is where they should begin and end.

Again, it is FINISHED.

And, please, if anything, PLEASE don’t construct your views of spirituality based on memes. 

I just can’t even say anything more about that.  It makes my head want to explode.

I just see a guy standing before God on Judgement Day waving His little meme sign and God's like "So...that's your stance, huh?"

And the guy's just like, "Yeah, saw it on FB."


Just don’t.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

A Glimpse of God's Definition of Success

My most faithful of readers (you know who you are and I love you!) will know that I have been blogging for a while now.

According to the blog’s website: since May of 2011! What?!


Some posts are super duper popular, and others, well, crickets, okay?


In the last 4 years my blog posts have been read over 7,000 times.


Which, in the blogging world, is not that substantial, really.


BUT, in God’s eyes, that’s 7,000 times that someone (somewhere) has read the words that God placed on my heart!


That’s pretty amazing.  


See God calls us to move mountains through Him, he really does, but sometimes he does this in small ways.


It’s like when he moved the mountain of eternal condemnation, with the cry of a small, helpless babe in a manger.


I once read that the power of a Christian leader lies in their ability to serve the one.


That great people know how to serve one person well.


No one, well without use of illegal military force, goes out and forces their influence on a group of people.


You influence one person for good. And another. And another.


Maybe they add up, maybe they don’t.


But the true treasure lies in that one.


See, if God was concerned about being “effective” (as we define it) in growing His Kingdom, I might have been left out!


Was I a spiritual outlier?


But Jesus came and swooped ME anyway.


Many, many, many (most? all?) of the people that I associated with at the time of my salvation are not saved today.


It breaks my heart.


God knows the power of (as Bill put it in his sermon this last weekend) having the bus make EVERY STOP. 

To all who would climb aboard, the doors are open.


We are called to go into ALL NATIONS, to ALL people, EVERYWHERE, to every.single.one.


If my blog and/or future projects reach just one, I am fully okay with that.


Because I, myself, was and am just one.


Luke 15:

Then Jesus told them this parable: “Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Doesn’t he leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.’ I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.


In this parable, I see an aspect of God’s definition of “success.”


The joys of the shepherd's success is not in “having 100 sheep.” 
The joy of the shepherd's success is in finding and touching that ONE.


How can your gift bless just one heart today?
How can your words encourage just one person today?

To God, we are all “just one” and to God we are infinitely invaluable.



Isn’t it time we started defining our “success” the same way?

Monday, May 11, 2015

"You're done right..."

Well, as you (might) know, I’m expecting number 4!

We have three boys, and as the sonogram says at least, we’re expecting our first girl!

We are elated.

After my first, all the questions were, “When are you having another?!”

Then my second came.

And then, instantly, “You’re done right?”

And then after the third, “Are you going to try for a girl?”

And now that the fourth is a girl, people I think are afraid to ask! Ha!

But a lot do, “So, you got your girl, you’re done… right?”

I asked my husband the same thing the night after our sonogram.

“So…we have a girl now…does that mean we’re done?”

He casually said, “We could probably have at least one more!” 

My heart skipped (whoo hoo!) and we went back to Netflixing.

Now, look, from all my “one-and-done”ers to my Duggar wannabees, your family size is between you and God and what’s healthy for you and your family.

But here are some reasons why WE aren’t planning on quitting yet…should God see fit!!

Number One: We don’t make much money, but money doesn’t raise kids.

My husband grew up without much financial stability. Things were really great or really not great.

I had a similar experience with divorced parents.

One seemed to always have money and one seemed to never have money.

The BEST people I know didn’t have everything handed to them.

The WORST thing you can do for your kid is say “yes” all the time.

Get a job. The end.

Number Two: But…where are you going to put them?

Have you seen that FRIENDS episode where Joey wants Rachel and the baby to move in with him and she goes, “But there’s no room for a baby!”

And he goes, “The baby’s like *hand motion* this big. It can go right here *motions to the recliner*.”

I had my own room. It was great, but it was more a fortress against other situations going on in my childhood home more than a fortress of “need” or “peace.”

Hubs shared with 4 boys in high school.

Hopefully, if things aren’t too comfortable, they’ll promptly move out at 18 to university or military or missions or professions.

Number Three: Time and “ME”

But when do I have “ME” time?

Um. Never.

Friends? I love you, I think you exist, but I’m not really sure.

But here’s the thing. Children are a gift from God. You know what else is a gift from God?

Un-self-pre-occupation. It doesn’t really matter anymore.

See MY time isn’t really MY time anyways?

It’s GODS time.

And if GOD decides that I need zero Kaitlin time and more mommy time, it is in growing spiritually (while also wanting to pull my hair out) that I will say, “Yep!”

Number Four: THE NOISE & THE MESS

So, being clean is a good thing.

Being obsessively clean? A compulsion. One that I developed from anxiety.

As I give my cares to God, I feel less like I need to clean to be “okay.”

Kids also knock that out of you pretty quickly.

Now, I’m not talking about not mopping or sweeping, etc. BUT, if you put your “blinders on” every so often and ignore the housework and play with the kids or zone out on tv with your husband at 10PM, that’s ok!!

And now, when the house is clean and quiet…I miss my hoard!!! Please make messes and play!

Number Five: I see God. ALL. THE. TIME.

Exactly HOW do I take care of 3 under 5, work full time, manage a household, and wake up each day? God. 

By putting myself outside of what is reasonable puts me out of the boat and onto the water. 

And it's a good place to be. 

A fellow blogger wrote:  I don’t let little things like common sense, birth control, and economic disaster stop me from having babies. (Julie Cole)

Regardless, as we’re growing kids, we’re truly growing ourselves, and I’ve loved every minute of it.

When people tell you it’s all worth it. All of it.

It totally and completely is.

I wouldn’t trade it for anything.