Monday, June 17, 2013

I Am For You (Post Father's Day Post)

"I know, Mom.  You've told me that, like...a million times already."

"Good.  Glad to know you're hearing me.  And for the record, I'll tell you like...a million more." 

I am FOR you.

We were on our way home, having yet another one of those critical car conversations. 

You know the ones. 

Your kids start by asking you a simple, but profound, question.  Then you, sometimes accidentally, sometimes quite intentionally, weave a much-needed life lesson carefully into your explanation.  Happens all the time. 

The way I figure it is this: as long as they are buckled in and have nowhere else to go, their only option is to listen.  Captive audience.  All in the name of education and encouragement, of course.

I can't recall all the specifics of this particular dialogue. 
Something about boys.  Icky boys and ill intentions. 
Something about girls.  Lonely, lost and love-deprived girls.

No pointing fingers.  No judgment.  Just a tender, compassionate, innocent explanation of certain choices made by certain young people because of certain lacks in their lives.

I summed it all up by saying, "Not always the case, but it may be because they've never heard their mom, never heard their dad ever tell them, 'I am FOR you', like you always have."

And my oldest asked, "Why would that matter?"

What she doesn't understand now is that it matters.  It matters a whole lot. 

To know someone is on your side, your team. 
To know you aren't alone. 
To know you have a cheerleader in your corner. 
To know someone is rooting for you. 
To know someone wants the absolute best for you. 
To know someone is not against you. 
To know someone is purely for you.

Those of us who've experienced the blessing of parents who told us this truth both in words and actions can sometimes forget how much it matters. 

Or worse, take it for granted.  That is until we know an individual who has never known someone was for them.

It matters.

In my late thirties, I've found that it may matter even more.  Not so much from my earthly parents, but from my Heavenly Father.

Clinging to this one truth has affirmed me in more ways than I could ever think to express in simple letters, syllables, words or sentences.

It's imperative I know. 

Whatever the circumstance, whatever the challenge, whatever I've done in the past, and whatever lies ahead, He is for me.  I've just got to know.

He is.  Always for me.  Never against me.

Maybe you need to hear that truth today, too.  Maybe you need to hear it for the first time today.  Maybe you need to be reminded of it.  Maybe you need to encourage your kids with it. 

Our Father is for us.  Always on the side of His children.  Never against us.

And for the record, even if you've already heard it like...a million times, I'll be glad to tell you like...a million more.

He is FOR you.

Monday, June 3, 2013

What Do I Do?

Forgive the recycling.

I wrote the post below a few years back (before this blog), but was reminded of it after my pastor's message yesterday when he made these statements:

*Our life is defined by our choices.
*Our choices reflect the voices we listen to.
*When we give a listening ear, we give that voice a platform in our lives. begs the question.  What voices are we listening to?

What Do I Do?

It was the bottom of the last inning, in what had become a very competitive matchup between two girls’ youth softball teams. 

The score was tied six to six.  It was our opponent’s turn to bat.  If they scored, our team would inevitably lose the game.  If not, we had another opportunity to hit, which meant the chance to win our very first game. 

Their first player hit the ball and got a base hit.  Their second batter came up to bat.  She hit a long ball which made its way to the outfield.  One of our players ran after the ball, picked it up and ran toward the infield. 
Everyone held their breath, waiting to see what she would do next. 

Would she throw the ball to second base? 
Would she run in and try to tag the runner? 
Would she throw the ball back to the pitcher and therefore, stop the play, forcing all runners to halt at their bases? 

With great hesitation, she stopped right where the grass met the dirt and held the ball in her glove.  In both fear and uncertainty, our inexperienced player froze. 

Deafening shouts erupted from all corners of the ball field.  Everyone, young and old, started screaming.  Our opponent’s coaches shouted at their players to run, taking advantage of the situation to advance their base position and hopefully score.  Our fans were yelling for this beginning, first-time softball player to throw the ball. 
My husband, the head coach, was shouting as urgently as he could, waving his arms, in a frantic attempt to get her attention.  Her gaze spanned from one side of the field to the other, but she still held the ball. 

In desperation, our player sought out assistance from her fellow teammate, our rookie daughter, and asked, “What do I do?”  Her response, “I don’t know.  I’m not the coach!” 
Finally, after finding and fixing her eyes on her coach, she was able to block out the noise and was able to focus on his instructions in that moment.  Consequently, she threw the ball in to the pitcher.  Time was called and the play had been stopped.  Unfortunately, the injury had already been done.  In that brief moment, our chance of earning the win had slipped away.

“…the sheep listen to His voice.  He calls His own sheep by name and leads them out. 
When He has brought out all His own, He goes ahead of them,
and His sheep follow Him because they know His voice…” John 10:3-5

We've all been like this young softball player.  Life is often a cruel game in which situations and circumstances beyond our control are hit right at us when we least expect it.  Sometimes in fear and uncertainty, we freeze and our faith fades.  Various voices seem to deafen us with their shouts in our ears attempting to tell us what to do, where to turn. 
It’s only when we fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, that we see clearly what we are supposed to do. 
It’s only when we listen intently to the voice of our Shepherd that we hear and know which way to go. 
It’s only when we heed the wise counsel of other sheep following the Shepherd that we are able to navigate through the noise and find our way.

“Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you saying, “
This is the way; walk in it.” Isaiah 30:21

Sometimes the damage has already been done.  But it's never the end.  Just like our team gets the chance to try again in the next game, often we do too.  We have a merciful Father who revels in second chances and His voice tells us a different story. 
We don’t have to dwell on the past, but look with hope to all that’s promised in our future.  Casting Crowns' lyrics reminds us, “Out of all the voices calling out to us, let’s choose to listen and believe the Voice of Truth.” 

Because ultimately our choices depend upon voices.  Whose are we hearing?
My #1 girls
(who really have nothing to do with this post,
but since I felt the need to have a super cute softball pic,
here they are...)

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